Maybe you were gifted with some cash this holiday, or you have some left over after purchasing everyone’s gifts. Regardless of the reason, part of you is ready to spend it but not just on anything. You want to treat yourself (and possibly others) to something fun and memorable.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
Classes, Lessons, Workshops
- Learn the art of storytelling, try your hand at woodcarving or explore folklore through song at John C. Campbell Folk School
in Brasstown, N.C. For something a little out of the ordinary, how about carving your own life-size carousel horse’s head and neck. Led by instructor Ira Chaffin, of Ira Chaffin Carousel Carving School in Birmingham, Ala., lessons are conducted there as well.
- Want to learn a skill that you can use at home? Homestead Atlanta offers workshops that cover everything from blacksmithing to beekeeping to mead-making and more.
- If it’s beer you are interested in, check out beginner’s home brewing classes offered by Texas Brewing, Inc., in Haltom City, Texas, Craft Brewed in Nashville, or BX Beer Depot in Lake Worth, Fla.
- For fans of the grape, consider taking a winemaking class at Grapes and Grains in Greenville, S.C., Southern Brewing & Winemaking in Tampa Fla., or Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Va.
- Wow everyone with your newly-learned cooking skills after taking a cooking class. Check out the different ones offered through places like Sur la Table (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia) and Publix Aprons Cooking School (Georgia and Florida). In addition to the usual fare, Southern Seasons (South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia) presents niche classes like canine cuisine, a coffee primer as well as a hot tea primer and vegan dishes. E’s Kitchen in Lafayette, La., provides both cooking and technique classes. Over in Greenwood, Miss., Viking Cooking School offers a class on southern specialties inspired by the movie “The Help.” The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs, Miss., provides a lunch and learn series on the weekdays as well as other culinary classes on the weekend. From Gulf seafood to wild game, the Kitchen Culinary School at Wind Creek in Atmore, Ala., offers a class for every culinary taste. SoGourmet Pensacola (Fla.) provides lunch classes, and dinner and wine classes. There are also cooking demonstrations on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and wine tasting classes on Fridays, which can be a great way to kick off a weekend.
- Love the ‘cue? Why not invest in the North Carolina Barbecue Society (NCBS) BBQ Boot Camp, held in different regions of the state. Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) has barbecue classes throughout the country, with a handful in the south. Dead End BBQ, with location in Maryville and Knoxville, Tenn., offers a class with a local pitmaster at both restaurants.
- Space Camp isn’t only for kids. Adults can also enjoy the experience with either a three or four day camp at U.S. Rocket & Space Center in Huntsville, Ala.
- It’s six days of instruction (and camaraderie) at Oyster Fly Rods in Blue Ridge, Ga., as Bill Oyster and staff guides you as you create you own bamboo fly rod. All the necessary materials are provided, and everything on your rod is customized by you.
Experiences and Tours
- If you are a creative type who enjoys working with their hands, check out the different workshops at Alabama Chanin in Florence, Ala. Select among the one-hour classes, one-day classes or the more intensive classic studio weekend.
- Take a behind-the-scenes, guided tour of Makers Mark distillery on the After Dark Experience. The tour includes a specialized bourbon tasting inside a warehouse, Makers Mark-inspired cocktails and more.
- Join Rock Candy Tours and learn about Macon, Ga.’s rich music heritage and the role it played in establishing some of the south’s legendary artist.
- Led by the wife of one of the Swampers (the group who created the Muscle Shoals Sound), the Swampette Trolley Tours highlights such places as the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, FAME Studios and more within the Shoals (Alabama) area.
- Celebrate the inaugural year of the Frontstretch Fest at Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, N.C., and the Downtown Farmers’ Market in Nashville, Tenn. The event features artisanal food and drinks, hand-rolled cigars, live music, interactive entertainment and much more. “Bourbon Bend” and “Craft Beer Boulevard” will offer tastings and classes from local and national distilleries and breweries alongside “Cuisine Corner,” which will be showcasing the best local chefs and food trucks. Frontstretch Fest will kick off as the official infield gathering of the 64th annual Stoneybrook Steeplechase and then will serve as the world’s largest Derby viewing party at the Nashville Farmers’ Market.
