Forget bikini season! Summer is the time to enjoy some of the best food this country has to offer. From the Eastern Seaboard to the Golden Coast, from the shores of Maine to the berries of Oregon and the cream puffs in between, we have your essential summer guide to the country’s best bites.
Where: New Orleans, LA
When: May 21- 24, 2014
Why You Want to Go: NOLA is renowned for its food, and this culinary summer celebration is no different. The event boasts more than 100 wineries, restaurants, and caterers on its roster, and attendees will be able to sample everything from gourmet coffee to ice cream to the town’s more signature dishes, like beignets. It’s the perfect way to kick off any food-lover’s summer eating season.
First Thing to Eat: Do yourself a favor and sink your teeth into a beignet as soon as you arrive.
Where: Chicago, IL
When: July 9-13, 2014
Why You Want to Go: With big competition on the East and West Coasts, Chicago is too often overlooked for its phenomenal food. Taste of Chicago is undeniably one of the summer’s best food festivals, with over 50 restaurants represented and countless food choices. It also has a great concert series (2o14 headliners include Nickel Creek and Emmylou Harris), making it a summer event with something for everyone.
First Thing to Eat: Don’t be shy… grab a Chicago-Style Hot Dog and enjoy!
Where: Aspen, CO
When: June 20-22, 2014
Why You Want to Go: Held in picturesque Colorado, the Aspen Food & Wine Classic is a food festival for the foodie who enjoys the finer things in life. Sip and snack on some serious haute cuisine against a stunning mountainscape. Your favorite celebrity chefs will be there (Andrew Zimmern, Giada De Laurentiis and Jose Andres are just three of the fifty-two on the guest list), and you’ll get a chance to sample some of their signature fare. For the athletically minded food fan, there’s also a celebrity chef 5K you can run.
First Thing to Eat: Why wait? Give one of the Classic Recipes a try at home today.
Where: Seattle, WA
When: August 8-9, 2014
Why You Want to Go: Food Trucks have proven to the culinary community that they mean serious business, and Seattle’s food truck scene is growing steadily. In early August, Capitol Hill will be overrun with tempting treats during the Street Food Fest. The roster will feature over 65 local food vendors, serving curbside snacks to hungry food fans.
First Thing to Eat: The official lineup for the 2014 roster won’t be posted until July 1. In the meantime, the anticipation is eating away at us.
Where: Gilroy, CA
When: July 25-27, 2014
Why You Want to Go: Garlic is as delicious as it is good for you, and its versatility in the kitchen makes it an ingredient worth celebrating. Gather with fellow garlic lovers and enjoy unique dishes and fiery variations, each an homage to this aromatic titan. Pro tip: make sure to have a breath mint handy, in case you bump into the Miss Gilroy Garlic Queen.
First Thing to Eat: Last year’s cook-off winner—Carnival Garlic Fish Sticks—look too crispy and delicious to pass up.
Where: Buffalo, NY
When: August 30-31, 2014
Why You Want to Go: If any food trend has proven staying power in the mainstream food space, it’s the Buffalo wing. Get saucy with fellow Buffalo wing afficionados in wing-eating competitions, or enter your own chicken wing accoutrements into one of the cooking contests. If inventing your own topping isn’t your calling, don’t worry. The festival website has you covered.
First Thing to Eat: When in Buffalo, start with a classic Buffalo wing. Once you’ve satisfied that craving, dig into all the other flavor options you’ll find.
Where: Yarmouth, ME
When: July 18-20, 2013
Why You Want to Go: If you’re a fan of seafood, this is the food festival for you. The Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce hosts the event, and Yarmouth-based, non-profit groups and organizations manage the booths. On the menu? Freshly-caught clams, lobster and strawberry shortcake for dessert.
First Thing to Eat: Clams are a given, but make sure you save room for pie and a Lime Rickey (or two)!
Where: Brooklyn, NY
When: Saturdays from 11am-6pm in East River State Park (Williamsburg) and Sundays 11am-6pm in Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5
Why You Want to Go: Brooklyn’s food scene is no longer a well-kept secret. It’s common knowledge that some of the city’s best bites are found in the eastern borough, and on Saturday mornings buzzed-about food vendors can be found down on the East River waterfront in little pop-up tents. You can have anything your hungry heart desires, from egg sandwiches to lobster rolls to artisanal popsicles and back again. And don’t worry… if you fill up on breakfast, you can sunbathe by the river until you’re hungry for lunch.
First Things to Eat: Doughtnuts from DOUGH, coffee from Blue Bottle, and a hash brown from Egg. Trust us.
Where: Portland, OR
When: July 18-19, 2014
Why You Want to Go: To really enjoy the bright flavors and rich textures of berries, you have to find them during their peak harvest time. The Oregon Berry Festival does just that, celebrating all things bite-sized and bitter-sweet over the course of a weekend in mid-July. The festival hosts a tour of a local berry farm (appointment necessary), giveaways, and educational booths to help build your berry knowledge.
First Thing to Eat: Stop by BAKESHOP’s booth to find a sweet snack.
Where: West Allis, WI
When: July 31 – August 10, 2014
Why You Want to Go: The Wisconsin State Fair (the only state fair to make this list) is here for good reason. And that reason…is a cream puff. Not just any cream puff, though. This towering pastry of creamy goodness is legendary. In fact, it has it’s own hotline and drive-through service. But it’s certainly not the only food option available to fair-goers. The Sporkies, the fair’s annual food competition, attract brilliant and inventive culinary creations, ready for food-fans to sample.
First Thing to Eat: The Original Cream Puff
When: September 19 – November 10, 2014
Where: Orlando, FL
Why You Want to Go: When the Epcot Food & Wine Festival is going on, Walt Disney World is most certainly the “happiest place on Earth”. The festival kicks off just as summer winds down, and you can travel all around the world in Epcot’s World Showcase one delicious bite at a time. The culinary celebration has everything from live demonstrations to signature dining experiences. There’s no better way to say farewell to summer.
First Thing to Eat: Whichever international specialty you always crave but can never find in your hometown.