Live to Eat: 10 Delicious Foodie Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List

Dining is one of the best ways to learn about a new place and its culture. Now more than ever, travelers are crossing the globe in search of the very best, most delicious flavors imaginable. Traveling foodies have insatiable appetites – after all, to eat well is to travel well. If you’re in search for delectable foodie destinations, we’ve got you covered. Add these spots to your travel bucket list ASAP!

#1 – Asheville, NC

The secret is out about Asheville. After earning the number one spot atop Yelp’s Top Foodie Destinations of 2020, tourists are flocking to this mountain town. Located about two hours from Charlotte, Asheville blends unique Southern flavors with Applachian flair.

Don’t expect to nosh solely on biscuits and grits, though; tapas bars and gastropubs abound. Chai Pani, a cozy Indian restaurant, recently won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant. Whether you’re seeking critically acclaimed spots or true hole in the wall joints, there’s something delightful to eat around every corner.

Beer lovers will especially enjoy the abundance of breweries in town. With more than two dozen craft beer bars to explore, there’s truly something for every palette. Grab a drink, sit by the riverside, and take in the gorgeous mountain views. It’s not hard to see why Asheville has become such a foodie destination!

#2 – Hawaii

The Aloha State has long attracted visitors around the world to its stunning beaches, epic landscapes, and of course, delicious cuisine. After working up an appetite snorkeling or hiking, you’ll want to head to where the locals hang. Helena’s Hawaiian Food on Oahu has all the traditional fare you could hope for; from Kalua pig to Lomi salmon and Pipikaula short ribs, you certainly won’t go hungry here!

For a lighter lunch, try the region’s most beloved dish: the poke bowl. Pop into one of the many poke shops around town, or grab poke by the pound from the neighborhood grocery store. It’s practically impossible to have a bad meal while you’re in Hawaii, and the next exciting flavor is often right around the corner.

#3 – San Luis Obispo, CA

San Luis Obispo is famous for its world-class farmer’s market. Head there to kickstart your flavorful tour of the town. Crowds flock to this weekly event, so be sure to arrive early if you want to try all the delicious options. The fresh produce is really just the beginning – delicious barbecue, artisanal cheese, and clay oven pizza are sure to satisfy. Live music adds to the atmosphere, making this one foodie destination you won’t want to miss.

If you’re really up for planning a food-centric trip to San Luis Obispo, schedule your visit for one of the town’s many food and wine festivals held throughout the year. There’s the SLO Craft Beer Fest held each February, the Taste of Pismo Wine event every April, and San Luis Obispo Greek Festival each fall.

#4 – Kill Devil Hills, NC

Seafood fans will rejoice when arriving on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Known locally as the OBX, the region is as remote as it is beautiful. Head into Kill Devil Hills for foodie destinations like Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar, Pigman’s Bar-B-Que, and Beachcomber’s Tiki Hut. Atmosphere is just as important as flavor in OBX, and there’s no shortage of excellent places to dine al fresco.

Don’t skip breakfast while on vacation in Kill Devil Hills, either – the town is known for its delicious coffeehouses and donut joints. Duck Donuts, a local chain, has quickly spread throughout the southeast. People just can’t get enough of their fresh, warm, made to order baked goods!

#5 – Bend-Redmond, OR

Often referred to as the hub of Central Oregon, Redmond has long attracted hungry travelers with a zeal for the great outdoors. Bend, just a short 25 minutes away, is equally as famous for its pristine beauty as its award-winning restaurants. The two cities make for an ideal foodie destination. Whether you’re spending a long weekend or just passing through, you’re sure to eat well in this stunning corner of the Pacific Northwest.

For some of the most enticing eats in the region, head to the Bend food carts. The Midtown Yacht Club food cart pod is home to hot dogs, sushi, and vegan options. The carts will evoke food truck vibes, but their setup in Bend is uniquely Oregonian. Looking for something a little more upscale? Ariana offers inventive New American dishes in a cozy craftsman bungalow setting. 

#6 – Charleston, SC

On the hunt for the best American cuisine? There may be no better place to visit than Charleston, South Carolina. Eating well in the South is practically a birthright, and Charleston chefs are eager to share their bounty of local ingredients. When it comes to creativity, versatility, and tradition, few towns can top Charleston’s offerings. 

