State parks are a great place for Christmas and holiday gatherings in November and December. All 17 resort parks have restaurants, meeting areas and gift shops that offer unique gift ideas. That includes Kentucky Unbridled Spirit gift cards, which are valid at Kentucky State Parks, the Kentucky Horse Park, the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
Barren River Lake State Resort Park
Breakfast and the Grinch, Dec. 13
Barren River Lake State Resort Park invites you to Breakfast and the Grinch. Enjoy a full breakfast buffet including green eggs and ham, visit with the Grinch, a reading of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and make a holiday craft. Choose from 7:15 – 8:45 a.m. or 9 –10:30 a.m. Limited seating; preregistration required. The cost is $15 per adult, $10 per child ages 4-12, 3 and under free. Special $10 off lodge room coupon for all who visit “Whoville” (good thru Jan. 31, some restrictions apply). Afterwards, stop by and visit with Santa from 8:30–11:30 a.m. in the holiday villa to give him your wish list. Don’t forget your camera to take pictures with the Grinch and Santa. For information call 1-800-325-0057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
John James Audubon State Park
HC Encore Gifted Students Holiday Art Expo, Dec. 2
Audubon Museum presents the annual Henderson County Encore student ART EXPO and reception. All Henderson County Elementary fourth- and fifth-grade gifted students will exhibit their works of art at the John James Audubon Museum. The students have had the opportunity to work in mediums such as watercolor, graphite, acrylic on canvas, color pencil and more. The show will be presented in the lower level of the John James Audubon Museum. Parents, friends and faculty are invited to attend the opening reception on Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. Free to the public. For more information, call 270-827-1893.
"Little Rembrandts" Holiday Ornaments ages 3-5, Dec. 5
Get in the holiday spirit with your children ages 3-5, by designing and decorating an ornament just in time for your tree. Paints, glitter, ribbon and more, we’ve got it. Dress for a mess. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Preregistration is required. Open 10:30-11:30 a.m. Fee is $7. Contact Kim McGrew-Liggett at Audubon Museum, 270-827-1893 or email@example.com
Holiday Ornaments for the Whole Family
Join the annual holiday ornament class for the whole family. Paints, ribbon, bells, glitter and more will be on hand for you to design that special ornament. Children ages 3-5 must be accompanied by an adult. Preregistration is required. Fee: $7 per person or $20 for a family of four. Open 1-2:15 p.m. Contact Kim McGrew-Liggett at Audubon Museum, 270- 827-1893 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenlake State Resort Park
Santa and Mrs. Claus, Dec. 14
Santa and Mrs. Claus will make a special stop at Kenlake State Resort Park lodge on Dec. 14 from 1-3 p.m. Bring your camera and your child’s favorite book. Mrs. Claus will select a book to read to the children. Enjoy beautiful Christmas trees in the lobby area, decorated by Marshall County Homemakers’ clubs. During Santa’s visit, the Aurora Landing Restaurant will feature “buy one adult meal and get one child’s meal free.” Canned goods will also be accepted for the local food pantry. Call 1-800-325-0143.
Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park
Breakfast with Santa and Frosty, Dec. 6
Gather your family and visit Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park’s Harbor Lights Restaurant to join Santa and his friends for a conversation, pictures, and a child-friendly buffet. This annual event is from 8-11 a.m. and also includes cookie decorating and a small gift. Adults $7.99; children (6-12) $4.99; age 5 and under free. For information call 1-800-325-0146.
Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park
Santa Visits the Park and Gift Shop Open House, Dec. 6
Lunch buffet in the Clifty Creek Restaurant will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free Santa pictures are available from 2-4 p.m. The park is offering a 25 percent discount off most gift shop items all day! Call 1-800-325-1711.
Snowflake Dedication and Holiday Musical Show, Dec. 13
After The Friends of Pennyrile dedicate the newest snowflakes that light up the parking lot all winter long, the Dreamers musical group will present their “Christmas Traditions” program. The dining room will serve a delicious dinner buffet from 5-8 p.m. Call 1-800-325-1711.
Rough River Dam State Resort Park
Supper With Santa, Dec. 6
Rough River will host its annual Supper with Santa on Dec. 6. Grayson’s Landing Restaurant will feature a kid-friendly buffet from 4:30-8 p.m. Children can eat for $4.99 plus tax. Bring your camera, because Santa will be paying a visit to the park. All the little ones can make their holiday requests straight to the jolly fellow himself. There will be crafts for the kids and fun for all. Call 270-257-2311.
