12/10/2015 10:39 PM AEDT | Updated 07/12/2017 2:20 PM AEDT

Top 5 Getaways With A Purpose

When it's time to plan your next vacation, consider a trip that lets you dig into your chosen destination like a local. Becoming immersed in the culture, sights and sounds of your next vacation spot is such a hot topic that many hotels are creating programs that let you do just that with ease.

Take your holiday to the next level with these cultural immersion adventures.

When it's time to plan your next vacation, consider booking a trip that lets you dig into your chosen destination like a true local. Becoming immersed in the culture, sights and sounds of your next vacation spot is such a hot topic that many hotels are creating dreamy programs that let you do just that with ease. So if you don't have time to do the research, no worries -- your hotel hosts will lead the way. I've selected getaways from South Beach to fair Verona, Italy where enjoying the authenticity of the area is half the fun of jetting off on the vacation of your dreams.


Spray Paint South Beach

Spend some time walking around Miami's Wynwood Arts District and I promise you, you'll be in for a real treat. The area, which is world-renowned for its art galleries and larger-than-life murals, is the perfect place to explore. After perusing the bustling streets, head to Stanton South Beach for some peace and quiet, and a unique chance to test your own artistic talents without having to leave the property again. It is here that guests are able to take Graffiti-Art Street Cred lessons from Atomik, one of the city's most celebrated street artists whose toothy Orange character brings a healthy dose of Vitamin C to the vibrant community. Expect to learn spray-painting techniques -- you'll draw the hotel's beach views -- as Atomik walks you through the basics. The best part? You can take home a photo of your one-of-a-kind masterpiece.


Palazzo Victoria's In-Suite Serenade

Romeo wasn't the only one to get swept up in the romance of Verona -- which has inspired artists of all kinds for centuries. So see for yourself when you check into the 14th century charmer Palazzo Victoria. Located near the Roman amphitheater, the Arena, and Juliet's storied balcony, the classic hotel (think original Italian décor and frescos) offers its guests a 30-minute serenata to be savored in the confines of your comfy suite. Performed by a local operatic tenor, fall in love with the sounds of his beautiful base-alto voice while sipping on a Bellini. An experience like this is made for Verona -- home of the opera and one of the most enchanting cities in the world.


Stay Fit at The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth 

What I absolutely love about Westin properties is their commitment to fitness and the outdoors. The brand does a nice job of getting its guests involved with its Well-Being Movement -- and no more so than in Mammoth Lakes, where sport is king. Not only is The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth part of the New Balance program that will lend you socks (you don't have to return these), New Balance shoes and clothing for a $5 fee, but that's just the beginning. From there, you can try the RunWESTIN program where the hotel's Run Concierge will take a group of guests out on a three-mile run (or walk) in town, where you'll wave hi to the friendly locals who run the mountains at those high altitudes with ease. Mammoth Lakes -- one of my favorite places to escape to for a California weekend getaway -- really is an outdoor sports mecca. Olympic marathon medalist Deena Kastor is the very embodiment of this, training (and she's not the only marathoner to do so) at the 8,050-foot altitude. And the Chix on Stix women's sports camp with Olympian skier Stacey Cook is coming back to Mammoth Lakes for another year in a row. There's no shortage of calorie-burning activities to get involved with while you're in town -- and the concierge at the Westin will help you jump right in, no matter your fitness level.


Textile Weaving Wonders (top of page)

Become one with the region's abundant culture and history when you book a room at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco. The Peruvian property, once a former 16th century convent, still has its original Inca and colonial walls, in addition to several archeological ruins, which have been maintained throughout the years. Now guests can get up close and personal with the ancient tradition of textile weaving in the hotel's courtyard (outfitted with original columns and arches of the San Agustin Convent). For two weeks at a time, the property allows local weavers to come in and give textile demonstrations to passersby. Like what you see? Guests may purchase woven wares to take home.


Receive Your Blessing Today
Casa Palopo getways
Just because you weren't in Washington, D.C. with Pope Francis when he delivered a mass and sanctified the masses, doesn't mean you'll never be blessed. Plan a trip to Casa Palopo (named one of the world's best culinary hotels) in Guatemala and you'll have a chance to receive an extra special blessing from a Mayan Shaman. The nine-room luxury hotel, which overlooks Lake Atitlan, has teamed with Tomás, a third-generation Shaman from San Marcos, to offer you a purifying ritual based on your own wishes. You'll head to the property's helipad where several lit candles, plus, candies and cookies (offered to the gods) await. It is here that Tomás will perform the blessing, and your life will forever be changed.

Visit, The Destination for Americans 50+ covering financial, health, beauty, style, travel, news, lifestyle, food, entertainment and sports.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

  • Ireland
    Giuseppe Milo/500px
    "My Grandparents were both born there and I've dreamed about going since I was a kid," said reader Dana Beckman.
  • Chicago
    Getty Images
    Wrigley Field is a must-see, according to reader Linda Stark.
  • Bora Bora
    Bora Bora
    M Swiet Productions
    Reader Mona G. Low would love to stay in "one of those thatched huts over the turquoise ocean."
  • Scotland
    Buena Vista Images
    Several readers said they would love to visit this northern gem because of their ancestry.
  • Paris
    José Ramirez/500px
    The Louvre Museum would be reader Susan Ayers--Taylor's first stop in the city of lights. "I have wanted to go there since I was 12, which was 44 years ago!"
  • Russia
    Alejandro Cupi/500px
    Reader Kimberly Minton-Freeman would love to visit Russia because it's her daughter's birthplace.
  • Hawaii
    Several of our readers have been to the 50th state and dream of going back again to take in the natural beauty.
  • Moab, Utah
    Moab, Utah
    Shutterstock / Manamana
    The Arches National Park is a must-see according to several readers.
  • Syria
    Reader Syeda Jafri would love to visit Syria and see its many sacred sites.
  • Switzerland
    Shutterstock / ariadna de raadt
    "I would love to go to Switzerland so I can finish my family tree on my father's side. I found my ancestors on my mom's side were royalty in Ireland and lived in Cudzow Castle, but I haven't been able to find anything on dad's side before my great grandfather came through Ellis Island from Switzerland," said reader Linda Wepf Johnstone.
  • Turkey
    The country that's known as the bridge between the east and west is on Syeda Jafri's bucket list because of its beauty.
  • England
    José Ramirez/500px
    "The fact I fell in love with the Beatles when I was eight" makes England a top choice for reader Audra Dee.
  • Las Vegas
    Las Vegas
    Shutterstock / Jorg Hackemann
    Reader Tammy Lumsden wants to go back to Sin City because there's always something new to see and never enough time to see it all.
  • Egypt
    Getty Images/Flickr RF
    Egypt's rich history and breathtaking monuments make it a top spot on any bucket list.
  • Alaska
    Getty Images/Flickr RF
    A few readers mentioned wanting to go to the northernmost state because it was the only one they haven't yet visited.
  • The Sahara Desert
    The Sahara Desert
    Guido Todarello/500px
    Reader Brenda English would love to take a photography safari in the beautiful desert.
  • Costa Rica
    Costa Rica
    Franklin Garcia/500px
    Reader Franci Zalon wants to visit this Central American country known for its rich wildlife.