Oaxaca with Lisa Donovan

Sept 25 - Oct 1, 2022 | One Exclusive Departure

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Oaxaca Heart & Soul

Cuisine and culture, art and mezcal—the ultimate Oaxaca adventure with Chef Lisa Donovan

Sept 25 – Oct 1, 2022

One exclusive departure—reserve your spot!

7 Day, 6 Nights

Best of Oaxaca City, Monte Alban

Price from


Per person
Based on double occupancy

Questions? Text or call us
+1 (855) 219-8018

Another bite won’t hurt. Let alone two or three. You’re marveling at the farm-to-table feast before you on the long table—one you helped create alongside an incredible chef. You take in the sights and the sounds, and wash it down with a bit of mezcal and toast to everything ahead: Zapotec culture, modern art and design, the traditional flavors of roasted ground chiles, handmade tamales and spicy moles. This is Oaxaca, a place where traditions are handed down through the centuries—and there’s nothing comparable.

Your travel companion is Chef Lisa Donovan, one of the South’s most talented pastry chefs and a James Beard award-winning author who draws inspiration from her Indigenous-Mexican heritage. A self-described panadería-stalker who always knows when the bolillos are fresh from the oven, this trip is a chance for Lisa to reconnect with her roots and immerse herself in Mexico’s culinary culture—and, of course, to celebrate the heart and joyful soul of Oaxaca with us.

If you want a feast for all the senses, this trip is for you. Wander colorful markets and gorge yourself on pineapple tamales and fried grasshoppers. Learn the finer points of mezcal from a fourth-generation producer. Connect with ceramicists and chefs, shamans and weavers. This journey will teach you, delight you—and leave you hungry for more.


Oaxaca’s colorful markets, agave farms, artist workshops and ancient pyramids


Traditional specialties from smoky mezcals to fragrant moles to savory street tacos


Traditional weavers and sculptors, local chefs, modern artists and shaman healers


Oaxacan traditions, its vibrant art scene and culture, alongside Chef Lisa Donovan

3 Reasons to Travel with Lisa Donovan

Lisa is one of the South's top pastry chefs, and her show-stopping desserts have drawn crowds to some of Nashville’s hottest restaurants. Mexican roots means she is equally passionate about Oaxaca's cuisine and culture: “I am so excited to show people the real warmth of Oaxaca, the generosity of the people... to the true fundamentals of food and generosity.”

Back to Basics

For Lisa, good cooking doesn’t have to be fancy—a nod she takes from her Zuni-Mexican grandmother’s cooking. “Use what you have and think creatively. You can make a beautiful and generous meal with dried pinto beans and corn meal. And hot sauce on the table, of course.”

Passion Meets Purpose

Lisa is a vocal advocate for women's rights, inspired by the many strong women in her family. Her award-winning memoir delves into her Mexican-Zuni heritage, and how it influences her life from cooking to parenting.

Traveler at Heart

“Sometimes travel means solitude; sometimes it means showing people things I've discovered; sometimes it means being shown things I don't know. Travel makes me better, more understanding, compassionate, empathetic.”

Your Experience

“A reintroduction to corn is so important, if you care about food. Corn in Oaxaca is a revolutionary education.”
Lisa Donovan

Oaxaca City, Monte Alban

“I feel most comfortable when I'm being challenged, learning something different and new.”
Lisa Donovan

Day by Day

Day 1

Bienvenidos a Mexico! We’ll meet up with Lisa start the day off with a tour of one of Latin America’s great colonial wonders: Oaxaca City. Snacking our way through the cobblestone markets, we’ll sample grilled tlayudas (toasted tortillas topped with Oaxacan string cheese and thin-grilled meats), chapulines (roasted grasshoppers), and rich, sugar-coated pan de yema egg bread stacked in woven baskets. In the afternoon, we’ll learn more about those baskets and other Oaxacan craft traditions at the city’s textile museum. Tonight, we’ll toast to the start of our adventure with an array of local mezcales at our welcome dinner on a terrace overlooking Oaxaca’s flood-lit cathedral domes. Let the fun begin.

Day 1 Highlights

  • Welcome cocktails
  • City markets tour & tastings
  • Welcome dinner
  • Stay at El Callejon in Oaxaca

Day 2

As you may have noticed while exploring the city yesterday, art is everywhere in Oaxaca, and today we’ll go to the source, visiting artists’ home studios nestled in the nearby Mixtec Mountains. First we’ll visit with ceramicists Manuel Reyes and Marisela Gómez, who’ll invite us into their home studio to show how they use local clay and natural fibers to craft their signature figurines, and treat us to a home-cooked meal of red mole, one of the seven moles of the region. Then it’s off to Casa de Arte San Agustin, a former textile factory turned art space that was donated to the local rural community by the great Oaxacan artist and philanthropist Francisco Toledo.