White Hall State Historic Site
A Victorian Christmas, Dec. 5-6 and 12-13
Costumed interpreters will answer your questions during this self-guided tour through this historic mansion decorated for the holidays. Learn about Christmas customs celebrated during the 1800s. The “Tuesday Dulcimers” will be performing each night. Snacks and hot apple cider will be served. Tours are 6-8 p.m. Tickets are $10 a person and $4 for children ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. Seniors, members of the military and AAA members are $8. Guests are asked to bring a canned food item for the local food bank. Call 859-623-9178.
Waveland State Historic Site
Candlelight Tours, Dec. 5-6 and 12-13
Candlelight tours on both weekends. On Dec. 5-6, Santa will be at Waveland. He will be reciting “The Night Before Christmas” and “The Polar Express.” Why wait in long lines to see Santa when you can meet the real deal, reciting the Christmas classics in one of Lexington’s most historic omes? Santa is only there for the weekend of Dec. 5-6. The Christmas Candlelight Tour includes the traditional tour, singing by local school choirs and treats in the cabin. Tours are from 6-9 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for students, children 6 and under are free. Call 859-272-3611.
My Old Kentucky Home State Park
Christmas Candlelight Tours, Nov. 28-29, Dec. 5-6 and 12-13
The Federal Hill mansion will be bathed in the warm glow of candlelight. Elegantly dressed guides will greet you at the door to escort you back in time. Holly, pine and fruit garlands, magnolias and the glow of candlelight adorn the stately mansion, while live traditional holiday music will fill the rooms with melodies. Refreshments will be served in the carriage house. Don’t forget to make a stop in the gift shop for those unique Kentucky handcrafted gifts, Kentucky Proud foods and decorating ideas for the holidays. Tours 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3.50 for children ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. Call 502-348-3502 for information.
Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park
December Dinner Theater, Dec. 12-13
Patrons will dine from a delicious buffet featuring Kentucky State Park favorites as well as a dessert buffet. Afterwards, be treated to world-class entertainment – “I’ll Be Holmes For Christmas” – a murder mystery. Tickets are $35 (includes tax) per person for dinner and entertainment. Packages available for $140 (tax included) that include an overnight stay in the lodge, two dinner theater tickets, and breakfast for two the following morning. Call 800-443-7008 for reservations.
Holiday Dinner & Movie, Dec. 19
Bring the entire family out for a special holiday buffet at Hidden Waters Restaurant. After dinner, make a new memory for this year’s Christmas tree by making a hand-crafted ornament. Then grab a bag of popcorn and a big mug of hot chocolate and settle in for a screening of “The Polar Express.” Help Blue Licks begin a new holiday tradition with your family with good food, good memories, and a good movie! The cost is $10 per adult , $5 per child. (Price includes special buffet, drink, craft, movie tickets popcorn and hot chocolate!) The evening begins at 5 p.m. with dinner and movie at 7:30 p.m. For additional information, call 800-443-7008 or email email@example.com
E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park
Holiday Wreath Workshop, Nov. 29
It’s about time to decorate for the holidays! There is no better way to create a festive look than to hang a wreath up around the office or home. Why not create your own custom holiday wreath that you can treasure for years to come? The workshop is from 1-3 p.m. and registration is $10. Call 502-429-7270 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Caching for Claus: A Geocaching Event, Dec. 20
Jolly Saint Nick has done it again! While cruising over the park with a sleigh stuffed full of presents, some of them fell off and landed right in the park. We need help to recover the scattered gifts before the big day is here! Use your GPS device to locate each “gift.” Once you have found all of the “gifts,” return to the registration table to claim a gift of your own! Don’t have a GPS? Anyone with a smartphone can download a GPS application. Just make sure that you can input GPS coordinates on those devices and that they are fully charged before starting off on your search. Registration at the Activities Building starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. The fee is $4 a person; ages 6 and under are free.
Holiday Drop and Shop, Dec. 22
Need some time to do some last minute holiday shopping? Let us take the kiddos off your hands so you can shop. Park staff will have a variety of activities for the participants, including holiday crafts, gym games, nature walks and more! For ages 6-12, from noon to 4 p.m. The fee is $10 per child who is registered in advance; $15 for children day of event. Limited spots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis; please call morning of to ask about availability. Email email@example.com for information or to register.
