The Arival Directory of U.S. Food Tour Operators

We’ve been doing a lot of work to compile a directory of U.S. operators of one of tours’ fastest growing segments. Here’s what we’ve found, and 7 things we’ve learned

Reading Time: 6 minutes 44 seconds

We’ve always said tours, activities and attractions are the Best Part of Travel. And for most travelers, food is the most important part of their trip. So it’s little wonder that food tours have been one of the fastest growing categories in tours and activities over the past two decades.

Food and drink is a central element to any trip, and increasingly travelers are turning to food tours and experiences as a way not just to eat, but to connect with local people and culture. More than a third of U.S. travelers who do tours and activities have booked a culinary experience (food or drink) pre-pandemic, and European travelers are not far behind.

The Arival Directory of U.S. Food Tour Operators Douglas Quinby Arival

We have done the research to compile a list of top food tour operators in the U.S. to present an overview of this important category. This helps all of us understand how big the market is, where these operators are, and to provide a directory of companies.

What We Did

The Arival Directory of U.S. Food Tour Operators Douglas Quinby Arival
Arival compiled data on nearly 1,000 U.S. food tour operators — Maria Orlova / Unsplash

We compiled data on nearly 1,000 U.S. operators offering culinary experiences and reviewed each company for their online presence. We looked at reviews, aggregate ratings and their current operating status. We narrowed this list down to just under 300 operators based on the following criteria:

Food tour operators only: we focused exclusively on food tours, and have excluded beer, wine and other drink tours. (Look for this in a future directory.) We have also excluded tour operators that may offer a food tour, but whose primary business is not running food tours.

Arival 360 | SAN DIEGO 2024

30 September – 3 October 2024

Insider Pro Access Members Save 20%

THE event of the year for solutions-focused In-Destination Experience
creators and sellers

Save up to $580 with the Summer Season ticket

Learn More

Minimum number of reviews and ratings: we reviewed each operator’s listings across select third-party websites and established minimum review thresholds to include an operator. This minimum threshold was pretty low so that we would also include some relatively new businesses that are still building up an online presence post Covid. 

Currently operating: we have excluded those operators that do not appear to have resumed operations since Covid.

1. Here’s what we learned: A Long Tail of Small, Single-Location Businesses

The vast majority of food tour operators are small businesses with single locations. Of the nearly 300 operators in our list, we identified just eight that had operations in multiple cities. Two of these operators, Maine Foodie Tours and Taste Carolina, run multiple tour locations in one state. The company with the most tour locations, Secret Food Tours, operates tours in many cities around the world. WeVenture has 11 locations, however not all of them run food tours.

OperatorLocations
Secret Food Tours15
WeVenture11
Taste Carolina9
Sidewalk Food Tours7
Underground Donut Tour6
Maine Foodie Tours5
Avital Tours3
Milwaukee Food & City Tours / Chicago Food Planet2
Rhode Island Red Food Tours2
Taste of Troy Food Tours2

If you have a multi-destination food tour operation that we have overlooked here, please let us know: [email protected] 

2. Half of All Operators Are in Just Five States

California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are home to half of the country’s top 300 food tour operators. This largely correlates to the most popular states in terms of tourism. California, Florida and New York are among the top U.S. states for both international and domestic visitors.

StateNumber of Food Tour Operators
California46
Florida42
New York29
Pennsylvania15
Massachusetts15
Louisiana12
Illinois11
Texas10
Georgia9

3. Three in 10 Have Not Reopened

The pandemic has proven especially hard on food tour operators. Not only were their businesses directly affected by the shutdowns and steep reduction in tourism, but their key suppliers — restaurants — were also profoundly affected. Some 31% of the more than 420 food tour operators have not reopened since the pandemic.

Two states with the most closures — California and New York — also had some of the toughest lockdown measures in place during the pandemic. However, Florida, among other states which had a more relaxed response to Covid, also has a significant number of its food tour operators who have not yet resumed operations.

4. 20 Operators Account for Half of All Online Reviews

Of the nearly 300 operators in our directory, just 20 accounted for 45% of online reviews on third-party websites. Reviews can sometimes be an indicator of the relative size of business, but not always. Several of these companies are also some of the longest established food tour operators and have had far more time to accumulate reviews.

5. Online Ratings Are High

The average rating across all operators is 4.9 out of 5 stars across the websites we analyzed, and only a small percentage of operators (12%) rated a 4.5 or lower. Food tour operators broadly seem to be satisfying their guests, and setting a high bar for new startups in the business.

6. Google Reviews Gaining

Tripadvisor has long been the leading online travel destination for traveler reviews, but Google may be gaining. For every one review on a Google business listing, a food tour operator on average has 3.7 reviews on Tripadvisor. We have only captured this data as a point in time, so we cannot say for certain how it’s trending, but we had expected the gap to be wider. The average number of reviews on a Google listing is 28, and just under 10% of operators have more Google reviews than Tripadvisor reviews.

7. Too Many Ignoring Google

We found a significant number of operators — 14% — that had no Google business listing at all, and many more with incomplete information, such as missing contact information or opening hours. As Google becomes more active in this industry with Google Things to Do, it will be more important than ever for operators to maintain an up-to-date and active business listing on the search engine.

The Top 20 by Online Reviews & Ratings

Many operators are still young and haven’t yet built up a sizeable volume of reviews — Louis Hansel / Unsplash

Here are the 20 food tour operators in the U.S. with the most online reviews and best ratings across select third-party websites.

Note: this does not take into account operators’ own websites or the quality of the tours themselves There are many, many amazing food tour operators \ in the directory with 5-star ratings, whose businesses are younger and haven’t yet had time to build up as many reviews.

