It's one thing to hunt down just-picked produce at a local farmer's market. It's another thing entirely to get on a plane and go stay somewhere for one reason only: the food. Yet many in our food-obsessed nation are doing just that. Here then is our list of 10 resorts for traveling foodies that you'll need to try.
Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, S.C.
Situated on the picturesque banks of the May River, Southern/Lowcountry cooking meets its match here. Ingredients are harvested from local waters, woods and farms, then elevated to their highest flavor potential. Plates in any of the five dining spots – even the picnic baskets for dining waterside or in a treehouse – never fall short of spectacular. November's "Music to Your Mouth" food and wine festival held at Palmetto Bluff features an all-star chef lineup and remains the big ticket.
Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
A semi-secretive destination in the Great Smoky Mountains for discerning culinary travelers. James Beard award-winning chef Joseph Lenn is at the helm of the resort's flagship dining room, The Barn. He also offers cooking classes. That's to say nothing of the property's rambling heirloom produce farm and year-round events with visiting celebrated chefs, winemakers and cookbook authors. And the "specialty team" that makes each meal and event here memorable: the cheese maker, jam lady, forager…. Show up ready to splurge. It's worth it. (Or buy the book.)
The Inn at Serenbe, Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.
Just outside of Atlanta, this intimate, luxe culinary mecca hosts a "Southern Chefs" series that features stars of Southern Cooking in residence throughout the year. Hands-on cooking classes include plenty of one on one time. Kids will enjoy feeding the animals on the farm along with hayrides. The Inn's restaurant features a menu of Southern classics (and the legendary "Fried Chicken Sundays") from chef Marie Nygren's own storied recipes.
Stanford Inn by the Sea, Mendocino, Calif.
This ultra-chic eco resort sits along Northern California's fabled Mendocino Coast. An intimate Inn that's holistically oriented, at its heart is a combination of high style and exquisite cuisine. The biointensive organic garden provides the produce – and the basis for the Inn's Ravens' Restaurant, which features gourmet vegan cuisine (except breakfast). Cooking classes here are vegan focused and are specialty driven (ie "vegan baking and desserts").
The Lodge at Glendorn, Bradford, Pa.
A family estate in Northwestern Pennsylvania from the 1920's that's as elegant now as it was then. The culinary program includes the opportunity to learn from chefs rooted in the classic French technique. Foraging for produce on the sprawling property is popular. Guests can also hunt their own game or fowl and catch their own fish on property, which they will later enjoy in a dish specially prepared for them that day.
The Willows Inn, Lummi Island, Wash.
The primary reason foodies flock here is the chef: Blaine Wetzel, a co-winner of this year's James Beard Foundation's Rising Chef award. Add to that special events such as winemaker dinners, a "First Harvest" dinner event, a farm store with homemade goodies, and the Beach Cafe, and you've got a foodie's version of heaven. (Great hiking trails and beaches accommodate the actively inclined.)
The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Va.
A intimate bucolic oasis – there are 18 rooms and suites – lures those who savor both lush scenery and delicious food. Chef Patrick O'Connell serves as both the Inn's proprietor and chef. He's won truckloads of awards, (including numerous James Beard Awards) for his masterful touch with American food. His style is described as "the cuisine of the day, healthy, eclectic and imaginative." Luxurious rooms furnished mostly with English imports only heightens the rich culinary experience.
Twin Farms - Barnard, VT
Twin Farms is an intimate hideaway set amidst lush meadowlands. It's for the culinary intrepid. There are no menus. Instead, trust is placed in the chef to exceed even the most demanding culinary expectations with specially-curated meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guests can also gather produce from the property for the chef to cook. And what produce it is. Fall means barbarries, butternuts, and spikenard berries, while the summer season provides wild leeks and ramps, spearmint, wild ginger and a variety of berries.
Zero George Street, Charleston, S.C.
A classic manse from the early 1800's furnished to the hilt "British Trade" style sets the stage for culinary alchemy. The focal point is The Kitchen Carriage House where the food, streamlined (but packs a punch!), is hyper-seasonal with earthy, regional dishes – sea scallops with corn pudding – a reflection of refined Southern. The chefs also lead award-winning cooking classes on Lowcountry cooking and host guest chef events.
Manua Kea Beach Hotel, Kohala Coast, HI
The iconic property attracts culinary globe trotters who feast on meals prepared with jewel-like produce and grass-fed beef from nearby Waimea farmers and fresh fish from island waters. All come together here in stunning style at the Saturday night beachside Clambake. There's also a twice-weekly luau which takes Hawaiian cuisine to another level altogether. If that's not enough, frequent special culinary events and three specialty restaurants take it all over the top.