AAA Magazines

Pick up a new skill at these Alabama hotels with creative classes

A cooking class at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook A cooking class at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook. | Photo by the Kessler Collection

Key chains are cool. Snow globes, classic. But for a souvenir you won’t lose in the back of the junk drawer, try learning a new skill on your next vacation. Lodgings in Alabama, from luxury resorts to New Agey inns to historic cabins, offer creative classes for guests who want to pick up a new skill or get better at their favorite hobbies.

Yoga classes

Students of yoga classes at The Treehouse in Birmingham, Alabama

Strike a (yoga) pose at The Treehouse in Birmingham. | Photo courtesy The Treehouse

Find more peace than quiet at one of Birmingham’s newest bed-and-breakfasts. Tucked into the Five Points neighborhood, The Treehouse offers guests a blend of guided meditation, yoga classes, and access to a licensed counselor.

That’s on top of high-quality linens, health-conscious breakfast bowls, and serious New Age vibes set in a five-bedroom historic Victorian home. “It’s just a conglomeration of all the things I love most: mental health, community, and hospitality,” says proprietor Renny Ratliff, who opened her doors just over a year ago. 

As for the yoga itself, aside from spaces to practice inside the home, Ratliff leads two to three fast-paced Vinyasa sessions a week. “We get your heart rate up,” she says.

You may also like: A quick escape to an Alabama mindfulness retreat

Cooking classes

Guests at the Cooking School at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook.

Learn how to cook at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook's Cooking School. | Photo by The Kessler Collection

Nail the perfect steak temperature or master tapas at one of the state-of-the-art cooking courses at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook. Or learn the oenological art of wine blending from a trained sommelier. The art-filled luxury hotel in Birmingham is the second hotel in the country to offer wine-blending courses. Participants not only take home their own bespoke bottle, but design the label, too.

For something more intimate, Lucia Bleu Cottages, which opened in Fairhope in 2019, offers guests well-appointed kitchens, beautifully airy dining spaces, and optional private cooking lessons with chef Kristin Alpine of Wildflowers and Fresh Food. Choose-your-own-adventure menus run from mocktails to desserts and include entrées like Manchego with habanero peaches or roasted salmon with citrus salsa verde. “It’s fresh, healthy, simple—something people can make on a Tuesday night or serve to their in-laws,” says Alpine, a trained nurse with a wellness and catering background.

Nature classes and hikes

Joe Wheeler State Park

Learn about the natural world at Joe Wheeler State Park. | Photo by Chris Granger/Alabama Tourism Department

Travelers whose tastes lean more rustic can rely on the Alabama State Park system for lessons on Alabama’s famous flora and fauna. Joe Wheeler State Park’s naturalist leads regular educational hikes for guests staying on-site (along with day-use visitors). Among the most popular topics: the park’s “champion trees,” which include the biggest, tallest, and oldest in the state.

Farther south, inside Oak Mountain State Park, lessons get wild. Shelby, a glove-trained adolescent bald eagle, and her fellow feathered ambassadors teach visitors about indigenous raptor species at the Alabama Wildlife Center, which rehabilitates nearly 2,000 wild birds per year. “She’s probably the largest bald eagle our visitors will ever get the chance to see,” says Doug Adair, chairman and CEO of the center, who noted Shelby’s 8-foot wingspan. Another showstopper? The Eurasian eagle owl, the largest owl species in the world. Raptor chats take place every weekend. A boardwalk nearby offers a self-guided tour of other raptor enclosures.

You may also like: Alabama’s 7 natural wonders: How many have you seen?

Fishing classes

An aerial view of Chesnut Bay Resort

Chesnut Bay Resort offers watersports, such as kayaking and water biking. | Photo by Allen Allnoch/AHA! Photography

Freshwater fans head northeast to Chesnut Bay Resort, where a community of family-size lake homes offer guests access to two beaches, kayaks, water bikes, and more on the 30,200-acre Weiss Lake. Starting around Memorial Day weekend, on-site boat and Jet Ski outfitter Weiss Watersports teaches amateur anglers and pros alike the best bait, hidey holes, and techniques for fishing in the “Crappie Capital of the World.”

Surfing classes

For a saltier experience, hang ten at Perdido Beach Resort, newly revamped and reopened after Hurricane Sally. The full-service Orange Beach resort contracts with local outfitter Sail Wild Hearts to teach up to six guests how to surf, when conditions permit. Or hop on a six-person Hobie Cat, a small catamaran designed for newbie sailors, with an instructor to learn your starboard from your port, along with other small-craft fundamentals. Simply relaxing and enjoying the 30-minute ride is also allowed.

You may also like: 6 top hotels in Alabama for a cozy getaway

Golf classes

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Opelika, Alabama

The pristine course at The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National entices golfers. | Photo by Michael Clemmer

Twenty-six challenging courses designed by legendary golf architect Robert Trent Jones are sprinkled through Alabama in 11 locations, including eight with attached resorts. At Auburn Marriott Opelika Resort at Grand National, book a private lesson from a PGA pro and use the three-tiered driving range to get ready for the September reopening of the public club’s revamped Links course.

In Fairhope, the Lakewood Club at the Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa offers guests access to its expansive practice area, dubbed “The Experience,” which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. Challenge your skills on 2,200 square feet of USGA putting greens. And, of course, PGA pros are on hand to help you make the most of The Experience, with one-on-one instruction.

As an award-winning journalist and travel writer, Jessica Fender learns something new every day. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @TravelerBroads

Follow us on Instagram

Follow @AAAAutoClubEnterprises for the latest on what to see and do.

Read more articles

You'll find more of the articles you love to read at AAA Insider.

Travel offers and deals

" "

Hot travel deals

Get the latest offers from AAA Travel’s preferred partners.

" "

Travel with AAA

See how we can help you plan, book, and save on your next vacation.

" "

Entertainment savings

Save big with AAA discounts on tickets to your next adventure.

" "

Travel with confidence

Purchase travel insurance with Allianz Global Assistance.

back to top icon