- Enjoying great meals on vacation is a big part of travel planning for many people.
- These days, some hotels are going above and beyond to make sure guests have spectacular meals and food activities onsite.
- These foodie hotels are worth booking if you’re looking for some great bites and hands-on experiences.
Food is a huge part of my family’s overall vacation experience. For us, choosing the right hotel is about so much more than just finding a place to sleep and take a shower. And we’re not alone: These days, many of the best family resorts in the U.S. are culinary destinations in and of themselves, often boasting critically acclaimed restaurants and onsite gardens that produce the freshest ingredients. At these foodie hotels, the food is a big part of the appeal.
Foodie Hotels with Onsite Culinary Experiences
If you’re the kind of traveler who thinks as much about what you’re going to eat as what you’re going to actually do on vacation, here are the top foodie hotels and resorts in the U.S. that are a dream come true for culinary connoisseurs like you.
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1. The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort and Spa
Essex Junction, Vermont
If you love cooking and learning from some of the best chefs in the country, The Essex is the foodie hotel to visit. Located between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, it’s a beautiful foodie destination for the entire family.
As guests, you can take part in interactive cooking classes and workshops called the Cook Academy, where you can learn knife skills, sushi making, cake decorating, and other foodie arts from the resort’s culinary team. And for a closer look at how produce grows, you can take part in a complimentary garden tour with The Essex’s head gardener.
2. The Inn at Hastings Park
On different occasions throughout the year, The Inn at Hastings Park hosts culinary weekends with Chef Trisha Pérez Kennealy. These foodie weekends are perfect for solo travelers or couples looking to get away and learn something new about cooking. The events, which are part of a special two-night package, are open to groups of up to eight, so everyone in your group will get one-on-one attention from the chef.
The special culinary weekends include 20 hours of culinary instruction, a farm and history tour, a four-course tasting dinner that you cook yourself, and a picnic lunch. Each foodie weekend has a distinct theme and is focused on the produce and protein that’s in season. Themes include Oktoberfest with beer tastings and a tailgate and bourbon tasting. For me, these foodie weekends sound like a great reason to hop a flight and get to the cute hotel for a long weekend away.
3. JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa
San Antonio, Texas
Widely recognized as one of the top family resorts in Texas, the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa is also home to the Cibolo Moon restaurant., Here you’ll discover a fresh take on flavors from around the world, including Mexico, Germany, Creole Louisiana, and (of course) Texas, without ever having to get on an international flight.
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I love the restaurant’s bar, Cibolo Moon Tequila Bar, which is the spot to be before dinner or for a late-night drink, and it’s the first bar in the Lone Star State to be certified by Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Commission for its knowledge of tequila. You’ll find more than 100 varieties of tequila to try, along with 10 house-made infusions. The bar can even accommodate private or group tastings for those looking to learn more about the agave spirit.
4. Castle Hot Springs
While Castle Hot Springs is best known for its access to rejuvenating hot springs, it’s also widely known in the foodie community for its agriculture program. The resort grows more than 150 different crops each season, and all are used at its signature Harvest Restaurant.
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The resort is focused on reducing food waste, so the culinary team dries, pickles, and ferments many items to help bring new life to produce while also adding new flavors to dishes on the menu. As someone who’s always looking for ideas on how to reduce food waste at home, I enjoy learning about how the culinary team is transforming ingredients to have a longer life at the resort.
5. Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin
One of my favorite foodie resorts is right in the heart of Disney World: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. With almost two dozen restaurants and lounges across three sister resort properties, you’re sure to find something you love, too. Two of my favorite places to eat here are Todd English’s Bluezoo, which focuses on fresh seafood; and Rosa Mexicano, where elevated Mexican cuisine is served every day.
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Every year, the resort complex hosts the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic, a food and wine festival where each restaurant brings tastings of their signature dishes, more than 200 different types of wine are ready to sample, and live entertainment abounds. The tickets for the event are also a great deal because for one set price, you can get all of the food and drink you want to try, versus paying for each dish like at neighboring EPCOT’s many food festivals throughout the year.
