Best Foodie Destinations in the US | ICONIC LIFE

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Best Foodie Destinations in the US

unique dining experience at Blackberry Farm TN

Heather Anne Thomas Longo / Blackberry Inn

These top tables inspire culinary tourism for those ready to travel for food.

There are many reasons to travel; escape, cultural enrichment, relaxation and to see ICONIC sites. But for foodies, sometimes a top table can be reason enough to jump on a plane or set out on the open road with the main purpose a dining experience memorable enough to make the trip. Check out these top spots for culinary tourism where we travel for food.

culinary tourism at Single Thread in Sonoma CA

Eric Wolfinger / Single Thread

While oenophiles head to Sonoma for the wine, gourmands head there for the chance to dine at Single Thread. Michelin denotes a three-star restaurant as one worthy of a special journey, and that’s exactly what you get at Single Thread.

Lucky diners that score a seat at the small restaurant can choose from an omnivore, pescatarian or vegetarian 11-course extravaganza that starts with an aperitif and first courses on the rooftop garden terrace before migrating to the main dining room. The menu changes to reflect what is in season but depending on the night, you might start with Akabana Kanpachi with winter citrus, daikon and chrysanthemum before enjoying Miyazaki Wagyu with nori, leek and malted potato.

unique dining experience at Single Thread Sonoma

John Troxell / Single Thread

Run by husband-and-wife chef owners Kyle and Katina Connaughton, the restaurant is a farm-driven dining experience that showcases the best the region has to offer married with culinary techniques the couple developed working globally.

Since 2016, the restaurant has racked up award after award. In addition to holding the coveted three Michelin stars, it won the Miele One to Watch from Worlds 50 Best Restaurants in 2018 and a James Beard Design Award.

dining experience at Single Thread Sonoma

Garrett Rowland

If after 11 courses, you’re too tired and full to move, spend the night at one of five guest rooms on premise. With a modern Japanese aesthetic the suites, coupled with the epicurean experience, will complete a truly Zen night started when you made plans to travel for food.


The upscale ranch caters to luxury travelers looking for a culinary dining experience vacation where farm and table intermingle.

Terra Farm + Manor in Prescott unique dining experiences

Michael Duerinckx / Terra Farm + Manor

TERRA FARM + MANOR | Prescott, Arizona
For years, Chef James Porter was the toast of the Phoenix food scene with two award-winning restaurants. Porter calls himself a “localist” who is dedicated to supporting local businesses, farmers and ranchers, and in 2015 pivoted his career to undertake building Terra Farm and Manor in the Prescott forest.

dining experiences at Terra Farm + Manor in Prescott AZ

Joanie Simon / Terra Farm + Manor

The upscale ranch caters to luxury travelers looking for a culinary dining experience vacation where farm and table intermingle. In addition to working with an impressive line-up of guest chefs schooling vacationers in the art of cooking, Porter is in charge of the gardens, vineyard and raising Wagyu cattle, Iberico pigs and Bresse & French Black Copper Maran chickens. Needless to say much of what ends up on your plate was grown or raised on the grounds.

culinary tourism in Prescott AZ at Terra Farm + Manor

Michael Duerinckx / Terra Farm + Manor

At the all-inclusive property you’ll be treated to meals created by Porter and his guest chef, but since this is a cooking school, the creations you make during the day will be incorporated into the multi-course meals. The last time I was at Terra it was for a two-day pasta making master class and sure enough the papperdelle pasta and raviolis that my fellow students and I made were seamlessly woven into the epicurean experience.

Inn at Little Washington unique dining experiences

Inn at Little Washington

INN AT LITTLE WASHINGTON | Washington, Virginia
With a population of 103 people, Washington, Virginia wouldn’t likely be on anyone’s travel-for-food radar if it weren’t for the three-Michelin-starred restaurant dining experience at the Inn at Little Washington.

