Never been on one of these? The tours are fun, informative and tasty!
As previously posted, a great way to discover new things and do it at a discount while on vacation, is to pre-plan and sign up for notifications on sites such as Groupon, Living Social and Restaurant.com in the area that you plan to visit. We had signed up on Groupon prior to our two-week vacation to Newport, Rhode Island and Bar Harbor, Maine. We had never visited either of these areas of New England previously. Some of the items we got Groupons for were a Segway Tour of Downtown Newport, a sailing charter on Newport Harbor, a whale watching trip and lumberjack show in Bar Harbor, a guided Restaurant tour in Newport and a great kayaking excursion near Acadia National Park. All were fun, most were new experiences and everything we enjoyed was at a discount. It gave our family of four the opportunity to see and do more things while on our vacation.
One of the great things about timeshare accommodations, most have fully-equipped kitchens. When looking to save on overall vacation expenses, heading to the grocery store and picking up supplies for the week can greatly stretch the vacation budget by preparing and eating meals in the unit. We usually buy breakfast, lunch and snack items for quick meal options or to pack and go. We do enjoy the occasional meals out though, and want good recommended options for the area we’re visiting. That’s possible to do, and at a discount, when doing a little pre-planning before arriving at your vacation destination.
Want to know where the locals go for dining that are off the beaten path? Want to enjoy some nearby local history and learn some interesting facts about the area? Want to sample restaurant specialties in a fun atmosphere, most times meeting with the owners and/or chefs? Yes?
Our first restaurant tour was in July 2011 while visiting Newport, Rhode Island. We had never heard of a tour like this, but it sounded like fun. With a great Groupon deal, purchased prior to our arrival, we booked our walking tour, which was scheduled for the afternoon prior to the end of our week in Newport. In hindsight, we wished that we had booked the tour for earlier in the week in order to have had the opportunity to revisit some of these establishments.
Ann and Michael Martini started up Newport Gourmet Tours, sharing their love and familiarity with Rhode Island’s culinary landscape. Together, they bring outsiders into New England’s culinary gems to sample signature dishes, tour kitchens, and meet chefs. We chose our favorite stop on the tour to return to that evening for dinner. We were joined by our sons on the tour, as well as dinner that evening. They were 16 at the time. Sixteen-year-olds are sometimes less than enthused about going on family vacations and the scheduled excursions with the parents. However, they had a great time on the tour, and still talk about the sticky ribs we enjoyed at the restaurant that evening. The tour was a hit with them, and encouraged us, as a couple, to seek these types of tours out when on vacation.
Our next restaurant tour was in Hilton Head, South Carolina in 2012. We didn’t have a discount for this one. We had been regular visitors to Hilton Head for many years, staying in the area of the island where this tour was to take place, the Forest Beach/Coligny area. We wondered prior to reserving if it would be worth our while since we were so familiar with the area and local eateries. But we had so enjoyed the Newport tour, that we decided “why not”; it would be fun. Alice Reid, owner of Savor The Low Country Food Tour, and her tour assistant offered a great tour with visits to restaurants that were unfamiliar to us and provided unique history about the area. We connected with another couple while on the tour and returned to Vine Restaurant later that evening for dinner. It’s small, it’s cramped, it’s fun, it’s unique, it’s awesome. It was a very memorable evening, sharing wine and dessert with the owner and some of his staff after closing. If you’re visiting Hilton Head, I highly recommend this tour and this particular restaurant.
Since then, we have been on Restaurant and Food Tours three times on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with Terry Bell of Outer Banks Restaurant Tours (in 2013 and 2014). In March 2013, during the OBX Taste of the Beach four-day weekend, we booked a restaurant and food tour and a cooking class with Terry. This is an event that is held annually and now has over 60 events scheduled during the four days. We enjoyed our two booked events with Outer Banks Restaurant Tours so much that when we took a mini vacation to the Outer Banks this past August, we booked the Kitty Hawk tour. Again, it was an enjoyable afternoon visiting new places and experiencing specialty offerings by some unique restaurants we had not been to previously . We met with owners and chefs, shared some adult beverages, good food and laughter. Though I’ve been going to the Outer Banks for fifty years, this is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon discovering new things. This is another one of the restaurant and food tours that I highly recommend.
In 2013, while vacationing in Miami, we booked a restaurant and food tour using a Groupon. We visited several different establishments in the South Beach Area. Miami Food Tours provided this tour. This was probably our least favorite of the tours that we have been on. I actually got a bit bored on this one, which is out-of-the-norm. The guides normally keep everyone engaged, but this one seemed less enthusiastic and a bit distracted.
This past April, while staying in Laguna Beach in California, we snagged a Groupon prior to our trip for a restaurant and food tour with Flavors of Laguna. This tour included a lot of great history about the area, and we visited many good eateries and historical sites. This is another highly recommended tour that was very fun and interesting. I would definitely go on another one of their tours if I’m ever in the area again.
Restaurant and food tours have varying lengths of time, number of establishments and sites visited, amounts of food and history, and inclusions of adult beverages. Plan on three to four hours and be prepared for a bit of walking. You will be quite full by the end of the tour.
Not all restaurant and food tours have discounts on sites such as Groupon and Living Social, but many do; especially, in the more urban areas. However, check the reviews. If the tour has great reviews, it is still a great value even if you’re paying full price.