This Year's Best Cities for Foodies

By BT Editor / WalletHub
November 7, 2023
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Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington by Lokesh Masania - Unsplash

If you're a traveler that prioritizes culinary experiences and local food, make sure to take a look at the cities that topped the "Best Foodie Cities" ranking for 2023. WalletHub recently compared over 180 destinations in the US to determine which had the best local food scenes.

In order to determine the top destinations for food, WalletHub evaluated data in two key categories: “Affordability” and “Diversity, Accessibility & Quality.” Each category looked at metrics such as average restaurant meal prices and grocery costs; food and sales taxes; the number of restaurants, food trucks, farmers markets, cafes, breweries, and more per capita; access and availability of international and specialty item grocery stores, food festivals, tours, and culinary supplies stores; as well as restaurant diversity and recognition.

Set aside those dieting plans for after the new year begins, and take a peak at what makes the destinations below so delicious.

Top spots in the Sunshine State

A taco stand in Miami, Florida by Daniel Lee - Unsplash

Cities in Florida dominated the rankings, with Orlando coming out as the number one spot for foodies. It's no surprise—the city is a tourist hot spot thanks to its numerous theme parks and attractions. It tied for first place in multiple categories including the most restaurants, ice cream and frozen yogurt shops, gourmet specialty food stores, and coffee shops per capita, making it the ultimate destination if you are looking for variety and options when it comes to eating. While it didn't do as well when it came to affordability, the quality and diversity of the food scene make Orlando more than worthwhile for people looking for a tasty trip.

With a bustling international food scene, Miami came in at fourth overall thanks to its top spot in the category of Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality. Cuban food is a particularly well-loved cuisine in the city, but the Miami dining scene also has an incredible amount of influence from several Latin American cultures. The south Florida gem also tied for first place in restaurants per capita and ice cream shops per capita.

Tampa, Florida, ranked sixth overall, tied for most ice cream shops per capita and ranked fifth for most gourmet specialty food shops. While not making it to the top 10 overall rankings, Cape Coral also made an impressive showing as the city with the highest ratio of full-service restaurants to fast-food establishments

Culinary gems in California

A seafood restaurant in San Francisco by Yaopey Yong - Unsplash

California was another state that topped the lists in WalletHub's research. Overall, Sacramento ranked third, San Francisco ranked fifth, and San Diego ranked seventh. Additionally, just outside of the top 10, Los Angeles made it to 13th place, Oakland came in at 21st, and Santa Ana was close behind at 23rd.

San Francisco took second place in the category of Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality—which comes as no surprise thanks to its award-winning restaurants, bustling Chinatown, fresh-caught seafood, local farms, and international food scene. Sacramento and San Diego also had great showings in the same category, ranking seventh and eighth respectively. San Diego topped the list for most craft breweries and wineries per capita. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco tied in first for most restaurants per capita.

Other notable California towns in the study include Fresno, which ranked fourth for lowest average beer and wine prices, and Santa Rosa, which tied for most craft breweries and wineries and came in second for highest ratio of full-service restaurants to fast-food establishments.

Flavorful, affordable Western cities

Las Vegas lights up the night by Ameer Basheer - Unsplash

Destinations west of the Mississippi made a great overall showing, often due to the lower costs associated with food and dining. In eighth place overall, Las Vegas tied for most ice cream shops per capita and most restaurants per capita. While its affordability ranking was modest at 88th place, Sin City actually fared better than many of the other overall top-ranked cities (several of which fell near the bottom of that category, though they were redeemed with their incredibly diverse culinary scenes). Denver took 11th place overall, also with one of the better affordability rankings of the top ranked towns—the "Mile High" city doesn't quite have mile-high prices, coming in at decent 48th place.

Texas towns had an impressive showing and are also more affordable overall. Austin made it just inside the top 10 at ninth place overall, came in at 13th in the Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality category, and ranked fifth for lowest cost of groceries. San Antonio showed up for a first place tie with the most ice cream shops per capita. Additionally, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and Laredo ranked first, second, and third respectively for lowest cost of groceries—though they might not be as fun for dining out as the bigger cities.

Pacific Northwest standouts

Coffee shop in Pike Place in Seattle by Brett Wharton - Unsplash

It's all about craft breweries and good coffee in the Pacific Northwest, and that certainly helped the rankings for towns in Washington and Oregon. Amidst all the Florida and California destinations, Portland, Oregon, snuck into second place overall, thanks to an impressive 5th place finish in the Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality category. Tenth-ranked Seattle also came in fourth for Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality. Both Seattle and Portland tied for most craft breweries and wineries per capita; Spokane also tied for most coffee shops per capita.

—To view the full rankings and data, visit WalletHub.