The Inn at Little Washington

©2014 Gordon Beall / Inn at Little Washington

This gem housed in the 23-room inn has been an ICONIC foodie destination for years. Helmed by the irreverent Chef and Proprietor Patrick O’Connell, who won the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, the restaurant is about the least stuffy fine dining establishment you will find. During lockdown elaborate mannequin scenes were staged at tables blocked off due to social distancing rules, and the cheese monger pushes a mooing cow cheese cart.

culinary tourism at The Inn at Little Washington

Inn at Little Washington

The restaurant was named top 10 in the world by the International Herald Tribune, and Chef O’Connell is often called “the Pope of American Cuisine.” Amazingly, Chef O’Connell is a self-taught chef who put a focus on local, artisanal cuisine before that was trendy.

There are three, eight-course tasting menus, one vegetarian, to choose from for your travel-for-food dining experience. A new courtyard dining room was added this year and in the summer Chef O’Connell will open a new café on the property.

Most of the ingredients that end up on the plate come from the island’s farm, local fisherman and shellfish farms, and the wines are all sourced from Washington and Oregon.

culinary tourism at The Willows Inn in Washington

Charity Burggraaf / The Willows Inn

THE WILLOWS INN | Lummi Island, Washington
Since Blaine Wetzel took over the kitchen at The Willows Inn, the eight-room inn on Lummi Island, Washington, has become an international hotspot for gourmands in search of a travel-for-food dining experience. Chef Wetzel won Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in 2012 and was named James Beard Rising Chef of the Year in 2015. The restaurant made the World’s 50 Best Discovery List in 2019.

It’s no surprise that Chef Wetzel elevated the Willows Inn restaurant, his previous kitchen stint was at noma, the Copenhagen restaurant named best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine four times.

unique dining experience at The Willows Inn WA

Charity Burggraaf / The Willows Inn

Under Chef René Redzepi at noma, Wetzel learned the fine art of forging, which he continues at the Willows Inn. Most of the ingredients that end up on the plate come from the island’s farm, local fisherman and shellfish farms, and the wines are all sourced from Washington and Oregon.

Dinner is a dazzling array of 15 to 18 delectable morsels spread over a multitude of courses. You might have smoked mussels served in a wooden box over steaming hot pebbles, a beet and rhubarb nigiri or a ling cod ceviche. Whatever is served, expect the presentation to match the food with unique plates created by local craftspeople.

The Willows Inn unique dining experience

Charity Burggraaf / The Willows Inn

Unlike most fine dining experiences, here Chef Wetzel and his sous chefs serve the dishes and interact with the guests who travel for the best food.

Foodies should note that the Willows Inn is closed during the winter and reservations for the dining experience book months in advance.


culinary tourism at Blackberry Farm in TN

Blackberry Farm

BLACKBERRY FARM | Walland, Tennessee
Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, the 4,200-acre Blackberry Farm is a playground for foodies. The luxury resort put a focus on its culinary program events in the early 2000s. Today there are three restaurants on property and many culinary activities for guests to indulge in during a stay.

Blackberry Farm’s renowned cuisine is often described as Foothills Cuisine, it wanders the line between refined and rugged, borrowing from both haute cuisine and the foods indigenous to Blackberry’s Smoky Mountain heritage.

culinary tourism in TN at Blackberry Farm

Heather Anne Thomas Longo / Blackberry Farm

Epicureans will want to reserve early at the James Beard Award-winning restaurant, The Barn. Housed in a turn of the century barn the restaurant offers multi-course menus focused on the flavors of the south made with the farm’s local ingredients. The cuisine is expertly paired with wine from its 9,000 bottle-strong cellar or a 300-strong spirit list featuring Whisky and Brandies, many of which are available only at Blackberry Farms.

dining experience at Blackberry Farm in Walland

Blackberry Farm

During the year Blackberry Farm hosts a daily cooking demonstration for guests and offers select small group culinary events hosted by guest chefs and winemakers.

After a year when dining out was impossible for some, a trip celebrating the best dining in the country is a perfect excuse to travel.

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