For foodies, a big part of vacation is the opportunity to try new local flavors. Experimenting with new ingredients, stocking up on treats not readily found at home, and maybe even learning a few new cooking or baking tips makes vacationing in the Outer Banks a foodie's dream. If you're a gourmet (or a wannabe), plan to take part in a few of these exciting activities during your next trip.Cooking ClassesChef Dawn Williams offers in-home cooking classes for 2 to 20 people. You select an appetizer, entrée, side dish, and dessert, and Chef Dawn shows up with all of the necessary ingredients and cookware.Join locals at All Saints Episcopal Church in Kitty Hawk for their very popular cooking classes. These classes are part of their "After Dark" program meant to give locals something to do in the dark winter evenings. These classes fill up fast, so register early — however, early birds will be rewarded with one-on-one instructions from local chefs such as Ashley Copeland from Roadside Bar and Grill, Chef Mark Anthony of Metropolis, and Chef Wes Steppe of Red Sky.Speaking of planning ahead; every spring the Outer Banks hosts Taste of the Beach, a three-day foodie festival featuring tasting tours, dinners, and cooking classes. The 2017 festival begins March 23 and the Outer Banks Restaurant Association promises a tasty lineup again this year.Wine University"No snobs, no white tablecloths, no wine glasses bigger than your head," says Laura, owner of Chips Wine & Beer Market and professor of wine at the store's "Wine University." Classes at the shop are for both beginners and collectors, and are billed as "edutainment" — a combination of fun and learning. Chips Wine Market also has a tasting room where you can try six craft brews in a sampler, craft beer flights, wines by the glass, or wine sampler flights. (A "flight" simply means tasting several varieties in one session.) The tasting room also has an automated wine station, an innovative self-serve contraption that adds another layer of fun to wine tasting. And speaking of wine tastings...Wine TastingsAt Trio in Kitty Hawk, the perfect three are wine, beer, and cheese. Trio regularly hosts tasting events, but you can always enjoy creating your own by choosing half-glass wine pours paired with cheese and charcuterie plates or appetizers. Other restaurants and wine shops in the Outer Banks specialize in tastings. Try Coastal Provisions in Southern Shores, Wine Specialist in Kitty Hawk, Bacchus Wine & Cheese in Corolla, Lee Robinson General Store in Hatteras Village, and Island Spice Wine Shop in Avon for samplings.Local BrewsAny discussion about local microbrews and the Outer Banks must begin with the Weeping Radish. This whimsically named brewery was started by Bavarian ex-pat Uli Bennewiz, who actually had to get the laws changed in North Carolina before he could start selling beer. This was in 1986 when there were less than 100 microbreweries in the country. Needless to say, today the Weeping Radish wins serious awards for its beer and is a must-visit when you're coming to the Outer Banks. There are two weekly tours, both hosted by the famous Uli himself, or you can just stop in their pub.In another first for the Outer Banks; Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills is the first wind-powered brewery in the U.S. This is an environmentally conscious brewery that also tends to produce award-winning microbrews. The brewery is open every day at 11:30 a.m. and serves their beer in full pints or tasting flights.In Manteo, the Full Moon brewery specializes in British and Irish style beers — which are something of an oddity in the American craft brew market. Beer aficionados will recognize their distinctive hops — Fuggles, Challenger, and East Kent Golding. Full Moon also serves up delicious food in their café, making this a great lunch spot for a pint or flights with snacks.Gourmet Gift ShopsWhether you want to stock up on local ingredients to take home or gather supplies for your own meal in your beach house, the Outer Banks has plenty of great gourmet shops. Try Tommy's Market in Duck for wine, microbrews, gluten-free, organic, small-batch, and local foods. In Kill Devil Hills, the eclectic Stop N Shop not only has trinkets and beach gear, but also a gourmet deli and grocery. The recently reopened Community Store in Ocracoke is famous for their homemade breads, local craft beers, and fresh produce. Of course, when in Avon, foodies must stop by the Island Spice & Wine shop for hard-to-find ingredients, imported oils and vinegars, specialty cheeses, small-batch chocolates, and a fantastic wine and beer selection.Make your own meals or let someone else prepare gourmet feasts for you. As a visitor to the Outer Banks you can count on enjoying a foodie's paradise. Let local experts guide you through tasting menus, in-store samplings, or in-depth cooking classes and you'll take home culinary memories that will last a lifetime.