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Top Historical Sites To Visit This Thanksgiving

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In a world where many people are increasingly focused on their well-being and strive to strike a work-life balance, most still find themselves neglecting their hard-earned vacation days. Those looking to Sonoma County, California will find a harmonious blend of nature's beauty where the art of relaxation awaits, promising to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul. Experiences in Sonoma County include opportunities for forest bathing, stargazing, and engaging in wellness, creativity workshops, and more. A multitude of offerings provide visitors with the chance to immerse themselves in a midweek or weekend dedicated to self-care, relaxation, rejuvenation, connection, and holistic well-being. Forest bathe amongst the Redwoods Redwoods in Sonoma County by David Singleton - Unsplash Immerse yourself in the serenity of Bartholomew Estate Vineyards and Winery for a very special forest bathing and estate wine tasting experience Certified Nature Therapy Guide, Jenny Harrow-Keeler. 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Laramie, in southeast Wyoming, offers the Tie City/Happy Jack trail network and the Snowy Range for diverse snowshoeing and cross country skiing opportunities. The one-third-of-a-mile Summit Loop provides majestic views, while Chimney Park Trail's 15 miles cater to various skill levels. The Barber Lake Trail, groomed for classic Nordic skiing, offers thrilling descents and climbs in the Medicine Bow National Forest.In Yellowstone National Park, winter enthusiasts can explore miles of groomed and ungroomed trails, but they must consult park rangers for trail conditions, as some areas are closed to protect wildlife. Among the recommended trails are the 4.2-mile Snow Pass Ski Trail, the Lone Star Geyser Trail with its geothermal wonders and the historical Bannock Ski Trail. Near Yellowstone's east entrance, Cody provides over 15 miles of groomed trails at Sleeping Giant Ski Area and Pahaska Tepee Resort. 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Add Some Extra Flavor to These Classic Seasonal Activities

