Most Brits think that family holidays in the U.S. are all about national parks and Disney World. Family itineraries typically prioritise attractions over food, but times are changing. Gone are the days when fast food and kid-centric dining were the only options. Nowadays, foodies of all backgrounds, generations, and ages have emerged. Even kids appreciate gourmet tater tots (similar to hash browns) as much as their parents. Disney World itself has experienced a culinary renaissance.
For UK visitors travelling to the United States with kids, this shift offers a chance to explore a more diverse and sophisticated food scene on their family holidays. While certain U.S. cities, such as San Francisco and New York City, are among the meccas for foodie families, other metros offer their own delicious rewards.
Top 10 Culinary US Cities for your Family Holiday
Charleston has become one of the ultimate foodie destinations. The city may lack diversity, but it more than compensates with exceptional low-country cuisine. Delight in the warm Southern hospitality while savouring mouth watering dishes. Charleston’s culinary offerings have gained recognition internationally, from hearty comfort food to delectable seafood. Renowned chefs and an array of James Beard award-winners solidify its status as a food lover’s paradise. Additionally, families can enjoy exploring historic sites and partake in leisurely activities like horse-drawn carriage rides.
For UK visitors seeking a new experience, Charleston’s culinary scene sets itself apart, even when compared to some of the vibrant cities in the UK. While the UK boasts its own diverse culinary traditions, delving into the unique flavours of Charleston provides a distinctive and immersive dining journey.
Nestled beside the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, just a stone’s throw away from popular landmarks such as Dollywood and Pigeon Forge, and boasting unique attractions like the majestic Biltmore Estate, Asheville is a city that offers something for everyone. From all-ages destinations to mouth watering culinary experiences, Asheville has it all. In fact, this North Carolina gem was recently crowned Yelp’s top city for foodies for the second time in three years, as reported by Travel + Leisure. And for some this may be the best part: Asheville’s is a craft beer haven, with more breweries per capita than any other city in the United States.
If your culinary trip is inspiring you so much that you want to improve your knowledge of cooking and kitchens, you should try watching some of the many fun seasons of Next Level Chef. It’s an entertaining way to see the culinary world from the inside. Use our link to find out on which streaming services the show is broadcast.
#3 New York City
New York City is a melting pot of cultures. You can enjoy any type of cuisine within its 300-square-mile radius. From authentic dim sum at Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown to mouth watering bagels and smear-plus meat-piled sandwiches at one of the city’s dozens of Jewish delis like Katz’s. But don’t stay in Manhattan alone!
Feast your way through the five boroughs, making stops in Astoria and Jackson Heights for authentic Greek and Himalayan fare respectively. Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighbourhood is home to a slew of Polish bakeries like “Syrena” whilst Arthur Avenue in The Bronx and Staten Island offer some of the city’s best Italian food. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the diverse culinary offerings of New York City promise an enriching and satisfying experience.
#4 New Orleans
New Orleans’ food scene is a melting pot of flavours inspired by Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa. From classic Po’boys (try Sammy’s, a local favourite) to delectable jambalaya (head to “Mother’s” for a mouth watering version), and comforting gumbo (the Gumbo Shop is a must-visit), there’s something here for everyone. Don’t miss out on crawfish etouffee, available at Creole House or indulgent muffulettas from Verti Marte, which is open 24/7. To complete the experience, introduce the kids to some live jazz music while savouring these dishes.
Chicagoans are known for being rather particular about their food. Did you know that there is a strict no-ketchup policy when it comes to a Chicago hot dog? And let’s not even get started on the heated debate that arises when you bring up deep-dish pizza. But here’s the thing: This city’s dining scene goes well beyond the dishes that are uniquely Chicago. With an abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants and trendy developments like the Fulton Market district, it’s clear that Chicago is a foodie’s paradise. Oh, and did I mention the 77 neighbourhoods in the city? Each one has its own identity and offers authentic cuisine in pretty much any category you can think of.
Alright, we have a thing for Southern cuisine. And you know what’s cool? In Nashville, fancy restaurants bring in global flavours, while cosy local spots remain ever popular. Now, hold tight, because I’ve got this all-time favourite joint called “Husk” in Nashville. And hey, even the kids will dig the live music scene, the swanky Gaylord Palms resort, and the historic 132-acre Centennial Park. Here’s a pro tip, though—don’t underestimate the museums. The Country Music Hall of Fame, for one, has interactive displays the kids will enjoy. Plus, the Taylor Swift Education wing is a hub for crafts, music lessons, song writing camps, and more exciting stuff, not just for youngsters.
Tucson became the first US city to receive the prestigious UNESCO City of Gastronomy approval in 2015 for its culture and development of Sonoran Mexican cuisine. Nestled in the majestic Sonoran Desert, surrounded by towering saguaro cacti and majestic mountains, Tucson captures both the eye and the palate. A city where history and heritage take centre stage, it is home to one of the oldest Mexican restaurants in the U.S. It even boasts James Beard Award-winning hot dogs (according to AZ Central). In Tucson, long standing establishments coexist harmoniously alongside exciting newcomers. So, don’t miss Tucson out from your itinerary if you are travelling around Arizona’s top attractions.
Houston, America’s most diverse city, naturally secured a spot on our list of the best U.S. cities for foodies. It’s no wonder with the endless options available to satisfy any palate, from Crawfish & Noodles, offering Viet-Cajun fusion, to Hawker Street Food Bar, serving up Southeast Asian-Latin American cuisine at Post Market. Speaking of Post, this vibrant international food hub proudly presents delectable creations by renowned chefs. Among our top picks are the authentic West African fare at ChópnBlok and East Side King, boasting Japanese street food delights such as pork buns and beet home fries. Houston offers a fusion of international cuisines influenced by its multicultural population. So if you are making memories in Houston, don’t miss out on sampling its eclectic mix of traditional and innovative dishes.
This Midwestern city is home to an underrated food scene that is both eclectic and diverse. Fuelled by nearby farms, local producers, and trailblazing chefs, it offers a culinary experience that pays homage to the city’s 100-plus diverse ethnicities. To satisfy your taste buds, make a beeline for West Side Market. This indoor-outdoor market features a variety of local vendors, including “Orale!”, which serves contemporary Mexican cuisine, Pierogi Palace, Frank’s Bratwurst, Theresa’s Bakery, and Crepes de Luxe.
When thinking about Philly, one might initially associate it with cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. However, due to its rich history of immigrants, the food scene in the city is much more diverse and vibrant that. From savouring Lebanese kebabs in the up-and-coming Fishtown neighbourhood to exploring the Southeast Asian Market at FDR Park, Philadelphia’s culinary offerings are a treasure trove for epicureans and foodies alike. Moreover, the city is home to numerous award-winning chefs and renowned restaurant groups like CookNSolo which is often compared to Dabbous & Hide restaurant in London.
For many of us the best part of exploring a new destination is through our tastebuds. It’s the delicious variety of distinctive cultural fare and the unique hometown dishes that make new places so appealing. Wherever your family holiday in the U.S. might take you, whether you are on a road trip or visiting Disney World in Florida, now you know which cities are worth visiting on the way for a truly culinary journey.