8 Unexpected Food and Beverage Trails Around the World
Wine trails, food tours … if it feels like you’ve done, eaten, and drunk them all, dig in to one of these unexpected food and beverage trails around the world, taking you from Scotland’s gin distilleries to Pennsylvania’s pretzel factories.
1. THE SCOTLAND GIN TRAIL
Think Scotland’s tippling tastes extend only as far as a dram of whisky? Think again. Gin is booming in the country far better known for its scotch production; from the Outer Hebrides to the Angus Glens and industrial Glasgow, new distilleries are opening up at a rapid pace, incorporating botanicals unique to each region. More than 70 percent of the UK’s gin is made in Scotland, from big names like Tanqueray, Gordon’s, and Hendrick’s to smaller labels such as Caorunn, Rock Rose, and The Botanist. In recognition of this impressive statistic, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) launched The Scotland Gin Trail earlier this year, which takes visitors from Edinburgh to the Shetland Isles, through the rugged Highlands and the cities, visiting distilleries and dedicated gin bars along the way.
2. ECUADOR’S GUAYUSA TRAIL
Ecuador’s Guayusa Trail in the Amazonian Napo Province may essentially be a tea trail, but this is not your average cuppa. The guayusa plant is known for its high levels of caffeine and antioxidants—reasons why the indigenous Kichwa would use the plant in their “morning ceremony” rituals. The Guayusa Trail takes visitors to the guayusa growing farms (called chakras), as well as to a local community to participate in a morning ceremony and to the Runa Foundation to learn about fair trade farming.
3. PENNSYLVANIA’S SNACK FOOD TRAIL
There’s a lot to thank the Keystone State for, not least its exceptional production of tasty pretzels, potato chips, and candy. Pennsylvania is home to almost 50 snack food manufacturers, including favorites Utz, Hershey, and Julius Sturgis (America's first commercial pretzel bakery), many of which open their doors to hungry visitors. From the Sturgis Pretzel house in Lititz to Intercourse Pretzel Factory, Herr’s Snack Factory in Nottingham and ending up in York at Wolfgang Candy’s Das Sweeten House, the trail will take you through Lancaster County and Dutch country, past some of Pennsylvania’s most scenic small towns and traditional farms.
4. SANTA FE’S MARGARITA TRAIL
A dry, dusty spring in Santa Fe, New Mexico demands liquid refreshment, and what better than a tart margarita to quench your thirst—or several if you embark upon the city’s dedicated Margarita Trail, which launched on May 5. You can buy a Margarita Trail passport from any Santa Fe Visitor Center, which gets you a $1 discount on the specialty margarita on offer at each of the 31 participating bars and restaurants. Bartenders will stamp your passport after each margarita and when you’ve collected five stamps, you’ll earn a commemorative shirt, while 20 will net you a signed copy of The Great Margarita Book. Slow your roll though; the powers that be quite sensibly only allow a maximum of two stamps per day. (That's the Chili Cucumber Margarita from La Plazuela at La Fonda on the Plaza above, by the way).
5. DUBLIN TAPAS TRAIL
Where might you travel if you want to eat some delicious tapas? Barcelona? Madrid? How about Dublin, Ireland? Weirdly the Tapas Trail is an actual walking tour offered in the Irish capital, billed as a way to discover Dublin’s “most popular and hidden tapas restaurants.” Dublin has so many tapas bars, in fact, they merit a dedicated section on this website. The trail takes you to three different restaurants, kept secret beforehand, stopping for wine and food at each. For those with a motive beyond filling up on tasty Spanish snacks, there’s also a Tapas Trail Singles Night.
6. THE BLUE MOUNTAINS APPLE PIE TRAIL
While this trail sounds as American as apple pie, it actually belongs to our neighbors to the north. Ontario’s Apple Pie Trail takes you along the quiet country roads and around the charming villages of the Georgian Bay and the Niagara Escarpment. Marked out spots along the way offer apple pies, yes, but also apples in many other incarnations, including apple cider, applewood smoked pork back ribs, apple ice pops, and even apple doggy biscuits for furry travel companions.
7. COLUMBUS, OHIO’S TACO TRUCK TOUR
Ohio may not be the state that immediately comes to mind when you think of great Mexican food. Bear with us, though: Columbus Food Adventures is the brainchild of a British ex-pat who lives in the Ohioan capital and really knows its (perhaps surprisingly) great food scene inside out. The taco truck tour is one of several themed food adventures offered, lasting three hours and taking visitors to the many trucks on Columbus’ west side, sampling specialties at each.
8. THE MT. KILIMANJARO COCA-COLA ROUTE
Officially named the Marangu Route, this route to the summit of Africa’s highest mountain gets its unofficial name from the days when, in the words of Henry Stedman, author of Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain, “local wardens and rangers stationed at the campsites along the way would supplement their income by selling bottles of Coke to thirsty trekkers.” Like its namesake beverage, the Coca-Cola route has mass appeal—with about 40 percent of climbers opting for this route—and is said to be the easiest. The Coca-Cola route is perhaps the least satisfying, however, as it is reportedly less scenic than the other ways up. Basically, it’s the fast food of mountain summits.