  1. Foods of New York Tours
  2. Miami Culinary Tours
  3. Savor Seattle Food Tours
  4. Chicago Food Planet
  5. Maui Pineapple Tours
  6. Ray’s Food and Walking Tours
  7. Savannah Taste Experience Food Tours
  8. Lip Smacking Foodie Tours
  9. A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours
  10. Tabasco Food Tours
  11. Maine Foodie Tours
  12. City Food Tours Philadelphia
  13. Key West Food Tours
  14. The Tasting Tours
  15. Eating Asheville
  16. Local Tastes of the City Tours
  17. Columbus Food Adventures
  18. Unexpected Atlanta Walking Tours
  19. The Culinary Tours
  20. Tastebud Tours

Check Out the Full List

If you have an Arival Insider Free membership, click here to see the full list of nearly 300 U.S. food tour operators (make sure you’re logged in). The full list of operators is accessible for free through the Arival Insider free membership. If you are not signed up, it just takes a few minutes, and you’ll have instant access to this list of operators as well as a range of other Arival reports and content.

What Did We Miss?

Arival 360 | SAN DIEGO 2024

30 September – 3 October 2024

Insider Pro Access Members Save 20%

THE event of the year for solutions-focused In-Destination Experience
creators and sellers

Save up to $580 with the Summer Season ticket

Learn More

Compiling data on a complex industry like ours, with many small businesses, is not easy. No doubt we’ve overlooked some companies. Please let us know if we’ve missed something, or if you have questions or feedback. There is a form on the directory page where you add your company, or email us directly at [email protected].

Get the Complete Directory with Contact Information 

Insider Pro Access members have access to the complete directory, including public contact information as well as the ability to sort operators by city and state. Become an Insider Pro member today. It starts at just $179 a year for small operators. Learn more

GET ON THE LIST!

Sign up to receive insights tailored for the in-destination industry as well as updates on Arival.

Sign Up
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Trending

already a member?

Lost your password?

NEED TO REGISTER?

Become an Arival Insider
THE ARIVAL INSIDER PRO ACCESS MEMBERSHIP; YOU GET ALL THIS TO HELP YOU ADVANCE YOUR BUSINESS.

Included in Free Membership

Included in Arival Pro Membership

The Arival on-demand video library archive
Access to the entire library of over 150 video sessions and webinars

Arival.guides
Short, digestible research & trends reports delivering insights into our industry, such as The Tour Operator Outlook for 2021.

Arival.travel articles
Topical articles about marketing, tech, operator business and operator stories in all areas of tours, activities & attractions & experiences

Job board access
Find a job from our regular listings, post a resume to the talent network and learn strategies from the job resources articles

New webinars
Helpful, instructional sessions covering subjects such as Mastering Facebook Ads, Grow Your Business and How To Work With OTAs — topics to help advance your business.

Discounts on all Arival in-person events
20% Discount on all Arival in-person events (save up to $300)* based on business type

Arival ProShield – Insurance program
Access to tailored insurance solutions by Granite Insurance is available exclusively for Arival Insider Pro Access Members. Insider Pro Access Members also have access to a suite of resources from Granite Insurance including templates, forms and other informative documents.

Insiders Pro Access member exclusive webinars
Paid membership-only webinars to deepen your understanding of important industry topics.

Job postings & talent directory
Post jobs & connect with candidates most applicable to your business.

Private roundtables to connect, learn and engage
Small, focused and intimate discussions exclusive to Arival Insider Pro Access members.

Full access to Arival’s library of in-depth reports
Up to date, deep analysis of tourism topics ranging from Self-guided Tours to Sales & Distribution Trends and Outlooks, based on the data that defines the industry.

The latest on-demand videos
Over 350+ on-demand videos featuring hot topics in tours, activities & attractions

Insider discounts in digital marketing, tech, e-learning, and more
Save money on additional tools, services and learnings you need to run your business. Exclusive to paid members.

Membership Overview
ARIVAL CODE OF CONDUCT​
CONFERENCES AND COMMUNITY SPACES​

At Arival, we believe travel can make the world a better place. Our mission is to establish and inspire a diverse community of individuals and companies in the In-destination Industry by providing opportunities to gain insight, share knowledge and build connections. To make it possible for true collaboration, creativity, innovation, and idea exchange to thrive, we are committed to facilitating a welcoming and respectful community for all. This Conference Code of Conduct shares our community expectations and applies to all attendees, employees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and other participants at Arival- produced and sponsored events. We empower all participants in our community to actively engage in creating a friendly, inclusive and safe environment for all.

Arival’s core values include the following, and create an expectation for conduct at our events and in online community spaces:

We demonstrate a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
We value integrity and strive to consistently interact with others in ways that are authentic, ethical, and fair.
We are dedicated to transparency, committing to clear, open and honest communication.
We actively pursue and advocate for inclusion, diversity and representation of varying cultural backgrounds, perspectives and ideas

Arival welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender (including pregnancy, perceived pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, religion (including religious dress and grooming), marital status, domestic partner status, genetic information, age, national origin or ancestry, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Accordingly, participants must refrain from displaying any demeaning, harassing, aggressive, or intimidating behavior or materials that would interfere with others’ experience and participation in our community.

If you witness or are subjected to inappropriate or disruptive behavior or have any other concerns, notify an Arival staff member as soon as possible.

Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Arival reserves the right to refuse entry to or remove any party from any event or community space at any time when participation or behavior create a disruption or hinder the event or enjoyment of the event by other participants. All determinations are at the sole discretion of Arival, and the decision of the Arival team will be final. Severe breaches of this Conference Code of Conduct may result in disqualification from participating in future events. Individuals expelled due to violating this Conference Code of Conduct will not be eligible for a refund or other consolation.

If you have questions regarding this Conference Code of Conduct or its implementation, please contact us at [email protected].