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20 Long Weekends

Crash Courses

17 Doo-Wop Motels on the Jersey Shore
Just up the shore from stately Cape May, the Wildwoods are to architecture what hula hoops are to sports—nostalgic, brightly colored, and hard to take too seriously. The 200-plus fifties- and sixties-era motels on this five-mile barrier island are perfectly pickled in time, conjuring memories of tail fins, the twist, and two-week vacations. Preservationists from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania have dubbed the style Doo-Wop and believe that the Wildwoods are an important repository of Americana. With peanut-shaped pools, plastic palm trees, and neon signs announcing dreamy names like Monaco, Tahiti, and Sea Kist, the motels epitomize the exuberant decorative style of postwar leisure culture. A trolley tour marks the highlights (weekday evenings through August 29; 609/884-5404; www.doowopusa.org; $8).

where to stay Though a latter-day creation, the sparkling StarLux (609/522-7412; www.thestarlux.com; doubles from $179) does Doo-Wop to the max: lava lamps, board games (Twister!), and a faux roaring fire in the glass-enclosed lobby. Service-wise, though, it's still a motel (think form over function). how to get there The Atlantic City airport, served by US Airways, Pan Am, and Spirit, is an hour north on the Garden State Parkway. From Philadelphia, driving time is two hours. don't miss A walking or trolley tour of Cape May's Victorian and Craftsman architecture, a startling contrast to Wildwood's kitsch and glitter (609/884-5404; $6).

18 Atlanta: Porsche Driving Experience
Want to drive fast as hell?Buckle up behind the wheel of a flame-red 911 and hit the pavement at Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center. In a one- or two-day course, you'll learn how to handle hairpin turns, skid and slalom courses, and high-speed straightaways. Hot-rodding will not be tolerated; leave that to the faculty of professional racers who guide participants through two miles of undulations, elevations, and gradual and hard turns (770/290-3599; www.porschedriving.com; from $1,595; also available at Sebring Raceway in central Florida).

where to stay Four miles from the sports center is the Château Élan Winery & Resort (800/233-9463; www.chateauelan.com; doubles from $139), a slice of 16th-century France south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Its 3,500 acres afford plenty of off-road activities: golf, tennis, spa treatments, and equestrian shows. how to get there Road Atlanta is 55 miles from Hartsfield International Airport. don't miss Driving home in your own 911 Carrera Coupe; outfitted with a Bose sound system, bi-xenon headlights, and the Porsche Stability Management System to help with those hard stops, it'll set you back a mere $74,830 at Jim Ellis Porsche of Atlanta (770/234-2100; www.jimellis.com).

19 Southwestern Cooking in New Mexico
As much as you may love tamales and chiles rellenos, you've never made them as well as Jane Butel. The veteran cookbook author—and one of the earliest champions of Southwestern cuisine, back in the sixties—teaches a hands-on weekend course once a month in Albuquerque. In a 2,000-square-foot kitchen with six state-of-the-art workstations, up to 18 students learn to prepare traditional Mexican dishes (rich moles, piquant chile enchiladas) and Nuevo Mexican creations (hearty pozole stew, or her famous bizcochitos, anise-flavored cookies). One lesson is devoted to bread-making, from tortillas to puffy sopaipillas to Navajo fry bread; another might focus on low-fat or vegetarian versions of classic recipes. Butel also dispenses insider tips such as how to avoid fearsome "chile burn."

where to stay Classes, organized by Gourmet on Tour (800/504-9842; www.gourmetontour.com; $995 per person), are held at La Posada de Albuquerque, a 1939 Spanish-style hotel that's on the National Register of Historic Places. Three nights' lodging are included in the course package price, along with breakfasts, one group dinner, and two lunches (guess who makes them?). how to get there Several major airlines offer direct flights to Albuquerque's International Sunport airport. don't miss A side trip to Santa Fe, an hour north, where indulging at renowned Southwestern restaurants like Coyote Café, Santacafé, and Geronimo qualifies as research.

20 Yellowstone Wildlife Lessons
Wouldn't the wide-eyed kid in you love to spend a weekend learning about "Mid-Sized Carnivores" or "Insect Vampires"?Throughout the year, the Yellowstone Association Institute (307/344-2294; www.yellowstoneassociation.org/institute; classes from $60 per day, including simple accommodations) offers 180 mini-courses (one to 10 days) at America's oldest national park, on subjects ranging from field photography and nature writing to horsepacking, kayaking, and fly-fishing. Most courses are held at Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley, where you might spot bison, elk, and the occasional wolf pack. Highlights this month: "Wolf Watching," on the 1995 reintroduction of the gray wolf to Yellowstone; "Geysers, Mudpots, and Hot Springs," a look at the park's dramatic thermal landmarks; and a field course on mammal tracking taught by veteran instructor James Halfpenny, the Sherlock Holmes of the prairie.

where to stay Students are put up in Lamar Buffalo Ranch's log cabins (bring a sleeping bag) and prepare their own meals in the ranch kitchen. how to get there Fly to either Bozeman, Montana (for entry on the north side of the park), or Jackson Hole, Wyoming (if you plan to arrive at the south entrance). don't miss The Old West Dinner Cookout (www.travelyellowstone.com; 307/344-7901; dinner for two $64) near Roosevelt Lodge, a nightly open-air feast—steak, beans, corn bread, watermelon, the works. Guests arrive by wagon or on horseback.

Written by Leslie Brenner, Laurie Jane Drake, Peter Frank, H. Scott Jolley, Peter Jon Lindberg, Shane Mitchell, Niloufar Motamed, Kimberly Brown Seely, Paula Szuchman, Bonnie Tsui, Anya von Bremzen, Stephen Whitlock, and Jeff Wise.

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