10 Best Food Festivals to See This Spring
Of all the reasons we travel, our favorite is for the #eeeeeats. That’s why we love the spring, when a bounty of food festivals pop up, inviting celeb chefs, grill-meisters, and mixologists from around the country come to show off their chops. Here, the epic feasts you won’t want to miss.
Chelsea is Brooklyn-based travel writer, editor, and photographer. When not home eating her way through NYC, she's gallivanting across the globe, sailing the coast of Croatia or hiking the peaks of Peru. Her superpowers include booking flight deals and sleeping in small plane seats.
Austin Food + Wine Festival
Texas’s capital of cool has always been a frontrunner for its food scene—just think of all the smoky brisket, breakfast tacos, spicy chili and flaky buttermilk biscuits… you get the idea. Taste it all for yourself at this al fresco fest that invites some of the city’s best chefs to cook up their specialties. There’s grilling classes on the lawn, whole-hog roasts, and live-music jam sessions (this is Austin, after all!). When you’re ready to retire, chill out at the South Congress Hotel, where the cool kids dive into its rooftop pool and tuck into food truck fare at the airstream trailers outside its doors.
Pebble Beach Food & Wine
Big Sur may be famous for many things—notably its craggy, windswept coastline—but it’s new culinary craze is what’s got people talking. The Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival, for instance, draws on the region’s top talents, such as 100 lauded chefs and 250 acclaimed vineyards. Taste Napa’s best, sign up for a cooking demo, or snag a seat at an exclusive supper party. Then, after you’re done wining and dining, unwind at the ultra-luxe La Playa Carmel, where you have your pick of its three terraces, relaxing poolside patio, and gardens blooming with geraniums, dahlias, begonias and jasmine.
Scottsdale Culinary Festival
While other fests are centered around the food, Scottsdale is all about the alcohol. Sip your way through the wine area, beer garden, and vodka deck, before wrapping up the night with The Cocktail Society, a new high-octane event where aerial bartenders drop from the ceiling to pour drinks. There’s even a cigar lounge with bourbon pairings, if smoke and scotch are more your thing. In the morning, wake up in your own casita at the just-opened Andaz Scottsdale, and nurse your hangover with a plate of blue corn pancakes drizzled with rye whiskey syrup at the hotel’s inventive Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
Come spring, we’ve got Georgia on our minds. More than 180 chefs, BBQ masters, and mixologists flock to the capital to show off their chops at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, held in the Loews Atlanta Hotel. Looking to hone your skills? Sign up for technique classes, pairing seminars and panel discussions with the pros. And though there are plenty of after-parties to attend, you’ll find the scene at your hotel, the W Atlanta Downtown, to be its own form of entertainment thanks to its trendy cocktail bar and sexy rooftop pool scene.
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
A trip to NOLA is all about one thing: #eeeeeats. It’d be impossible not to ditch the diet, what with the endless beignets, po-boys and kicked-up cajun cuisine. But nothing compares to the New Orleans Wine & Food Festival, when the city completely outdoes itself. Now celebrating its 25th year, you can expect its quarter-life celebration to be legendary—picture 7,000 gourmands, 1,000 different wines, and a black-tie gala to wrap up the weekend. When you want to wind down from all the action, the charming Henry Howard Hotel is the ideal retreat. The 19th-century townhouse oozes Southern hospitality, from its wrought-iron balconies to its sun-drenched parlor.
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas—well, except for those 10 pounds you gained from stuffing your face at Vegas Uncork'd. Backed by Bon Appetit, you know this gluttonous event is going to be good. The line-up is stocked with 30 VIP events with celeb chefs from the likes of Bobby Flay, Alain Ducasse, Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy, José Andrés, Tom Colicchio, Wolfgang Puck and more. If you’re not able to score tickets for those coveted tables, you can still browse the bites at the grand tasting held in the Garden of the Gods pool at Caesars Palace. To stay at the center of the action, we recommend Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace Owned by chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro, this Japanese gem is all about tranquility and luxury (without the over-the-top Sin City glitz).
Taste of Cincinnati
Cincinnati might not be the first place you think of when it comes to restaurants, but this under-the-radar city serves up some pleasant surprises. This almost 40-year-old street fair, food fest hybrid brings in rocking crowds from all over the midwest. And it’s no wonder why: there are 60 live bands jamming across five stages, and more than 100 different plates to choose from, including a 12-hour braised brisket taco and a Thai lime basil pop for dessert. And if you’re still hungry for more, make a beeline to Metropole at the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati for its seasonal, wood-fired menu.
Eat Drink RI
For America’s smallest state, Rhode Island sure has a big following in the world of food. Take the annual Eat Drink RI festival in Providence. Local purveyors flock to this East Coast feast to try the latest in culinary creations and craft brews—don’t leave without sipping a Narragansett IPA. We love the Dinner by Dames series where a group of star female chefs and bartenders collaborate to craft a multi-course menu. Though ticket prices are a bit hefty, you can save your cash at the stylish The Dean Hotel, where you can bed down in the vintage-inspired rooms and have a pint at the buzzy German beer hall.
Nashville Wine & Food Festival
Music City’s down-home fare is a force to be reckoned with—especially at the Nashville Wine & Food Festival. Here, more than 20 restaurants, 50 wineries, and 10 craft breweries come together to dish up their best recipes. There’s even an artisanal market if you’d rather pick up the ingredients and try your own ideas at home. Or if you’re an out-of-towner, you’ll want to bunk down in some cool digs. Our go-to spot? The brand new Thompson Nashville, which is decked out with a rooftop bar and a Southern seafood restaurant helmed by a James Beard Award-winning chef.
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Taste of Vail
Apres-ski gets a whole new meaning at this Colorado cook-off. There’s mountaintop tastings, pinot noir seminars, and even a James Beard celeb chef tour of eight of the industry’s top talents. Practice your new skills back at your retreat for the week: Elevation Resort Residences at Solaris. The ultra-luxe abodes have touch-screen home systems, 24-hour personal assistants and full gourmet kitchens that are kitted out with Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances. Check us in.
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