Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner To-Go

Contributed by Michelle Shea of Adventure Dining Guide

Thanksgiving Dinner in a bowl in front of water

Image Credit: Michelle Shea

Have you ever eaten your Thanksgiving dinner while enjoying uninhibited views of snowcapped peaks, crashing oceans, pristine valleys, or crystal clear lakes? No? How about starting a new tradition this year: Get outside, and ditch the crowds! Indulge in your favorite outdoor adventure, and enjoy one of the most underrated exploration days of the year.

For many Americans, a traditional Thanksgiving consists of eating, cooking, watching football, and staying indoors. While everyone else is at home, why not take your Thanksgiving Dinner “to go” with a holiday-inspired, backcountry-friendly recipe. Invite family and friends to join you outside for a Thanksgiving meal they will never forget!

Here is everything you will need for your adventure-inspired holiday dinner:

  • Turkey Jerky
  • Rachel Ray’s “Apple and Onion Stuffin’ Muffins”
  • Cream cheese and dried cranberries
  • Adventure Dining Guide’s “Pumpkin Backcountry Bites”

This meal is pack-friendly and filled with nutrition to fuel your journey. The best part is that you can prep everything at home, so when you’re in the wilderness you can just relax and enjoy a fantastic meal.

Before you hit the trail, this is what you need to prep at home:

For an ultralight alternative, try dehydrating the muffins and the pumpkin filling.

This backcountry Thanksgiving meal is best served with a view, so get adventurous this Thursday! Happy holidays, and happy trails!

Celebrate Thanksgiving at Your Favorite State Park!

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to spend in mother nature’s warm embrace: The weather is crisp yet not too cold to make you want to bundle up inside, and the changing foliage presents a gorgeous backdrop to any outdoor activity. It probably goes without saying, but we’re big proponents of not spending the day after Thanksgiving stuck on long lines buying discounted electronics and would much rather be outside at our favorite state parks. Luckily, many state parks feel the same way as us.

After Thanksgiving Hike, Tennessee State Parks

Tennessee's After Thanksgiving Hikes.

Work off all the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing on any of Tennessee’s state parks. [Image: http://tnstateparks.com/]

Eat as much as you want on Thanksgiving, then work it off while also avoiding the Black Friday craze at any of Tennessee’s lovely state parks through their After Thanksgiving Hikes series. Hikes range from easy to more challenging and are of varying distances. Get totally immersed in any of the parks and reconnect with your roots a bit along the way.

Thanksgiving Day Buffet, Ohio State Parks

Thanksgiving dinner.

Celebrating Thanksgiving the way it was meant to be—alongside family and friends. [Image: http://www.decoist.com/]

Don’t feel like cooking this Thanksgiving? You’re not alone on that front. Head on over to any of Ohio’s state park lodge and conference centers or dining lodges where they’ll do the cooking for you—your biggest responsibility will be relaxing, eating delicious food, and chatting with friends and family. And really, is Thanksgiving meant to be spent any other way?

Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot, Choke Canyon State Park

Wild turkey.

A little inspiration for the event perhaps? [Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/]

If you’re looking for a unique way to spend your Thanksgiving weekend, then you’ll definitely want to check out Choke Canyon State Park’s Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot. Learn the history and basics of archery with trained instructors, and maybe even learn a bit about turkey hunting as well. It’s a great event for the entire family! If you’re looking to exert yourself on an exciting hike, want to play around with arts and crafts, or just want a tasty Thanksgiving dinner, many other Texas state parks have events going on for the long weekend as well. Don’t let the opportunity to spend the weekend outside and with other outdoor enthusiasts pass you by!

Thanksgiving Dinner, Kentucky State Parks

Turkey dinner for Thanksgiving.

Cue mouth watering and stomach rumbling. [Image: http://www.lexingtondowntownhotel.com/]

All of Kentucky’s resort state parks are offering delectable buffet-style meals on Thanksgiving so you don’t have to slouch over your stove for a whole week to prepare it yourself. So kick your feet up, stuff yourself full of tasty food, and join other state park lovers to start off the holiday season on a positive note. Use the weekend to camp out in one of these gorgeous parks rather than on a long line at your local Best Buy.

