5 Amazing Food Trails Around the World That Serve Local Eats and Stunning Scenery

Explore local cuisines on these epic food trails around the world, from California to Scotland.

Bowl full of black cherries
Photo: Courtesy of Colombia Gorge Tourism Alliance

The flavors, the freedom, the hospitality, the elation of trying something new. Many of us love the chance to relish in a relaxing meal outside, especially when it means taking in a nice view as well as the fresh air. And when you're checking out a new city or locale, one of the best ways to experience the local food scene — whether you're closer to home or traveling abroad — is by checking out a food trail.

So, what exactly is a food trail? The trails featured here — many organized by local tourism boards — showcase high-quality, regionally produced goods and services in one geographic area (in this case, beautiful areas known for agriculture, fishing, and farming techniques). These food trails offer plenty of self-guided options for those who prefer to have the freedom to design their own experience based on individual tastes and preferences. (Read: No group tours here.) In other words, you decide how you want to start and finish, and how little or how much you want to interact, see, and taste along the way. You can meander between stops to enjoy scenic views — free of charge — as well as pick up edibles from your journey to share with friends and family back home. Here are a handful of food trail options to get you inspired, along with some tips for creating your own food trail adventure wherever you call home.

Arbroath Smokie Trail, Scotland

Arbroath smokie trail with fresh caught fish
Courtesy of Visit Scotland

Scotland offers a mélange of food trails all over the country, divvied up by cuisine type and geography, allowing epicureans to sample hand-dived scallops, salty bread rolls, tartan chocolates, and malt whiskey everywhere from Loch Ness to the Outer Hebrides. One of the more distinct and wanderlust-inducing options is the Arbroath Smokie Trail, which spotlights the smokie, a whole wood-smoked haddock with the backbone still intact. Legend has it that the first Arbroath smokies came to fruition after a store caught fire with barrels of salted haddock inside, producing this seafood delicacy. Today, smokies are hung on sticks in pairs above a hardwood fire of beech and oak in the base of a whiskey barrel that gives them their unique flavor. Thanks to the dish's protected status under European law, these must be prepared using the original process within a five-mile radius of the town of Arbroath in order to be called "Arbroath smokies." The east coast fishing village is home to around a dozen small family businesses that continue to cure smokies the proper way, while nearby outlets offer endless variations like smokie pâté, smokie risotto, smokie stew, and smokie ice cream. Burn off the calories with a walk around the Seaton Cliffs Nature Reserve, which offers a stunning array of dramatic sandstone cliffs, sea caves, and birds, including the elusive puffin.

East Gorge Food Trail, Oregon, United States

Bowl full of black cherries
Courtesy of Colombia Gorge Tourism Alliance

Founded in 2018, this trail lets you choose your own food-themed adventure along Oregon's eastern Columbia River Gorge. One suggestion is the Fruit of the Valley route, which highlights historic farms, orchards, and fruit stands. Make sure to check the seasonality and hours of operation before planning your trip. Bring buckets for pick-your-own peaches and more than a dozen varieties of cherries, then arrange a private tour at Muirhead Canning and watch the preservation of pears, apricots, plums, and other fruit. Stop by the Sandoz Farm, where the market stand sells fresh produce, as well as jams, pickled veggies, and local meats. You'll get plenty of views along the valley's orchard-covered hillsides. Or, for more exercise, hike Mosier Plateau's three-and-a-half-mile path, then finish with a growler of hard cider in Hood River. Fun fact: The trail also extends to the Washington state side of the gorge for even more choices.

Northern Rivers Harvest Food Trail, New South Wales, Australia

Farmer tends to fields in Byron Bay
Courtesy of The Farm Byron Bay

Most think of Byron Bay as being surrounded by beaches, but it's also home to rainforests and fertile valleys, making it a mecca for agritourism. The Northern Rivers Harvest Food Trail is bursting with sustainable farms, orchards, and food producers selling everything from fruit and honey to cheeses and coffee. Though the trail's founders organize a scheduled promotional weekend every year, you can create your own trail by picking and choosing which farmers and food artisans you want to visit. You could also spend an entire day at The Farm Byron Bay, which houses a collection of small businesses that support the environment and contribute to healthy habits. Abiding by its motto — grow, feed, educate, give back — the sprawling 80-acre farm is home to a range of gardens and free-roaming animals, plus it sells goodies from the artisan bakery, produce market, florist, gelato stand, and a garden shed where you can pick out seedlings to plant at home.

Burren Food Trail, County Clare, Ireland

Free range pigs on the farm in Ireland
Courtesy of Burren Free Range Pork Farm

Like Scotland, Ireland's lush interiors and pristine waters make it a prime location for strong agricultural and food traditions. With a number of self-guided trails around the destination, it's hard to top the Burren Food Trail. This unique region of western Ireland is famous for its karst limestone geological landscape, which dates back 300 million years. Spend a day or two driving around the narrow but awe-inspiring country roads, and visiting a number of passionate family-run establishments selling local produce, seafood, chocolate, goat cheeses, and meats, like free-range pork products. Each member has been vetted for quality standards and is committed to building a sustainable future for the region — and they are ready and willing to talk to visitors. Another benefit of touring the Burren is its proximity to outdoor hikes at the Cliffs of Moher and Burren National Park. You don't have to look too far for inspiring scenery, though: The region is an official UNESCO-listed geopark and is said to be the only place on Earth where alpine, arctic, and Mediterranean plant species grow next to each other.

Cheese Trail, California, United States

A red barn behind trees in California
Courtesy of Straus Home Ranch

If driving around California and eating cheese sounds like an ideal way to spend some time, this trail is for you. This non-profit aims to promote artisan cheesemakers and family farmers — including tours, classes, and events — all over the Golden State. Check out any of the nine suggested self-guided driving tours, like the Central Valley trail that starts with a Dutch family who specializes in gouda and has an outdoor petting zoo. Meanwhile, the North Coast trail takes you to three cheesemakers near dramatic ocean views and redwood forests. The first recommended stop is Pennyroyal Farm, where you can sample cheese and wine (the co-owner is part of Navarro Winery in the Anderson Valley). Other trails offer specifics for visiting hard-to-find farms with, say, a shop located in a vintage barn where you can taste and purchase cheeses and picnic items. The Cheese Trail website is easy to use, thanks in part to the hard work of founders Vivien Straus and digital media manager Philip Jison, who regularly update the free downloadable map.

Tips for Creating Your Own Food Trail

Start by contacting your local tourism office to see if they have any information on nearby farms and producers that accept visitors. If that doesn't generate results, ask the owner of your favorite gourmet grocery store for some of their local food suppliers that you can contact. Another great option is to speak to vendors at your closest farmers' market and ask if they offer private tours and tastings. You might be surprised at how many farms are ready to welcome visitors. Then, plot your trail. Even a few stops can reinvigorate the taste buds and wanderlust and make for an unforgettable day.

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