The 7 Tastiest Food-Themed Road Trips You Can Take This Fall

Forget the road trip snacks; these destinations have the eats.

23 Miles of Mexican_El Charro Cafe_credit Visit Tucson
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Tucson

It's been awhile since we've been on a good old-fashioned road trip, and we're more than ready to hit the road this fall. Usually we'd stock up on snacks for the drive — salty, savory, sweet, we'll take them all! This fall, however, we're setting our sites and planning our routes to these destinations across the U.S. where food is the key attraction.

Get Crabby With It

MD Crab + Oyster Trail_Tides Inn’s shoreline restoration project_credit Waterstreet Studios
Courtesy of Waterstreet Studios

Maryland's Crab & Oyster Trail covers five areas of the Free State: the Eastern Shore, the Capital Region around Annapolis, and the Central, Southern and Western regions. If you're a fan of these savory crustaceans, you'll want to stop in as many of the restaurants along the trail as you can to discern the different tastes of the varying waterways.

Seafood festivals are a terrific way to get your fill, too — upcoming festivals to plan travels around include the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake October 13 on the Eastern Shore for all-you-can-eat crabs, clams, fish and more; the U.S. Oyster Festival, one of the longest standing seafood festivals in Maryland, October 16 and 17 in Leonardtown; and OysterFest at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum in St. Michaels on October 30.

Maryland isn't the only place to score crabs and oysters in the mid-Atlantic — Virginia is a terrific destination, too! One spot of note is the Tides Inn, which is undergoing a $3.6 million shoreline restoration project that, in part, aims to enhance the oyster reef in the Carter's Creek, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay estuary. Learn about the inn's sustainability efforts, and then enjoy the local bounty at one of the area's restaurants.

Wingin' It

Buffalo Wing Trail_Duffs_credit Visit Buffalo Niagara
Courtesy of Visit Buffalo Niagara

It's no surprise that the World Capital of Wings — Buffalo, N.Y. — has its own Buffalo Wing Trail. Fourteen neighborhood spots make up "America's Tastiest Drive," and each has its own way of making their wings.

From hot and saucy to classic and unusual, you're sure to find a favorite you'll want to dip into again and again. In addition to Anchor Bar, which is credited with inventing Buffalo wings, a few more highlights are Duff's Famous Wings, which has been serving their bites for 75 years, and O'Neill's Stadium Inn, which features nearly 60 different sauces from which to choose. Will you try them all?

Tacos and Tamales and Moles — Oh My!

hot dogs and a coca cola
Courtesy of Visit Tucson

Tuscon, Ariz., which was the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S., boasts The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food, and we're ready to find out for ourselves if that claim holds true.

Those in the know suggest starting your 23-mile journey in the Mexican-American neighborhood along Tucson's 12th Avenue. In addition to traditional tacos, tamales, and moles, be sure to bite into a Sonoran hot dog: a bacon-wrapped frank topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, mustard, and mayonnaise, all served in a soft bun. One to try is at James Beard award winner El Guero Canelo.

Additional spots to stop during a journey along The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food are El Charro Café, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2022 and is the oldest family run Mexican restaurant in the U.S., and Mission Garden, a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert. For a sweet treat, stop into La Estrella Bakery with cases full of pan dulce, or sweet breads.

Say Cheese!

several blocks of cheese on a wooden cutting board
Courtesy of RoccoPhotography.com

With nearly 80 stops along the way, it's best to come hungry when you tackle the California Cheese Trail. From Rumiano Cheese Co., the northernmost cheesemaker on the trail that makes its Dry Jack cheese, some of which are rubbed with a coating of black pepper dust, cocoa powder, and oil; to Tomales Farmstead Creamery in Tomales in Central California, which makes goat and mixed-milk cheeses; to CheeseSmith Artisan Creamery in San Diego, where the owner of AleSmith Brewing has stated making his artisan cheese, currently only available on Thursdays.

The intent of the California Cheese Trail is to connect people to the cheesemakers, their tours, cheesemaking classes, and cheese events throughout the Golden State. Download the trail map and start plotting your route, or use the interactive map online, and filter by regions, availability, and whether or not cheesemakers offer tours.

We All Scream for Ice Cream

a young girl eats from a bowl of ice cream
Courtesy of Pennsylvania Tourism Office

If you're traveling through Pennsylvania — or even if you hadn't planned to — check out Pursue Your Scoops Ice Cream Trail that traverses the western, south central and eastern regions of the state. Thirty ice cream shops are ready to welcome you, ice cream scoops in-hand, and invite you to taste their varying flavors.

In the west, try the Ice Cream Nachos at Widnoon Soft Serve in Templeton; in the south central region, dip into Fox Meadows Creamery in Ephrata for a scoop of their Monkey Bread ice cream; and in Chester Springs to the east, all of the ice creams served at Chester Springs Creamery at Milky Way Farm, like Rosita's Rose Petal, Flossie's Root Beer Float and Opal's Orange Pineapple, are named after the farm's cows.

"With a growing appetite for travel, our Ice Cream Trail guides people to backroads that crisscross the commonwealth, bringing additional income to farmers and enhancing tourism appeal in rural areas, helping to educate the public about our state's No. 1 industry," Carrie Fischer Lepore, deputy secretary for marketing, tourism, and film at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development told Allrecipes. "We're proud of the Pennsylvania businesses who have continued their hard work, scoop by scoop, to welcome visitors back to their shops after a challenging year."

Speaking of ice cream, the Museum of Ice Cream is a must-stop for any Insta feed; in addition to its New York City location, a second museum opened in Austin this summer.

Time To Eat the Donuts

several donuts lined up
Courtesy of Butler County Visitors Bureau

The Butler County (Ohio) Donut Trail features 13 mom-and-pop donut shops where you'll find delicious bites, like a Buckeye Donut with chocolate icing and a peanut butter mousse center at Holtman's Donuts' five locations across the state. Take a tour of the Stan The Donut Man shop and enjoy a donut afterwards. Some of the shops offer vegan offers, too!

Need help planning your route? The Donut Trail concierge can help point the way, and even offer ideas for must-stop fun. When you're ready to hit the Donut Trail, download the passport, and when you've visited all 13 shops you'll receive an official Donut Trail t-shirt.

It's a Chocolate-ful World

a man demonstrates a machine to an audience at Hersheyworld
Courtesy of Hershey's

Hershey's Chocolate World in, well, Hershey, Pa. is an immersive experience that will tempt your tastebuds. A terrific way to begin your discovery of the Chocolate World is on the free, 30-minute chocolate making tour. From bean to bar, you'll see — and smell! — the chocolate making process. Afterwards, be a part of the "Hershey's Unwrapped" theatrical show, or create your own chocolate bar — choose the ingredients and design your wrapper.

If Hershey, Pa. is a bit too far for your road trip, you're in luck — Hershey's Chocolate World is also in Las Vegas, Niagara Falls, and Times Square.

Aside from Chocolate World, there are more sweet treats in Hersheypark, including The Chocolatier, a full-service restaurant and bar with a menu that features Hershey's-inspired dishes like Hershey's Cocoa Barbecue Ribs and Heath Bar Crusted Salmon, and Milton's Ice Cream Parlor and The Sweeterie Confectionery Kitchen. All three of these sweet spots opened this spring.

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