Soak in the sun and fun at Florida’s beaches, and also savor its vibrant food. Florida offers some of the best food and drink experiences. Food is no longer simply taken for granted. These days, food plays a significant role in tourist destinations and can become tourists’ peak experiences. So, plan a trip to Florida and eat and drink delicious Florida flavors. Devour lobsters in Key West, Cuban sandwiches in Miami, strawberries in Plant City, Key Lime Pie in the Space Coast, gumbo in Destin, or craft beer and wine all over—Florida serves up delicious bites. So what are you waiting for?
Here are 10 recommendations for unique food and drink experiences in Florida. Gain an insider’s perspective of the local culture through one or all of these food tourism activities.
1) Restaurants. Dining habits offer insights into ways of life. Eating at destinations helps tourists understand differences between their own cultures and those they encounter.
Miami serves up an incredible variety of food. Try fusion ranging from sophisticated The Bazaar with Spanish and Latin American cuisine, La Mar with Asian-Peruvian dishes, to Pao with Filipino, Japanese, and Texas Barbecue. Learn history by eating at century-old Joe’s Stone Crab. Eat local and authentic Cuban sandwiches at Enriqueta’s. Bring out the napkins for the Southern fried chicken at Yardbird Southern Table. Cue up at food trucks for Grilled Cheese.
2) Organized Food Tours. Customized food tours like sampling and learning about food appeal to tourists with a more serious, and special interest.
- Try a customized culinary getaway in Fort Lauderdale. For a fun weekend trip, or a pre-/post-cruise experience from this international cruise port, cook and dine in the southern Florida sunshine with Fort Lauderdale for Foodies. Itinerary includes two nights luxury hotel accommodations, cooking class, gourmet meal with seafood, and 3-hour foodie tour.
- Only have a few hours? Miami Culinary Tours offers daily food tours during lunch or dinner in four different areas of Miami. Tours last 2-3 hours, starting at $69 per adult.
3) Culinary Walking Tours. Join other foodies on walking tours to favorite local eateries. You’ll meet new friends, try new flavors, learn history of the area, plus get some exercise. Sounds like a great time!
- Explore Southwest Florida with a 3 hour walking tour through Punta Gorda’s downtown Historic District. The tour guide of Bites of Punta Gorda guides tourists to five favorite restaurants and narrates the history of the area.
4) Farmers Markets. Eat and buy locally sourced produce. Interact and talk with locals and vendors and exchange recipe ideas. Tourists gain insider’s perspective to the heart beat of the community.
- Check out Sarasota’s Agritourism Guide that maps out farmers markets, farms, wineries, restaurants, and festivals. The four day itinerary helps tourists maximize their visit. Visit a working fruit grove and sample wines at the local wineries. Feed a calf and try fresh milk at Dakin Dairy Farm.
- Want a guided tour of a farmer’s market? Amelia Island Culinary Academy offers tours of Fernandina’s Farmer’s Market followed by a cooking class every Saturday.
5) Food-and-Wine Festivals. Wash down crackers, sushi, oysters, charcuterie, olives, and chocolates at food-and-wine festivals.
- South Walton Beach Food and Wine
- Uncorked Food & Wine Festival in Key Largo
- Sarasota’s Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival.
- Meet Food Network and Cooking Channel celebrity chefs who team up with Food & Wine magazine during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival for a star-packed event.
6) Bourbon, Whiskey, Rum Fests. Learn more about the spirits through festivals, seminars, and tastings.
- Delray Beach hosts Bacon and Bourbon Fest in March in a two-day party packed with bacon dishes like pork belly and bacon ice cream and a variety of bourbon and whiskeys.
7) Craft Beer.
- Palm Beach features Craft Beer Festival & Burger Bash. Indulge in juicy burgers from the burger competition with categories like “Best non-Beef Burger. Sample over 150 craft beer and cider selections such as Magic Hat and Shock Top and regionally acclaimed Cigar City brew, and all at a luxury PGA National Resort & Spa.
8) Cooking Classes. Learn a new cooking skill, so you can recreate your trip at home and share your food experiences with family and friends. Cooking classes are great activities for small groups, parties, and special occasions too.
- Who doesn’t love pizza? Even better when it’s your own personalized, deep-dish pizza! Make an individual pie in a cooking class at the famous UNO Pizzeria and Grill in Orlando. Enjoy your pizza plus a salad and beverage at the end of the class. Super fun for the entire family.
- Learn to bake beautiful and delicious cakes, pastries, and desserts at local bakeries. How To Baking Classes are popular for children’s birthdays, girls night out, bridal showers, even corporate team building events. Meet and bake with the Alleycakes Bakery when touring Neptune Beach. Recipes and baked treats are great souvenirs.
9) Grocery Stores. Get a peek into how locals eat and cook at home by visiting local grocery stores.
- Assemble a picnic spread at Lucky’s Market in Gainesville and eat at a University of Florida baseball game in the spring or a football game in the fall.
- Find new food products made in the local area to give as gifts or to cook with at home. You’ll be able to keep tasting your trip and remember the great time you had.
10) Dine on the Beach. Eat a meal at a unique location and your experience will be memorable.
- Get a beach view with your bites. Tour guides such as Keys Claudia can arrange for private catered meals.
Tourists engage in a variety of activities, such as shopping, sightseeing, visiting historical attractions, and trying different types of food. Particularly food-related activities are important for culinary tourists, those interested in eating out and trying new foods. Eating is a basic need in travel, but also provides a way to experience regional culture by consuming local food.