Plan your next road trip around these southeastern food and beverage trails.
By Lynn and Cele Seldon
Travelers are hungry and thirsty for road trips of all kinds. The southeast satisfies those foodie desires with a variety of culinary and beverage trails. From the Carolinas to Virginia, there’s sure to be a trail for every taste bud.
Of course, the region has always been known for great barbecue. The statewide South Carolina BBQ Trail provides an ideal introduction to the four styles of sauces in the Palmetto State, known as “The Birthplace of Barbecue.” The popular trail and map features more than 200 restaurants across the state, providing a wide range of barbecue, classic sides and varied dining experiences.
Florence’s SC Pecan Trail includes more than 20 area restaurants featuring pecans in some way. Sample pecan pie martinis, goat cheese and pecan salad, pecan crusted grouper and White Russian pecan pie. No matter how they pronounce it, pecan lovers will also want to head to Florence’s Young Plantations flagship store.
Sample beverages along the Satisfy Your Thirst Tour. The map highlights more than 100 destinations across the state with beer, wine, spirits and other beverages on tap. In Summerville you’ll find the Sweet Tea Trail. The area is known as “The Birthplace of Sweet Tea.” The trail includes shops, restaurants, their colorful Birthplace of Sweet Tea mural.
North Carolina (known as “The Barbecue Capital of the World”) has a long history of barbecue as well. Learn more about it along the North Carolina Barbecue Society (NCBS) Historic Barbecue Trail. It focuses on more than 20 historic barbecue destinations that still cook barbecue using the old-fashioned pit-cooked method. Examples can be found in Lexington at Smiley’s Lexington BBQ and the Barbecue Center.
In the west, the WNC Cheese Trail awaits. The trail and map feature varied cheese makers, farms and shops. You’ll also learn about “tailgate” markets and other farmers markets that feature cheese, as well as a variety of events like the Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest at Asheville’s Highland Brewery.
Alluring Asheville, known as “Beer City USA,” touts several brewery-focused trails and tours. There’s the Asheville Ale Trail, which is actually a one-stop resource for several brewery tours and more. The Asheville Brews Cruise provides other tour options.
North Carolina is also known for excellent wines. That’s especially true in the rolling hills of the Yadkin Valley. Situated in the heart of the Yadkin Valley, the Surry Wine Trail is an easy-to-follow trail (available as a downloadable map). It highlights 17 wineries in and around Surry County, as well as five breweries and distilleries.
Virginia has also developed into a renowned craft brewing destination, with 200-plus breweries. The state even features more than a dozen different beer trails, including the Richmond Beer Trail and the groundbreaking Brew Ridge Trail west of Charlottesville. You’ll find many award-winning wineries, cideries and distilleries in Virginia as well.
If you plan to drink alcohol, be sure to bring along a designated driver.
(Go Magazine Sept-Oct 2020)