Are you totally convinced yet that you need to spend Thanksgiving and the following long weekend outside? We knew you would be. Make sure you download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to enhance your outdoor experience throughout the fall, too.

10 Thanksgiving Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

thanksgiving facts

Image: www.gospelherald.com

Thanksgiving is next week, which means unlimited turkey, cranberry sauce and gravy (and don’t forget the desserts!). While you’re sitting around shooting the breeze with your family between meals, you can shell out these interesting Thanksgiving facts:

  • Although the “First Thanksgiving” was in 1621 (it lasted three days!), it didn’t become a national holiday until 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln.
  • Unlike on your family’s table, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, apples, pears, milk, corn on the cob, and cranberry sauce were not present at the first Thanksgiving dinner in Plymouth.
  • The first Thanksgiving wasn’t really Thanksgiving as we now know it. Thanksgiving was a religious festival affair where Pilgrims would spend all day praying. Thanksgiving was also observed at different times of the year, not just on Thanksgiving. Also, if it were a true Thanksgiving, the Natives wouldn’t have been invited. The “First Thanksgiving” was actually a feast to celebrate a great harvest! A party, in a sense.
  • Contrary to how they’re depicted, Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving didn’t wear black and white with buckled shoes and hats. In fact, they wore very colorful dresses and suits.
  • The Pilgrims’ plan was to settle in the New York area via the Hudson River, but a series of storms caused the boat to sail off course and that’s how they ended up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
thanksgiving facts

Image: www.thanksgivinggallery2014.net

  • Sarah Josepha Hale is credited with the push to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She devoted her entire life to campaigning for it. (Sarah Josepha Hale also wrote the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb.)
  • Roto-Rooter says the busiest day out of the year for plumbers is Black Friday. We’ll let you guess why.
  • Turkeys got their name from the country… sort of. There’s a bird indigenous to Africa called guineafowl that was introduced to Europe via Turkish merchants. Guineafowl were popular in Europe. When the Spaniards came to America, they saw a bird that tasted like and resembled those guineafowl, so they called the bird a turkey.
  • A 16-week-old turkey is called a fryer. A five to seven month old turkey is called a young roaster.

Wish you could have someone else do all the Thanksgiving cooking and cleaning this year? Some state parks are hosting delicious turkey dinners, so bring the whole family!

Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Tired of all those old Thanksgiving desserts? If you want to bring back some excitement for your guests, check out some of these unique Thanksgiving dessert recipes!

Pilgrim Cupcakes

Courtesy of ivillage.com

Cupcakes that look like boy and girl pilgrims

Image: www.ivillage.com

This dessert may have all your guests laughing, but they will definitely ask you for this cool recipe! You can alter the ingredients to increase the amount as needed.


  • 2 cupcakes (either chocolate or vanilla)
  • 2 mini cupcakes (either chocolate or vanilla)
  • White icing
  • Chocolate frosting
  • Red, black and orange decorating gel
  • 2 Reese’s mini peanut butter cups
  • 1 chocolate wafer cookie


  1. Frost the large cupcakes with chocolate. Remove the paper from the mini cupcakes and frost with the white icing. Frost a smaller circle of white icing on top of one of the cupcakes to make the girl pilgrim’s collar.
  2. Press the heads sideways on top of the larger cupcakes, using a little extra chocolate icing if necessary to secure them.
  3. Put a few spoonful of white icing into a small Ziploc bag. Press out the air and seal the bag. Snip off a tiny corner of the bottom of the bag. Pipe out a square collar in front of the boy pilgrim’s face.
  4. Use a decorating gel to pipe on eyes and mouth and a little bit of hair at the top of each face.
  5. Use a dab of chocolate icing to stick an unwrapped mini Reese’s upside down on top the wafer cookie. Use more icing to stick it on top of the boy’s head. You may need to trim a bit off the top of the mini cupcake to flatten it. Once the hat is on top, use orange or red decorating gel to pipe a buckle at the front of the hat.
  6. Make a cut down one side of the clean cupcake paper and trim off the round flat bottom. Fold the rest of the frill around the top of the girl’s head to make a bonnet.


