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4 Hobbies to Make a Vacation More Meaningful

Enjoy your passions while you see the world

spinner image people kayaking in clear bottom boats on lake tahoe
Clear boat kayaking is a scenic experience to add to your itinerary in Lake Tahoe.
Clearly Tahoe Kayaking

Planning a trip to see the sights is great. Combining it with a hobby can make it even better. Hobbies force you to take time for yourself. They help you focus and unwind, which can lead to better overall health. Enjoying a hobby is also a great way to stay productive and meet new people. Overall, hobbies can make you happier. Here are four hobbies that take you across the globe with a goal in mind.

spinner image skeins of yarn a sweater and a blanket of granny squares on a table in a yarn shop
Skeins of yarn, a multicolored square blanket and a striped sweater are on display.
Rowan Tree Travel & Fibercraft

Knitting

Knitting keeps your hands busy and your mind occupied as you count stitches and follow patterns to make beautiful clothing and blankets. One country where you can enhance your knitting skills, and also see the sites, is Iceland.

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Rowan Tree Travel & Fibercraft offers trips to Iceland where travelers can learn about the history of lopapeysa, the iconic sweater of Iceland. Visitors tour local museums and farms, learn about the history of Iceland’s settlement, meet with local textile artisans, visit glaciers, waterfalls and fjords, and soak in geothermal pools. The tours offered cover nine days and eight nights, and range from $5,000-$6,000, which includes all transportation once the tour begins, activities and most meals. Travelers are generally women ages 40-80 who bring a non-knitting spouse or friend.

Hélène Magnússon, a knit designer in Iceland, offers various tours where travelers can knit under the Northern Lights, hike mountains and/or knit with puffins as Magnússon explains the history of Icelandic knitting. Prices start around $2,600 for one week and include food, lodging and classes. There is a waiting list for the tours, which are good for beginners as well as advanced knitters.

Let’s Travel also organizes knitting tours to Iceland. The group provides airport pickup on a private bus, six nights in a Viking hotel, several meals and day trips to the Golden Circle, a famous scenic route in Iceland where you can view waterfalls, geysers and national parks. Let’s Travel also provides private knitting time with professional knitter Maria Hrafnsdóttir. Prices start around $3,150 per person for single occupancy, $2,600 for double occupancy.

While certain areas in Iceland were evacuated because of a potential volcanic eruption, travel to the country has not yet been restricted. Monitor the news before booking your trip.

spinner image people taking a cooking class in new orleans louisiana
Consider a cooking class in New Orleans where you can make gumbo or jambalaya.
Liam Doran

Cooking

We all need to eat, but for those who truly enjoy the art of cooking, there are many ways to continue your education, connect with others and learn more about the world through this culinary art.

While many people visit New Orleans to eat the eclectic food, listen to music and check out the festivals, attending cooking classes can enable you to bring some of that taste home with you forever.

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Take a class at The Mardi Gras School of Cooking, where they teach the fundamentals of Louisiana cooking starting with what is known as The Holy Trinity — a mix of onions, celery and bell peppers. Classes can be taken alone, with a friend or even with a large group that is interested in team building. Participants can make gumbo, jambalaya, chocolate bread pudding, shrimp étouffée, crab cake, pecan pralines and other dishes. Classes start around $150 per person.

Tourists can learn how to cook New Orleans Creole and Cajun cuisine at the New Orleans School of Cooking. If you would rather watch a professional than prepare the dish yourself, they offer demonstration classes on recipes such as gumbo, jambalaya and bananas foster. Classes are available for beginners as well as more advanced chefs, and last from two to three hours. Prices range from $35 to $150.

When you’re not enhancing your cooking skills, there is plenty to do in New Orleans. Options include touring the Garden District, where you can examine the various architectural styles, or soaking in the history of the birthplace of jazz at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

spinner image a woman arranging plants at a workshop in the new york botanical garden
Travel to New York for a holiday greens continuing education workshop at the New York Botanical Garden.
New York Botanical Garden

Gardening/plant appreciation

Gardening is a hobby that people of all ages can enjoy, whether it’s planting fruits and vegetables in your backyard or really getting into the study of botany.

New York City is ranked as one of the most diverse places for observing plant species. The New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx, offers numerous classes in subjects such as botanical art, gardening, floral design and horticulture. Classes are offered year-round. Costs vary from $100 to several hundred dollars and are cheaper for Botanical Garden members. The Botanical Garden also offers more costly several-week intensive programs in gardening, floral design, landscape design and therapeutic horticulture.

Wave Hill, also located in the Bronx, has 28 acres of greenery where you can explore gardens by yourself or on tours led by local guides and environmental educators. Wave Hill offers weekly guided walks, birding walks, art classes, outdoor yoga, lectures, and seasonal gardening and horticulture workshops. Many of the events are free with paid admission: $10 for adults; $6 for those 65-plus.

In your down time there are more than enough sights to visit in New York City. Walk around Central Park and check out the bloom and tree guide. Hop on a tour bus through downtown to see Wall Street or Hudson Yards, or stroll the High Line, a park built on an elevated rail line.

spinner image two men kayaking on lake tahoe
Take your kayaking hobby on the road to Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe Adventure

Kayaking

Kayaking is a great way to get outside, get exercise and be closer to nature. There are many places to enjoy kayaking, and Lake Tahoe is at the top of the list. The lake, which straddles Nevada and California, is ideal for kayaking with its calm, shallow water.

For a translucent boat kayaking tour, consider Clearly Tahoe, where you can see as much of the lake as possible. The tour company, which also offers LED night tours, will provide all necessities such as dry bags to keep your gear safe, sunscreen and even basic snacks. Weather permitting, they provide tours throughout the year, but note that from December to February the kayaks are not completely clear. The company can provide accommodations for those who require greater accessibility. Prices start around $129 for a standard one-adult kayak tour to $159 for a premium tour, which includes longer kayak time plus a scenic boat cruise.

Tahoe Adventure Company offers kayak tours on the north, east and west shores of Lake Tahoe for all ages and ability levels. A few of their tours are accessible from a boat ramp for individuals with disabilities. The company offers single kayak rentals for an hour starting at $30, double kayaks for $40 an hour and full day tours from $70 to $195 per person. Stand up paddle boards are also available starting at $30 for one hour.

If you want a break from the water, take a hike in Emerald Bay State Park, pick a luxury (Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course) or value (Bijou Municipal Golf Course) golf course, book a helicopter tour or gondola ride so you can see the lake from above. A self-guided driving audio tour can teach you the history of Lake Tahoe as you drive around the perimeter of the lake.​

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