It wouldn’t be a foodie vacation without a stop into the Charleston City Market. The National Historic Landmark oozes history – you’ll certainly learn a lot about the region’s role in the slave trade. The market stalls attract a number of exciting vendors, though. Grab stone-ground grits to take home as a souvenir, or grab gourmet coffee from the market grocery.

After working up an appetite at the market, head to Hank’s, a nearby seafood restaurant that has consistently ranked among the very best the city has to offer. Nosh on Hank’s famous oyster stew, indulge in light, flaky crabcakes, or dive into a plate of grilled swordfish. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu!

#7 – Wilmington, NC

Wilmington, North Carolina is often overshadowed by its coastal neighbors to the north. While the Outer Banks might have a higher profile, Wilmington isn’t short on delicious places to dine. This foodie destination has risen quickly through the ranks – one meal here and it’s not hard to see why. Whether you consider yourself a food enthusiast, gourmand, or simply feel passionate about food, there’s a lot to love about Wilmington. 

Ideally situated for both land and seafood favorites, Wilmington restaurants feature an array of fresh local fish, meat, and produce. Take manna ave. 123, for instance, the town’s first AAA Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant. The menu is teeming with fresh, local ingredients. Dine on rare Bluefin tuna, pan seared Atlantic trout, or lamb two ways. There’s no better way to end a beach day than with delightful dinner options like these.

#8 – Boise, ID

When most people think about foodie destinations, Idaho isn’t typically front of mind. The Boise food scene has flourished over the years, though, making it one of the most exciting culinary towns anywhere. The City of Trees features a delectable array of vegan foods, creative twists on the classics, and menus you’d expect to see in Paris or Rome. Whether you’re craving traditional Italian food or craft tacos, your tastebuds are in for a treat!

Alyonka Russian Cuisine ranks among Boise’s best restaurants – and for good reason. The town’s only Russian restaurant has earned critical acclaim for dishes like pelmeni. These authentic beef dumplings are a can’t miss comfort food. Try them in broth on a chilly day. For dessert, the pavlova can’t be beat. As one of the most challenging desserts a chef can make, the delicate pavlova is undeniably delicious.

#9 – Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe is known for its art, history, and architecture. It’s also one of the most unique places in the entire country. A convergence of cultures makes Santa Fe one of the very best places to eat anywhere. With Spanish, Mexican, Indigenous, and Wild West influences around every corner, newcomers will love the chance to try all of Santa Fe’s exciting flavors. 

Whether you’re searching for authentic New Mexico cuisine or want to experience the high desert’s take on international foods, the City Different won’t leave you hungry. There may be no better example of Santa Fe dining than Shundine’s Frybread Stand. Located outside Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the stand offers Puebloan-inspired Indigenous food like Indian tacos and frybread hot dogs. 

#10 – Savannah, GA

Perhaps the town most synonymous with phrase “foodie destination,” Savannah has a long history of delightful restaurants. This culinary lover’s paradise is a feast for the eyes and the stomach; Spanish moss squares give way to fancy walk-ups and an ever-evolving food scene. To understand why Savannah has risen through the ranks of some of the nation’s best food towns, you’ve got to visit yourself. 

Start with a trip to the iconic Olde Pink House Restaurant. The unmistakably Southern exteriors set the scene for a charming dining experience. Once inside, sip on house made iced tea while you enjoy classic Southern favorites like fried chicken, chicken pot pie, and crispy scored flounder. Be sure to make a reservation for your visit, though – this is a popular spot!

Final Thoughts

No matter where your tastebuds might take you this year, it’s important to stay curious while traveling. An open mind can lead you to try new flavors you never imagined would taste so delicious! Whether you’re heading down south for traditional fare, out west for farm to table freshness, or just around the corner for some down home favorites, foodie destinations are what you make of them!

Chelsea DeAngio
Chelsea DeAngio

Chelsea DeAngio is a freelance writer based in Greensboro, NC. Inspired by a rootless childhood as a Navy brat, she enjoys traveling every chance she gets. Pop culture often drives her trips. Whether channeling her inner Lady Mary at Highclere Castle in the UK or noshing on nachos at Showgirls filming locations in Vegas, Chelsea is always in search of a little silver screen glitz.