5 Skill-Building Escapes for Your Next Vacation


The best part of being able to travel is getting the chance to learn and experience new things. It’s okay to just relax and take in the scenery and culture, but it’s even better if you can build a skill while you’re at it! Instead of coming back from vacation with only an empty bank account and a sunburn to show for it, you can pick up a new skill or refine your favorite craft. Sound like fun? We’ve got a couple of recommendations for great skill-building vacations to get you started.

Big Cedar Lodge

Dog Canyon Nature Park

(Image of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park provided by Murphy O'Brien)

It’s more than just adventure that awaits at America’s premier wilderness resort, the Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri. This is a place where guests can explore the wonders of the outdoors while also honing their survival skills, before coming back to unwind with all the comforts of a luxury resort. Whether you are the type to want to just sit back and have fun, or you’re someone who is always trying to learn new things and improve yourself, you’ll absolutely love this place.

Feeding oneself is at the top of important survival skills, to be sure. To work on their fishing skills, guests can book guided bass and trout fishing excursions out at Table Rock Lake, which is highly regarded for the quantity and quality of fish that reside there. For more survival skills, guests can venture out to the 10,000-acre conservation park, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, and learn with naturalist and survival instructor Bo Brown. He teaches visitors how to identify different wildflowers, edible and medicinal plants, as well as stone-age survival methods such as making cutting tools.

La Quinta Resort & Club

La Quinta Resort pool

(Image of La Quinta Resort provided by Murphy O'Brien)

Follow in the footsteps of celebrities and famed players, such as Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova, and become a tennis pro at La Quinta Resort & Club, the iconic desert destination in Southern California near Palm Springs. This resort is renowned for its tennis program, which is taught by USPTA-certified professional trainers. Suitable for all ages, guests can improve their swing with a one-on-one or a group tennis lesson on one of the resort’s 21 tennis courts (16 hard surface, 5 clay). They will help you improve on every aspect of the game, from technical skills to overall fitness.

But the skill-building activities don’t end there. With courses named in GOLF’s Top 100 Best Courses in North America, there’s no better place to work on your backswing. Take classes with the PGA WEST Golf Academy to get world-class golf instruction and improvement training. Or for a less competitive skill, try yoga at the Spa La Quinta. Classes are guided by a team of professionally certified yoga instructors and have both indoor and outdoor areas to practice.

Ojai Valley Inn

Ojai Valley Inn

(Image of Ojai Valley Inn provided by Murphy O'Brien)

Have you ever wondered how beekeepers extract honey from a hive, or how bees are implemented for the pollination of crops? To learn for yourself, head to the mystical Ojai Valley Inn in California, just West of Los Angeles. This historic resort is nestled high in the Topatopa Mountains, and is the perfect spot for a serene escape that also teaches guests how to help the environment, one honeybee at a time. They’ll set you up with your very own protective beekeeping suit, walk you through the extraordinary and essential life of the honeybee, and show you all the ins and outs of being an apiarist. Afterward, enjoy a honey tasting with local varieties or raw honey.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more skill-building activities for you try your hand at, you’ll be hard-pressed to try them all. Surf lessons are taught by local pro-surfer Mary Osborne, and are suited for beginners and experts alike. Learn horseback riding on the River Valley Trail with the majestic mountain views cheering you on from the horizon. Get a lesson in ariel yoga, based on traditional Hatha yoga and done with a suspended silk hammock. Go rock climbing, rent a paddleboard, or make artisan soap — the list is nearly endless!

JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa

JL Bar Ranch, Resort, & Spa

(Image of JL Bar Ranch, Resort, & Spa provided by Murphy O'Brien)

The JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa spans 13,000 acres and embodies rustic luxury like you will only find in the Texas countryside. This place is perfect for weddings, corporate retreats, hunting trips, and so much more. All the accoutrements you would expect can be found here, from the infinity swimming pool and luxury spa to extravagant dining in atmospheric restaurants. But the real reason people come here is for the outdoor excursions offered, like horseback riding, shooting lessons, and trail bike riding.

Led by husband-and-wife team Jon and Sydney Joseph, JL Bar’s equine program is ideal for learning about horses and horseback riding. It allows guests to interact with the ranch’s world-class horses in a wide variety of ways, from classic horseback riding excursions to an unmatched Horse Psychology Experience. Here you will learn how to interact with horses and train them by diving into horse behavior and optimal upkeep and engagement.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Interior of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

(Image of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel provided by Murphy O'Brien)

More than half a century ago, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel began its life as the first resort hotel in Hawai’i. Developed by Laurance S. Rockefeller, it has been setting the standard for hospitality on the island ever since. Oceanview rooms, traditional Hawaiian cuisine, and a timeless vibe make this the perfect place for you to experience everything the Aloha State has to offer.

The best part of visiting a place like Hawai’i is getting a chance to experience the culture firsthand, and this is something the Mauna Kea excels at. Every morning at the beach, you will find an Aloha Ambassador on the sand chanting E Ala E into the sky as native Hawaiian ancestors did, welcoming the new day. The many different classes taught here will teach you things like hula dancing, traditional Hawaiian chants, or how to make authentic accessories. Best of all, ukulele lessons will teach you how to play some classic island favorites on the most iconic instrument on the island.

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