Lonely Planet Writer

Let your stomach be your guide: most US travellers would recommend a destination based on food

People often say to ‘follow your heart’ – but when it comes to picking a travel destination, it may be best to follow your stomach. When trying to decide where to go on vacation, most Americans look to the local food and cuisine to help them decide, according to a new survey.

About 62% of respondents said they would recommend a specific destination based only on its food, while 71% of millennials said they’d recommend a place on cuisine alone, according to a study commissioned by gourmet food and gift company Harry & David.

The company asked travellers what they thought were the top cities in the US when it comes to delicious eats – and the respondents declared New York the most “foodie” city. That is perhaps unsurprising, as New York is at the forefront of the most beautiful and desirable treats, like rainbow bagels, jet black ice cream, macaronuts, and more. Following New York, the top cities were San Francisco, Chicago and Austin.

A photo posted by Chicago Food (@chicago.eatss) on Dec 20, 2015 at 12:39pm PST

Travellers are often most enthusiastic about the food they can try while on the road, as 82% of survey respondents agreed that they are most excited about trying local food and restaurants when travelling. Fifty-eight per cent said they specifically seek out spots locals frequent so they can enjoy the regional flavour. While the company is marketing regionally-inspired food baskets to appeal to such tastes, their research backs up another recent study – and is likely something many travellers know from personal experience.

The graphic company Venngage released an infographic in December, noting that food tourism is on the rise. The infographic noted that 88.2% of survey respondents considered gastronomy a defining element of “the brand image of travel destinations”, and most people said they spend about a third of their money while travelling on food. Citing a report from the American Culinary Traveler, Venngage also noted that between 2006 and 2013, the number of American travellers seeking to learn about unique dining experience rose from 41% to 50%.