One of the best ways to experience a new city (or your own hometown!) is to take a tour. But if you’re tired of traditional sightseeing tours, why not try a food tour instead? Many cities offer fabulous, kid-friendly walking, bus or self-tours that combine the history of a neighborhood with yummy treats or meals along the way. Foodie tours are also a great chance to teach your kiddos about where food comes from, and how to try new things.
Here are our favorite delicious ways to discover some culinary culture while on vacation.
1. Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail – Cayuga County, N.Y.
For a farm-fresh look at how all things sweet are made, pile the kids into the car and head to Cayuga County to check out the Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail. Featuring 20 different stops that offer exquisite locally made snacks like maple syrup cotton candy, honey-lavender biscotti, organic honey and jams and cinnamon buns, this self-guided tour has tastings, special events and giveaways throughout late November. Discover the family-run farms, markets, old-fashioned corner stores and fresh produce stands along the trail while sampling baked goods, fresh cider, Italian ice and milkshakes. Or visit any of the u-pick fruit orchards.
Tip: Since many of these stops are by appointment only, sit down with the kids to choose your stops, and contact the farms and orchards directly for opening hours and times. Bonus: Pick up a free tote bag at any stop and get your Sweet Treat Trail pass stamped at eight spots for your chance to win a basket of goodies.
2. The NuLu Tasting Adventure – Louisville, Ky.
Do your kids beg for barbecue? Well, they’ll love the feast laid out for them along the NuLu Tasting Adventure (Food Guide Food Tours of Louisville) walking tour, which combines history and trivia with awesome nibbles. Beginning in a former auto garage that now cooks up wood-fired pizza and country ham, the tour also makes stops at a local craft brewery, an authentic southern BBQ pit, a chicken hot spot and a funky coffee shop where Louisville’s favorite chocolate chip cookies are made. Bonus: the tour ends at Muth’s Candy Store, one of the city’s oldest candy makers. Organizers can also accommodate vegetarians and other special dietary needs upon request.
3. A Slice of Brooklyn Neighborhood Tour – Brooklyn, N.Y.
In the mood for a slice of Brooklyn history, smothered in sauce and cheese? A Slice of Brooklyn Neighborhood Tour is perfect for families with children. The bus ride features slides, film clips and music from famous movies shot in Brooklyn, including “Saturday Night Fever,” “Annie Hall” and more. Stops include the Brooklyn Bridge and Coney Island Boardwalk. Then, skip the huge lines and sample delicious Neapolitan- and Sicilian-style pizza from two famous eateries, Grimaldi’s in Dumbo, and L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst.
4. Capitol Hill Food Tour – Washington, D.C.
Explore one of the most diverse and beautiful spots in Washington, D.C. by eating your way through the Capitol Hill Food Tour (DC Metro Food Tours), with its many family-run restaurants serving up a wide variety of yummy treats. During the tour, families will learn how the southeast neighborhood from Navy Yard to Barracks Row has evolved. Then, sit down to enjoy specialties including 18th Century-inspired Anglo-Indian cuisine, traditional Salvadorian and Greek dishes, and Italian desserts. Kids will love watching how naan bread is made.
5. Signature Tour of Pike Place Market – Seattle, Wash.
While all of the Savor Seattle Food Tours (except Booze & Bites) are family-friendly, the best option for kids is the Signature Tour of Pike Place Market, which features 16 different sweet and savory samples. A Seattle classic perfect for the first-time visitor, the food and cultural tour includes a behind-the-scenes look at the 100-year-old market, the story behind the ‘first’ Starbucks caf?, and seven stops at various vendors. Families will see cheese being made and watch famous fish throwers – yes, these fish can fly! Depending upon whether you choose the morning or afternoon tour, you’ll sample treats including warm cinnamon-sugar donuts, Greek yogurt, clam chowder, cherry-inspired chocolate treats, Russian pastries, cheddar cheese, crab cakes, Filipino dishes and homemade fleur de sel caramels.
6. Little Havana Food Tour – Miami
Does your family enjoy a little spice mixed in with their sweets? If so, the eight-block Little Havana Food Tour along Miami’s vibrant Calle Ocho is perfect for your brood, as it introduces children to Cuba’s culture and heritage at six stops. Sample a Cuban sandwich, plantains and picadillo-stuffed empanadas, along with tropical guava pastelito, a pastry kids will gobble up. Experience the delicious mamey ice cream, which tastes a bit like pumpkin pie. Adults can savor some strong, rich Cuban coffee, while children can try guarapo juice and learn about tropical fruit. Families will also hear stories about how these foods are made, and visit a cigar factory. Tours last 2.5 hours.
7. Original Farmer’s Market Food & History Tour – Los Angeles
When the first tasting on a food tour is donuts, you know you’ve chosen the right one. Starting adjacent to The Grove, a trendy outdoor mall, the stroller-friendly Farmer’s Market Food & History Tour (Melting Pot Food Tours) takes families on 10 savory stops. Visit various ethnic eateries, an artisan butcher, a candy shop and a gourmet market, while guides recount fun history about Hollywood. Peek into the kitchens of market merchants to watch how they make tortillas, candy and pies. You may even luck out and meet the 11-year-old ‘intern’ tour guide, whose family owns one of the two largest produce stands at the market. Plus, you’ll pop into a super-fun sticker store and the oldest toy shop in Los Angeles. Tours last 2.5 hours.
8. Taste of Celebration American Town Tour – Orlando
Taking place in the Walt Disney World-inspired town of Celebration, located about 15 minutes from the theme parks, the Taste of Celebration American Town Tour is billed as a theme park for your mouth, with a little history, architecture and fun facts thrown in as well. The town of Celebration – originally developed by Disney as a planned community – features lots of delicious eateries. Participants will stop at five locations for food and drinks – alcoholic cocktails for adults, and choose-your-own mocktails made for kids. Samples include fresh seafood at a family-owned tavern, Cuban delicacies and delicious sweet treats for dessert like caramel apples, gooey fudge and ice cream. Tours last 2.5 hours.
9. Rockridge Ice Cream & Gelato Tour – Oakland, Calif.
You can all scream for ice cream – even if your little one has allergies – on the Rockridge Ice Cream and Gelato Tour. In addition to the weekend and private tours offered, parents can request a nut- or dairy-free ice cream tour in advance. The one-hour guided Ice Cream & Gelato Tour visits three sweet spots along College Avenue in Oakland’s Rockridge area, where children can sample nut-free flavors or sorbets and soy-based treats if they’re lactose-intolerant. Along the way, families will learn about the history of ice cream and watch how it’s made. Tours last an hour.
10. North Beach/Little Italy Food Tour – San Francisco, CA
When you can pack pizza, pasta and chocolate into eight blocks, what’s not to love? Stops along San Francisco’s North Beach and Little Italy Food Tour include a 100-year-old bakery, a chocolate-making studio and a deli that’s been making salami since 1896. Sample cannoli, focaccia sandwiches, Italian soda, pizza with homemade mozzarella and chocolate treats, and learn the history behind the Gold Rush and how coffee is roasted. Tours last three hours.