12 Days of Travel Themes: Culinary Tourism

Last Updated on December 24, 2020 by Janet Frost

Today on our first of the 12 Days of Travel Themes, let’s explore culinary tourism. Almost everyone loves to eat. Food is a universal travel theme. The trick to this rather obvious theme is to stretch your comfort zone. Think of yourself as the next great food critic. Or live out your dream of being a world class chef.

Let’s Go Learn Things about culinary tourism…

Culinary Tourism: Eating

Create Your Own Best of….List

 Creating your own “Best of… List” can be fun anywhere. It works close to home, or in far flung places. Choose your favorite food, or a local specialty and hunt down your favorites.  Make a game of it and do an unofficial rating of each place. I think you will be surprised by places you never knew existed right down the street.

Here are a few ideas:

Best Pizza
Best BBQ
Best Ice Cream
Best Tea Shop
Best Sno Cones
Best Burger

Culinary Tourism
We spent a day circling Oahu chasing the “best” Sno Cone.

When in Rome…

If you want to stretch beyond your own personal favorites, choose the regional delicacies. After all, there must be a reason that the region is known for this food.  This will work in your own backyard or you can venture out.  Be sure to discover the trendy as well as the “hole in the wall”. Eventually, you will find yourself planning a trip solely for the food of a region. For instance:  BBQ in Kansas City, Crab Cakes in Maryland, Poutine in Montreal, Gumbo in NOLA.

Marina Cafe Palau
Marina Cafe had interesting seafood and great views of the harbor

We spent a week on the island nation of Palau and took every possible opportunity to try out their regional seafood and noodle offerings.           

Culinary Tourism: Food Production

As an extension of the region’s famous cuisine, you can look for regional food production. These itineraries may conveniently cross-over with Agritourism. We will be taking a closer look at Agritourism in a later post. Food production can also be industrial. My father always found a production facility that gave tours on our family vacations. One of our favorites was a doughnut factory that we managed to hit just as warm gooey treats were rolling off the belt. Check out these yummy opportunity, Ohio Donut Trail or the Wisconsin Cheese Trail.

My last trip to Phoenix happened to coincide with the Hatch Chile season. Several Southwest towns boast Hatch Chile Festivals in the fall, the most notable being Hatch, New Mexico.  Hershey, PA calls itself the “sweetest place on earth”. Michigan celebrates peach, blueberry and cherry seasons. Don’t forget the SPAM museum in Austin, MN.

Culinary Tourism: Learning to Prepare Food

Janet in cooking class in Lucca, Italy


If you are looking for a more participatory  food experience, many local restaurants offer culinary events with their chefs. In Milwaukee you can participate in cooking at the trendy, farm-to-table restaurant, Braise. Classes which have been modified for COVID safety include such delicious choices as cheesemaking, Indian classics, and Pasta basics.

Cooking Schools

Most large cities have cooking schools that offer a variety of cooking experiences. They usually offer scheduled classes, seasonal specialties and group parties. Just south of Minnesota’s Twin cities,  THAT cooking school in Roseville, MN. I had a great time in a private group party here.

cooking classes
THAT Cooking School in Inver Grove Heights, MN

Culinary Tourism: Global Exploration

Participatory cooking can be a one day event or the focus of the entire trip.  Cooking vacations allow for a culturally immersive experience. International cuisines offer wonderful options. for example; Tuscany cooking tours are immensely popular. 

Many years ago I had the rare opportunity to take a trip to Italy with my father.  We joined a Culinary Arts course that involved 2 weeks of cooking with a Tuscany chef in Lucca, Italy. This was a life-changing experience.  My cooking skills, and love for travel were changed forever.

culinary tourism
Who wouldn’t love to cook in this setting??? Check out my cute Dad with his hat backwards.

An amazing fellow  blogger, Suzanne Stavert at Adventures of Empty Nesters, also enjoyed Tuscany cooking. She highlights her culinary adventures here.  A quick online search turns up cooking tours all over the world.  How about Pho in Vietnam, classic Mayan dishes in Mexico, Paella in Spain?

Plan your own Culinary Tourism Adventure

Digital Resources for culinary tourism opportunities

The digital world brings global food experiences to our fingertips. Most eateries have a website and many have their menus available. Food and Travel bloggers number in the thousands with incredible images and ideas. New travel apps for your mobile devices launch everyday.  Today the internet is a traveler’s best bet for current information. Try out some of these digital options:

Food and Travel Mags:

The well known glossy print magazines all offer equally glossy online blogs. These blogs are rich with culinary tourism ideas and opportunities for exploration.

Foodie Blogs:

Many popular journalists have ventured out to their own food and travel blogs. These bloggers often focus on the cultural and personal stories behind the food.

Culinary Tours

Here are a few ideas from some fascinating destinations:

Foodie Tours in Vancouver  

XO Tours in Vietnam

Tuscan Women Cook in Italy

Eating Prague Tours Prague

Share your foodie adventures

If you try one of these foodie ideas please leave a comment.  Share your own great culinary ideas in the comments.

Be sure to follow along for all the upcoming posts in The 12 Days of Travel Themes

Day 2: Fairs and Festivals
Day 3: Historic Destinations
Day 4: Museums
Day 5: Boozy Trips
Day 6: Get Outdoors
Day 7: Agritourism
Day 8: Urban Adventures
Day 9: Scenic Road Trips
Day 10: Literary Travels
Day 11: The Arts
Day 12 : National Parks


Pin these ideas for later

Travel Themes: Culinary Tourism

3 thoughts on “12 Days of Travel Themes: Culinary Tourism”

  1. This is awesome! We disocovered food tours a couple years ago and they’re SO much fun. A great education on the city from a local’s persepective and I feel it’s a good way to taste “the best of” while visiting a new city.

  2. You are so right! What a HOT topic and what better way to get to know a new city or new culture that to try some of the local cuisine. We just love it. Thanks for all of the new resources.

  3. Spent time on your blog today. I am very impressed. Great trips, great information and pictures, great writing. It is great to see you are able to combine your talent with your travel passion. What you have always wanted to do. Congratulations!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.