5 Incredible Getaways Where You Can Learn Something New
Learn to Surf on O'ahu
Learning to surf on O'ahu's North Shore is like learning to play tennis at Wimbledon: You're in the home of greatness. And amid the radical breaks and general wave-shredding of the North Shore, the Hans Hedemann Surf School at Turtle Bay Resort offers a friendly, expert hand at getting you onto a board, learning to work the waves, and discovering the joy so familiar to generations of Hawaiian surfers. Consider a private lesson with former pro Rocky Canon and get the benefit of board time with Hina and Kahuna, Canon's wave-loving dogs, who are practically instructors in their own right. Grab a spot on the resort's rocky overlook to watch late-in-the-day surfers and stand-up paddlers play in the swells as the sun goes down. Then plan a nightcap at Surfer, The Bar to listen to locals talking about the day's action on the water. Classes start at $100 per person for a two-hour group lesson. Rates at Turtle Bay Resort start at $339 (plus taxes and resort fees); turtlebayresort.com.
Learn to Be a Wine Pro in Rhode Island
Is there anything cooler than a sommelier who surfs? Only the wine classes that surfing somm Erin Swain creates at the Center for Wine and Culinary Arts at Ocean House, the historic inn on Rhode Island's southern shore. Taking advantage of Ocean House's 8,000-bottle wine cellar, Swain designs seasonal courses for novices as well as experts, including how to taste wines like a pro, pairing with foods, and how to diversify your own collection. And her tastings, from floral wines to sherries, are as off-beat as they are sophisticated—you'll view tastings everywhere else through a whole new lens after some time in Swain's world. The Center offers complimentary tastings for resort guests and "à la carte" classes for a fee. Swain will also custom-craft classes for parties of any size, or help you build an entire itinerary around courses and tastings. Surf talk optional. À la carte classes start at $150 per person, and rates at Ocean House start at $825; oceanhouseri.com.
Learn to Sail in Florida
Your sailing fantasy may skew toward the dreamy drift of a Jimmy Buffett lyric. But a sailing reality requires technical knowledge— and practice. Which is why renowned sailor and competitor Steve Colgate and his wife, Doris, have built instructional rigor into their Offshore Sailing School programs: Even novice sailors emerge with a real set of sea legs. And there may be no better place to learn those ropes than at South Seas Island Resort, a beloved Captiva Island institution on Florida's Gulf Coast. Offshore's five-day Learn to Sail package on Captiva includes afternoons off for exploring this seashell-rich barrier island. If you're pressed for time, go for the two-day accelerated package, or get a taste with a two-hour sailing lesson. Experienced sailors can book packages such as Bareboat Charter Cruising and Coastal Navigation & Passage Making, among others. The five-day Learn to Sail packages start at $2,010 per person/double occupancy, which includes lodging, resort taxes and fees, professional instruction, textbooks, and U.S. Sailing certification (check out family packages where up to three kids learn for free); offshoresailing.com.
Learn to Cook in San Francisco
Talk about a kitchen with a view. Although your focus when attending Cavallo Point Cooking School should be on your mirepoix and not out the window, this luxury lodge sits on a high bluff with a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge. And Cavallo Point's calendar of cooking classes is as rich and diverse as the culinary scene in that great city just down the road: two- to three-hour classes in anything from Japanese Kitchen Basics to Cajun Classics, from Fresh Pasta to Cooking from the Farmer's Market. Classes tend to bundle around weekends, so you can hit several even in a quick getaway. Prices at Cavallo Point Cooking School vary by topic, but start around $85 per person. Make your getaway the best kind of immersion by staying right at Cavallo Point Lodge, which occupies the restored Army officers' quarters of historic Fort Baker as well as newly constructed suites. Then you'll have all the time in the world to check out that view. Rates start at $449 (the lodge will be closed briefly for renovations in the fall); cavallopoint.com.
Learn to Shoot Landscapes in Maine
In a visual world overrun with smartphone snaps, it's a bracing breath of fresh New England air to spend five days in the affable company of photographer David Marx, who leads an annual fall workshop on the artistic capture of the breathtaking Maine coast. Get to know your camera with Marx's guidance, and learn to harness its immense power to bring those granite shores, bristling firs, cobalt waters, and iconic lobster boats and lighthouses to artistic life. The classic seaside inn aesthetic and Boothbay Harbor views at Spruce Point Inn, your base for the week, could just end up being your favorite subject. Coastal Maine Photography Seminar rates start at $2,835 (single occupancy, all-inclusive); sprucepointinn.com.