11 of the Best East Coast Small Town/City Food Tours
Culinary Tourism is a popular trend for travelers and locals, combining sightseeing and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences into one appetizing adventure. In addition to traveling across the country or world to eat and drink, we can be food travelers in our own cities and neighborhoods. Large cities that draw many tourists, like NYC, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, London, Lisbon, Barcelona etc. are known for their culinary delights. However, the United States has many smaller towns and cities, rich in history but a little more off the beaten path, that are foodie worthy destinations. Food tours help tell the story of a place in a delicious way; they’re about tasting local favorite foods and getting exposure to the entrepreneurs who are bringing creativity and culinary delights to their city.
From North to South:
1 Maine Foodie Tours – Port City tours
The port city of Portland is Maine’s phoenix from the ashes. A city that, in 1866, had 1,500 buildings destroyed has come back to be an award-winning city today. Maine Foodie Tours has many offerings – a walking history tour that highlights Portland’s ups and downs takes you on a journey through time, a foodie tour (there are seven different tours, each featuring farm-to-table fare!), a “doggie-and-me tour”, and so much more. Maine Foodie Tours knows that their history-and-culture-rich city cannot be encapsulated in one tour so they customize each one to make them as valuable as their beloved city. Grab a bottle of Maine water, put on some comfortable shoes and don’t forget a jacket! These year-round, all-weather tours are a must-do in Portland, Maine.
Photo: Lisa R via yelp.com
Portland, ME (population 66,882)
2 Portsmouth Eats – Best of Portsmouth
As Seen on TV has nothing on Portsmouth, New Hampshire. On one of their walking tours, you will become privy to Portsmouth’s best stops for lunch and dinner that have been featured on Rachel Ray, Man vs. Food, The Travel Channel, Good Morning America and even more. The Best of Portsmouth tours run from 2-4:30 p.m. on Saturdays, year-round. In addition to great food, this small town is filled with history. See it all on this food and history tour that guests call “a must do” when in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth, NH (population 21,796)
3 Lewiston Food Tasting and Historical Tour
The east coast small town of Lewiston is just minutes away from Niagara Falls and has been named one of the Best Small Towns in America – Best for Food by Rand McNally of “Best of the Road.” The quaint town has connections to the Underground Railroad, the War of 1812 and Prohibition. The food and history tours are three hours long and take you on a journey to six of Lewiston’s best places to eat. Some of which have been featured on both the Food Network and the Travel Channel. Enjoy Lewiston’s local favorite food, drink and history on this exciting tour!
Lewiston, NY (population 16,262)
4 Oswego History and food tour – Downtown Oswego
For a while in the mid-1800s, Oswego was such a booming city that some thought it would become second only to New York City. Alas, the industrial town did not become as successful as the Big Apple but the history that was left behind is captivating just the same. Even though the east coast small town isn’t filled with stars, it is home to LaParrilla where Ray Jock, a one-time personal chef to Jerry Seinfeld, is cooking up delicious Mediterranian. It doesn’t matter what time of year you’re trekking through Oswego. This food and history tour is offered Thursday through Saturday, year-round.
Oswego, NY (population 17,465)
5 Finger Lakes Food Tours – Canandaigua Uptown Food Tour
The name of the town might be difficult to say but it’s meaning is simple: “the chosen spot.” See for yourself what the Seneca Iroquois meant on a three-hour walking food, drink & culture tour ($65). “Foodie Extraordinaire” Suzanne chose six eateries that exemplify west-central New York’s “chosen spot” in a way that you can only get on a food tour. The Finger Lakes Food Tour is about a two-mile walk that stops at some of the east coast small town’s local favorite food spots that are sure to please your palette: Rio Tomatlan, Sweet Solutions, Eddie O’Briens, Flavors Indian Restaurant, Good Life Tea and F. Olivers Oils & Vinegars. Tours are offered on Fridays and Saturdays from 12-3.