The evening is ours to explore more of Oaxaca’s irresistible food and nightlife scene. We might visit a world-class restaurant to sample a few more of the region’s seven moles, or maybe make a taco crawl along the flood-lit zocalo. Or—why not?—both.

Day 2 Highlights

  • Visit local ceramicist studio
  • Home-cooked meal in artist home
  • Visit Casa de Artes San Agustín
  • Stay at El Callejon in Oaxaca

Day 3

This morning we’ll head out to Rancho 314 (that’s Tres Catorce to the locals), an urban farm on the edge of the city that supplies fruits, herbs, and vegetables to many of the area’s top restaurants. We’ll break into small groups for a series of culinary workshops, trying our hands at making mole, tamales, Oaxacan cheese, and ice cream. Our lunch will be a true Oaxacan farm-to-table experience for the ages, as we dine al fresco on all the local delicacies we helped prepare alongside Lisa. Back in the city, we’ll have free time to rest or wander in the afternoon before meeting up for a tlayuda dinner tour.

Day 3 Highlights

  • Cooking experience at Rancho 314
  • Farm-to-table lunch
  • Tlayuda dinner tour
  • Stay at El Callejon in Oaxaca

Day 4

We’ll earn our appetites today, starting off the morning with a visit to the majestic hilltop ruins of Monte Albán, a monumental complex of pyramids and shrines dating back to 500 BC—and easily one of Mesoamerica’s grandest sites. We explore its monumental scale and the intricate carvings of bas relief sculptures, with one of Mexico’s great colonial cities sprawling below us.

Next we’ll head to the village of San Martin for a feast of succulent barbecued meats prepared the traditional way: cooked in the ground. In the afternoon we’ll visit an exhibit of black pottery in Coyotepec, a pre-Columbian tradition as ancient as Monte Albán itself in which the smoke from the underground kiln embeds itself into the pottery, creating a distinctive black patina. Tonight will be on our own to enjoy more of the gastronomic abundance of Oaxaca.

Day 4 Highlights

  • Visit Monte Albán
  • Traditional barbecue in San Martin
  • Pottery exhibition in Coyotepec
  • Stay at El Callejon in Oaxaca

Day 5

We’ll be up bright and early this morning, stopping first at Lambityeco, an archaeological site famed for its elaborate stucco work that once served as an important stop on the pre-Columbian trade route. Next, we’ll head to Teotitlan del Valle, a Zapotec weaving village with almost as many looms (2,000) as residents (5,000). We’ll meet weavers from a local collective who’ll share with us the traditions they’ve passed down over fourteen generations (spoiler alert: that bright red dye is made from ground-up insects), then enjoy a home lunch with a local Zapotec family.

In the afternoon, we’ll wind our way past rows of agave plants to meet up with a fourth-generation mezcalero in Santa Catarina Minas. We’ll learn more about the timeless techniques that have turned tequila’s smoky cousin into one of the most beloved Oaxacan exports. After a tasting (or two, or three), we’ll return to Oaxaca for dinner on our own.

Day 5 Highlights

  • Zapotec weaving village
  • Home-cooked meal with Zapotec family
  • Mezcal tour and tasting
  • Stay at El Callejon in Oaxaca

Day 6

Today starts out with a very special treat: an up-close-and-personal meeting with a local shaman, who’ll share the secrets of a cleansing ritual that’s been in practice here for thousands of years, using smoked copal, an aromatic tree resin, to bid farewell to negative energies.

We’ll have time to ourselves in the afternoon to rest and reflect—and maybe squeeze in a final street-food crawl or a little souvenir shopping—before reconvening for a very special evening at Rancho Portozuelo. After a private tour of this organic ranch, we’ll enjoy an unforgettable banquet courtesy of Lisa, who’ll use farm-sourced ingredients and all our recent culinary adventures as menu inspiration. We’ll raise our final glasses of mezcal to toast each other and our great adventure as the stars twinkle in the Oaxaca night sky above us.

Day 6 Highlights

  • Meet local shaman
  • Farewell dinner prepared by Lisa Donovan
  • Stay at El Callejon in Oaxaca

Day 7

All great things must come to an end, but as we enjoy a final breakfast of hot chocolate, fresh hand-made tortillas, and fried eggs in rich mole sauce, we’ll understand like never before the wisdom of the Mexican proverb Barriga llena, corazón contento. Full stomach, happy heart. Until next time. Buen viaje!

