There has never been a better time to be a foodie. Food trails are all the rage with many popping up in the Midwest. (An added bonus: you won’t have to hear the dreaded phrase, “I’m hungry.”) So pack your bags and the kids, get in the car and get ready to eat, eat and eat some more!
Where: Butler County, Ohio
What: Who isn’t a fan of doughnuts? As the first doughnut-centric trail around, visitors can collect stamps on an official passport by visiting each location and redeeming it for a shirt.
Stops: 12 mom-and-pop doughnut shops spanning 80 miles throughout the county.
Must-stop: Offering a variety of unique flavors — Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms and Toasted S’mores — Holtman’s Donuts are Instagram-worthy. This shop wins hands down for best atmosphere for savoring your donuts with its modern black-and-white tiles and the spacious seating area to the open-air bakery so you watch them make these sweet treats.
Where: Through the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul
What: At only 19.5 miles, consider this the easiest (and one of the yummiest) food trails to conquer. These unique, innovative ice cream shops are worth a visit with each stop offering their own creative and cool twist.
Must-stop: Izzy’s Ice Cream has become a Twin Cities institution thanks to more than 100 flavors to choose from (Summit Oatmeal Stout and Wild Country maple syrup), friendly service and a little extra “Izzy Scoop” at no extra charge. Izzy’s has been called “the Best Ice Cream Shop in the Country.”
Where: Ohio from Cleveland to Cincinnati
What: Celebrate Ohio’s sweet love of the buckeyes, a peanut butter and chocolate candy. On the trail you’ll find traditional buckeyes as well as variations (coconut or cookie dough buckeyes, anyone?).
Must-stop: In Delaware County, stop by Sweet Tooth Cottage in Powell. This family-owned bakery makes everything from scratch and its buckeyes are some of the best. At Wittich’s Candy Shop, one of the oldest candy shops around, indulge in a Buckeye Blast Sundae—ice cream topped with chocolate and peanut butter sauce, and, of course, a Wittich buckeye.
Where: The towns of Pella, Leighton, Oskaloosa, Knoxville and Pleasantville in Iowa
What: Practice your ABCs with this unique food trail where each stop stands for each letter of the alphabet (for example, Pigs in a Blanket for P). The award-winning trail includes chocolate shop, two bakeries, two coffee shops, cheese factory, meat markets and even greenhouses.
Must-stop: Try Jaarsma Bakery for its legendary Dutch Letters, flaky almond-filled pastries. The family-owned bakery has been offering Dutch treats since 1898.
Where: Northwest Illinois
What: From candy stores to gift shops to cafes and bakeries, the trail offers a wide variety to keep both adults and kids smiling.
Must-stop: Hazel’s Café in Oregon offers more than 70 kinds of chocolatey goodness from meltaways to its Gourmet Bridge Mix. Coffee lover as well? Indulge in the Coffee House Sundae, a vanilla bean ice cream, shot of espresso, chocolate espresso beans, caramel and chocolate.
What: As part of Indiana Foodways Alliance, you can slurp your favorite sodas at these spots where they make or distribute hand-crafted sodas.
Must-stop: Triple XXX Family Restaurant in West Lafayette is home to the state’s oldest drive-in (don’t miss its Duane Purvis Burger, a ¼ burger slathered with peanut butter!) and its popular Triple XXX Root Beer. Crafted from pure cane sugar, the root beer stays true to its roots by using the original recipe. While in the area, plan a stop at Igloo Frozen Custard known not only for its custard, but also for its fruit drinks and flavored sodas with all the simple syrups made in-house.
What: Another foodie favorite on the IFA culinary trail is pies! Whether you prefer traditional pies like apple or berry pies or unique pies like chess pie or the unofficial Hoosier-state sugar pie, you’ll find all sorts of pies to satisfy your appetite.
Must-stops: As the unofficial Hoosier State Pie, the sugar cream pie is a must-try especially at Bluebird in Morristown. Prefer something else? Blue Gate Restaurant in Shipshewana serves pies all handmade by Amish bakers. Try its Amish pie and red raspberry cream.
This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.