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.
Many state resort parks will also hold New Year’s Eve parties and dinners Dec. 31. For more information about these and other events, call your favorite park or visit www.parks.ky.gov.
Here is a listing of holiday events during November and December at Kentucky State Parks (all times local):
Barren River Lake State Resort Park, Lucas
Breakfast with the Grinch and Santa’s House – Dec. 14
Become a Who from Who-Ville and have green eggs and ham with the Grinch at Barren River Lake State Resort Park. Don’t worry, this Grinch won’t try to ruin your holiday, and he’s brought his favorite story for us to read: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” After breakfast, make a holiday craft to remember your visit. Registration is $7 per person (2 and under free); no refunds after Dec. 13. Space is limited, so call early to reserve your tickets. Breakfast served at 9 a.m. After breakfast, visit with Santa from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Santa’s House. Take a tour of this magically decorated villa and give Santa your wish list. Don’t forget to bring your camera if you would like to have your picture made with him. Visits with Santa are free to the public. For more information or to make reservations call 1-800-325-0057.
Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park, Mount Olivet
Holiday Dinner Theater – Dec. 6-7
Patrons will dine from a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet featuring Kentucky State Park favorites as well as a dessert buffet. Afterwards, enjoy first-class entertainment; Tickets for dinner and show are $34.95 plus tax per person. Overnight packages are available for $129 plus tax, which include a lodge room plus dinner and the show for two. Call 1-800-443-7008.
Carter Caves State Resort Park, Olive Hill
Christmas Open House – Dec. 8, 1-4 p.m.
Get in the Christmas spirit by bringing the family out to Carter Caves State Resort Park’s Christmas Open House 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8. The Carter County Homemakers Clubs have decorated the lodge and the Christmas trees that are on display throughout the building. Enjoy a holiday-themed buffet in our restaurant from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring delicious traditional Kentucky fare. Santa will be on hand for pictures with your little ones. Enjoy local musicians and dancers while munching on cookies and punch provided by the park. Call 1-800-325-0059.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Corbin
Santa is Coming to Cumberland Falls – Dec. 14, 6-8 p.m.
Come see Santa Claus at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park on Dec. 14 from 6-8 p.m.
Refreshments will be provided. Enjoy dinner in the Riverview Restaurant (5-8 p.m.). Call 1-800-325-0063.
E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park, Louisville
Parents Day Out-Holiday ‘Shop-portunity’ – Dec. 7-8, 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Parents can take this opportunity to get some holiday shopping, wrapping and baking done! Children ages 6-12 will have a blast doing some holiday activities on their own including a winter hike, ornament making, decorating the park’s tree and more while enjoying some hot cocoa. Meet at the activities building. Daily fee is $8 per child in advance or $10 at the door (space permitting.) Call 502-429-7270 to register. Space is limited.
Winter Birding Hike – Dec. 14, 9 a.m.
Learn about bird species that hang out during the winter, their calls and songs and where they can be found. After the hike, go to the picnic grove and make natural bird feeders from pine cones found along the hike. No equipment is necessary. The fee is $5 a person. Dress for the weather. Meet at the archery range. Call 502-429-7270.
Caching for Claus 2013: Overstuffed – Dec. 15, noon to 3 p.m.
Some of Santa’s gifts have fallen out of his sleigh and landed at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. Use your GPS device to locate these gifts. Once you have found them all, return to the registration table to claim a gift of your own! One cache will be a permanent placement at the park – will you find it? Register at activities building. Cost is $5 per person. Call 502-429-7270.
Fort Boonesborough State Park, Richmond
Winter Trade Days – Nov. 30-Dec. 1
Merchants and traders in 18th-century period clothing will set up shops in the cabins and blockhouses at the fort. All items for sale are typical of items available in the 18th century. The fort is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. This is a great opportunity to shop for unique holiday gifts. There is no admission charge for this event. Call 1-859-527-3131.
18th Century Christmas at the Fort – Dec. 7-8, 6-8 p.m.
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, 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 $5 for adults; $3 for children ages 6-12; under 6 are free. Visit www.fortboonesboroughlivinghistory.org or call the park at 859-527-3131.
General Butler State Resort Park, Carrollton
Festival of Trees and Breakfast with Santa – Dec. 7
Spend your morning at General Butler State Resort Park taking in breakfast with Santa at Two Rivers Restaurant from 8 a.m. to noon, then viewing the array of Christmas trees decorated by local businesses, civic organizations, and schools. Regular breakfast buffet pricing (plus tax) applies. Come to the lodge mezzanine for viewing of decorated trees and children’s activities, ending with an evening holiday concert with David Stahl and Freddie Helm. Note: Trees stay on display for the month of December. Call 502-732-4384.
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Prestonsburg
Breakfast with Santa and Frosty – Dec. 14, 15, 21
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.