Day 7 Highlights

  • Transfers to airport

Where We Sleep

A calming retreat in Oaxaca City, our accommodations are small-scale and boutique, the ideal way to get acquainted with Oaxaca life.

El Callejon

Oaxaca City

Located just a few blocks off the bustling zocalo, a street gate opens to a beautiful oasis that’s our Oaxaca City home: a boutique hotel built from traditional adobe whose spacious rooms blend the city’s distinctive aesthetic styles. Serenity reigns in its thoughtful garden spaces, covered walkways, and palm tree-fringed outdoor bar.

I loved eating goat just after it was lifted from the pit, sipping on a mezcal.
Diana C.
This is more than just a trip. It’s authentic and joyful, and a powerful reminder of why we travel.
Scott M.
The meals made for us in local homes were just heavenly.
Andrew B.

Book Oaxaca with Lisa Donovan

Number of Travelers



Per person
Based on double occupancy

Can't travel on these dates?
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+1 (855) 219-8018


That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below. Or text or call us at +1 (855) 219-8018 to speak with a Modern Adventure Trip Specialist.

  1. What does the price include?

    Six nights at unique, 4-star boutique accommodations; private travel for all day trips and excursions; departure airport transfer; private tours with local guides and cultural experts; exclusive VIP access and tastings; guided activities, adventures and expeditions; entrance fees; daily breakfasts, most lunches and dinners; local beverages with meals.

  2. What does the price not include?

    International roundtrip airfare; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s starting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; hotel incidentals including room service, laundry service and hotel bar tabs; food and beverages not included in itinerary; gratuity for tour leader.

  3. Where does the trip start and end?

    Our adventure begins and ends at the El Callejon Hotel in Oaxaca, Mexico. The closest airport is Oaxaca International Airport (OAX). On our final day, Modern Adventure will organize a complimentary transfer to OAX for all guests who’s flight home departs at 1pm or later from OAX airport.

  4. What travel documents are needed?

    US citizens are not required to have a visa for tourist visits to Mexico, but are required to show a valid US passport. It is recommended that your passport is valid for six months after your travels are over. On arrival in the airport, you will be issued a visitor’s permit, known as a FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). For citizens of other countries, please check with the Mexico Embassy or Consulate for information and requirements.

  5. Do I need to pay a solo traveler supplement?

    For solo travelers, there is a $2,000 single-supplement fee—paid at the time of booking to secure a private room. If you would like us to pair you with a roommate, that option may be available upon checkout—these spots are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

  6. Who is going on this trip?

    Our adventures typically have between 10 and 20 guests, and our Modern Adventure Team. Our experiences are fun and inclusive and you can expect to be joined by a diverse group in terms of age, background and interests—including solo travelers, couples and friends traveling together. This adventure is for travelers age 18 and above.

  7. Who is leading this trip?

    This trip is led by an expert Modern Adventure trip leader. They’re an experienced travel guide, a representative of Modern Adventure and your go-to person for questions or concerns on the trip. We’ll be joined throughout our adventure by local, expert guides who are deeply knowledgeable with respect to local cultures, customs and history and are passionate about sharing that with us.

  8. What is the cancellation policy?

    You may cancel on or before May 28, 2022, and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel on or after May 29, 2022, there is a 50% cancellation fee. On or after July 27, 2022 there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases of family/medical emergency or cases of the trip being canceled (see our Terms and Conditions for full details).

  9. Do I need Travel Insurance?

    We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance allows you to seek reimbursement for your trip costs; if your trip plans change for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to get medical help, emergency transport, and for theft, loss or damage of items while traveling. For best coverage, always insure the full trip cost within two weeks of your initial trip deposit and note that most ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ policies must be purchased on the date of your initial deposit.

MO/AD News


For the second year running, Modern Adventure is recognized as one of the top travel operators in the world by ​Condé Nast Traveller’s​ annual Readers’ Choice Awards, the most prestigious in the travel industry.

Modern Adventure makes the Fast Company list of the world's most innovative travel companies in 2020.

“I’d had Oaxacan food before, but few restaurants served meals like this—'celebration food' worth the effort only for births and weddings. And, apparently, for Modern Adventure.”

“Modern Adventure is curating a slew of foodie getaways, each spearheaded by the world’s most prolific culinary influencers. Who wouldn’t want to venture to faraway lands... eating really, really good food?”