Food trails add flavor to local tourism
Food trails are a wonderful way to publicize a state or a region. Across the country, they are used by local tourism groups to create a local buzz and provide travelers a reason to stop by the local establishments.
These are just a sample of tourist food trails that have been created. These deal with ice cream and burritos as well as BBQ and cheese. Naturally, these types of trails can be found in many states. I’ll bet there is a cheese trail in Wisconsin and a music trail in Virginia.
Almost all food trails have plenty of take-out options. And driving across the US countryside is now one of a family’s favorite adventures. Click on each of the paragraph headers to find more information.
New Hampshire was once home to a thriving dairy industry, but over the last 40 years the number of dairy farms in NH has dwindled from almost 700 to just 125. The NH Ice Cream Trail is meant to support not just local businesses, but local farmers as well. Ninety-nine percent of the dairy farms in NH are family-owned, so when you’re enjoying the delicious ginger ice cream from Walpole’s or the maple walnut at Bishop’s Homemade Ice Cream, you’ll have the additional benefit of knowing you’re supporting local businesses and local farmers. The NH Ice Cream Trail is a great way to eat your way through NH this spring and summer!
New Mexico is featured twice in this story. I have a soft spot for this state and its unique cuisine. The state claims to have invented the breakfast burrito. If it hasn’t, it certainly has its share of top breakfast burrito makers. In this state, the green chile is one of the centerpieces of the creation.
The green chile cheeseburger takes travelers back to the days of Route 66. It is a traditional cheesy patty topped with New Mexico‘s infamous Hatch green chiles – dates back to a day when one establishment ran out of bowls for its green chile and topped a burger with it instead. Over the years, the green chile cheeseburger made its way onto the menus of restaurants, cafes, and drive-ins across the state. So, whether you find yourself in Santa Fe, Roswell, or beyond, you can try one. After years of crisscrossing New Mexico, I think the best green chile cheeseburger is found at the Owl Bar in San Antonio, NM, at the junction of Interstate 25 and NM Rte. 380.
For a change of pace, communities of BBQ connoisseurs – not restaurants – are the stops along this Texas trail that surrounds Austin. Start in Taylor, just northeast of Austin, at Louie Mueller Barbecue. Then, head south to Elgin, the Sausage Capital of Texas, where Meyer’s Elgin Sausage and Southside Market and Barbeque serve perfectly smoked meats. In Lockhart, the Barbeque Capital of Texas, you’ll have the choice of four restaurants: Black’s Barbecue, Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que, Smitty’s Market, and Kreuz Market (don’t even think about asking for sauce here). The trail ends in Luling, home to the Watermelon Thump (http://www.watermelonthump.com/), a celebration promoting the city’s watermelon industry, and to Luling Bar-B-Q and Luling City Market.
The Cheese Trail features 13 dairies and farms in the Finger Lakes area southwest of Syracuse, New York. Each produces small batch artisanal cheese ranging from cheddar and Swiss to chevre, fresh curds, and kefir. Local cheese shops, orchards, bakeries, and wineries complement these stops. Before you go, call ahead, especially during the winter or on weekdays; since these are working farms, hours may vary depending on the season.
Bourbon has been making a phenomenal comeback over the past decade. And, the home of bourbon is Kentucky. It began in the 1700s with the first settlers of Kentucky. Like most farmers and frontiersmen, they found that getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains was a daunting task.
Kentucky farmers soon learned that converting corn and other grains to whiskey made them easily transportable, prevented the excess grain from simply rotting, and gave them some welcome diversion from the rough life of the frontier.
So how did it get the name Bourbon? Well, one of Kentucky’s original counties was Bourbon County, established in 1785 when Kentucky was still part of Virginia. They shipped their whiskey in oak barrels — stamped from Bourbon County — down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. The long trip aged the whiskey, with the oak wood giving it the distinct mellow flavor and amber color.
When in Kentucky, pick up your own Bourbon Trail Passport and begin sipping.
Charlie Leocha is the President of Travelers United. He has been working in Washington, DC, for the past 11 years with Congress, the Department of Transportation and industry stakeholders on travel issues. He was the first consumer representative to the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections appointed by the Secretary of Transportation from 2012 through 2018.