Vermont: The Artisan Tour
Dig into the world of delicious, nutritious eats, so you can feel great, play hard, live longerand go for the gusto. CLICK HERE for the full Outside overview.
Pack It On: Middlebury's white-clapboard Swift House Inn, once the governor's mansion, is your campus for this four-day tutorial in farm-fresh regional cooking. Mixed with 16 hours of class time are field trips to the local dairy farms and artisan food producers that make up the Vermont Fresh Network (try cheesemaker Grafton Village's Sage Cheddar).
Burn It Off: There's hiking aplenty in the Green Mountains, sailing on Lake Champlain, and birdwatching at Dead Creek Wildlife Preserve.
When to Go: May, October
Price: $2,000 per person
Contact: A Vermont Culinary Vacation; 802-388-9925, www.henrysheldonmuseum.org
Mexico: La Cocina de Oaxaca
Pack It On: Oaxacan cuisine is arguably Mexico's finest, with treats including moles, tamales, rich chocolateand mescal to wash it all down. For seven fiesta-like days, Mexican cookbook author Susana Trilling will enlighten you with a mix of innovative and tradition-steeped techniqueslike how to finesse sopa de ajo (garlic soup) with squash blossoms.
Burn It Off: Fetch ingredients at local markets; visit a chocolate molino, or mill; walk to the archaeological ruins at Mitla; and visit mescal distilleries, where you can sample the product.
Base Camp: Sleep off the hangover in quaint bed-and-breakfasts like the vibrant Posada de Chencho.
When to Go: March, April
Price: $1,575 per person
Contact: Epiculinary; 888-380-9010, www.epiculinary.com
Pack It On: During this ten-day land-and-sea tour along the southeastern coast, your private chef, Luis Ricardo Rossi, will introduce you to regional culinary highlights like Brazilian barbecue (churrasco), featuring prime cuts of beef, and Bahian cooking's key ingredients: coconut milk, malagueta peppers, and palm oil. You'll also stop at a cachaça factory, where the most potent ingredient of the lethal caipirinha, Brazil's national drink, is distilled.
Burn It Off: Pit-stop at oceanside villas along the Angra dos Reis, a dreamy archipelago of 365 islands and 2,000 beaches, 90 miles southwest of Rio de Janeiro, where you'll swim, snorkel, boat to deserted stretches of sand, and explore a former pirate colony at the end of the only road on Ilha Grande.
Base Camp: A plush private residence, plus two nights at Rio's legendary Copacabana Palace.
When to Go: Year-round
Price: From $4,000 per person
Contact: VIP Brazil; 800-772-9188, www.viptourbrazil.com
Spain & Italy
Spain: Barcelona and Beyond
Pack It On: Having eclipsed France for innovation in cuisine and toppled Italy in popularity, Spain leads every self-respecting gastronome's hot list. Begin this seven-day food fest in Barcelona, where young visionaries are pushing nueva cocina to surreal heightscuttlefish ravioli, anyone? Then take a drive through the Catalonian countryside, visiting medieval cities and taking classes with a local chef at the prestigious Aula Gastronómica de l'Empordá, in Palamós.
Burn It Off: Skin-dive in hidden coves or cycle along the bay of Tamariu.
Base Camp: Bed down at charming hotels like Begur's Mas Ses Vinyes, a rural, antique-filled hotel close to the Costa Brava.
When to Go: Year-round
Price: $3,086$3,732 per person
Contact: Gourmet on Tour; 800-504-9842, www.gourmetontour.com
Italy: Spotlight on Puglia
Pack It On: Italy's scuffed, sun-drenched heel is the boot's culinary hot spot del giorno. For a crash course in Apulian cuisinethink seafood, fava beans, fennel, olives, and orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta)join Rome-based cookbook author Diane Seed at the whitewashed Il Melograno farmhouse, near Monopoli, for a week. The busy agenda includes daily cooking lessons, a visit to the Olive Oil Museum, and dinners at local trattorias.
Burn It Off: Do laps in the pomegranate-tree-fringed swimming pool, practice your serve at the on-grounds tennis courts, or swim off a private beach on the nearby Adriatic.
Base Camp: A fortified 16th-century masseria, or farmhouse, in the midst of olive and fig trees.
When to Go: April, July, October, November
Price: $3,000 per person
Contact: Il Melograno Cooking School; 011-39-080-690-9030, www.melograno.com
Turkey & Thailand
A taste of the Mediterranean: A buffet with Idlewild
Turkey: The Gulet Way
Pack It On: During this 14- to 17-day voyage along the Turquoise Coast, the onboard chef will convert fresh local ingredients into regional specialties, like dolma. After a morning dip in the Mediterranean, hit the deck of your private yacht for sun and a midday feast of grilled levrek (a tasty whitefish), rice pilaf, fresh vegetables, and, for dessert, Turkish coffee and the sweetest peaches you'll ever eat.
Burn It Off: Afternoon activities include hiking to mountain villages, spotting loggerhead sea turtles, taking a dip at the mud baths of Dalyan, and snorkeling over sunken ruins.
Base Camp: The traditional Turkish yacht, a 65- to 75-foot teakwood gulet.
When to Go: MayJune, SeptemberOctober
Price: From $3,150 per person
Contact: Idlewind Expeditions; 707-224-9710, www.idlewind.com
Thailand: Spice Island
Pack It On: Koh Samui offers crowd-free sandy beaches and eight days of hands-on instruction in Thai cuisine at the tranquil Laem Set Inn, on the island's southern tip. Class is held in a shaded, outdoor kitcheninspiration for perfecting your kang kheaw wan kung (green curry with prawns, eggplant, and sweet basil leaves).
Burn It Off: When you're not elbow-deep in tom kha gai (coconut chicken soup), there's diving, snorkeling, and swimming off a Thai fishing boator field trips to the colorful Nathon market.
Base Camp: Your own luxury bungalow, with a balcony overlooking the sea.
When to Go: March, September
Price: $3,033 per person
Contact: Tasting Places; 877-695-2469, www.tastingplaces.com