  No Bake Turkey Cake

 Courtesy of Food.com

No bake turkey cake on a plate

Image: www.food.com


  • 1 Bundt chocolate cake
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 7 lemon cream-filled vanilla sandwich cookies
  • 4 ginger snaps
  • 8 fudge-striped shortbread cookies
  • 7 coconut biscuits
  • 1 Stella D’Oro breakfast cookie
  • 9 Hershey chocolate kisses
  • 1 strawberry fruit roll-up


  1. Place the Bundt cake on a platter and fill the hole with some cookies.
  2. Put the confectioner’s sugar in a Ziploc bag and work in a little water to form a glue like substance. Snip the end off the bag.
  3. Place the lemon cookies and ginger snaps around the center of the cake.
  4. “Glue” the Stella D’Oro cookie to resemble the turkey’s head.
  5. Add a large drop of “glue” for the eye and add a candy.
  6. “Glue” a candy sideways to resemble a beak.
  7. Cut the fruit roll-up to resemble the turkey’s wattle and press in position.
  8. Arrange cookies around the cake to resemble feathers.


Pumpkin Pie Tartlets

 Courtesy of Verybestbaking.com

Pumpkin pie tartlets on a white plate

Image: tatyanaseverydayfood.com


  • 16 (2 ½ inch) foil baking cups
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large white eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) of pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) of evaporated milk
  • 1 cup fat-free whipped topping
  • 12 small gingersnap cookies


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place baking cups on a rimmed baking sheet. Spray each cup with cooking spray.
  2. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a small bowl. Beat egg whites in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar. Mix. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Spoon ¼ to 1/3 cup of mixture into each prepared cup.
  3. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until knife inserted near centers come out clean. Cool on baking sheet for 20 minutes. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Top each with whipped topping and gingersnap crumbs.

When all the cooking, baking and eating is done, download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app to check out some Thanksgiving state park events that you and your family can attend.

Wild Turkey: 5 Reasons to Admire Them

A flock of wild turkey in a meadow

A flock of wild turkeys [Image: www.carolinabirdclub.org]

This time of year, turkey is on the brain. Some may believe all turkeys are bloated, sedentary birds destined for roasting and open-faced sandwiches, but wild turkeys are very different from their domesticated brethren. These tall birds are agile, speedy survivalists, adept at flying, running, and protecting themselves. Ben Franklin once envisioned the wild turkey as an emblem of America. Although slightly vain, Franklin saw them as respectable, courageous birds. Still dubious? Here are five reasons why America’s wild turkeys deserve your admiration.

1. Built for Speed, Wired to Fly

Unlike domesticated turkeys, wild turkeys are well-equipped for running and flying. Using those very long legs, these turkeys can reach speeds of up to 25 mph when running. Their giant wingspan of 4 to 5 feet enables turkeys to fly up into the trees to roost at night. Wild turkeys have even been clocked at flying 55mph!

2. Warrior Mentality

Don’t let those goofy looks fool you – Wild turkeys can be fierce! Both males and females are armed with spurs on the backs of their legs. A mature tom’s spurs, however, grow to be at least two inches in length and are very sharp. This makes them the perfect weapon for deterring would-be turkey suitors (or unlucky humans). When agitated, a wild turkey will chase down and fly at anything it sees as a threat. 

3. A Good Conversationalist

Wild turkeys can be chatty birds. They have an array of calls for signaling danger, assembling a scattered flock, and communicating reassurance and contentment to one another. And yes, wild turkeys also gobble. (A gobble can carry up to a mile away!)

While foraging for dinner, eating wild seeds, berries and insects, turkeys keep up with their neighbors using a series of clucks and purrs. When roosting at night, turkeys cackle to signal their presence to other flock members. A wild turkey sounds the alarm with a series of yelps, and a turkey that’s lost cries, “Kee-Kee-Run!” 

