8 Experiential Vacations for Foodies Who Want to Go Deep

These journeys make for way better bragging rights than any hot-ticket restaurant reservation.

If you're of a certain mind, you'll find that the best part of any trip is what you eat when you're traveling. But experiencing food and drink can mean much more than tasting the best morsels in any restaurant, or even off-the-beaten-path food stand: It can mean embarking on a food-centric journey meant as a deeper dive into how your favorite food or drink is sourced or created. Whether you are into truffle hunting or making your own olive oil, these options will certainly provide a trip to remember.

1.  Italy

If you want to do an experiential cooking activity on your trip, Italy is the place to visit. Take tours such as Discover Your Italy’s food valley tour, where you can visit a famous producer of Culatello di Zibello (the unique and most refined expression of Parma Ham), as well as visit parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar producers and cook using the ingredients.

And if truffle hunting is your jam (so to speak) guests at Il Castelfalfi in Tuscany can choose to forage for truffles in the natural reserve with a self-guided map, or tap into a local expert (for a fee) who will guide them on the adventure. The varieties of truffle vary depending of the time of year: From January to April you will find the Marzolo truffle, from June to September the Scorzone, and from October to December the precious white truffle. 

There’s also a harvest tour every year in Puglia, Italy, where guests can harvest their own olives, then take them to the mill, watch them being crushed, and leave with a tin of extra virgin olive oil they helped make. Another great pick: The Northern Italy Cooking School allows students to make pasta, visit a rice producer who is using the same machines as when the factory was established in 1648, visit the cathedral of Parmagiano Reggiano, and learn about Culatello Di Zibello in the oldest aging rooms in the world.

2.  Cape Cod

The Platinum Pebble Boutique Inn in West Harwich, Massachusetts captures the essence of the Cape Cod region with a crabbing package that is as authentically local as you can get. The package includes: Net for catching, bait to bring them in, line to attach to the bait, location to crab, and everything you need for a crab feast when you return to the Inn.

3.  Greece

Eumelia Organic Agrotourism Farm & Guesthouse is a 50-acre working farm and ecotourism destination located in Southern Greece in the Peloponnese. The property is a serene retreat where visitors can participate in farming activities like picking olives, grapes, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. The owners were recently certified as olive oil sommeliers, and guests can participate in the process from picking olives to oil pressing and tasting. 

4.  California

Visitors can blend their own wine and create their own label at Buena Vista Winery, California’s first winery, or stomp grapes during the oldest wine festival in the United States during Sonoma Valley Vintage Festival. Visitors can also participate in a grape or olive harvest and learn about the process while getting their hands dirty. 

5.  Argentina

In Argentina’s Uco Valley, Casa de Uco resort is situated across a 790-acre estate and vineyard. Guests enjoy one-of-a-kind wine parcel tasting through the vineyards, hopping from plot to plot with the sommelier and chef where a glass of wine from each plot awaits with custom food pairings. The resort allows guests to learn the sector de fuego (fire pit) barbecue cooking technique over open flames, design their personal wine labels and brand via the Wine Barrel Program, and enjoy Argentinian cooking classes and a tasting menu of five tapas plates paired with premium wines.

6.  Costa Rica

Located in Herradura Beach (Costa Rica’s fishing capital), Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort in Costa Rica features a program for guests to bring the fish that they caught to the hotel to be cooked. Guests can then choose from a variety of local preparation styles such as ceviche with a choice of sweet chili, garlic butter, or soy sauces for an authentically flavorful meal. Set on a 30-acre coffee plantation, Costa Rica Marriott San Jose features an onsite Coffee Curator that hosts latte design classes — from monkeys to flowers — and instructs how to best harvest coffee at home. The hacienda introduced a Café Chorreado experience for groups to learn coffee making in the traditional way through a drip process.

7.  Cambodia

Even though everyone has these common household items, not everyone fully understands where salt and pepper actually come from. The Cambodian town of Kampot is world famous for pepper production. Pepper is grown off a stalk plant. The quartz mineral, which is found below the soil, provides a unique taste characteristics to the pepper pods of Kampot. Sothy's Pepper Farm provides tours around the farm for tourists that literally walk in off the street. Salt flats can be found in Kampot. You can either hire a tuk tuk or rent your motorbike to drive to the salt flats. 

8.  Peru

Located in an intimate Andean village, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel guests can visit the property’s organic plantation and tea house and take part in the tea-making process (picking fresh tea leaves, pressing it over wooden blocks, and finally sealing their own tea bag). Guests will polish off the experience over a nice tall glass of fresh iced-tea direct from Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel’s tea house.

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