9 RV Road Trip Destinations for Foodies

January 23, 2024

On a road trip, food is as fueling as gasoline. Not only are roadside snacks an essential facet of vehicular Americana, but foodie destinations are as much a part of the journey as the drive itself. All over the U.S., iconic regional foods and restaurants serve as a compass for hungry travelers, drawn to things like lobster rolls, Sonoran hot dogs, and barbecue. Here are nine road trip destinations for foodies.

Head on a Foodie Road Trip with These Destinations for Foodies

Street sign on historic route 66 in the Mojave desert photographed against the sun at sunset.

1. Route 66

When it comes to road trips in the U.S., there’s no thoroughfare as quintessential as the Mother Road. Route 66, a once-thriving artery from Chicago to Los Angeles, is now largely a historic relic of yesteryear — a quaint passage marked by quirky roadside attractions, haphazard pavement, and enduring mom-and-pop businesses. While the entirety of the 2,448-mile road might be a tall order for a casual road trip, one section is particularly enticing for foodies. In Oklahoma, the state with more drivable miles of Route 66 than any other, food fuels the journey in cities like Tulsa and Oklahoma City, along with small towns in between. In Tulsa, dine at the aptly dubbed Mother Road Market food hall, or find the speakeasy-esque Bull in the Alley steakhouse for a clandestine meal by candlelight. In OKC, historic dining destinations include Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, the longest continually operated restaurant in the state, as well as supper club-style Junior’s, high-flying Vast, and Cheever’s. Elsewhere, road trip-worthy institutions include the onion burger joints of El Reno, Chicken Shack in Arcadia, and Eischen’s, a bar so old that it pre-dates statehood — and serves some killer fried chicken.

The Nubble Lighthouse stands on an island in the distance as the ocean crashes over beachside rocks.

2. Maine

A drive up the meandering, island-dotted coast of Maine teems with riches. It’s a visual feast, woven through evergreen forests and sandy beaches, but it’s a feast in another sense too. One of the best states for bountiful local cuisine, road-trippers will find a cornucopia of pit stops along the way, from the whimsical stylings of Lovebird Donuts in Kittery up through the legendary Palace Diner in Biddeford, and to Billy’s Chowder House in Wells and CREW in Ogunquit, for steamed mussels with a side of live music. The town of York is especially worth a stint, for the lobster roll at Stone’s Throw, a lobster flatbread at the impossibly cozy Ship’s Cellar Pub, and even more lobster at Lobster in the Rough.

KOA Campgrounds in Maine

A pusher boat in the Mississippi River near the Vicksburg Bridge in Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA.

3. Mississippi

In terms of barbecue destinations, most folks envision places like the Carolinas or Kansas City, but in an underrated Southern state, there’s a whole foodie trail dedicated to the Southern pastime. The Barbecue Trail is the largest itinerary of its kind in the nation — a convenient map of 200+ restaurants, roadside stands, and family-run institutions specializing in the meaty tradition. Look for everything from pulled pork platters and piled-high sandwiches, to ribs, brisket, and smoked bologna, at restaurants like Abe’s Bar-B-Q Drive-In in Clarksdale, Ubon’s in Yazoo, and Murky Waters BBQ, with locations in Gulfport and Hattiesburg.

KOA Campgrounds in Mississippi

Aerial drone image of Downtown Richmond VA and James River

4. Richmond

One of the most exciting under-the-radar cities in the nation, Richmond is an unassuming epicenter of destination-worthy dining and drinking. The capital of Virginia, it’s a city that exudes the same type of Americana history and architecture as the likes of Philadelphia and Boston, but without the high prices and traffic. Instead, you’ll find a city surrounded by beautiful nature, and neighborhoods rich with locally sourced restaurants. Metzger Bar & Butchery is a German-inspired local icon from a Top Chef alum, ZZQ is real-deal Southern-style barbecue in Scott’s Addition, Conejo specializes in modern Mexican, and Lillie Pearl fuses flavors from the Carolinas and West Africa. To drink, the city recently introduced its own Richmond Region Mimosa Trail, a mapped-out guide to top-shelf mimosas in the city, including flights at Kreggers, unique flavors at Bar Solita, and Champagne Brunch at The Jefferson Hotel.

KOAs Nearby:
Richmond North / Kings Dominion KOA Holiday

Dusk over Tucson, AZ shot from Redding Pass road.

5. Tucson

Come for the desert vistas and Saguaro National Park, then stick around for the bacon-wrapped hot dogs. That’s the hack for Tucson, the southern Arizona city known for its sky-scraping cacti, otherworldly landscape, and Loony Tunes-like wildlife. But the city is also a foodie oasis, especially for those who prefer their food in bolillo buns with all the fixins. Sonoran-style hot dogs are a rite of passage here — bacon-wrapped hot dogs served with onions, tomatoes, pinto beans, mayo, mustard, and salsa in a thick Mexican bun. There are so many versions of the hot dog in and around Tucson that it would be all too easy to visit here and eat nothing but. Some top picks include El Guero Canelo, BK Tacos, and Ruiz Hot Dogs, the latter of which serves one of the best in town, from the comfy confines of a permanently parked truck on the south side. Beyond hot dogs, though, Tucson has its fair share of laudable cuisine, from sensational wood-fired small plates at Bata and exceptional veggie burgers at Beaut Burger to sushi handrolls at Kukai and playful taco creations at BOCA Tacos Y Tequila.

