Make Food and Friends at Inns with Gourmet Cooking Classes

Gardens overflowing with organic produce just begging to be picked. Professional kitchens with gleaming stainless steel and high-tech gadgets. Expert chefs with sharper-than-sharp knife skills willing to share priceless guidance. If these sound like the inn amenities you're after, then take a peek at these eight culinary-minded options where cooking is anything but a chore.

Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, Albuquerque, New Mexico

This 1930s-era inn is set amid fragrant fields of lavender, an organic farm packed with heirloom produce, and even an apiary, where bees buzz over sweet, floral honey. The setting, then, is ideal for a meal, and you can make it yourself—"farm to fork"—in the inn's kitchen. Held the first Sunday of each month, Los Poblanos' cooking classes teach fun skills like filling pasta, whipping up mother sauces, baking bread and more. It may be a real working farm, but it's the most elegant farm you'll ever lay your head at.

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Hartstone Inn & Hideaway, Camden, Maine

The pretty seaport town of Camden plays host to the Hartstone Inn & Hideaway. An elegant Victorian inn filled with amenities like Jacuzzi tubs and fine linens, the Hartstone—unsurprisingly—does not skimp when it comes to meals. Expect gourmet breakfasts like Maine lobster benedict and house-smoked salmon frittatas. Want to get hands on? Embark on the inn's "Chef for a Day" program for four hours of personalized instruction from resident Chef Michael plus the opportunity to prep for the evening's dinner.

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The Bernerhof Inn, Glen, New Hampshire

Cooking classes are a focus at this B&B tucked into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In fact, the professional-chef-led on-site cooking school is one of a kind. Take lessons in everything from gluten-free desserts to Brazilian barbecue or design a class of your own from scratch. Classes at the Bernerhof include several hours of instruction, an apron for each guest and a sampling of wine or beer. When school's out, hit up the Black Bear Pub for crab cakes in sriracha aioli before retiring to your cozy room (each room is named after a picturesque New Hampshire village).

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Gateway Guesthouse, Austin, Texas

This luxurious Austin inn is known for its beautifully appointed suites as well as its private gardens and pool. (And the friendly hosts Bess and Blaise get many shout-outs for their personable service.) But it's the Gateway Guesthouse's culinary school that truly sets it apart from Austin's other accommodations. Practical small-group classes, scheduled throughout the year, include lessons on everything from knife skills to filleting fish to the preparation of traditional French sauces. Escoffier would be proud.

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Auberge de Seattle, a French Country Inn, Woodinville, Washington

Amid five private acres surrounded by lush Pacific Northwest evergreens sits Auberge de Seattle, a French-flavored country inn with plenty of culinary flair. It's not just the hands-on French-cooking classes that draw crowds to this Seattle suburb: Guests love the wine tastings too. Sip local vintages on site or embark on a four-hour tour of area wineries, complete with a packed lunch courtesy of the inn. Guests hungering for more can take an additional tour of Seattle's botanical gardens, led by a certified horticulturalist. Naturally, these tours kick off with a fresh-from-the-garden gourmet lunch at the inn.

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Chestnut Street Inn, Sheffield, Illinois

This Illinois B&B has racked up awards for its Mediterranean-inspired meals and organic menus filled with local produce. However, Chef Monika's around-the-world cooking classes are truly where the inn earns its chops. Learn to prepare savory Moroccan classics like chicken tagine with preserved lemon and olives or Greek sweets like flaky, honey-rich baklava. Classes cover everything from knife skills to spice lessons. Then, when finally full and sleepy, slip into the extra-romantic Rosewood Suite and loaf by the fireplace—you deserve it.

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Azalea Inn and Villas, Savannah, Georgia

It's not just the Southern-style breakfasts like pecan-studded pancakes and souffle grits that draw guests to the Azalea Inn. Nor is it just the elegant rooms with butter-soft linens and rich hardwood four-poster beds—though those certainly don't hurt. Rather, it's the unique cooking classes with a genteel vibe, led by chef-instructor (and Kentuckian) Tim Rutherford, that really win visitors over. Learn to cook Low Country favorites during the day before setting out for Savannah's top sights, including nearby Forsyth Park. Before dinner, return to inn's sun-drenched garden for complimentary wine and seasonal snacks.

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CasaLana, Calistoga, California

What better place to hone your culinary skills than Napa Valley? This food-and-wine mecca hosts many Michelin restaurants and culinary-minded inns, but our pick goes to Calistoga's CasaLana, a small two-room inn where you (and food) are the focus. Sure, you've got to spend a day on the Napa wine trail, but reserve at least another day for CasaLana's themed cooking classes that celebrate local flavors and Napa vines. Or go all in for a five-day Culinary Learning Vacation, where you'll pick up advanced techniques like pastry-making and bread-baking in CasaLana's professional kitchen.

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By Dara Continenza