I love a great fine dining experience, but I also love eating on the tailgate of my pickup truck! My wife and our two boys have completed several cross-country trips from South Carolina to Washington State, Wyoming, and many other western states. As we travel, having a picnic lunch when we visit a national park or when we are on the road is one of our favorite things. Locally, we love to drive into the Blue Ridge Mountains for a little off roading experience, and we are avid hikers. We live only a little less than two hours from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
What Do We Eat?
What consititutes the perfect picnic for my family? Well... it's not what you might think. The first thing to start with is a great cooler. I'm a Yeti convert. I thought, why in the world would someone spend hundreds of dollars on a cooler, but, trust me, they are like taking your refrigerator on the road with you.
The menu items we love are meats, cheeses, nuts and fruits. Our boys love salami, pepperoni, pimento cheese and crackers, hummus, carrots and pita chips. To make sure we have enough protein we generally will pickup some fried chicken strips from a local grocery to round out the meal. For a really amazing hike I'll also bring along a bottle of champagne. It's great to reach the mountain top and cheers one another. (The adults not the kids!) Yes, I'm Boots and Bow Ties so my glass champagne glasses go along in my military backpack along with survival gear, knives, etc wrapped in a desert cammoflage shemage. Of course we are American so Coca-Colas and Hershey Bars seem to fall into the cooler, too.
I also take large amounts of water with us because when you hike everyone will want to take a bottle or two along. Figure at least 4 bottles per kid and 6 per adult, and I also carry a hydration pack with me when we hike. No one wants to run out of water. Granola Protein bars are also one of our staples for snacks on the trail.
Our family hopes you get out and about and use that tailgate as one of the best dining tables around. Who can beat looking over the view from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic, the visits of the Blue Ridge Parkway or the soaring rocks of Arches National Park as you munch on good food? Food just tastes better outside, so get out there!
Our Favorite Picnic Spots
Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Washington
Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Road to Hana, Hawaii
Black Balsam Bald, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Jumping Off Rock, South Carolina
Big Sur, California
Glacier National Park, Montana
Iao Valley State Park, Hawaii