This Scenic Coast-To-Coast Southern Road Trip Is A Foodie's Dream Come True

What's your favorite road trip food? According to a recent survey by Utires, respondents voted Cheez-Its as their top road trip snack. While Cheez-Its (and all other chips and crackers) are fine in a pinch, we have something better for road-tripping foodies. How about a scenic coast-to-coast trip that will let you explore some of the U.S.'s best and most diverse cuisine? Leave the Cheez-Its at home and set off with an empty stomach because your tastebuds are in for a treat. 

The old U.S. 80 runs from Tybee Island in Georgia to San Diego in California, passing through six other Southern states along the way. You'll be able to indulge in incredible barbecue, authentic Tex-Mex, mouthwatering fried chicken, and delicious chile-stuffed fare. The trip isn't just about the food, though. From plains to bayous, deserts to the Delta, you'll experience some of America's most picturesque landscapes. 

Starting in Georgia, your trip will take you through delightful Savannah and Macon to Columbus in the west. Out of the window, you'll see forests, rolling hills, peach orchards, and small towns. Stop to buy some peaches and peanuts from the stands along the roadside to enjoy two of Georgia's most famous products. Food and movie lovers will want to make a short detour to Juliette, just north of Macon, to visit the Whistle Stop Café of "Fried Green Tomatoes" fame.

Southern delights

After Georgia, you'll cross Alabama. Food and history take center stage here as the landscape flattens to fertile, lowland soil. Stop in Tuskegee to see Tuskegee University, founded by former reformer and educator Booker T. Washington, and in Selma to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement. Montgomery also has excellent museums about the civil war, slavery, and civil rights, like The Legacy Museum. When in Montgomery, stop by Martin's Restaurant for some Southern comfort food, including fried chicken that reviewers rave about. 

It'll take you a little over two hours to cross Mississippi, but it's worth sticking around longer. In Meridian, country music fans can visit the Jimmie Rodgers Museum; history enthusiasts should stop at Vicksburg to learn more about The American Civil War. As for food, why not follow in Anthony Bourdain's footsteps and eat at the Big Apple Inn in Jackson? Bourdain tried and loved the pig's ear and smoked sausage sandwiches. 

Next up is Louisiana, where you'll cross the bayous and roll through the forested landscapes of the northern part of the state. One local poster in the r/louisiana forum on Reddit says there's not much to see in this area, but we think it is a great place to get some traditional southern food. We're talking barbecue. Check out JAC's Craft Smokehouse in West Monroe, which satisfied customers on Google say has scrumptious food "cooked to perfection." 

A fusion of flavors

Leaving behind the Southern charm, the old U.S. 80 takes you through the Southwest, beginning with the bold flavors of Texas. Tex-Mex and barbecue dominate the menu here. Terry Black's BBQ is a must-stop in Dallas. It has tons of recommendations on Reddit's r/Dallas forum and thousands of happy eaters on Google who recommend the brisket sandwich.

Beyond Dallas, you'll cross the vast plains and make a diversion to visit Carlsbad Caverns and the beautiful Guadalupe Mountains in New Mexico. Back in Texas, you'll pass through El Paso, where Kiki's Mexican Restaurant comes highly recommended on the r/ElPaso forum on Reddit. They dish up Tex-Mex staples like enchiladas, tacos, and burritos.

From El Paso, you go back into New Mexico, passing through Las Cruces and Lordsburg in the southern part of the state. The landscape is vast and arid, but the food is incredible. New Mexico is famous for its chile production, so make sure to try dishes like chile rellenos and green chile stew. If you're passing through between August and October, spice lovers should detour to Hatch, the chile capital of the world, to enjoy the harvest.

Foodie feasts

From Lordsburg, you'll go south to cross the Arizona border, enjoy spectacular views of the Chiricahua Mountains, and then arrive in the thriving town of Bisbee. After that, you cross the Continental Divide at over 6,000 feet to reach Tombstone, famous for the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Indulge in the Wild West atmosphere before continuing to Tucson, passing the grand saguaro cactuses, and persisting westward to Gila Bend and Yuma.

In Tuscon, try two of Airzona's classic dishes. Get a Sonoran hotdog at one of the El Güero Canelo locations, where this Mexican-style hotdog got a James Beard 2018 America's Classics award. You should also try the chimichangas at their (possible!) birthplace at the El Charro Café.

In your final state, you'll cross the Mojave Desert in Southern California toward San Diego. Stop at the quirky Desert View Tower and climb for spectacular views of over 100 miles of the scenic Mojave. Then, continue to San Diego and Point Loma, the official endpoint of this epic journey. There are so many incredible things to eat here from diverse cuisines that we recommend ending your road trip with a food tour. That way, you'll get to try a little of everything from fish tacos to doughnuts and burgers to omakase. It's the perfect end to your culinary road trip.