The prevalence of cooking shows on television, along with a nationwide interest in gardening and farm-to-table meals, has inspired many resorts to get kids in the kitchen, too. If you're looking for the best cooking vacation, these resorts promise amazing experiences -- and in many cases, connect the art of cooking to both the culture of the locale and the land that produces the ingredients.
Generations Riviera Maya
Generations Riviera Maya launched a cooking camp for kids ages 4 to 12, called Little Eko Chefs. The program, offered daily, provides opportunities to make pasta, ice cream, tortillas and tamales. Kids also learn the art of ice shaving and sushi rolling, and are given a certificate at the end of their visit.
Generations Riviera Maya
The Biltmore Hotel - Coral Gables, Flordia
Just outside of Miami, The Biltmore is the only hotel in North America to provide a recreational cooking school. The hotel cooking classes geared toward kids are varied and include something for every family. Cooking Buddies is a class shared by a parent and child team who are provided with recipes and ingredients to prepare a culinary masterpiece. Another option is to host your child's birthday party at the hotel (ages 8 and up). The resort also hosts cooking camps for kids on holiday weekends and summer vacation weeks for children ages 8 to 16.
The Essex - Essex Junction, Vermont
The Essex, Vermont's Culinary Resort and Spa offers a Cook Academy for adults, along with Camp Cook for kids ages 13 to 16. Camp Cook educates students with two-hour classes, as well as full-day and week-long sessions. Participation in the longer hotel cooking classes allows budding chefs to explore the world beyond the kitchen, with farm visits and gardening explorations. Collecting eggs, gathering herbs and vegetables, and zip-lining to a neighboring farm are outstanding ways to instill a love of the locavore lifestyle on a culinary vacation!
The Essex, Vermont's Culinary Resort and Spa
Atlantis - Nassau, Bahamas
The Bahamas' Atlantis offers one of the best cooking vacations for children ages 6 to 12, called Cooks@Play. The program promises a true hands-on experience -- after donning chef's hats and aprons, kids get busy kneading, whisking, mixing, rolling and measuring. Two options are offered: the first is a two-hour class, in which they can make delicious specialties ranging from molten chocolate cakes to candy pizza. The second is a three-hour class, with equally fun items on the menu, and the addition of napkin folding and chocolate airbrushing techniques.
El Conquistador Resort - Fajardo, Puerto Rico
At El Conquistador, the largest resort in Puerto Rico, kids are invited to wear chef hats and aprons as they prepare their own pizzas. One of the hotel's chefs helps youngsters prepare the dough (tossing it in the air, of course), sauce and cheese, before they choose their own toppings, which include pepperoni, sausage and pineapple.
El Conquistador Resort
Azul Hotels by Karisma - Riviera Maya
Azul Beach Hotel, Azul Sensatori Hotel and Azul Fives Hotel have Mini Mayan Programs that combine culture with activities and food. This cooking class vacation utilizes Mayan cooking utensils and traditional ingredients to make an authentic meal. Tortillas play an important role, along with chocolate milk made with native cocoa that was once seen as more valuable than gold in the Mayan world.
Azul Hotels by Karisma
Blackberry Farm - Walland, Tennessee
Blackberry Farm, one of our best-kept secrets, generates heirloom produce, wildflower honey, farm-fresh eggs, artisan cheeses and more. Kids can take advantage of these offerings in Camp Blackberry, where they're invited to experience farm life via crop planting, bee keeping, sheep milking, gathering eggs, dying sheep's wool and feeding chickens. In August, the farm hosts "Kitchen Full of Kids," with cooking classes and take-home recipes.
CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort
Part of the Kids Program at CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, Kids' Cocina invites curious chefs to bake and decorate cookies; prepare multi-course, gourmet meals; and perfect a Mexican quesadilla. The program is offered daily, for children ages 4 to 12.
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago - Chicago
Aside from the The Candy Cart, which delivers sweet, complimentary treats to guestrooms (by request) at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, a cooking camp for kids is available. Offered daily, kids are greeted with their own chef hat at Deca restaurants and invited on an exclusive behind-the-scenes kitchen tour of the hotel's award-winning restaurant, followed by a cookie and cupcake decorating session.
Jekyll Island Club Hotel - Jekyll Island, Georgia
Kids will have one of the best cooking vacations at Jekyll Island Club Hotel's cooking camp for kids. The little chefs can enjoy two days of hotel cooking classes, chef demonstrations and family dinners, which will surely make it a great family culinary vacation.
Jekyll Island Club Hotel
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Written by Susan Huber and Amanda Geronikos