Best Road Trip Eats & Treats

By Leah Lancione

If a road trip this Fall is on the horizon for you and your best pals, don’t forget to pack some snacks as well as a pocket list of some famous hot spots to try along the way. The website provides lists of restaurants or eateries by city and state, as well as eating tours held in various cities across the nation. The potpourri of regional cuisine includes: New Orleans Po Boys, Philly’s Choice Cheese Steaks, Maine Lobster Roll, Memphis BBQ Loop, Yankee Donut Destinations and Charleston Soul Food.

For take-along snacks there are a few conditions that make them suitable for a road trip:

  • They fit into a cooler or other storage      container.
  • They’re tasty but healthy.
  • They don’t require utensils.
  • They aren’t messy.
  • They don’t spoil.
  • They will hold you over until you stop for meals. offers a few suggestions that include nut-butter (peanut, cashew or almond) sandwiches on whole wheat bread because they travel well, don’t have to be kept cool and the contents won’t fall into your lap while in the vehicle. In addition to jelly or fruit preserves with the nut-butter, try honey to add a little sweetness. Also nice on whole wheat bread is a hazelnut spread like Nutella or Peanut Butter & Co’s healthier version “Dark Chocolate Dreams,” which can be added to bread, bananas or other fruit.

Beyond sandwiches, a practical and healthy road snack is cut-up veggies like baby carrots and celery that store well in small Ziploc bags. If you have a cooler to keep other items cool, these pair well with hummus, which is thick enough in the container that it won’t spill out while it’s sitting on your lap. If you want some fruit with your veggies, opt for dried fruit that won’t get brown or bruised like regular fruit. Just make sure to choose a brand that isn’t overloaded with sugar like Peeled Snacks “Much-Ado-About” mango, which has no added sugars or artificial ingredients.

While racking up the miles toward your destination, have either store-bought or homemade trail mix on hand to halt hunger pains. Eden Organic Wild Berry Mixed Nuts, Seeds & Berries packs plenty of protein, fiber, antioxidants in just a handful. To make your own quick-and-easy trail mix, combine your favorite cereal with nuts, dried fruit such as cranberries, raisons, yogurt-covered raisins, dates and berries with sunflower seeds and granola.

For a convenient, quick snack that can be pulled out of your purse or fanny pack, take snack bars like LÄRABAR, which are all-natural, gluten free, vegan and kosher  treats that taste good and will keep you satisfied.

Ok, so you’ve got snacks covered. Now for the regional hot spots or local favorites to try for your meals. Let’s start out with the ever-popular Cracker Barrel. If you’ve ever dined there you know it’s always packed with folks of all ages enjoying the fare as well as its Old Country Store. So why is it a popular choice for a trip stop? Is it the prices? Is it the friendly service, the southern hospitality, reasonable prices or is it the fact that breakfast is served all day? Well, customers can’t complain about its seasonal offerings like Campfire Beef and Chicken ‘n Dumplins Platter. But, also available are “Wholesome Fixins” or meals under 600 calories. The restaurant’s admirable goal is to “cook up honest-to-goodness home-style meals prepared from scratch.”

The following are some regional places to get classics as listed in Endless Vacation magazine’s “40 Temples of American Food.”

Alabama and Georgia: Dreamland BBQ (visit for locations) is a fan favorite due to its pork spareribs that are “slow-cooked over hickory coals in a stone pit.”

Boston: Union Oyster House (41 Union St.) is the place to get traditional New England clam chowder. Also of note, it’s said that JFK often visited the joint, reading the paper in booth No.18.

Charleston, S.C.:  Hominy Grill (207 Rutledge Ave.) is the editor’s pick for shrimp and grits made with bacon grease, scallions and lemon juice.

Philadelphia, Pa.: Geno’s (1219 S. 9th St.) for a cheese steak loaded with “thinly sliced top round and grilled onions slathered with a gooey sauce” on a hoagie roll.

Both the Food Network and Travel Channel have featured a few regional eateries worth a stop along your journey:

New York, N.Y.: Featured on two Food Network Shows (“Best Thing I Ever Ate” and “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”) and the Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise” is Doughnut Plant (379 Grand St.), which is famous for its doughnuts and bagels.

Atlantic City, N.J.: White House Sub Shop (2301 Arctic Ave.): This has been a boardwalk landmark for more than 60 years and was highlighted on “Food Paradise.” It is noted for traditional American soups.

Norfolk, Va.: Visit the home of the original waffle cone (circa 1904 World Fair) for award-winning ice cream sundaes, handmade shakes and BBQ at Doumar’s Drive-In (1919 Monticello Ave.), where you can dine in, stay curbside or take out your meal. The popular drive-in has received high marks from both “Food Paradise” and “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.”

Virginia Beach, Va.: Leaping Lizards Café (4408 Shore Dr.): As seen on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” it is noted for farm-fresh produce, charming atmosphere, low prices and antique shop in the Chick’s Beach area of Virginia Beach. Fieri’s favorite was a gourmet Panini chicken salad sandwich served on homemade bread with shredded chicken, tomatoes, mixed greens and a peach chutney and curry yogurt.

Kill Devil Hills, N.C.: For low-country fare and what Fieri called “some serious shrimp and grits,” other southern staples with fresh local ingredients and hand-crafted brews, visit the Outer Banks Brewing Station (600 South Croatan Highway). This restaurant/brew pub is powered by its own wind turbine.

And then, to search for a specific locale’s pubs, brasseries, diners, drive-ins or restaurants that have been awarded kudos from popular TV food shows, try as well as With the Yelp app, road-trippers can read restaurant reviews before stopping or try iExit (available for Apple products and Androids), which lets you see exactly what restaurants and other points of interest await at upcoming exits.


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