Virginia September 21, 2015
Here Are 10 Unique Things You Can Learn To Do In Virginia
The kids are back in school, but who says they have to be the only ones who get to learn? Whether you’re a young professional just out of school or a senior looking to acquire new skills, Virginia is full of opportunities to continue education, training and creative learning. With so many amazing colleges, universities and community colleges available, finding non-credit classes on-line or on-campus is easier than ever. Likewise, many local Parks and Recreation programs and YMCAs offer alternative learning programs. But to get you thinking about your next learning adventure, check out these ideas as a starting place.
1. Cooking Classes - from casual gourmet to the intricacies of Bourbon and Bacon
"Foodies" are a fast growing group in Virginia - and with good reason given our amazing supply of world-class restaurants. But even better than a gourmet restaurant meal is making one yourself. Schools like
The Culinary Institute of Virginia
in Norfolk and
Culinaria Cooking School
in Vienna offer a wide range of classes (including a class at Culinaria devoted entirely to Bourbon and Bacon!) from group classes to couples classes. Check one of these sites for tips and locations or check your local listing to find a course near you.
2. Do-It-Yourself Classes - from interior design to auto mechanics
With HGTV telling us that homes can be rebuilt in a week with nothing more than $500 and a hammer, its easy to have slightly over-inflated ideas of our own DIY capabilities. Fortunately, many places offer courses from one-day workshops to semester long seminars on how to make the most of our own skills and creativity. Check out classes at your local Lowe's or Home Depot (many of which are free), head to your local community college for more ideas and options or check out spaces like
in Crystal City to learn more.
3. Traditional Woodworking - learn how the first Virginians built their world
Woodworking is one of the oldest crafts in the world, but much of the art has been lost over time. With classes in traditional woodworking from places like
Woodworking Workshops of the Shenandoah Valley
in Berryville, you can learn to handcraft period furniture using techniques passed down through generations of Virginia families. Or check out Virginia native, Joshua Farnsworth's
Wood and Shop
, a comprehensive online resource that provides how-to's, videos and workshop information for some of Virginia's finest traditional woodworking artisans from Williamsburg, The Frontier Culture Museum and more.
4. Baking, Candy Making or Cake Decorating Classes - for fondant or for fun
We've all had a Pinterest fail or two -- you know, that cake that looked so easy online but didn't come out as promised? Why not learn how to do it right? Whether you're looking to start a new business or new hobby, cake decorating, candy making and baking classes at places like
Wine and Cake Hobbies
in Norfolk are a great place to start. Also be sure to check your local Michael's craft store or Parks and Recreation Department for nearby options.
5. Hone up on Your Virginia History
Virginians know their history - there's no doubt about it. But the beauty of Virginia is that there's always something more to know. Why not delve a little deeper into your favorites subjects, people or time periods?
The Virginia Historical Society
in Richmond is an amazing resource for ongoing lectures and classes, exhibits and online programs. Or look for continuing education programs at a local university, community college or historical museum or home. You can never know too much about our state's history!
6. Gardening for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter
We usually think of gardening as a spring and summer activity, but there are many plants and even vegetables that grow year-round. If you'd like to grow your gardening skills, there are opportunities to learn about the best techniques, plants and vegetables for your area. Look for organizations like
Piedmont Master Gardeners
in Albemarle County or the
Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center
in Abingdon, or check out your local greenhouse or nursery for tips on classes.
7. Take a Calligraphy Class
There was a time when everyone wrote with exquisite penmanship. The most important documents in our history were handwritten, creating works of art from both a literary and visual standpoint. Some of us might even remember when penmanship was taught in schools. You can still learn the ancient art of calligraphy with groups like
Meant to be Calligraphy
in Alexandria. They also offer workshops at the Middleburg Events Studio in Middleburg and Rock Paper Scissors in Charlottesville.
8. Scuba - even without the tropics
Scuba diving is one of those things that we usually only associate with tropical vacations. And sure, those might be the best places to fine tune your diving skills, but if you want to get the basics down before you go, try a local scuba organization like
The Dive Shop
in Fairfax or
in Salem. Get your training at an indoor pool or try a local quarry or lake like Lake Rawlings in Rawlings. Experienced divers can explore underwater sites including an airplane, school buses, cars, old boats and more, and beginners can further their training.
9. Wine Making or Beer Brewing
With so many incredible wineries in the state - and more and more breweries popping up every day - there are few places better to learn time-honored winemaking and brewing techniques than in Virginia. Check out
in Winchester for information on their brewing school or look for online course catalogs at one of Virginia's many community colleges for winemaking courses or seminars.
10. Take an alternative fitness class
Traditional gym workouts are all fine and good…but they're not for everyone. When it comes to fitness, Virginia offers everything from hula hooping classes to rock climbing to hot yoga.
in Alexandria and Manassas even offers classes on aerial silk ropes. Find out what your local gym offers or look for alternative gyms in your area.
Have you had any unique or unusual learning experiences in Virginia? We would love to hear about exciting classes, workshops or seminars you’ve taken. Please let us know in the comments below!