Gourmet Goals
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Bucket List Destinations for Foodies

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Gourmet Goals
RossHelen/istockphoto

Gourmet Goals

Most of us enjoy eating, but not so much that we’re willing to go to the ends of the Earth for a favorite dish or new sensation. If you’re the one who needs to choose the restaurant when going out, or talks for 20 minutes without taking a breath if someone asks about a favorite food, you may be the kind of true foodie who will want to check off these bucket list destinations on a quest for deliciousness. Even though we may not all be traveling again just yet, it wouldn't hurt to start planning. Better set some airfare price alerts


Related: Iconic U.S. Restaurants to Try Before You Die

Portland, Oregon
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Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon has outgrown its grungy reputation and become a foodie destination for small, personality-driven restaurants as well as unusual attractions. It may be hipster heaven, but it’s pretty fun for the rest of us too. Check out Cathedral Park, the Japanese Gardens, and the ruins spookily named Witch’s Castle for a look at what Portland has to offer.

Voodoo Doughnut
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Portland, Oregon: Don't Miss

Portland has a foodie reputation is for a range of cuisines at various price points. That includes a food cart scene with everything from traditional taco trucks to breakfast sandwich stops with cheeky names such as “Fried Egg I’m in Love.” For dessert, there’s the famed Voodoo Doughnut or the smaller but equally wonderful Pips Original for some made-to-order doughnuts and a house-made chai flight.

Mercato Albinelli
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Modena, Italy

Located in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, Modena is the home of balsamic vinegar, Ferrari and Lamborghini, and a rich opera tradition. In fact, the tourism board of Modena uses the slogan “Art, Food, and Cars” to showcase its diversity of delights. Be sure to carve out plenty of time to explore Mercato Albinelli, the historic indoor market where you can shop and sample the region’s legendary cheeses, salumi, wine, produce, pasta, baked goods and more. 


Related: Best Old-School Italian Restaurants in America

Osteria Francescana
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Modena, Italy: Don’t Miss

Not only is some of the world’s best wine, vinegar, and cheese (ever heard of Parmigiano?) made here, but Osteria Francescana, considered by some to be the world’s best restaurant, is here as well. If you’ve seen the “Chef’s Table” episode on Netflix, you’ll understand why you should book a ticket immediately.


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Party Time in New Orleans USA
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New Orleans

The Big Easy is for anyone looking to let the good times roll — and savor delicious eats along the way. From the French Quarter to Bourbon Street to the Garden District, you’ll find nightlife, food, and music that will make you never want to leave. Along with its famed Cajun and Creole cuisine, New Orleans has culinary options ranging from Vietnamese to Israeli. 


Related: Best Cheap or Free Things to Do in New Orleans

Muffuletta from Central Grocery & Deli
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New Orleans: Don't Miss

While there’s plenty of fine dining options to explore, even gas stations in New Orleans offer not-to-be-missed culinary treasures, most famously po’ boys and fried chicken. One of the city's most famed eateries is the Commander's Palace, a turquoise Victorian landmark that has served as a training ground for great chefs including Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, and Jamie Shannon. And don’t miss the famed muffuletta from Central Grocery & Deli, a low-key favorite since 1906. (Central Grocery & Deli is currently rebuilding after damage from Hurricane Ida in 2021.) If you head down for the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience this summer (June 7-12), you’ll get a taste of many of the city’s legendary restaurants, along with perfectly paired wines.

Central Region, Singapore
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Singapore

Singapore’s world-class attractions include vibrant shophouses on Haji Lane to the “supertrees” in Gardens by the Bay to the world’s second-largest tunnel for indoor skydiving. For foodies, Singapore is special because the flavors of Malaysia, China, Indonesia, India, and beyond collide into a diverse set of unique dining options.

Singapore: Don’t Miss
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Singapore: Don't Miss

Foodies roaming Singapore can enjoy dishes such as Laksa, a spicy coconut noodle soup, and Singapore’s iconic chicken rice. Whether you want to dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant or open-air hawker center with rows of food stalls — or better yet, food stalls with Michelin stars and nods — food lovers will be thrilled at their options. If possible, plan a trip around the World Gourmet Summit, one of the oldest events in Singapore, featuring some of the world’s best chefs and wine experts.