4. Indigenous Fowl

A ceremonial turkey feather prayer/smudge fan made by the Ojibwe tribe

A ceremonial turkey feather prayer/smudge fan made by the Ojibwe tribe [Image: moose-r-us.com]

There are only two species of turkey in the world, and both are indigenous to the North American continent. There is the North American wild turkey we frequently see in the States, and then the Ocellated turkey found only within a 50,000 square mile area in the Yucatan Peninsula. Native Americans saw the turkey as a spiritual symbol, and used their feathers in ceremonial practices and garb. Tribes also hunted turkeys for meat and eggs, sometimes making a kind of turkey jerky to eat throughout the winter.

Once European settlers arrived on the continent, wild turkey became an important source of food. A deadly combination of year-round hunting and loss of wooded habitat, however, pushed the wild turkey population to near extinction by the early 1900s. Thanks to the efforts of many conservationists, new hunting laws and habitat restoration in the mid-20th century ensured the survival of America’s turkeys. Wild turkeys are now found throughout the country, and there are five subspecies: Eastern, Osceola, Merriam’s, Rio Grande, and Gould’s.

5. Simply Delicious

A pioneer woman hunting turkey in West Virginia

A West Virginian Huntress [Image: www.improvisedlife.com]

Turkey hunting is a favorite pastime of hunters countrywide. All states except Alaska hold turkey hunting in the spring and fall. Wild turkeys are difficult quarry, providing a challenge even for the most seasoned hunter. Turkeys are known to be exceptionally skittish and elusive whenever hunting season rolls around.

While most of us will have farm-raised turkeys on our table this Thanksgiving, a lucky few will have called in a wild gobbler just in time for the feast. For more information about how to prepare the perfect wild turkey roast for your Thanksgiving dinner, check out this great blog post from our sister site, Trophy Case® Fishing & Hunting.

Thanksgiving in State Parks

Thanksgiving Day is almost here! With much anticipation, there are many Thanksgiving events in  state parks for the entire family to enjoy. Check out some of these events that you shouldn’t miss this year.


Thanksgiving dinner outdoor table

Image: www.thenursewanderer.wordpress.com

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park
Saturday, November 22, 2012
2:30 P.M.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park will be hosting a Cracker Holiday Feast! It will be focused on the recollections and experiences of longtime residents. Cooks will recreate a simple but delicious holiday feast using items available locally. This event is great for the entire family.


Hiking through state park with autumn colored leaves

Image: www.aiofflight.com

Tallulah Gorge State Park
Friday, November 28, 2014
10:30 A.M to 3:00 P.M.

Visit Tallulah Gorge State Park to “Walk Off The Turkey.” Take a guided tour through the park to shed off those extra pounds you acquired over Thanksgiving! The hike may get strenuous and participants must be 10 years or older. Register in advance. For more information, call 706-754-7981.


Thanksgiving day buffet feast at restaurant

Image: www.parks.ky.gov

Lake Barkley Resort State Park
Thursday, November 27, 2014
11:30 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.

Don’t feel like cooking and making a mess at home? The Windows on the Water Restaurant at Lake Barkley Resort State Park is offering a holiday buffet. The menu includes country-style green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, round of beef, turkey, fried chicken, baked ham, pies, and more! For adults, prices are $18.49 a person. Kids ages 6-12 are $8.49 each, and children ages 5 and under eat for free.

New Jersey

Children in dressed up in colonial times playing

Image: enslowmusic.com

Washington Crossing State Park
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Noon to 4:00 P.M.

This Colonial Harvest Day Event at Washington Crossing State Park is free! A complete, seasonal meal will be prepared on a large hearth by a food historian. Visitors can learn about the history of Thanksgiving, and participate in hands-on domestic activities, like cidering and wool spinning. Cider and donuts will also be available. Call 609-737-2515 to receive more details.

