Do you consider yourself a genuine “foodie”? Are you the type of person who makes reservations months in advance to dine at a critically acclaimed restaurant on opening night? If so, we’ve got just the thing for you. Check out these six experiences designed for the ultimate foodies that go beyond the restaurants to provide a hands-on, behind-the-scenes approach to the plate.

Chesapeake Gold Oyster Excursion at the Tides Inn—Irvington

Oyster Academy

Located on the Virginia Oyster Trail, The Tides Inn offers the Chesapeake Gold Oyster Excursion, an experiential course on the Chesapeake Bay oyster. The class begins with a lesson on the history of Virginia’s oyster industry, the ecology of the Bay, and the tools of the harvest. After your formal education, you’ll accompany a traditional Virginia waterman on a one-hour boat excursion to harvest oysters straight from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Once you’ve collected the fresh oysters, head back to the Tides Inn, where Head Chef T.V. Flynn will teach you how to properly shuck an oyster and expertly pair your half-shell feast with wines and sauces. While the main season for the oyster excursions begins in September, the Tides Inn can set you up with a local waterman to learn about harvesting crabs, another Chesapeake Bay delicacy.

Discover Richmond Food Tours—Richmond

Minglewood Bake Shop

 Photo Credit: Corri Sheehy, @minglewoodbakeshop

Discover Richmond Food Tours lead a variety of walking tours through Richmond’s historic neighborhoods for a taste of the local art, history, and of course, notable Richmond restaurants. Tours last about three and are at most a little over a mile in length, giving you the chance to work up an appetite without wearing yourself out. Try the “Scott's Addition Booze & Bites Tour", which showcases Richmond’s hottest and fastest-growing neighborhood, stopping in to some of the neighborhood’s best local eateries, breweries, and bars. They also offer tours around Downtown Richmond, Carytown, the Arts District, Historic Church Hill, and several other food-centric neighborhoods of the capital city.

Steve Haas Wild Mushroom Forays—Richmond

Forage for wild mushrooms in thousands of acres of old growth hardwoods around Richmond with Steve Haas Wild Mushroom Forays. Book a tour with a group, or arrange for an individual mushroom hunt for a more customized experience. You’ll receive an education on the edible mushrooms typically found in the woods and ideas for gourmet culinary delights you can craft from your fungus finds.

Pleasure House Oyster Farm Chef’s Table Tour—Virginia Beach

Pleasure House Oysters, Chef's Table Tour

Virginia Beach visitors can learn about about the oyster and dine right in the water during the Pleasure House Oyster Farm Chef’s Table Tour. You’ll start the tour with a guided boat ride to the Pleasure House Oyster Farm, where you’ll stand knee-deep in the Lynnhaven River (with waders, of course!) and dine on a specially prepared menu that includes the Lynnhaven Oysters harvested from the waters beneath you. Bring your own wine along to savor the oysters with your favorite Virginia vintage as you enjoy the open air of a truly one-of-a-kind dining venue. As you eat, the waterman will teach you about the oyster ecosystem, the local waterways, and the environmental impact their work has on Virginia’s waters.

Charlottesville Evening Delight Food Tour—Charlottesville

Charlottesville Evening Delight Food Tour is a two-and-a-half hour walking tour that lets you taste and learn about the history, architecture, food, and culture of Charlottesville. The tour includes food samples from the best restaurants in town, all for one price. The tour covers approximately one mile and features five restaurant stops along the route, where you’ll try the restaurant’s most mouth-watering dishes paired with a local wine or craft beer. Private tours are available for groups looking to customize their Charlottesville food and history experience.

Virginia Watermen’s Heritage Tour Program—Gloucester, Irvington, and other Bay Locations

Oyster Academy

Get out on the Chesapeake Bay with the Virginia Watermen’s Heritage Tour Program, a tour series that highlights the local history, culture, and flavors of the tidewater area. Many different tours are available, including trips out on the water to catch your own crabs, tong for oysters, or fish the waters of the Chesapeake, and each tour provides you the opportunity to taste fresh seafood straight from your catch. Customizable tours let you stay out on the water for however long you desire, from a few short hours to a full day on the Bay.

Whether exploring the waters, woods, or streets of Virginia, these foodie experiences offer a whole new look at the Commonwealth’s impressive culinary scene. Book a tour today and dive into the edible delights that make Virginia a foodie paradise!