Related: Food Festivals That Should Be On Your Bucket List

Los Angeles
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Los Angeles

Sunny L.A. is known for beaches, movie stars, and a sprawling expanse of possibility. And there’s really no bad time to visit. Go in July and beat the not-too-oppressive-heat with a beach day. Go in January and all you need is a light sweater — the sun is still in charge. From hybrid Mexican-Korean taco trucks and food-centric enclaves teeming with amazing eateries like Thai Town, Koreatown, and Boyle Heights, to high-end restaurants with tasting menus that incorporate flavors from around the globe, the food in Los Angeles is wide-ranging with a diversity of price points. In recent years has come to be recognized by the press and foodies alike as the most exciting food destinations in the world. 


Related: Great Cities for Food Trucks

Los Angeles: Don't Miss
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Los Angeles: Don't Miss

Those with a culinary bent can’t leave L.A. without visiting the city’s beloved and abundant farmers’ markets, including the popular Santa Monica Farmers Market where you’re just as likely to rub elbows with your favorite celebrity chef as you are to spot a movie star. With stunning produce available year-round, there’s no better bucket list destination for true foodies. 


Related: Bucket-List Food Experiences in Every State

Copenhagen, Denmark
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Copenhagen

You’ve probably noticed all the cooler-than-cool people on your Instagram feed visiting Copenhagen in the past few years. Along with historic and beautiful sites such as Nyhavn or The Little Mermaid statue, there are renowned cultural spots such as the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the beautiful Amalienborg Palace, and cobblestone streets lined with houses from as early as the 16th century. From inexpensive bites such as the beloved street snacks rød pølse (red sausage) or shawarma to renowned high-end hot spots (there’s a total of 19 Michelin stars among 15 restaurants), you’ll have plenty to savor.

Tasting Menu, Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark
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Copenhagen: Don't Miss

Along with lovely bakeries (look for a sign that says “bageri”), coffee shops, and cafes, Copenhagen is home to the Torvehallerne market, 60-plus stands selling everything from fresh fish and cheese to meat, spices, and chocolate, and plenty of spots for a quick lunch. On the higher end, there’s Noma, the two-Michelin-star restaurant known for wildly creative, locally foraged dishes that’s held the title of the world’s best restaurant for multiple years. The restaurant recently relocated and reopened with a renewed focus on seasonality and its own urban farm. Reservations go fast, so mark your calendar.

Tokyo, Japan
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Tokyo

This city mixes futurism and tradition and boasts splendors such as the gardens at the imperial palace, along with sweeping views from the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, a 54-story skyscraper that houses companies such as Google Japan, Pokemon, and The Mori Art Museum. Whether you’re a tech nerd, a history buff, or simply someone who likes public transit that runs on time, Tokyo is the place to be. There are seemingly endless ramen shops, sushi spots at every price point, and other tasty traditional noodle options.

Tokyo Ramen Festival in Tokyo, Japan
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Tokyo: Don't Miss

The world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji-shijo, should definitely be on every foodie’s itinerary. If you’re looking for something to plan your trip around, the Tokyo Ramen Show, usually in late October to early November, is an excellent way to get a feel for the many styles of ramen native to Japan.  


Related: This Is the Best Ramen in Your State, According to Customers



Aspen, CO
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Aspen, Colorado

Aspen, Colorado, is a Rocky Mountain ski resort town and year-round destination for lovers of the outdoors and culture alike. For a relaxing if usually pricey getaway featuring brisk days on the trails and nights spent savoring the various culinary options, Aspen is lovely.

Vendors selling vintage bicycles at stall stand in farmers market with people walking in outdoor summer street
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Aspen, Colorado: Don't Miss

The famed Food & Wine Classic returns to Aspen this summer (June 17-19). Many of your favorite food celebrities are bound to be there, to say nothing of all the incredible things to eat. If you’re just going to one food festival, this should be the one.

Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka may not be the first spot you think of for foodie paradise, but food is one of several reasons to go. Lovers of all-day hiking can find trails with majestic waterfalls, surfers can find uncrowded surf breaks along the coast, and those that just want to relax by a pool will be delighted by the abundance of luxury and boutique hotels. 


Related: Destinations You Can Visit on $20 a Day

Ministry of Crab
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Sri Lanka: Don't Miss

Love crab? There’s a whole restaurant devoted to it, called Ministry of Crab. And, considering the island grows more than a dozen kinds of rice (down from hundreds just decades years ago) there is a wide range of delicious rice-based dishes to be explored. Zen foodies who love their warm beverages can stay at the Ceylon Tea Trails, a mountain luxury resort amid tea fields. Think Napa, but for tea.

New York, New York
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New York City

Broadway, legendary sports teams, Fifth Avenue shopping, historic architecture, internationally renowned art museums, and more: Rather than asking New York City has, it’s easier to ask what it doesn’t — especially when it comes to food. Welcome to culinary heaven. Whether you choose to feast on dumplings and genre-defining pizza slices or tasting menus at Michelin-starred restaurants, you’ll experience some of the world’s best. 


Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Pizza Joints Across America

Eleven Madison Park
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New York City: Don't Miss

For an upscale meal you’ll never forget, try Eleven Madison Park, reputed to be one of the world’s 10 best restaurants. A shout out to vegetarians: Eleven Madison Park recently moved to a totally plant-plant based menu.  To learn how to cook your own feast, take a one-day class at the International Culinary Center, where alums include Dan Barber, David Chang, and Christina Tosi.

Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy
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Rome

Rome, the eternal city! There’s a reason it’s been idealized for centuries — Rome is beautiful, historic, and has an abundance of sensory pleasures to offer. Even if you just go to the iconic spots, it could take you days to finish: the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, The Vatican, and Sistine Chapel, and more. Even if you just stuck to side streets and tucked-away trattorias serving incredible food, Rome would win your heart.

Rome: Don't Miss
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Rome: Don't Miss

There’s almost no prospect more exciting to a foodie than eating one’s way through Rome. Just the pasta dishes could delight you for a lifetime. Along with eating every one you can find, why not learn how to make your own pasta with a class from natives Gianni and Cesare? You’ll meet them at Rome’s most famous food market, shop for ingredients together, then make a four-course lunch or dinner to be enjoyed with wine. 


Related: Free and Cheap Things to Do in Rome

Paris
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Paris

Paris has a lot of hype. And, why not? It’s the city of lights, the city of love, and the city of all things delicious — from spectacular pastries, baguettes and cheeses at every turn to legendary temples of haute cuisine that have inspired chefs the world over. If you ask us, the hype is deserved — especially if you spend your time exploring beyond the “must hit” spots everyone goes to.

Paris by Mouth Tour
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Paris: Don't Miss

Paris has something magical to offer everyone when it comes to gastronomy. For those with a chunk of change to spend, the restaurant Arpège has been named one of the world’s 10 best by CNN and USA Today. For those who want to explore all the deliciousness a neighborhood has to offer, try a food tour of Paris with Paris by Mouth.

Related: Cheap or Free Things to Do in Paris

Lima, Peru
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Lima, Peru

When most of us think Peru, we think of the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the wonders of the world, but there’s more to the country. Lima is Peru’s largest city and home to more than a quarter of the nation’s 30 million people, as well as to beaches, parks, museums, and even more architectural marvels to gawk at. The city also offers a rich diversity of delicious food options, including flavors that draw influence from indigenous, Spanish, and Japanese traditions among many others. 


Related: Traditional Hispanic Foods Most Americans Don't Know About (But Should)

Lima, Peru: Don't Miss
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Lima, Peru: Don't Miss

Lima is arguably the culinary capital of South America. There’s zesty, fresh ceviche, cuy (guinea pig) for the adventurous, and two of the world’s top 10 restaurants according to some — Central and Maido.

Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut
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New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven is home to an Ivy League university, several breweries, museums, hiking, and more. It reinvents itself every day, but there’s no reason why this charming New England city shouldn’t be on a foodie’s travel bucket list right now. You’ll find everything from beloved casual eateries like Louis’ Lunch — which lays claim to being the birthplace of the hamburger — to upscale favorites like Union League Cafe.


Related: The Surprising History of the Humble Hamburger

White Clam Pizza
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New Haven, Connecticut: Don't Miss

Easily the most famous food in New Haven is pizza — locally known as apizza. If you’ve never heard of something called “clam pie,” head to Frank Pepe’s and order yourself a clam pie,  but you might have to wait hours for the privilege. Same, too, for Sally’s Apizza and Modern Apizza, which is known for its Italian Bomb pie. These three pizza joints were the focus of the thoroughly entertaining documentary "Pizza: A Love Story."


Related: Restaurants That Are Worth the Wait 

Colombia
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Colombia

Most Colombian tourist destinations, including Bogota, Medellín, Cali, and Cartagena, are in the “green zone” least affected by the nation’s notorious crime. Beaches, jungle, mountains, or a thriving metropolis full of excellent culinary options —from buñuelos (a fried-dough dessert) for breakfast to a feast of roasted lechona (above) at night — can be enjoyed trouble free.

Basket with red ripe coffee beans in a hads of coffee picker at coffee plantation in Colombia.
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Colombia: Don't Miss

Love a good cup of java? Go straight to the source. While planning a Colombia trip, make sure to book a coffee tour to see where your morning savior is grown and meet the people making it happen. Many also include a typical lunch of the region, and, of course, unlimited coffee. Look into WakeCup for English-speaking options.

San Francisco
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Northern California

Do we really need two California locations on our bucket list? Yes. In Northern California, there is verdant farmland, stunning wine country, Silicon Valley, and lovely San Francisco. Wine lovers, nature buffs, and tech nerds alike will feel instantly at home.

Two glasses of white wine with cheese
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Northern California: Don't Miss

Napa is iconic for a reason. Set up a wine tasting, especially at world-class vineyards such as Heitz Cellar, Stag’s Leap, or the tech-savvy, family-owned Palmaz. Add lunch to the tasting at the bucolic Long Meadow Ranch, which uses full-circle organic farming. Nearby Sonoma also offers a wealth of wineries and the world-famous cheese trail. Book a table at the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley and, if you’re up for more wine, visit Berkeley natural winery Donkey & Goat too.

Spring Flowers in a Park
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Amsterdam

Amsterdam isn’t just windmills and wooden shoes. Wander the elaborate canal system, visit the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh House, and rent a bike to explore the city like the locals. If you go during the spring, take a train to visit Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden.

Amsterdam: Don't Miss
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Amsterdam: Don't Miss

Take a trip with Cheese Journeys to explore Gouda and beyond. You’ll tour the facilities of top cheesemakers, visit historic cheese villages, and most importantly, relax and explore in the company of other cheese and food lovers.

Vermont
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Vermont

Vermont attracts skiers, beer fans, and nature lovers. This charming New England destination displays each season beautifully. Burlington, the largest city in Vermont and a university town, also offers historic museums, a delightful downtown and plenty of great food options, including top-notch farm-to-table options like the heralded Hen of the Wood.

Ben & Jerry's Factory
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Vermont: Don't Miss

The Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury is a dairy mecca for ice cream fanatics with tours including a flavor graveyard where you can pay your respects to your favorite “dearly de-pinted flavors.” Tours are currently on hold. 

Bangkok, Thailand
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Bangkok

Bangkok is one of the world’s most exciting destinations — think exceptional street food, vibrant nightlife, and stunning Buddhist temples. With dozens of millions of tourists every year, it’s a dynamic city that’s instantly captivating.

Gaggan Bangkok
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Bangkok: Don't Miss

Bangkok’s famed street food is satisfying, delicious, and inexpensive, but the award-winning and renowned Nahm and Gaggan are also in Bangkok if you’re looking to drop some cash on an unforgettable meal.