New York

Child shooting bow and arrow with park ranger

Image: www.petethomasoutdoors.com

Caleb Smith State Park Preserve
Thursday, November 6, 2014
10 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

Come out to Caleb Smith State Park Preserve for Tiny Tots, Nature Discoveries: Turkey Time. This event is for parents and children to discover the natural world together. Kids can enjoy great nature explorations and hands-on activities. For more information, call 631-265-1054.


Colonial arts and crafts while kids watch

Image: www.northumberlandcountyhistoricalsociety.org

Sycamore Shoals State Park
Saturday, November 15, 2014 – Sunday, November 16, 2014
10:00 A.M.

Re-enactors will dress up and provide demonstrations of old-time skills and scenes of daily lives in America’s colonial past. Activities at Sycamore Shoals State Park begin at 10 A.M. both days and end at 4 P.M. on Saturday and at 3 P.M. on Sunday. For more information, call 423-543-5808.


Children being read to in the outdoors

Image: www.middletownfreelibrary.org

Kettle Moraine SF – Northern Unit
Thursday, November 20, 2014 – 6:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M
Friday, November 21, 2014 – 9:30 A.M to 10:30 A.M

It’s Gobbling Turkeys Nature Storytime at Kettle Moraine SF – Northern Unit! Children ages 3-6, accompanied by adults, will learn about the wild turkey. For more information, call 920-533-8322.

Check out the Events Calendar available on all of our Pocket Ranger® apps to set event reminders and see other fun events. And don’t forget to give thanks for our Pocket Ranger® apps this Thanksgiving!

Celebrate Thanksgiving the State Park Way

Happy Turkey Day! We’re pretty sure that you’ve already planned your family meal and have your stuffing and mashed potatoes and turkey already cooking, but if by chance you’re still looking for festive ways to celebrate the holiday, keep reading. Yes, many state park’s offices are closed today, usually meaning no programs, but it’s not the case for all of them! We’re giving you the details on some Thanksgiving happenings going on in some of your favorite state parks right now!


Tired of laboring over a hot stove all day? Let the state parks do the work for you. You’re invited to a Thanksgiving Day Buffet at any of the Kentucky State Resort Parks! (There are 17 of them. If you’re not sure if you’re near one, click here.)

Outdoor Thanksgiving

Maybe your Thanksgiving meal will look like this.
[Image: www.pinterest.com/pin/230809549625420796]

When: Noon-8pm.

Price: $18.49 + tax (adults), $8.49 + tax (children 6-12), and FREE for kids 5 & under!

Menu: Drinks, starters, entrees, vegetables, and desserts. Click here for the full list!


Another southern state park system is thinking that the best way to celebrate this holiday is with “a traditional meal in a natural setting.”

Click here to see which parks offer Thanksgiving feasts and what they’ll be serving, when they’ll be serving, and what they’re charging.

David Crockett State Park

A new villa at David Crockett State Park, one of the Tennessee State Parks you could be having Thanksgiving dinner at.
[Image: Tennessee State Parks]


The Georgia State Park system’s going with a different approach, and instead of offering Thanksgiving dinners, they’re offering some Thanksgiving day activities!

Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park

Brazell’s Creek Golf Course (located within the park) is thankful for all of you, so the people in charge are inviting you to play one free round of golf (you only have to pay for a cart rental.) Any time after noon, you can head on over!


Celebrate Thanksgiving with a round of golf at Brazell’s Creek Golf Course at Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park.
[Image: www.courses.golfdigest.com]

Laura S. Walker State Park

Georgia must be really into golf, because they’re offering the exact same deal at The Lakes Golf Course at Laura S. Walker. Post Thanksgiving dinner, get your golf on!


Florida’s Highlands Hammock State Park is all about the physical activity. Show up at 8am to join the 21st Annual Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk. Proceeds benefit the Friends of Highlands Hammock State Park. More details and how to register here!


Nothing like a good Turkey Trot to start off the day.
[Image: www.wellesley.edu]

Do you know of any other Thanksgiving day events at your favorite state parks? Did you spend the day at a state park? Let us know! We really want to know. Because we like state parks and we like you and we like Thanksgiving and we think that together that combination would be so swell!