- Explore downtown Pensacola, Fla., on a guided bicycle or Segway tour with Emerald Coast Tours. They also offer a walking pub tour downtown as well.
- If you love bluegrass music, then you’ll want to makes plans to be at the 10th annual Bluegrass Music Kick-Off in Lebanon, Ky. From jam sessions to performances and more, it’s “bluegrass all the time.”
- Take a train ride with Mountain Rail Adventures, departing from bother Elkins and Durbin, West Virginia. Options include an all-day excursion, overnight camping or dinner trains.
- Enjoy Galveston Island, Texas’ Mardi Gras in a new way by being a part of a viewing party. At the first annual A&M Mardi Gras Parade Viewing Party benefitting the George P. Mitchell Society of Texas A&M University at Galveston, admission includes a Cajun-themed buffet, open bar, live music and a premier view of the Momus Grand Night Parade as it passes in front of the hotel. You can watch the parade from the ballroom balcony or at street level in a gated viewing area.
- If you love the beach and love music, then you’ll definitely want to attend the 6th annual 30A Songwriters Festival this year. Enjoy the three-day weekend of performances at various venues in South Walton (Fla.)
- Spend a weekend with Pat Conroy, Cassandra King and Ron Rash at Old Edwards Inn in Highland, N.C. during Words, Wine and Friends. Slated for January 30 - February 1, the package includes two nights in an upgraded suite, private author-hosted dinners on Friday and Saturday by Southern chef Johannes Klapdohr, readings and panel discussions with authors, and more.
- Need an escape? Check out the various packages offered by Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, located in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
- The Winter Getaway package at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, Fla., features up to $100 in resort credits when you stay three nights or longer. The package also includes coupon book with over $250 in savings at Resort outlets.
- From Winter Break Escape to the Historic District and Resort Sampler, the Charleston (S.C.) Golf Guide provides numerous packages for the golf lover. You can even build your own lodging and golf package, or golf only package.
- Treat yourself to something unique, pretty and shiny from Gawdy Bobbles in Blue Ridge, Ga. And guys, there are items here for you as well. And if you aren’t in a jewelry mood, check out their line of Canoe bags.
- Indulge without guilt with dark chocolate ganache pieces from Wayward Chocolat of Austin, Texas. Available two-count, four-count, eight-count, 15-count and 30-count boxes, ingredients include semi-sweet dark chocolate, organic cream, crème d’cacao and wild organic rose hip and wild berry powder, sourced from the largest organic plot in the world located in the Alaska wilderness. Also available is a dark chocolate ganache spread and sauce.
- Try a rare salt, or discover the perfect spice or glen at The Spice Lab, based in Pompano Beach, Fla.
- Add a little whimsy to your decor with a South Carolina Face Jug from Paw Print Pottery at the Little Red Barn in Barnwell, S.C.
- Artisan truffles, house-made marshmallows by the bag and caramels - oh my! These are items you can discover and enjoy at Pizzelle’s Confections in Huntsville, Ala.
- Stand apart from the crowd with a little something from Dalys 1895 in Houston, Texas. Choose from bags to money clips to bow ties and more.
- Send a gift basket to yourself from Caviar and Bananas in Charleston, S.C. Possibilities include the Southern Staples with such products as Blackberry Farms Smoked Onion Jam and Wondermade Bourbon Marshmallows, or the Locavore which focuses on Charleston products like Charleston Plantation Tea Sachets and Callie’s Cheese Crisps.
- You’ll won’t go back to regular salt once you’ve tried J.Q. Dickinson salt. Based in Malden, WVa., the small batch gourmet salt is produced by the seventh-generation salt making family.
- If you love coffee, that is good coffee, check out Buona Caffe artisan roast coffees. Based in Augusta, Ga., they offer varieties of medium roast, dark roast and blends.
- Caps, tee-shirts, belts, cufflinks and more, there are many ways to show your state pride with something from State Traditions.
photos courtesy of personal collection, Frontstretch Fest and Bohlsen Group, Wayward Chocolate, and Pizzelles
- Add some Tupelo Honey, cultivated in Wewa, Fla., in Gulf County, to your biscuits, fruit salad, in your tea or enjoy it by itself.