6. The Meritage Resort and Spa
Napa Valley, California
If you’ve ever wanted to dine among the grape vines in Napa then you’re going to want to check out The Meritage Resort and Spa in iconic Napa Valley. The Meritage offers a picnic in the vineyard where you can have a private two-hour lunch on nine acres of vineyards. I suggest doing this on a day when you don’t have anything else planned around the resort so you can truly enjoy the picnic without having to rush off somewhere else.
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The picnic has a curated menu and local wine is available to guests on Saturdays and Sundays. This Napa Valley hotel also offers cooking classes, food and wine tastings, and other food-forward activities.
7. Caribe Royale Orlando
Just a few miles from Walt Disney World is Caribe Royale Orlando, where foodies can delight in a variety of experiences at the newly remodeled resort. If you’re looking for a romantic steak dinner can enjoy the AAA Four Diamond Venetian Chop House where prime steaks and Italian classics come together for a meal you won’t forget anytime soon.
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For a more hands-on experience, I like the Studio du Chocolat class, where you get to make some sweet treats and learn about the art of chocolate making from the resort’s executive pastry chef, Joshua Cain, and chocolatier Maria Sanchez.
8. The Equestrian Hotel
While it might seem strange to have a foodie hotel in the heart of The World Equestrian Center, The Equestrian Hotel really does have it all for food fans. The property has seven restaurant concepts and a 6,000-bottle wine program led by Roland Micu, who at 28 years old became the world’s youngest master sommelier. Another exciting foodie opportunity is at Emma’s Patisserie, where the team only uses French imported butter for pastries.
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Every fall, the property hosts the Ocala Food and Wine Festival, where celebrity chefs lead a full weekend of food, wine, beer, and culinary competitions. This is one food festival that I never want to miss when it comes around.
Foodie Hotels with Award-Winning Restaurants or Chefs
At some hotels, the culinary experience starts with the hotel restaurant itself. Here are the top foodie hotels in the U.S. where the hotel restaurants are a central attraction.
9. Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley
The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley operates the on-property Elusa Winery, and weaves grape-to-glass experiences into stays. Its restaurants offer everything from globally influenced to hyper-local dining. And the resort has regular wine and food tastings, wine makers’ dinners, and more. The concierge team has expertise in curated local food and wine tours as well. If you’re as interested in wine as I am, this is the resort to stay at in Napa Valley.
10. Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass
The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass is home to Kai, the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star restaurant in Arizona. The restaurant is owned by the Gila River Indian Community and features a menu that reflects the creativity and history of the local Native American culture.
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The tasting menu at Kai changes seasonally. In past years, it has featured items like grilled buffalo tenderloin and vanilla bean poached lobster tail. If you want to indulge in some of the best food in the state, this is the place to do it.
11. Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans features two signature restaurants run by James Beard Award-winning chefs. Miss River, run by Alan Shaya, is a “Love Letter to Louisiana” and features dishes like whole carved buttermilk fried chicken, salt-crusted Gulf red snapper, and Louisiana oyster patty with flaky puff pastry.
The second restaurant, Chemin a la Mer, is helmed by Louisiana chef Donald Link. From its perch on the fifth floor it overlooks the Mississippi River and serves Louisiana favorites with French techniques.
Additionally, the resort is now hosting new culinary experiences including taking a seaplane to the marsh and seeing how fresh oysters are harvested, a jazz brunch, and two cocktail classes where guests can learn how to make a French 75 and a Sazerac.
12. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Amelia Island, Florida
Just north of Jacksonville, Amelia Island is a cute Florida beach town that plays host to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The foodie resort is known throughout Northeast Florida and Southern Georgia for its AAA Five Diamond restaurant, Salt, where a view of the ocean is paired with impeccable seafood dishes.
If you want to get even closer to the action, you can experience the Chef’s Theater, where you can watch a chef create two entrees and a dessert, plus enjoy a wine pairing. The resort also offers cocktail classes where custom cocktails based on your preferences are created. I love that the resort also has foodie weekends like the Amelia Island Cookout, where you can interact with international chefs while enjoying sips and bites.
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