Saw this wonderful article on “Foodcations” in Thrillist – and it makes total sense! The new vacation is all about experiences and having unique moments that are extraordinary or at least entertaining. Not just for Foodies, but for pretty much all travelers who are looking for the next cool experience, there is nothing more amazing than discovering the next local donut shop, tasting the newest local craft beer or cocktail, or making chocolate in a local chocolate factory – these are just too much fun NOT to do!
The article also mentions that being a “hipster” or “Foodie” is just a label and doesn’t really say that much – in other words, everyone has some “hipness” or “foodieness” – it’s really a matter of degree. I am a serious Foodie – and like many serious Foodies I want to taste my way through a city – food festivals, cooking classes, food tours, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, wineries and all that I can get my mouth around – so to speak! This is essentially why I started TasteUSA – as a way for me to make a living and enjoy what I feel most passionate about.
So what should you do on your Foodcation?
1)Plan according to your date and time first. You probably aren’t going to travel very far outside your region (say more than 100 miles) unless you have the time and probably some kind of hotel or AirBnB involved, so take that into account first. Pretty much any place can be a foodcation destination, so their’s vast flexibility after this.
2)Be creative. Depending on if you’re an “adventure-seeker” or pretty limited in your culinary interest/prowess, you can find something fun, foodie and will kill 3 hours or so of time. I always choose a basic interest – food or drink – and then Google that interest with the region. For example, say I’m visiting Philadelphia – I recently had plans to attend the Valley Forge Beer and Cider Fest just outside Philly. When I went to the site, I realized that Valley Forge was close to a town called “Phoenixville, PA”. I AirBnb’d the region, found an affordable room in the region and discovered that Phoenixville – population somewhere around 2,000 people – actually has it’s own downtown, Brewery, Wine tasting room, Cidery and Distillery – whooaaahhh!! I ended up visiting the Brewery – Stable 12 Brewing Company – for a flight of beers and then I also ended up going to a most unique experience: the Firebird Festival – essentially a Bacchanalian burning of a wood pyre shaped like the legendary “Phoenix” bird – and of course, there were tons of food trucks nearby! . The next day for lunch I found on Yelp that there was an outdoor Texas BBQ truck with highly rated BBQ – so that was a no-brainer for lunch!
3)Google, but Add Other Online Resources as You Go. Yelp of course is a fantastic resource for Restaurants and related food businesses. But you should also check out the local brewery/winery/distillery sites – and of course add TasteUSA to the mix for fill-in. Each State often has it’s own winery/brewery/distillery associations but the quickest way to find out is to Google “winery map” or a related search – normally, this will take you right to the State Association’s page and save you some time. Even as simple a search as “City/wineries” can be an amazingly fruitful return of excellent usable data. I didn’t end up going to any wineries on my Phoenixville foray, but there is a PA Wineries Association.
4)Talk to Actual People. I know, so Old School – but your locals often know a thing or two about their Region! Personally, I meet the most interesting and informative people in a bar, but you may have a family and that may not be your type of destination. I met some nice people at the Stable 12 Brewing Company over beers and they told me about the region and what was happening in Phoenixville – turns out that it’s kind of a hip new destination spot as a bedroom community to the Philly Region and that’s why there is so much desirable development going on!
5)Leave Time to Explore. Too many travellers have to have every moment planned out – but it’s amazing what you can do with an Iphone and a little free time. It’s way more fun to sketch-out an itinerary and once you arrive to make adjustments to your plan. Obviously if you want to go to a highly desirable restaurant, you’ll want to get an advanced Reservation (the biggest headache of travelling without a plan – but now there are apps coming out that may fix that as well..), but keeping an open-mind and exploring is way more fun than planning events that you and your fellow travellers may not actually want to do. I actually discovered the Phoenix Firebird Festival purely by accident – and this is a Big Deal to the locals!
I hope this is a helpful resource for your next Foodcation – remember, that no matter if you’re a Foodie or not, you have to eat and drink when you travel, so it’s always a good primary or secondary focus. Online resources are swelling for food and drink – from locating restaurants and getting reservations to food allergies, so use some of your existing daily resources as well. Have fun on your next trip – Cheers!
Some Ideas for Future Foodcations (and excellent for Googling):
-Chocolate Factory Bean-to-Bar Tour
-Bread Making Workshop
-Food and Drink Festival (Bacon, Beer, Wine, Oysters, etc..)
-Food Tour of the Area (quick Resource is www.zerve.com )
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler