Can you find a vacation school?
November 5, 2012 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Looking for the type of vacation where my wife and I can learn something new and different.

I have had trouble articulating what I am looking for but I will try.

For instance, a vacation where you can learn to cook or drive 4X4s or learn how to make stuff or learn a new skill. It can technically be anything but we are not looking for the type of vacation where you lay about a pool or go shopping or site see et cetera. It can be as short as a day or as long as 30 days.

I have talked to travel agents about this and they look at me like I'm out of my mind (and I might be) but I know these types of vacations exist because I have read about them in years past in magazines. I thought there might be a clearing house site for them on-line but I have not been successful in finding anything. We are in our 30's. Limited to the 50 states.
posted by viconius to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Something like this?
posted by mareli at 5:55 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

In Ubud, Bali, Museum Puri Lukisan offers workshops in a variety of Balinese arts. Most of them are just for a day, but I think longer ones are available.
posted by micketymoc at 5:56 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

John Muir Laws is an artist/naturalist who focuses on the wildlife of the California Sierra Nevada. You can take various classes with him, including Field Sketching in the Sierra Buttes and Drawing and Painting Sierra Birds (both from last summer) as well as various one day classes. Most of the longer classes are through the SF State Sierra Nevada Field Campus.
posted by cushie at 5:59 PM on November 5, 2012

I know people who have taken classes at John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina and enjoyed them.
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:59 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

You know about WWOOFing, right?
posted by mannequito at 6:00 PM on November 5, 2012

Go learn to dive somewhere neat, PADI!
posted by ibakecake at 6:05 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's expensive, but Photo Quest Adventures.

Disclaimer: I'm related to one of the guides/instructors.
posted by dogmom at 6:07 PM on November 5, 2012

I would definitely say scuba too-- you can head to any number of cool sites and get open water certified through a PADI dive shop. If you had a longer period, you can usually throw in an advanced course too.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:32 PM on November 5, 2012

You could also do something more hands-on like a dinosaur dig or an archaeological site. (I have been on a dino dig in the Judith River basin, though I'm not sure if it was the same company.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:36 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are several folk schools in the U.S. -- google "folk school" -- but from everything I've heard the one in the NC referenced above is the best.

We did an archaeological dig with Earthwatch, which offers archaeology, sociology, and environmental science expeditions, where you do grunt work for the supervising scientists, while learning a lot. SUPER. FUN. Best vacation we've ever taken.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:46 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Augusta Heritage Center -- mostly old-timey music, but also craft/folklore and dance. The Swannanoa Gathering is pretty similar.
posted by Madamina at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2012

Two places on my list for a "learning vacation" are the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, ME and the Shelter Institute (learn to build a post and beam building!) in Woolwich, ME.
posted by sriracha at 7:39 PM on November 5, 2012

If you're interested in nature, the Lodge at Little St. Simon's Island (in GA) is an all-inclusive luxury resort that employs five naturalists and has tons of guided activities like birding, boating, and fishing. I'm trying to plan a vacation there for this summer, and numerous reviews I've read have described it as a mini-biology/ecology camp for adults.
posted by hefeweizen at 7:46 PM on November 5, 2012

If you end up in Las Vegas, you could spend an afternoon at Dig This running excavators.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:12 PM on November 5, 2012

Fly rod manufacturers (like Fenwick or Orvis) offer multi-day classes at resorts. Fly fishing is something you can do together, and is a great focus for future vacations, until you are very very old.
posted by okbye at 8:16 PM on November 5, 2012

A little Googling led me to Epitourean, which specializes in cooking/culinary vacations. They have packages, or it looks like you can customize a trip.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:03 PM on November 5, 2012

Google "learning tours" and you'll find lots of educational-oriented tour opportunities.
posted by Dansaman at 10:17 PM on November 5, 2012

Well, you could do Outward Bound or NOLS, both of which teach outdoors skills, but from different perspectives.

Not sure where you live, but how about taking some classes with the Environmental Learning Centres of America's great national parks? The North Cascades Institute offers a wonderful program from spring to fall. The Olympic National Park also has offerings.

But what do you like to do? If the outdoors is not your shtick then how about cooking classes in Italy or in Provence? Or in other countries where the palate leads you.

Or take a month-long trip to Scotland, and learn to golf in the world's best and oldest courses --

The possibilities are endless...
posted by seawallrunner at 11:22 PM on November 5, 2012

Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp!
posted by platinum at 12:05 AM on November 6, 2012

We have been talking about this too! If I were filthy rich, and didn't hate groups, I would go on the National Geographic tours, to really learn something about a part of the world, or about ecology, or about evolution.

But because of not being filthy rich and not liking groups, we're trying to design some ourselves: learning vacations.

The process we went through is: we sat down and privately made a list of the ten things we wanted to learn before we die. (Spoiler: getting to ten is sometimes hard!) Then we shared them with each other and were surprised. Heh. That part was weird.

And from there, we made a list of destinations where we could learn about those things. You want to learn about fruit tree grafting? Then go visi, and perhaps try to work at, the ancient fruit tree groves in England. You want to learn to play guitar? Go to Spain, and identify a great teacher for daily lessons. Learn to repair motorcycles? Germany! The history of Rome? Construct yourself a tour of Roman ruins. Learn Spanish? Move to Guanajuato for a month. You want to learn how to build houses? Hmm, probably still New Orleans.

THE LAST thing I want to do is lay around and have someone bring me drinks. Travel gets exciting and wonderful again when you start to think of it like this.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:41 AM on November 6, 2012

I've been to Kripalu a few times, and they offer up a lot of programs that allow you to learn various things. I've heard particularly good stuff about the cooking programs. I've done a knitting workshop, and some fitness retreats.

Omega Institute is similar I believe.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 10:50 AM on November 6, 2012

There could be something on this website.
posted by kjs4 at 4:57 PM on November 6, 2012

I have taken a bunch of Alaska Geographic field seminars and loved them. If you happen to be a teacher there are longer ones that are a ton of fun if you are the adventure-y type.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:58 PM on November 7, 2012

Tracker School offers survival skills workshops and is located in NJ, I believe.
posted by taltalim at 8:39 AM on November 12, 2012

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