If jetting off to Tuscany, Italy, to hunt for truffles isn't in the cards for you right now, know that there are plenty of foraging experiences that exist at forests, oceans, and parks within the United States. Foraging is considered a new form of tourism, and you may even be able to book a one-stop shop that includes overnight accommodations and meals at a resort or hotel, with a guided trek included.
As an extension of the farm-to-table experience, think of foraging as when the chef invites you to tag along or a local expert takes you on a hunt. What's being foraged will vary per region but common ingredients are wild mushrooms and medicinal plants inland, with coastal ingredients like seaweed, scallops, sea salt, and oysters broadening the mix.
There's a reason you want to hire a guide, too: Picking and ultimately eating the wrong ingredients not only causes you to feel sick, but the taste likely won't be too memorable. Be sure to dress appropriately with long pants and sleeves to ward off pests; it's also a good idea to wear hiking shoes or boots as these experiences are far from urban. Of course, if your foraging trek is for salt, seaweed, or fish, not being afraid to get wet is a strong start when planning your outfit and gear (pack a swimsuit, for example).
From seaweed and salt in California to oysters and mushrooms on the East Coast, here are several adventures that allow you to hunt for your own food.
Courtesy of Marley Family Seaweeds
Seaweed in Paso Robles, California
Tucked into the Pacific Ocean's tide pools are slippery strands of seaweed, which Marley Family Seaweeds points out on family-friendly foraging tours. Each participant uses shears to snip certain seaweed varieties (with owner Spencer Marley's guidance) into a plastic basket. Afterward, Spencer folds this fresh seaweed into ramen to enjoy on the beach.
Scallops in Crystal River, Florida
At Plantation on Crystal River, sailing excursions for scallops are offered between early July and late September—either guided or unguided (you'll need to bring your own boat). The resort's package includes two nights, daily breakfast, scallop recipes and a chef-prepared meal featuring your fresh catch, plus a snorkeling mask and fins for when you forage in the nearby Gulf of Mexico.
Courtesy of Madeline Hotel & Residences
Greens and Mushrooms in Telluride, Colorado
Madeline Hotel & Residences' executive chef Bill Greenwood invites foodies to join him (dubbed "Foraging with Chef Bill") on land near the hotel in search of mushrooms, greens, and whatever else he unearths. Following the hunt are cooking demos as well as a private dinner to taste for yourself how delicious foraging can be.
Oysters in Irvington, Virginia
The Tides Inn's "Chesapeake Gold" foraging experiences each afternoon takes full advantage of its Chesapeake Bay frontage. Led by the inn's ecologist you'll pull up, by boat, to local oyster farms and return with your personal catch, to enjoy grilled for that night's dinner.
Mushrooms and Edible Plants in Asheville, North Carolina
Partnering with "Mushroom Man" Alan Muskat's No Taste Like Home, The Omni Grove Park Inn offers a Wild Food Stroll. The dozen or so finds (wild mushrooms and edible plants) are woven into an appetizer at Vue 1913. Go deeper with a foraging tour 45 minutes from downtown Asheville—followed by an appetizer incorporating those ingredients at one of five Asheville fine-dining restaurants.
Sea Salt in Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Hugging the Pacific Ocean, Terranea Resort's Sea Salt Conservatory is where its signature sea salt is born. In a "Sea Harvest Workshop" with the resort's executive chef Bernard Ibarra—paired with sparkling wine—you'll learn more about the unique process. The sea salt is also a key ingredient for drying and preserving harvested kelp, which is tasted during the workshop.
Wild Plants in Wimberley, Texas
Hosted at Spoke Hollow Ranch, Foraging Texas' Dr. Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen guides four-hour foraging treks to discover a variety of wild plants that flourish in Central Texas—and are edible. There's also a focus on what foraged finds are harmful to eat, making your future hikes safer.