Don't let the stress and busy-ness of the holidays take over this year. Wind down from all the excitement with the perfect drink from Bird Dog's seasonally-inspired whiskeys. The flavors below encapsulate the holidays and perfectly complement a number of classic fall and winter activities. These drinks are sure to add a festive touch to group gatherings and fun-filled days, so stock your bar at home and book those holiday plans now! Pumpkin Spice - Fall Festivals and Spooky Nights A spooky fall display with candles and pumpkins by Freestocks - Unplash Pumpkin spice-flavored items have a cult-like following, the fervor of which peaks in October just in time for Halloween events and fall festivals. Pumpkins abound—on doorsteps, outside grocery stores, and all over any variety of fall events. However, the extra kick of a pumpkin-spiced whiskey comes in handy when attempting to calm the nerves (before or after) a haunted house or extra spooky Halloween-themed activity. If you're interested in scary thrills, head to St. Augustine, Florida for the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum. Built in 1798, this house has seen its fair share of occupants. To celebrate Halloween, the Museum is offering Mortality and Mourning: A Century of Death, a family-friendly tour revealing how St. Augustinians in the 1800s practiced medicine and mourned. Tours are offered twice nightly on Friday and Saturday evenings, through Saturday, October 28. Additionally, The Colonial Quarter hosts the Halloween Spooktacular, presented by the St. Augustine Swashbucklers. Adventure through haunted grounds Friday, October 27th through Sunday, October 29th. Bird Dog Pumpkin Spice Candy Cane - Holiday Performances Ballet dancers backstage by Kazuo Ota - Unsplash As fall fades, peppermint-infused treats begin to make their way in anticipation of the Christmas season. Shows such as The Nutcracker are traditionally family favorites and performances of the classic ballet are typically available in most major cities. In addition to professional theatre, though, December is also the peak season for school holiday programs. Whether you're celebrating a festive night out in town, or recovering from a long night (or nights) of a packed family schedule, a festive candy cane-infused bourbon is a great addition to the evening. In Jacksonville, Florida, the performing arts lineup is packed for the holiday season. The theaters of Jacksonville get into the holiday spirit through the end of the year with performances of heart-warming classics and cheery seasonal programming. The Jacksonville Symphony will perform the First Coast Nutcracker in December with prized dancers and magical set pieces at the Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts. Alhambra Theatre & Dining puts on Miracle on 34th Street from mid-November until Christmas Eve. In early December, the Ritz Theater & Museum will host the Jacksonville Christmas Spectacular, three humorous and fun stories in one show featuring the Jacksonville Jaguars DrumLine as a musical guest. Bird Dog Candy Cane S'mores - Outdoor Adventures A roaring campfire in the mountains by Courtnie Tosana - Unsplash S'mores top the list of outdoor campfire treats. If you've got a plan to enjoy the fall colors and changing of the seasons with camping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, be sure to bring along a celebratory beverage like Bird Dog S'mores Flavored Whiskey (no campfire required!). A drink like this is especially useful if you need to wind down from a thrilling day of climbing, rafting, mountain biking, or other more extreme activities. Ride the rapids in a thrilling white water rafting trip in East Tennessee: The Ocoee River, renowned for its Olympic course, ranks among the top whitewater rivers in the US. Its 11-mile stretch transforms into a thrilling whitewater adventure, drawing over 300,000 paddlers annually. Nestled within the Bald and Unaka Mountains, the Nolichucky River boasts a nine-mile gorge, offering a wild and thrilling setting. Considered a challenging Class III or IV river, guided trips are available for adventurers aged 12 and above. The Upper Pigeon River, surrounded by the stunning Great Smoky Mountains, provides Class III rapids and a range of outfitter-guided excursions. For a more relaxed experience, the Lower Pigeon River offers gentle rapids, swimming spots, and scenic views, making it ideal for families and leisurely float trips. Designated as a State Scenic River, the Hiwassee River features predominantly Class I and II rapids, with some sections reaching Class III during water releases. Outfitters offer self-guided rafting, guided fishing, and accommodation options, making it a versatile destination for a variety of outdoor activities. Bird Dog S'mores Mesquite Brown Sugar - Light Displays and Natural Beauty Las Noches de Las Luminarias - Courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden The earthy notes of mesquite and sweet warmth of brown sugar combine to make the perfect flavor profile for a night exploring the many tree lighting ceremonies, and beautifully-illuminated outdoor spaces this time of year. Stroll through decoratively lit city parks and twinkly trees with a drink in hand, or pour a nightcap after a magical evening out. In Phoenix, Arizona, visitors can enjoy hundreds of hand-lit luminarias around the Desert Botanical Garden as live performances and entertainment, and festive snacks complete a picture-perfect evening at Las Noches de Las Luminarias. Celebrate the Mexican holiday tradition of La Posada (December 17th) with singing processions, traditional Mexican food and beverage, as well as a piñata breaking experience for children. Nearby, Old Town Scottsdale hosts Scottsdazzle, a signature holiday spectacular with an annual Sing-Along & Tree Lighting Ceremony (this year's is November 25th). Bird Dog Mesquite Brown Sugar Espresso - Holiday Shopping and City Tours Nutcrackers on display in a store window by Dare Artworks - Unsplash Holiday shopping doesn't have to be rough. Seasonal markets can be a great way to support local vendors and craftsmen, while exploring new places. Plan a night out to a big city to enjoy the markets and holiday light installations. An espresso-flavored drink matches the tone of a bustling retail atmosphere, without giving the over-stimulating punch of an actual coffee. Head to San Francisco for a fun shopping experience. Visit The Park Market at Crane Cove with local makers, live music, food and drink vendors, and family-friendly activities to one of the city's newer parks. The Trick or Treat Market on October 28 will include Halloween activities and crafts, while the series ends on November 19 with a Holiday Mercantile. Explore more of the city with a unique tour, powered by augmented-reality and Paper Tree - The Origami Store. Visitors scan a QR code at Paper Tree to begin an immersive origami adventure on their smartphones. As they stroll along Japantown's Buchanan Street, colorful red and white envelopes appear to “float in the air.” The user's proximity triggers an envelope to open, revealing a larger-than-life origami diorama. Using their smartphone, visitors can walk around the origami figures and inspect them from all angles to see the intricate folds made to create each piece. A pop-up display also shows the artist's name and which origami papers from Paper Tree were used in the work. A flock of gold origami cranes flutters across the sky once all the dioramas are revealed. Bird Dog Black Espresso Gingerbread - Make-Believe and Magic Warm drink and gingerbread by Flotsam - Shutterstock No matter what you celebrate, the holiday season has a special kind of magic to it. The end-of-the-year celebrations inspire acts of kindness, magical decor, and whimsical stories. The spirit of gift-giving and thankfulness can soften even the most scrooge-y of people. Holiday vacations from work and school—whether spent relaxing at home, with family, or at a fun destination—often center around festive meals and treats. Adding a gingerbread-flavored cocktail make a festive addition to big get togethers with friends and family. For a truly magical experience, take the family to a winter wonderland like the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee which features kids activities, magical decor, ice skating, and light displays every November and December. Or, step back into a storybook with a trip on one of the many polar express train rides across the country. One of the best can be found in Durango, Colorado aboard the vintage steam train. The Polar Express Train Ride takes visitors on a narrow-gauge rail through the Rocky Mountains for an immersive re-creation of the classic holiday story. Enjoy hot cocoa and treats on the way to the "North Pole," where visitors will enjoy a light show and the train picks up Santa Claus himself. On the return trip to Durango, Santa will visit each coach and hand out the first gift of Christmas to each passenger. Bird Dog Gingerbread Sponsored by Bird Dog WhiskeyBird Dog Whiskey is proud and honored to be the most-awarded flavored whiskey on the market, earning top honors in both industry and consumer competitions. Each of its flavored whiskeys is meticulously crafted to deliver a smooth, complex, and unique drinking experience that balances a delicious flavor with real Kentucky bourbon whiskey. For more information, please visit

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