John James Audubon State Park, Henderson
Holiday Art Expo – Dec. 3
Audubon Museum proudly presents the annual Henderson County Encore student exhibit and reception. All Henderson County Elementary fourth- and fifth-grade students will exhibit their works of art from the three-week session of visual arts classes at the John James Audubon Museum. Faculty, parents and friends are invited to attend the opening reception Tuesday, Dec. 3, 5-6:30 p.m. Free to the public. Contact: Kim McGrew-Liggett at 270-827-1893.
Little Rembrandts: Holiday Ornaments – Dec. 6
Holiday Ornaments – Dec. 7, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Reindeer Run 5K – Dec. 14
The final race of the Western Kentucky State Parks Race Series wraps it up with the Reindeer Run at John James Audubon State Park. Registered participants will receive race T-shirts, swag bags and the opportunity to win great prizes. Awards will be given to the race winners and race series winners after the race. If your company would like to know more about participating in this corporate challenge, please contact Julie McDonald at 270-826-4424 by Nov. 30. Cost: Runners are $25 if preregistered by Dec. 5, $30 after Dec. 5; Walkers are $20 if preregistered by Dec. 5, $25 after Dec. 5.
Kenlake State Resort Park, Aurora
Santa and a Buffet Lunch – Dec. 8
Kids can come by for a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus from1-3 p.m. Bring your favorite Christmas book. Canned items will be accepted for a local charity. A child-friendly buffet lunch will be served from noon to 3 p.m. Adult price is $7.99, children ages 6-12 are $4.99 and kids 5 and under are free. Tax and drink not included. For information, call 1-800-325-0143.
Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park, Gilbertsville
Breakfast with Santa and Frosty – Dec. 7
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 8-11 a.m. and includes cookie decorating and a small gift. Adult price is $7.50; children ages 6-12 are $4.99; children 5 and under are free. For information call 1-800-325-0146.
My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Bardstown
Candlelight Tours – Nov. 29-30, Dec. 6-7 and 13-14, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Take a step back in time at My Old Kentucky Home. See the home decorated for Christmas, while music fills the air. When you finish viewing the home, enjoy hot apple cider, cookies and cake by the fireside in the kitchen. The gift shop is filled with unique Kentucky crafts, wonderful candies, and a great selection to help you find that one special gift. Come by for a visit and start your own Kentucky tradition in Bardstown. Admission is $7 for adults, $3.50 for children ages 6-12, and children under 6 are free. Senior and military rate is $5. Group rates available. Call 502-348-3502.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Slade
Breakfast with Santa – Dec. 14, 8-11 a.m.
Come to Natural Bridge’s child-friendly breakfast buffet. Adults are $7.99; children $4.99 and kids 5 and under are free. Pictures with Santa available for $5. Bring a nonperishable food item for the local food bank and get a $2 discount. Call 1-800-325-1710.
Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, Dawson Springs
Santa Visits the Park – Dec. 7
When Santa visits Pennyrile Forest, he spreads holiday cheer everywhere. Come and enjoy the festivities at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, 5-7 p.m. Pictures with Santa are free in the lodge lobby, and items in the park's gift shop will be 25 percent off all day for the Dec. 7 open house. Call 1-800-325-1711.
Pine Mountain State Resort Park, Pineville
Breakfast with the Grinch – Dec. 14
Pine Mountain State Resort Park presents “Breakfast with the Grinch” on Dec. 14. Visit the park as it welcomes the Grinch to Pine Mountain. The “mean, green one” will be on hand to entertain you as you enjoy the breakfast buffet from 8-10 a.m. The cost is $5 plus tax for kids and $8 plus tax for adults. Kids will also enjoy a reading of the Dr. Seuss favorite “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Rough River Dam State Resort Park, Falls of Rough
Supper with Santa – Dec. 7, 4:30-8 p.m.
This is your chance to meet Santa and let him know what is on your wish list this year! Grayson's Landing Restaurant will feature a child-friendly buffet, and visits with Santa can be made before or after your meal. Holiday-themed crafts will also be available in the lodge lobby. For buffet pricing or for more information please contact the dining room at 1-800-325-1713.
Waveland State Historic Site, Lexington
Christmas at the Cabin and Candlelight Tours – Dec. 6-7
Bring family and friends to Waveland State Historic Site for Christmas at the Cabin and candlelight tours. Christmas at the Cabin is Dec. 6-7 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Candlelight tours are also Dec. 6-7, from 6-9 p.m. Tickets for adults are $7; seniors $6; students of any age $4; children under 6 are free. Bring your camera and have your picture made in an old-fashioned sleigh! Visit the “Running Horse” gift shop for unique Kentucky gift items. Yummy treats will also be available for purchase both days. For information, call 859-272-3611.
White Hall State Historic Site, Richmond
A Victorian Christmas – Dec. 6-7, 13-14
See the mansion decked out for the holidays and learn about how the Victorians celebrated Christmas and where our traditions began. This is a special, self-guided tour followed with light refreshments. Come anytime between 6-8 p.m. Get tickets in the Welcome Center for $10 per person. For more information call 859-623-9178.
Information provided by Gil Lawson