To experience the essence of a destination, we want to get to know the local culture, and that almost always means eating — lots of eating. These food-focused trips are great ways to combine a luxury adventure with our other favorite pastime.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
If you crave Southern food, look no further than Atlanta’s fifth annual Food & Wine festival (May 28 to 31) for your next epicurean escape. Held each year in Midtown, the event spotlights the culinary traditions of Dixie, from deep in the heart of Texas over to D.C. Choose from day passes with access to the festival tasting tents and select events, or opt for an upgraded pass that includes dinner, entry to 100-plus classes and even more chances to sample selections from chefs such as Anne Quatrano, Sean Brock and Steve McHugh. After you’ve eaten and drank your fill, recharge at Loews Atlanta Hotel, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star property.
The Umstead’s Farm Outing
North Carolina’s Piedmont region is quickly growing in popularity for food-centric travel, and no area showcases this culinary renaissance better than Five-Star The Umstead Hotel and Spa. The property’s Farm Fresh Package (call for availability) includes a private tour of a nearby farm with Five-Star Herons’ executive chef Steven Green, who will walk you through how the hotel selects its hyper-local fare. Afterward, return to The Umstead for a private wine class before enjoying a kaiseki-style, seven-course dinner using ingredients from the site visit. Stay overnight in a Lake View Suite to complete this savory sojourn.
Food & Wine Classic in Aspen
You may think of Aspen as a posh destination for skiers, but the gourmands descend here for the annual foodie fun. Chefs like Tyler Florence, Danny Meyer and Gail Simmons bring the star power to the 33rd installment from June 19 to 21. There’s already a waitlist for general passes for this event and the full schedule hasn’t even been announced. Some high-level Grow for Good passes ($4,000 each) are still available, but if you don’t want to make that kind of commitment, we’d suggest adding your name to the aforementioned list and investing instead on a high-quality hotel — our picks being Five-Star The Little Nell or Four-Star Hotel Jerome, two sumptuous properties that offer central locations and the perfect venues for celeb spotting.
We’re always on the lookout for a great drink. That’s why we’re salivating over Tiffany Dawn Soto’s Sake Safaris. These private trips (the next is planned for March 2016) include a two-week, nearly-all-inclusive journey around Japan with the guidance of Soto, a master sake sommelier. Soto is responsible for curating most of the United States’ top sake lists, as well as for working with names like Four Seasons and the James Beard Foundation to help bring the fermented rice beverage to the masses. This year’s trip took guests from Tokyo and Akihabara (Japan’s “Electric Town”) to Nagano and beyond, exploring cities large and small in the quest for the perfect sips. The 2016 voyage, which costs around $5,800 pre-airfare, comes with hotels, many meals and a depth of sake knowledge unlike anything you’ll find on other pre-packaged food tours.