Love to travel?  Love to cook?  Why not combine your wanderlust with your culinary passion by taking a cooking vacation?  In our last article on Culinary Travels, we shared some amazing opportunities to learn the best of Italian, French, Greek, Irish, and Spanish cooking while exploring the local markets and vineyards of Europe.  For those who prefer to stay on this side of the Atlantic, there are a number of culinary-inspired adventures that highlight the local food of the various regions of the United States.  Read on to discover five cooking vacations that won’t require you to renew your passport.  Enjoy your tasty travels!

Deborah Krasner’s Vermont Culinary Vacations
Putney, Vermont

Deborah Krasner is the master of all things kitchen. She has written five cookbooks and designs kitchens for master chefs like Marcella Hazan. But her passion is teaching. At one of her Friday to Wednesday sessions you will not only learn how to cook, but you’ll discover why certain ingredients work the way they do. You will learn things like how to make syrup from roses, the ins and outs of pastry creation, and how to create seasonal dishes like duck breasts with violets and pomegranate molasses. Outside of the kitchen, guests will enjoy activities like artisanal cheese tasting, a visit to the local glassblowers shop, and picnic lunches in the exquisitely landscaped gardens. After all of this, you can head to one of five inviting guest rooms to drift off to sleep with a full stomach and the scents of crisp garden herbs still fresh on your fingertips.

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Tennessee Southern Cooking Weekend
Walland, Tennessee

Blackberry Farms in Walland, Tennessee has become a hot destination for food and wine enthusiasts across the globe. The food is touted as a combination of haute cuisine and local Smokey Mountain heritage.  In addition to providing some of the most luxurious accommodations in the Southeast, Blackberry Farms is a working farm that offers sustainably harvested organic produce, artisan cheeses, and livestock. The food, dubbed Foothills Cuisine®, is inspired by the seasonal harvest at the farm. Blackberry Farms hosts up to fifteen cooking events each year, but you don’t have to wait for a scheduled event to take advantage of the wealth of culinary education that they possess. For an additional fee, you can schedule a 3-course midday meal demonstration with one of the renowned chefs, featuring fresh produce that you’ve personally harvested prior to entering the kitchen. Extreme enthusiasts can sign up to spend the whole day with one of the chefs at Blackberry Farm, as they walk you through each step of their daily culinary preparations. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can have an in-suite chef experience, where your meal will be prepared for you in a private setting. If you can’t wait until you get home to try out what you’ve learned, the Farmstead Cottage has a full dining area and kitchen outfitted with the latest gourmet appliances. Even if you don’t have a hand in the cooking, you will undeniably walk away from Blackberry Farms with a greater appreciation for an All-American culinary experience.

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Santa Fe Culinary Getaway
Santa Fe, New Mexico

New Mexico merges natural beauty with a culture influenced by Native American and Mexican traditions. The culmination of the two makes for a unique cooking adventure in Santa Fe. On this three-day, two-night excursion you will enjoy a hands-on Southwestern cooking class with master chef, Johnny Vee, who specializes in preparing dishes with local techniques. This package also includes a chef’s tasting at the famed Geronimo’s Restaurant and a docent guided tour of historic Santa Fe.  You will also enjoy the posh accommodations at the Fort Marcy Hotel, which is situated on nine acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and boasts condo style rooms with wood burning fireplaces and spacious living areas. It is located just steps from the historic Santa Fe Plaza, where you will find a bevy of restaurants, museums and unique shops.

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French Quarter Cooking Vacation
New Orleans, Louisiana

There are few cities in the United States that boast a more unique food culture than New Orleans. With its own blend of French, Southern and Creole influences, this city’s culinary scene offers you experiences that you just can’t get anywhere else. The experience includes lodging at a historic hotel in with balconies overlooking the lively French Quarter. Your days will be filled with cooking classes that include stops at the New Orleans School of Cooking and Crescent City Cooks where you will learn to prepare Louisiana classics like jambalaya, gumbo and pralines.  When you are not in the kitchen, you can take a tour of the Crescent City Farmers Market where the freshest seafood and locally grown produce are mixed with artisan cheeses and hoppin’ N’awlins music. In addition, you will be offered the chance to get VIP access to some of the hottest restaurants in town. This vacation package will have you cooking like a local by the end of your stay.

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California Wine Country Hiking Tour
Napa and Sonoma Valley, California

A discussion of culinary travels in America would not be complete without an entry from California wine country. Some consider this part of the country to be the nucleus of American cuisine. With its temperatures and environment perfect for growing all sorts of delectable fruits and vegetables and its proximity to the sea, it’s not hard to understand why. This package offers guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with the valley countryside on a hiking tour of the wineries. Guides will lead travelers through shady canyons and along secluded trails to volcanic ridges, allowing them to work up an impressive appetite for the many culinary delights they will encounter on this trip.

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