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10 Best Food Destinations for Summer

Taste what these top cities have to offer cuisine-wise—it may inspire you to head to culinary school.

Summer is officially here and if you're taking a break from your culinary courses, it's time to hit the road in search of some of the best food in America.

If you're thinking about attending culinary school but haven't decided upon a program or location, these 10 top cities are sure to get you in the kitchen.

San Diego, CA

It has some of the best weather in the nation, but San Diego is more than just sunny days. If the delicious California fruits and vegetables aren't enough to lure you in, there's always authentic Mexican cuisine and local seafood.

The best advice: Explore a variety of places in the San Diego area, from Little Italy to La Jolla to Del Mar.

Portland, ME

Summer is an ideal time to visit Portland. The harsh winter is a distant memory and you'll get to enjoy a New England summer staple: The lobster roll.

Named the "Foodiest Small Town in America" by Bon Appetit, Portland has continued to impress casual diners and foodies alike. If you tire of the lobster shacks, head to Hugo's. The chef, Rob Evans, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in the Northeast a few years ago.

San Francisco, CA

Number one in U.S. News' "15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S." 2022 survey, San Francisco has been a top food destination for years. With so many cultures combined in one place, the city offers visitors a taste of just about anything from sushi to top-notch desserts.

Indulge on some of San Francisco's local gems such as sourdough bread and Dungeness crab and hit some of the city's favorite restaurants including Delfina and Swan Oyster Depot.

Because of its foodie reputation, it's no surprise culinary programs are popular in San Francisco. Students have their pick from several schools, such as the International Culinary School of the Art Institutes.

Traverse City, MI

You can probably trust that a city has top-notch cuisine if a famous chef vacations there. Each summer, Mario Batali and his family head to Traverse City, described by Fodor's as a "burgeoning food and wine destination, popular for its cherries, excellent vineyards and farm-to-table cuisine."

From the annual cherry festival to sophisticated cuisine, there's something for every taste. A few popular spots include Trattoria Stella and the Grand Traverse Pie Company.

Boston, MA

The largest city in New England is a place where renowned chefs (Barbara Lynch and Ken Oringer to name a few) co-exist with food trucks. The waterfront area of the city has been built up in recent years making way for casual and upscale dining. Meanwhile, the South End still boasts some of the city's best restaurants and food trucks at the SoWa Open Market.

Interested in honing your culinary skills in New England? There are a number of culinary schools, including Johnson and Wales University, in the area.

Kansas City, MO

For most people, summer is synonymous with barbeques, but if you're looking for more than the backyard grill, Kansas City is your destination.

One of Travel and Leisure's top cities for barbeque, Kansas City is serious about their cuisine. Not only is it home to the Kansas City Barbeque Society, but visitors can also takes barbeque tours.

If you can't get enough barbeque and want to learn more, Kansas City has popular culinary programs such as culinary fundamentals, chef training and culinary arts.

New York City, NY

The Big Apple has it all. Culinary students visiting New York will probably recognize plenty of restaurants from top chefs.

Of course, there's classic New York fare—pizza, bagels, cupcakes—but Four Seasons Magazine identifies a few food trends happening in the city now. Vegetarians can rejoice as plant-based meals take center stage while more Southeast Asian restaurants are popping up around the city.

Seattle, WA

Seattle residents wait all year for summer to arrive. Loads of sunshine spells food trucks and al fresco dining.

You can enjoy salmon, Dungeness crab or oysters at many of the city's well-known seafood restaurants. You can also stop by one or more of the restaurants owned by celebrity chef Ethan Stowell.

But what better way to beat summer heat than with ice cream? Seattle is home base for Molly Moon's, Cupcake Royale and D'Ambrosio Gelato, and these are just a few of your frozen dessert options.

Charleston, SC

Just ahead of the summer season, both the New York Times and New York Post published stories about Charleston's ascension to a must-visit dining destination.

You can still find classic southern fare, like fried green tomatoes, but chefs have taken local ingredients and turned it up a notch. As Matt Lee, co-author of "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen," told the New York Post's Christina Valhouli, "Charleston is subtropical, so we have everything from bananas and asparagus to ocean critters available here."

Healdsburg, CA

This city may not sound familiar now, but it's becoming a favorite in California's wine country. It's already landed on Conde Nast Traveler's list for Best American Cities for Foodies and Zagat identified it as one of the best food destinations for summer.

Besides wine, you'll find everything from Italian cuisine to New Orleans-style fare.

If you're a culinary student interested in restaurant architecture, check out SHED Café which has an airy feel and recently won the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design.

Sources: http://www.zagat.com/b/9-red-hot-food-destinations-to-hit-this-summer#1; https://www.charlestoncvb.com/pdf/chas_press/65483511421531.pdf; http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/2014/04/best-food-cities_slideshow_4–Charleston–SC_17; http://www.fodors.com/news/story_5751.html; http://magazine.fourseasons.com/travel-food-style/food-restaurants/culinary-insights/nyc-food-trends


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