People enjoy traveling for many different reasons, but one of the most common attractions for exploring a new place is the opportunity to try new food. If you’re a true foodie, you’ve probably already compiled a list of the top culinary destinations that you’re dying to visit. But each region of the country specializes in something slightly different. For seafood lovers, trying a new restaurant can be a risk—you may feel skeptical about the quality or doubt the restaurant’s ability to bring out just the right flavors in every bite. Not to worry! We’ve compiled a guide to the best U.S. cities for seafood lovers to help you to find great seafood–guaranteed.
Of course, the top seafood locations are along the coast as they have the quickest and easiest access to freshly caught seafood, but you can find these destinations everywhere–from the rocky coast of Maine to the sandy shores of San Diego. And of course, beyond continental U.S.; Alaska is on the list too!
San Diego, California
A major California city, San Diego is known for its surf, sun and seafood. During a visit to this southern California city, you can spend your days lounging on the beaches, hiking through the mountains, exploring downtown or simply eating your way through the city. Although California is well-known for delicious fish tacos, San Diego’s shared border with Mexico adds a unique influence and Mexican flair to their selection. But, the city’s offerings of top-notch seafood do not end with fish tacos. You can slurp down some locally caught oysters at places like TJ Oyster Bar. You’ll find plenty of sushi bar and some ceviche options as well.
Charleston, South Carolina
When visiting Charleston, South Carolina, it’s nearly impossible not to indulge in seafood. This charming coastal city has so much to offer its visitors and boasts one of the top culinary scenes in the entire country. Experience true Southern cuisine when in Charleston, and try ordering traditional dishes like shrimp and grits or she-crab soup. You’ll also find oysters galore here thanks to the area’s unique marsh landscape where these tasty little mollusks tend to thrive.
Head to The Darling Oyster Bar for oysters by the dozen and $4 oyster shooters. Bowen’s Island Restaurant is another great place for fresh down-South seafood, though it is truly a hidden gem. Head towards Folly Beach and make a right turn at a large green sign advertising Bowen’s Island to find this tiny barrier island with nothing more than a few mansions, a restaurant and a coastal adventure company. Bowen’s Island Restaurant may not look like much from the outside, but inside, this family-owned establishment serves a simple menu of fresh seafood brought in on the docks right outside the restaurant earlier that day.
It’s difficult not to immediately think of Maine whenever someone mentions lobster. Though it’s true you can find delicious lobster in other parts of the country, they don’t stand a chance against Maine lobster. Almost any coastal town in Maine is going to have some out-of-this-world lobster dishes, but Georgetown has three restaurants that are consistently named on the list of top seafood places in the state. During a trip to Maine, you can indulge in a variety of different lobster dishes. Order one whole and boil so you can crack open the shell yourself and dunk that tender meat into a bowl of butter. Test out a classic lobster roll for a fresh, citrusy taste of this crustacean, or look out for other unique menu items like lobster mac and cheese, lobster chowder and even lobster dumplings.
In the city of Baltimore, crab is king and Old Bay seasoning is its queen. Because Baltimore is still one of the main ports on the East Coast, the city is able to import a range of delicious and fresh seafood from oysters to fish, but crab and crab cakes have made a name for themselves here. Native Marylanders take their crab cakes very seriously. They must be seasoned with Old Bay and are best accompanied by the city’s own cheap beer options—Natty Boh. While there are certainly plenty of classy, upscale seafood options, Maryland is known for some of the best dive bar seafood joints serving up world class dishes like crack-n-eat crabs and soft shell crab sandwiches.
Alaska may not be the first place that comes to mind when you’re planning your next big vacation, but if you’re dedicated to finding top-notch seafood, you’ll need to add a trip to Anchorage to the top of your bucket list. It’s no surprise that the Alaskan crab here is like nowhere else in the country, but Anchorage is home to plenty of other seafood options as well. With an abundance of fish in these cold waters, salmon is one of the most popular fish dishes with some of the freshest salmon available on the market. The best part of dining all the way up north? You’ll find plenty of restaurants with unparalleled views of Alaska’s natural beauty.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Another Southern city with charm, history and parties galore, New Orleans is a unique city with French and Cajun influence that is prevalent everywhere. Here, you may find some similar types of seafood as you would when visiting Charleston, South Carolina, but one seafood option that is unique to NOLA is crawfish. This delicacy is usually served boiled with the shells still on, so you can get the full experience of peeling and eating them. You’ll find crawfish offered in étouffée, too, and you may even find it on a menu baked or sautéed.
Travel with Your Palate: Cities for Seafood Lovers
Exploring new destinations and new culinary dishes is one of the best parts of traveling. These cities for seafood lovers won’t leave you disappointed. Foodies know that indulging in a region’s food is a means of understanding the culture and history of the area. When it comes to seafood, many people can be very particular, which is why we pulled together a list of destinations with great seafood. When visiting Charleston, South Carolina, you’ll need to try the oysters and the shrimp and grits, but if you ever make it up to Alaska, be sure to indulge in all that the Last Frontier has to offer—from Alaskan crab legs to fresh-caught salmon. From coast to coast, these cities for seafood lovers will let you experience some memorable meals.
- Bellingham’s SeaFeast Celebrates Seafood and the Maritime Community
- Acadia’s Seafood Gumbo Recipe
- A Visit to the Famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo