You've worked up an appetite traveling to a city; now it's time to capture its flavor. Food tours offer a unique blend of culinary history, culture and, perhaps most important, food samples for a true taste of local life. Bring your walking shoes and arrive hungry, as you chow down through town on these food tours.
Skip the grub in tourist-filled Times Square and head for Greenwich Village. A mecca for the hip and artsy since the 1950s, this funky neighborhood is now a hotbed of foodie activity. Foods of New York features a 3-hour Greenwich Village food walking tour, with tastings such as thin crust pizza at Famous Joe's Pizza, salty cheeses and cured meats at Murray's Cheese shop and miniature pastries at Rocco's Pastry Shop. Wear your loosest pants; you'll take plenty of bites out of the Big Apple.
Taste of Philly Food Tour
Did you know a hot dog vendor cooked up the first cheesesteak in 1930? And that Philadelphia may be the birthplace of the soft pretzel? Savor these classic Philadelphia eats (and trivia) on a Taste of Philly Food Tour. The tour winds through Reading Terminal Market, the oldest continuously operating farmers market in America. A Taste of Philly tours last 75 minutes, but with more than 80 vendors in the marketplace, you may just want to plan on a few more hours to chow down some more.
When you think “Seattle” and “food,” chances are the famed Pike Place Market comes to mind. The 11-acre indoor market overlooking the Seattle waterfront is as much a place for locals to shop as it is for travelers to discover the heart and soul of Seattle's foodie culture. Embark on a Savor Seattle Pike Place Market Food and Cultural Tour to explore the market scene. See enormous fish, like a 3-foot long salmon, tossed into the air at one of the many vendor stops along the way. Get your fish fix with smoked salmon samples at Pike Place Fish, crab cakes at Etta's Seafood Restaurant and creamy clam chowder at Pike Place Chowder. The tour also takes foodies to Beecher's Handmade Cheese for a taste of mac-and-cheese, and Daily Dozen Doughnuts for miniature doughnuts. You certainly won't be sleepless in Seattle after this food tour; prepare for a post-tour food coma and nap.
New Orleans Culinary History Tours
With Creole and Cajun cooking traditions, New Orleans has plenty of historic restaurants. Experience the city’s greatest culinary hits on the New Orleans Culinary History Tasting Tour. This walking tour of the French Quarter leads visitors to famous restaurants for a behind-the-scenes peek at their vibrant kitchens. Tastings have included red beans and rice from Creole Delicacies Gourmet Shop, brown butter gumbo from Arnaud's Restaurant, shrimp rémoulade from Antoine's Restaurant and pecan pralines from Leah's Pralines. No need to wait until Mardi Gras; these foodie favorites spice up a Nola visit year-round.
San Francisco's Chocolates
Looking for a natural high? Spend 3 decadent hours on a Gourmet Walks San Francisco Chocolate Tour. Studies show chocolate boosts serotonin levels and mood -- and Gourmet Walks founder Andrea Nadel has just the right medicine, in just the right city. In the 1850s, chocolate production began in the Bay Area when Domenico Ghirardelli opened the town's first chocolate shop. Today, San Francisco is an epicenter for artisan chocolate, made with locally-sourced ingredients. The chocolate tour features 7 different tastings, including truffles infused with spices (such as cardamom and pink peppercorn) at Recchiuti Confections, and more than 225 different types of international chocolate bars at Fog City News. Finally, try truffles with a requisite stop at Ghiradelli Chocolate Company, and a blissful taste of ganaches at CocoaBella Chocolates. By day's end, rest easy knowing you've done your body some chocolate-filled serotonin good.
Forget watching your figure on vacation! Indulge your taste buds as you discover the unique heart of these cities through their food.
Valerie Conners, a freelance writer and editor, has worked for publications such as the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer and Frommer's Travel Guides. She's happiest when eating spicy massaman curries on the beach in Koh Mook, Thailand, snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia and bargaining for bangles in Indian markets.