Spring break trips don't always have to include 24-hour booze-a-thons or midnight stumbles through Vegas (as fun as those both can be). Whether you're planning a final semester last hurrah or are in need of a family-friendly destination that doesn't include the word "Disney," cruise on over to one of these six U.S. cities for a refreshingly food-focused vacation.
① Charleston, South Carolina
Labeled as one of the best cities in the world by Travel + Leisure, Charleston's cobblestone streets are home to some of the South's best lowcountry cuisine. The nation's top culinary talent have been flocking to this elegant port city for years now, and if you grow tired of oyster roasts and drooling over Charleston's antebellum architecture, Myrtle Beach's pristine sand is just a short drive away—leaving you enough time to ready your appetite for cornmeal-dusted catfish and bacon cornbread at Husk, James Beard Award winner Sean Brock's phenomenal restaurant.
② Denver, Colorado
Adventurers dreaming of an extended winter should head straight for the powder-dusted mountaintops of the nation's ski capital. After a long day on the slopes, quench your thirst with a blackberry wheat ale from Vine Street Pub, one of downtown's countless microbreweries. Then once you've had your fill, hop over to Acorn for oak-grilled rib eyes and a couple of well-crafted cocktails.
Headed to the @nationalwestern Stock Show? Come by Acorn before or after (we're right down the street) for our 32 oz Oak Grilled Prime Ribeye! Coming with crispy yukon potatoes, manchego, brown butter & au poivre! #eatatacorn #nwss #yeehaw #stockshow #woodfired #familystyle #feastagram #forkyeah #instafood #foodporn #foodstagram #eater #cofoodies #milehigh #denverlife #downtowndenver #rino #denverrestaurants #denvereats #milehighfood #denverdining #eaterdenver #5280 #303eats #5280eats #foodbeast #colorado
③ Houston, Texas
With multiple publications and food icons like David Chang heralding it as the new global food mecca, Houston is on everybody's 2017 travel radar. Yes, the Tex-Mex joints are indeed outstanding, but the city's rich ethnic history means you'll be sampling everything from Huynh's searingly hot bún bò Huế in Little Saigon to savory Lebanese kaftas at Abdallah's Bakery. While you're killing time before your reservation at chef Chris Shepherd's newest project, One Fifth, check out H-Town's vast selection of museums and performing arts venues, each on par with anything New York or LA have to offer.
④ Key West, Florida
After making your way past hordes of South Beach partygoers, take the scenic 150-mile coastal drive—hailed as "one of the great American road trips"—to this island destination in the Florida Keys. This quaint beach town is brimming with Cuban and Caribbean influences and gorgeously preserved historic buildings, including Ernest Hemingway's famed residence, and the local cuisine takes full advantage of the surrounding turquoise waters. Aside from sweet stone crabs and tender spiny lobsters, there's an almost obsessive devotion to conch. Several restaurants, like Louie's Backyard and The Conch Shack, have fully dedicated themselves to serving up the mollusk in various forms like coconut conch ceviche and crispy fritters. Just don't forget to grab a few tart wedges of Key lime pie for the drive back to Miami International.
⑤ New Orleans, Louisiana
While we're not one to turn down a boozy stroll down Bourbon Street, NOLA's charming boutique hotels and, of course, fantastic Cajun cuisine are what draws us to those notoriously noisy alleyways. Get your requisite beignets from Cafe du Monde and chargrilled oysters from Acme if you must, but you'd be foolish to miss out on the rabbit and dumplings from Cochon, located in the city's Warehouse District. Still hungry? Chef John Besh pays tribute to the city's French influences at August, with local el dorado fish au poivre. And what's a trip to the Big Easy without a stop at OG Food Network megastar Emeril Lagasse's eponymous restaurant?
⑥ San Diego, California
After placating the kids with a trip to Legoland, make your way to the Gaslamp Quarter, a trendy 'hood teeming with high-end shopping and the city's finest restaurants. And if cutting-edge New American isn't your thing, SD's proximity to Tijuana means its palm tree-lined streets are also home to some of the country's best Mexican eats. The tacos al pastor from La Puerta are unbeatable, as is its library of over 100 tequilas. After polishing off a few snacks, grab some friends and partake in the infamous pedal pub tour—a party bike equipped with its own bar, of course—leading revellers around the city's many top-notch craft breweries.
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