I recently read an article that talked about places and activities that would be booming this summer due to lockdowns ending (for the most part) and the country opening back up again for business. One of the top listings was something called "food tourism."

Food tourism, also known as "culinary" or "gastronomical" tourism is pretty much what you'd think it is. WorldFoodTravel.org defines it as "the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place." FoodAndRoad.com says food tourism is "activities that provide experiences of consumption and appreciation of food and beverages, presented in such a way that values the history, the culture, and the environment of a particular region."

Both of those definitions sound classy and intellectually highbrow, don't they?

Well, in spite of that, hitting the road to sample the fare at long-standing and beloved local eateries still sounds like fun. Better yet, it doesn't have to be like a "what I learned on summer vacation" school project. I've seen a bunch of videos from travelers who decided to hit a bunch of restaurants that have been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

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If you wanted to hit the Illinois joints that have been featured on Guy Fieri's wildly popular Food Network show, you'd better budget about a month. There are 38 Illinois eateries that have had their moment in the sun on Triple-D.

Being a history buff, I would love to take some time to visit some of the old-time, "we've been here forever" kinds of places. I'm not all that enthusiastic about jumping on a plane to go somewhere at the present time, but what about a road trip? Maybe one that takes me to places that I can get to in a day or less. Narrowing it down like that leaves us with the Midwest.

Here's a list of some of the Midwest's oldest dining establishments, along with their distance from Rockford:

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