KOAs Nearby:
Tucson / Lazydays KOA Resort

Palm trees over a boardwalk to a sandy beach in Key West.

6. Key West

One of the most unique, beautiful scenic drives in the country, the 113-mile Overseas Highway that links Miami to the Keys is worth a trip for the views alone. But at the end of the road, Key West stands as a food-filled finish line. The famously eccentric key, home to “Mermaid Crossing” road signs and the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, is a small locale with a big appetite. Rise and shine with Cuban coffee and pastries from Cuban Coffee Queen, or sidle up to a slice of key lime pie at Moondog Cafe & Bakery. Later, Hot Tin is a rooftop restaurant with primo marina views, Waterfront Brewery serves house-brewed beer with oceanic vistas, and Thirsty Mermaid takes an upscale approach to the water’s bounty. Simply wandering down Duval Street, a central bar-lined corridor with open-container laws, unveils a world of fun and flavor.

KOAs Nearby:
Sugarloaf Key / Key West KOA Resort

Charleston, South Carolina, USA cityscape in the historic French Quarter.

7. South Carolina

The lowcountry South is pimento cheese country, and in South Carolina, the creamy staple is front-and-center. So much so that the state’s capital of Columbia pays homage with a dedicated Pimento Cheese Trail, and a passport program designed to spotlight the region’s myriad pimento parlors. Here, you’ll find a plethora of ways in which to enjoy the spicy, creamy, spreadable, and stackable cheese — from Creole pimento cheese with fried Saltines at Bourbon, to pimento cheese fries at Midwood Smokehouse, and pimento cheeseburgers at Rockaway Athletic Club.

KOA Campgrounds in South Carolina

Field of wild bluebonnets at dusk in Texas Hill Country.

8. Texas Hill Country

In central Texas, bookended by Austin and San Antonio, Hill Country is a haven for hikers, history, and wildflowers. It’s also an idyllic destination for foodies. The two major cities themselves are worthwhile destinations, each teeming with world-class restaurants and enduring institutions, but the bucolic waterways and rolling hills in between offer a wealth of culinary riches distinctly its own. Here, in towns like Lockhart, you’ll find some of the most iconic barbecue cornerstones in the country, like Kreuz Market and Black’s Barbecue. Meanwhile, Dripping Springs contains sprawling fixtures like Jester King, a craft brewery known for its artisanal pizzas and seasonal sides, and Crêpe Crazy, a morning go-to that employs a hearing-challenged staff. Elsewhere, Fredericksburg is known for its wineries and wine bars, Driftwood is home to the famed Salt Lick barbecue, and Desert Door is the first sotol distillery in the nation.

KOAs Nearby:
Austin East KOA Holiday
Leander / NW Austin KOA Holiday
Kerrville KOA Journey
San Antonio / Alamo KOA Holiday

Blue sky with some clouds fill the top of the photo with rock formations up close, looking down into a valley full of trees near Custer State Park on a beautiful summer day.

9. Black Hills

In western South Dakota, winding roads are well-trod terrain for scenic drives, shimmering lakes, and of course, some of the most well-known monuments and parks — both state and national — in the country. But between the trails, the rock carvings, and the Badlands, the region is also a mecca for foodies. Rapid City, the main urban hub for the area, is home to esteemed eateries like Harriet & Oak cafe, Bokujo Ramen, and Juniper at Vertex Sky Bar, a rooftop restaurant at the Hotel Alex Johnson where the sweeping views are as prized as the happy hour cocktails. Beyond Rapid City, smaller cities and towns offer their own flavors, like the famed frosted donuts at Badlands-adjacent Wall Drug, the charcuterie boards and rosé at Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City, the rigorously seasonal stylings of Skogen Kitchen in Custer, and the historic watering hole of Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood. Pro tips: when visiting some of the area’s most acclaimed attractions, be sure and try a fry bread taco at Crazy Horse Memorial’s Laughing Water Restaurant, and Thomas Jefferson’s vanilla ice cream recipe at Mt. Rushmore.

KOAs Nearby:
Custer / Mount Rushmore / Black Hills KOA Holiday
Mount Rushmore KOA Resort at Palmer Gulch
Rapid City / Black Hills KOA Holiday
Hot Springs SD / Black Hills KOA Holiday
Deadwood / Black Hills KOA Holiday
Spearfish / Black Hills KOA Holiday
Badlands / White River KOA Holiday

Born and raised in New Hampshire, Matt Kirouac grew up with a love for camping and the outdoors. Though he’s lived in Chicago since 2006, he’s always on the lookout for new adventures. He writes about travel and food for outlets like TripExpert, Money Inc, Upventur, DiningOut, Food Fanatics magazine, Plate Magazine and Zagat, and he currently serves as Chicago editor for What Should We Do?! He’s the author of The Hunt Guides: Chicago (2016) and Unique Eats & Eateries of Chicago (2017).

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