Fort Boonesborough State Park
18th Century Christmas at the Fort, Dec. 5-6
Visit the fort to see and hear the differences in the holiday celebrations of the season during the early settlement of Kentucky. The fort will be lighted by candlelight, with decorations in keeping with the traditions of the time. There will be living history interpretations of the traditions of various ethnic groups and nationalities during the season. Candle lanterns, bonfires, the Christmas guns, food and refreshments, music and dance will all add to the atmosphere. Refreshments are included! This is a special program sponsored by the Fort Boonesborough Foundation. Admission is adults $7, children ages 6-12 are $3 and children under 6 are free. Visit www.fortboonesboroughlivinghistory.org or call the park at 859-527-3131 for information.
Pine Mountain State Resort Park
Breakfast with the Grinch, Dec. 13
The Grinch will join you during this “Who-inspired” breakfast! The breakfast is $5 for children and $8 for adults. Open from 10-11 a.m. A reading of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” will be at 11 a.m. Seating is limited, so please call Jaime Bruce at 1-606-337-3066.
Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park
Holiday in the Park, Dec. 6
See Santa, make holiday-themed crafts, and enjoy the “The Night Before Christmas” reading in front of the fire place. Call 800-325-0058 or 606-398-7510.
Carter Caves State Resort Park
Open House, Dec. 7
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Carter Caves State Resort Park! Get in the spirit by bringing your family out to our open house on Sunday, Dec. 7, from 1-4 p.m. The Carter County Homemakers have decorated numerous trees that are on display throughout the lodge. Santa will be there for pictures with the little ones. Enjoy local musicians and dancers while munching on cookies and punch. The Sunday buffet will be offered 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 800-325-0059.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Santa Express, Dec. 20
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park invites you to spend part of this holiday season enjoying the beautifully decorated park. Take a hayride on the Santa Express through the woods to Santa’s house, where Santa’s helpers will be serving refreshments. The gift shop with many Kentucky-made items will be open. Come early to enjoy dinner in the Riverview Restaurant located in the Dupont Lodge. Rides are from 6-8 p.m. Purchase tickets for $3 a person at the front desk of the lodge. Call 1-800-325-0063.
Greenbo Lake State Resort Park
Holiday Open House, Dec. 6-7
Come view all of the holiday trees and decorations by the Greenup County Homemakers Clubs and enjoy entertainment throughout the day. This event will take place at the Jesse Stuart Lodge from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 6 and from noon-4 p.m. on Dec. 7. Call 1-800-325-0083.
A Dulcimer Christmas, Dec. 13
Enjoy an evening of holiday musical performances by The Rail City Dulcimer Society and others. This event will take place at the Jesse Stuart Lodge lobby starting at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Call 1-800-325-0083.
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park
Breakfast with Santa and Frosty, Dec. 12-14, 20
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park invites you to come celebrate the Christmas season with a breakfast buffet to remember. While you enjoy your breakfast, your children can visit with Santa Claus and Frosty during a special trip from the North Pole to visit everyone at Jenny Wiley. You can have your picture made with both of our wintry friends. The event will be from 8-10 a.m. Adult buffet is $8.49 plus tax, and children 6-12 years old are $5.49 plus tax; children age 5 and under eat free! Does not include tax or drink. Call 1-800-325-0142 for information.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park
A Down Home, Appalachian Christmas, Dec. 13
Come join us at Natural Bridge State Resort Park for A Down Home, Appalachian Christmas. Treat yourself to a delicious, home style breakfast and let the kids take a picture with Santa. Then go to the toy shop and build a traditional Appalachian toy or make a rustic Christmas ornament. Enjoy some old-time Christmas stories as you sip on hot chocolate or warm apple cider. Get some Christmas shopping done at our artisan fair. Stay for dinner at the Christmas buffet, and put on your dancing shoes for a toe-tapping good time at our evening barn dance. The park will be having events all day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Breakfast price: $7.99 for adults, $4.99 for children. Dinner price: $13.99 for adults, $6.99 for children. For more information, call 606-663-2214.
Pine Mountain State Resort Park
Moonlight and Mistletoe, Dec. 4, 11, 18
Enjoy a special holiday meal at the decorated Mountain View Restaurant on Thursdays in December. The menu will feature turkey with dressing or stuffed pork loin, mashed potatoes, rolls, corn or green beans, and dessert. The meal will be served 5-8 p.m. and is $11.99 per person (does not include drink). Call 606-337-3066.