5 Travel Steals for Food Lovers

Hit the road for these food festivals at a fraction of the cost

Visit North Carolina.

As we learned last month, scoring sweet deals on airfare and hotels is the key when you’re hankering to splurge a little on tickets to a food and/or wine festival. Whether near or far, big or small, food festivals are a perfect reason to get friends together for cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, gala dinners, and other food-nerd activities you’d otherwise not get a chance to participate in. Plus, they can be a fun way of checking out a new part of the country with all its regional chefs and like-minded food lovers concentrated around one event.

So we did it again, this time checking out festivals in late February and early March that have great value deals on airfare, hotel rooms, or both. All of these are subject to change depending on availability and where you’re departing from, but these are all great deals we’d book ourselves.

South Beach Food and Wine Festival: Feb. 23-26

This festival is one of Florida’s most anticipated food events of the year. Opening night events include Geoffrey Zakarian’s Conscious Bite dinner, a dining in the dark experience with David Burke, and two Moët Hennessey fetes just to kick everything off. The four-day fest only gets better from there, with Wine Spectator events, a burger and beer bash, chef dinners, a grand tasting hosted by Whole Foods, and a chic, see-and-be-seen lunch at The Setai hotel. Cram your fanciest food-and-wine outfits into that carry-on, here’s the deal…

Roundtrip airfare from New York City, plus three nightsat the Continental Oceanfront South Beach for $651, from Cheaptickets.com

National Truffle Festival: Feb. 23-25

Asheville, N.C., is a food lover’s destination on its own, but when the National Truffle Festival comes to town, there is no excuse to be anywhere else. The festival features events from the seriously educational to the indulgent, like a "Truth about Truffles" seminar, a "parade" of truffle risotto, gourmet truffle and wine pairing dinners, a chef’s gala, and a three-course truffle brunch and cooking demonstration. You’ll want to jump on this deal, too…

The Inn on the Biltmore Estate (pictured) is offering 50 percent off your stay, plus spa credits, now through the end of March with a few blackout dates. The festival’s dates are available, though, so act quickly. A quick flight search from New York showed us fares between $280 and $300, though there are ample rental car deals available on Travelzoo if you’d rather pack up the car than go through TSA. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/dustinphillips)

Montreal High Lights Festival 2012: Feb. 16-26

The Montreal High Lights Festival is, as it sounds, a showcase for the highlights of the city, that's culinary prowess is matched only by its arts and culture scene. The event’s calendar is filled with free activities and food, making this deal extra sweet. Even the final night’s event, called Nuit Blanche and one of the festival's most anticipated events, is entirely free! At this year’s festival, attendees will have the chance to dine on treats from the city’s top restaurants, meet chef Pierre Resimont (one of Belgium’s top food stars), taste cheeses from the region, and attend free tastings ranging from bison to chocolates. If all that sounds to die for, here’s a soon-to-expire deal…

Book by this Friday (Feb 3) on Travelzoo to get 50 percent off airfares to Canadian cities, with flights from Chicago, Boston, and New York. Then, head to Fly.com for great deals on four- and five-star hotels in Montreal from just $87 a night.

Charleston Wine & Food Festival: March 1-4

Take in the charm of Charleston, S.C., with a weekend spent tasting its most delicious flavors. This event is chock-full of tasting and drinking events like Charleston’s top sommelier competition, a "Locavore Luncheon," a salute to local chefs hosted by the Art Institute, day two’s "Soul Food Shuffle," wine tastings, beer tastings, spring harvest luncheons, and a dinner that will help you pair wines at your own soirées. If you remember your manners, take a look at this deal…

Head to Fly.com for a sale on hotels in Charleston, bringing prices for some four- and five-star hotels down to just $98 a night. Flights from New York are from $300, or if you feel like driving, take advantage of Travelzoo’s great car rental deals.

Savor Sonoma Valley: March 17-18

Plan ahead and turn this two-day festival into a weeklong culinary journey through Sonoma, Healdsburg, and Napa Valley. Savor Sonoma Valley is in its 22nd year, with events that feature more than 20 local wineries. Attendees get to sample 2011 vintage wines from the barrel, taste local bites paired with wines, chat with winemakers, and hear some live music.

Then, check out Travelzoo’s California wine country deals for 75 percent off packages throughout wine country; think flights for $68, hotel stays and wine tastings for $99, and four-star rooms for just $99 through March.


If you can only make it to the festival, take heed: The Flamingo Resort is offering discounted rates, from $119, during Savor Sonoma Valley. All you have to do is call the hotel and say you’ll be coming for Savor Sonoma Valley to take advantage.