Photo: Finger Lakes Food Tours via Facebook
Canandaigua, NY (population 10,289)
6 Taste of Troy Food Tours LLC – Central Troy Historic Food Tour
Touring since May of 2016, Taste of Troy Food Tours weaves you through the downtown area of the small, historic city of Troy. Offered weekly on Saturdays from May to October, the tour starts at 10 a.m. at Little Pecks for biscuits and brings you to some of Troy’s best locations – The Whistling Kettle tea house, Illium Cafe where Chef Marla, winner of Guy’s Grocery Games Mother’s Day Challenge is cooking up award-winning food, Brown’s Brewing which was one of the United States only 100 craft breweries back in 1993 and finally The Dutch Udder for some award-winning ice cream. This local food and history tour also ties in some of Troy’s fascinating history and a visit to St. Paul’s Espicopal church with Tiffany Designed interior. Finally, the tour ends with plenty of time to browse the Troy Farmers Market, a local favorite thing to do in Troy on Saturday mornings.
Photo: Daniel B. via Yelp
Troy, NY (population 50,000)
7 Ithaca is Foodies Culinary Tours: Downtown Ithaca Food Tour
Ithaca is a small college town in mid-western New York’s Southern Tier. The town is well-known for its natural beauty but it has a little secret, too: the food is outstanding! Revel in Ithaca’s world-famous Moosewood natural food restaurant, all plant-based Ten Forward Cafe, authentic Ethiopian cuisine at Hawi, hand baked pies at Mama Said Hand pies, specialty oils and vinegars at F. Olivers’ and finally some sweet treats at Sweet Melissa’s. Besides food and nature Ithaca is also rich in history, art and architectural gems. Tours are three hours long, offered on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and run from May-October.
Ithaca, NY (population 31,000)
8 Rhode Island Red Food Tours – Newport Neighborhood Food Tour
Newport Rhode Island is home to early colonial architecture, amazing local food and drink, and interesting, historic folklore stories. Tours are three hours long, run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, year-round. Tickets can be purchased for two prices – one that includes alcoholic beverages and one that does not. You won’t want to miss a chance to eat at a progressive hot dog and burger shop, have delicious treats from a local bakery, and get views of a beautiful, old hotel. Locals know all the best spots so let your local Newport guide show you all of the secrets this small town has to offer.
Newport, RI (population 24,942)
9 Carpe DC Food Tours – Boutique Old Town Alexandria
Just beside the big city of Washington D.C., a visit to this small town is like being transported to another world. With gorgeous, well-preserved architecture and easily walkable streets, it’s clear to see why it was included in Conde Nast’s Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards Top 5 Best Small Cities in the U.S.! Alexandria is home to over 200 independent restaurants and boutiques and this food and history tour treats you to five of the best. The Boutique Old Town Alexandria tour runs year-round on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. for three hours. It is the perfect thing to do if you’re visiting D.C. or just looking for a quiet, small town to explore.
Old Town Alexandria, Va (population 6,768)
10 Taste of Virginia Food Tours
Tour Charlottesville in a way that both first-timers and seasoned tour goers agree is a great way to get to know the small, historic town. This three-hour food tour takes you to six of the historic area’s best restaurants and promises that you will not leave hungry! Between a fine chocolaterie, southern comfort food (yep, fried chicken and collard greens!) and a craft beer house, every appetite will be satiated. Become a foodie in Charlottesville while exploring the outdoor malls in this historic east coast small town.
Photo: Taste of Virginia Food Tours via Facebook
Charlottesville, VA (population 48,019)
11 Taste of Thomasville Food Tour
True Southern hospitality and food to comfort the soul. That’s what you’ll find on the Thomasville food tour. On your stroll down the historic, brick-lain streets you’ll visit six favorite local food stops (some of which feature award-winning treats) like Jonah’s Shrimp and Grits, Sweetgrass Dairy Cheese Shop, George and Lewis’ Seafood, Moonspin Pizza, Grassroots Coffee and Maria’s Kakes. In addition to the food and history that you’ll consume, you’ll get the chance to see a true marvel of nature, the Big Oak tree. This giant tree is over 300 years old, spans 165 feet wide and 68 feet into the sky. To top it all off, Thomasville was voted The #2 Town in the USA by USA Today! This food and history tour is offered year-round on Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 10:45 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.
Thomasville, GA (population 24,000)