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10 Epic Road Trips Every Foodie Should Take This Summer

Get in your car and set out to see America on any of these 10 fabulous summer road trips custom-made for foodies.

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Maine’s coast

Drive along Maine’s rugged rocky coast, and you can see everything from lush green Arcadia National Park—home to kayaking and hiking trails—to charming harbors filled with fishing boats and colorful buoys. The town of Portland has great shopping and fabulous dining, too. Best Eats: This may just be the world’s best location for whole steamed lobsters. (We suspect the locals keep the best one’s in the area.) They’re fresh as can be and served with corn on the cob and drawn butter. Where to Get It: Bayley’s Lobster Pound in Scarborough has everything you want for a lobster dinner— outdoor tables on a deck, overlooking the water, and perfectly cooked lobsters, lobster rolls, steamers, and mussels.

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Cape Cod

In the summer months, “The Cape” is Boston’s “beach house,” and a gorgeous string of golden-hued sands line up along the frothy Atlantic. Sure, the streets are crowded, but—from the Adirondack chairs to the seersucker and the miniature golf—this is preppy New England summer at its best. Best Eats: Fried seafood shacks serve up everything from crispy shrimp platters to fresh oysters, but we always reach for the whole-bellied clams first. Where to Get It: You can’t beat Kream ‘N Kone in West Dennis for nostalgia. It’s super casual, there’s counter service, and the plates come piled high with shocking amounts of fried seafood, French, fries, and onion rings. Plan your next family trip to one of these 15 best summer vacation spots in the U.S.

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New York’s Hamptons

Summer along with celebrities on Long Island’s South Fork, where you’ll need a beach pass to park on the coast, the elegant swimsuits and gorgeous Italian sandals are paired with equally chic sunglasses and hats, and that Cobb salad will cost you twice what you pay back home. Best Eats: Here, too, the best meals are plucked fresh from the sea, and the ladies who lunch tend to go for the tomato stuffed with lobster salad and a glass of crisp white wine. Where to Get It: We make a beeline for Clam Bar at Napeague whenever we are in town. Sure, this rustic roadside stand is right on Montauk Highway, but all of the tables are outside and everything—from the lobster roll to the fried softshell crab sandwich—is delicious. Plus, if you’re feeling virtuous, there’s always that lobster-stuffed tomato.

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Bourbon Trail

Kentucky’s bourbon trail is also lined with horse farms, which means as you drive from distillery to distillery you’ll pass green fields lined with gates and barns. Along the way, you can taste popular brands such as Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, and listen to bluegrass. Best Eats: Look for perfect mint juleps (in the traditional silver cup, naturally) as well as bourbon-laced desserts and chocolates and even bourbon brittle. Where to Get It: The Silver Dollar in Louisville has cocktails in Julep cups … as well as breaded catfish and fried chicken livers for dinner, and cornbread pancakes for brunch.

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Texas Hill Country

Drive from cool Austin out into the surrounding rolling countryside and you’ll arrive at the home of some of the best barbecue in the country. Best Eats: Fatty brisket (never lean!), served with barbecue sauce and white bread, tops our list when we’re in this part of the world, but you can also get burnt ends, peppery ribs, or spicy jalapeno-studded sausages. Where to Get It: Smitty’s Market in downtown Lockhart is a simple place with communal tables, but both the sausage and brisket are unforgettable.

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Route 66

Sail along Route 66 through Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma and—once you get past the tumbleweeds of Texas—you’ll get to the heart of America. Here, look for comfort food and plenty of open road on which to crank up the music and turn down the windows. Best Eats: We keep an eye out for rich and homey chicken fried steak, decadent “puffy” tacos, and plenty of pie. Where to Get It: Next time we drive this route, we’re going to Clanton’s in Vinita, Oklahoma. This chicken fried steak stalwart—who tops their buttermilk-dredged beauties in thick cream gravy—seems to be on everyone’s “best” list.

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Green Chile Trail

New Mexico has Native American history, vast blue sky, a rich art scene, and gorgeous crafts and jewelry, but whenever we’re there, we have a hard time pulling ourselves away from the green chiles. Best Eats: Just about every diner and dive in the state offers a green chile cheeseburger, piled high with melted cheese and roasted, chopped chiles that range from mild and sweet to donkey-kick-to-the-head hot.
Where to Get It: Owl Café in Albuquerque, one of the town’s top food landmarks, is as famous for their 1950-style diner-inspired atmosphere (with jukeboxes and milkshakes) as they are for their green chilli cheeseburgers.

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Southern California’s Highway One

Driving from San Diego north to Los Angeles gives you a look at the SoCal of your dreams—gorgeous beaches lined with surfers, joggers in swimsuits, and a healthy relaxed way of looking at the world. Best Eats: Baja-style fish tacos are the way to go here, with fried fish that’s straight outta the Pacific Ocean. Where to Get It: Blue Water Seafood in San Diego is a market and a restaurant, and you can get any of their beautiful fresh fish—from snapper to yellowtail or shark—marinated in chipotle and served on warm El Indio tortillas.

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Northern California Wine Country

Wine country is as much about natural beauty as it is about sophistication. The roads here are lined with grape vines as far as the eye can see, planted in rows that yield fruit for some of the world’s best wineries. Best Eats: California cuisine—simple and fresh—makes use of all the best local ingredients, from avocados and olives to grapes. Where to Get It: If you plan early—we mean early!—you may just luck into a table at The French Laundry in Yountville, one of the most coveted reservations in the country. This special occasion restaurant by celebrity chef Thomas Keller is a virtual temple to eating fresh and local; you can read up on their partner farmers and suppliers on their website before you go. The must-have dish is the famous “Oysters and Pearls,” a celebration of Island Creek Oysters with caviar and sabayon.

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Maui’s Hana Highway

When you drive from Paia out toward the end of the island, you get an exciting look at the cliffs along the Pacific as well as access to hiking trails that lead through the tropical forest down to series of waterfalls. Best Eats: Our favorite meals here start with poke—made of fresh Hawaiian tuna—and involve some combination of sweet pineapple and salty macadamia nuts. Whatever you decide to imbibe, be sure to end your meal with unforgettable Kona coffee. Where to Get It: Mama’s Fish House serves Kauai clams and macadamia nut-crusted crab cakes, as well as a traditional Hawaiian dinner that comes with ahi poke, grilled ono, wild boar that’s been slow cooked in ti leaves, and luau-style octopus. Plus, it’s the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the Pacific. Don’t miss these amazing weekend getaways in every state.

Sherri Eisenberg
Sherri Eisenberg is an award-winning glossy print veteran for top travel, bridal. food, and lifestyle magazines who is equally deft with digital, social, mobile, and branded content. She has written for Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, and Bon Appétit, and has served as cruise editor for Travel and Leisure and Travel Holiday as well as Cruiseline.com and ShermansCruise.com. She has also been a columnist for The Los Angeles Times and, as senior travel editor of Condé Nast's Brides, she won the Lowell Thomas Gold Award for best travel coverage in a non-travel magazine. Sherri is the author of "The Food Lovers Guide to Brooklyn," which was published by Globe Pequot Press in 2010 and covered by everyone from The New York Times to Time magazine. She keeps a bag packed at all times and has no plants or pets so she can hop on a plane — or a ship — at a moment's notice.