Where to Sample the Best Seafood in the U.S.
Seafood lovers, unite! Whether you’re a fish fanatic, a crawfish craver, an abalone aficionado, or simply an all-around seafood savant, there’s just something special about that fresh catch on the menu. Thankfully for your taste buds, Earth is composed of 71 percent water—and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), 97 percent of that water is found in the oceans. So it’s no wonder that we find such a beautiful bounty of fresh fare among the world’s life-giving waters.
While you can order up fish and seafood just about anywhere you go, there are a few destinations that consistently catch and serve the best of the best. And it just so happens that they’re some of our favorite spots to kick back and enjoy a vacation, too. Here are 8 of the best seafood spots in the U.S.—along with a bonus location among our Canadian neighbors to the north, for those who don’t mind a slightly longer trek. So, let’s dive in on where to find the tastiest treats of the sea.
Charleston, South Carolina
For inventive seafood dishes you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the world, don’t miss the opportunity to visit this charming, cobblestoned city on the water. Founded in 1670, Charleston is renowned for its creative lowcountry cuisine that relies heavily on fresh-caught seafood, infused with both Southern traditions and New World influences. Small plates here are an inspired way to sample your way through many imaginative dishes.
What to Order: She-crab soup—a rich, creamy crab broth that’s loaded with Atlantic blue crab meat and crab roe. For something more traditional, shrimp and grits are another go-to here.
The Hawaiian Islands
Hawaii’s state fish is the Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa—certainly a mouthful, but don’t worry about trying to pronounce it to your waiter, since they aren’t commonly eaten here. Instead, Hawaii offers up an abundance of other fresh sea fare, thanks to being wholly surrounded by the ocean.
Known for their excellent Ono (a Hawaiian word meaning “good to eat”), just about everything on the menu here will delight the taste buds. And with its sensational year-round weather, you can enjoy it all on an outdoor patio any time you go.
What to Order: Poke bowl—from the Hawaiian word “to cut,” it generally consists of fresh, raw Yellowtail or Ahi tuna along with sticky rice and pickled vegetables. The best poke bowl in Hawaii…is any poke bowl you order in Hawaii!
Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
There’s just no avoiding this region when it comes to finding the world’s best seafood. This section of the Mid-Atlantic is teeming with fishing harbors and seafood restaurants. And, in the summers, you’ll find authentic fish shacks and crab houses everywhere you turn. To top it all off, it’s also one of the most scenic coastal areas to visit any time of the year. Head to the coast and wander your way through a sea of oyster bars and raw bars, sampling until you’re stuffed.
What to Order: Crab cakes—technically available anywhere in the U.S., but nowhere else does it quite like Chesapeake Bay. Enjoy heaps of fresh lump blue crab meat and Old Bay seasoning from the original region where this dish became popularized.
San Diego, California
This dreamy coastal city is already on many travel lists, thanks to its beautiful beaches, world-renowned golf courses, and near-perfect year-round temperatures. But it’s also home to an array of excellent seafood restaurants, particularly coastal Baja interpretations of many favorite dishes, from ceviche to oysters to sea urchin prepared in a variety of ways.
What to Order: Fish tacos—no matter which fish you choose, it’s an explosion of textures and flavors, both crunchy and creamy, salty and sweet.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Another favorite southern spot, the “Big Easy” is home to some truly iconic seafood dishes, drawing inspiration from its lowcountry location. Most dishes feature fresh catches from the delta that joins the Mississippi River to the Gulf, which means lots of shrimp, crab, crawfish and oysters on every menu. Even more sausage-based dishes, like jambalaya and gumbo, tend to lean heavily into seafood ingredients.
What to Order: Crawfish, or better yet, join an authentic crawfish boil—an indescribable combination of these lobster-like crustaceans along with garlic, Bay leaves and seasonings, potatoes, corn and other vegetables.
Seattle is an incredible coastal city to begin with, but the existence of the legendary Pike Place Market makes it a true must-visit destination for any seafood lover. Rows deep and stacked high with fresh-off-the-boat fare—from shellfish and salmon to crabs and other crustaceans—you can browse for hours before picking up something to prepare. Or, just grab a bite at one of the many nearby seafood restaurants who also source their food from this market.
What to Order: Pacific geoduck—pronounced gooey-duck, it’s an enormous briny, saltwater clam that tastes unlike anything else you’ve tried from the sea.
Boston is one of America’s oldest—and loveliest—cities. And its culinary traditions have lasted through the ages for good reason: the fresh seafood dishes you’ll sample in this stately harbor town are unlike anywhere else in the world. In fact, much of what you’ll eat at any restaurant and on any given day was likely caught just offshore, and often on that very day.
What to Order: This one’s a toss-up! Fresh oysters or lobster, prepared the way you like it.
Alaska may be known for its stunning glaciers and soaring peaks, such as the picturesque Denali that rises above the clouds to 20,310 feet in elevation. But there’s just as much here for seafood lovers, too. In fact, the state is home to 228 Federally recognized Alaska Native tribes who have subsisted on the bounties of the sea here for thousands of years, even today.
What to Order: Alaskan King Crab—after all, it’s named for the state where you’re most likely to find it. And nowhere is it fresher than eating it right here.
Nova Scotia, Canada
Sure, it isn’t technically in the U.S., but we just couldn’t leave this one off the list. After all, Nova Scotia is renowned for its lobster, and in fact, it’s the world’s largest exporter of the tasty crustaceans.
As one of Canada’s three maritime provinces, Nova Scotia draws from the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, providing a steady stream of fish and seafood just offshore. It’s also one of the most unexpectedly lovely (and blissfully uncrowded!) vacation spots still awaiting your discovery in all of North America.
What to Order: Lobster, however you like it—because how could you not?
Pack Your Bags…and Your Appetites
From snow crab legs to conch fritters to lobster rolls and beyond, what’s not to love about savoring seafood from coast to coast? When you’re ready for your next culinary adventure, these destinations and dining experiences will get you started. All you need to do is bring your appetite—and with our collection of beach- and harbor-friendly apparel, a wide range of sun care options, and hats to keep you cool in the sun, you can leave the rest of your packing list to us.