10 surprising outdoor culinary adventures for every type of foodie

Gathering ice for cocktails in Kenai Fjords National Park — Photo courtesy of Pursuit/Kenai Fjords Tours

You don’t have to choose between the great outdoors and bucket-list dining experiences. The best of both worlds coexist on these ultimate adventures for foodies. We’re talking about activities like picnicking with llamas in Vail, hunting for truffles in Oregon, and sipping glacier-ice cocktails in Kenai Fjords National Park.

Vacation has never been as delicious (or exciting). If you’re ready to inject some excitement into your next meal, these outdoor culinary adventures are calling.

Eat lunch with llamas in Vail, Colorado

Hiking with llamas to lunch in Vail, ColoradoHiking with llamas to lunch in Vail, Colorado — Photo courtesy of Tamara Gane

Summer in Colorado’s Vail Valley brings blue skies, emerald meadows, and brightly hued wildflowers. You can breathe it all in when you book Paragon Guides’ Take a Llama to Lunch culinary adventure.

The llamas carry picnic essentials, like drinks, food, tables, and chairs. All you need to do is follow them to a gorgeous picnic spot. Hikes range from beginner to challenging, multi-day backcountry expeditions.

Dine on a mesa in Zion National Park

The stunning setting for a mesa dinner in Greater ZionThe stunning setting for a mesa dinner in Greater Zion — Photo courtesy of Tamara Gane

Fiery cliffs and towering rock formations make Zion National Park one of the most popular national parks in the country, and the Greater Zion region outside the park is every bit as breathtaking. Southern Utah chef Jeff Crosland specializes in adventure culinary experiences, including an elegant multi-course meal on a mesa above Zion National Park.

The crackle of the fire, the aromas wafting from the kettle, and the never-ending vistas make for an unforgettable experience.

Hunt for truffles in Willamette Valley, Oregon

Hunting for truffles in Oregon's Willamette ValleyHunting for truffles in Oregon’s Willamette Valley — Photo courtesy of Tamara Gane

Oregon’s Willamette Valley is famous for its vineyards. If that’s not enough reason to visit, native white truffles flourish in the forests here, especially between November and May.

If you don’t own a truffle dog, book a truffle hunting experience with Black Ties Tours. You’ll head into the woods with a dog trained for hunting truffles, plus pick up tips, including how to store and care for the truffles you take home.

Opt for the Bougie Truffle Tromp Tour, which also includes a multi-course truffle lunch with wine pairings, hosted by renowned winemakers, such as Guillaume Large of Résonance Wines.

Sip a glacier ice cocktail in Kenai Fjords National Park

Holding a block of glacier ice for cocktailsHolding a block of glacier ice for cocktails — Photo courtesy of Pursuit-Kenai Fjords Tours

Kenai Fjords National Park is only a 2.5-hour drive from Anchorage, but it feels like a separate universe of ice and snow. Since more than half the park is covered in ice, most visitors explore via boat.

Kenai Fjords Tours carries visitors into the park to get up close and personal with narrow fjords, turquoise glaciers, and wildlife like seals and whales. Most cruises feature a full bar. When conditions permit, deckhands fish fresh blocks of glacier ice from the sea to chip into cocktails. It’s a taste of Alaska in a glass.

Experience a luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii

Dancers performing at the Polynesian Cultural Center during a luauDancers performing at the Polynesian Cultural Center during a luau — Photo courtesy of Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii, sits on 42 acres surrounded by tropical vegetation, replica villages, and interactive exhibits showcasing the region’s history and cultural heritage.

Located on the north shore of Oahu, the center celebrates the culture of Hawaii and Polynesia during a luau, a feast featuring traditional music and performances. Fresh poke, pan-seared local fish, kalua pork, and other dishes highlight regional cuisine as part of this festive experience.

Forage and feast in Asheville, North Carolina

Showing off a basket full of foraged finds in AshevilleShowing off a basket full of foraged finds in Asheville — Photo courtesy of No Taste Like Home

Nestled amid the dense forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina, is a hub of fantastic restaurants and outdoor recreation. Combine your love for both on a No Taste Like Home foraging tour, where expert guides take you into forests and meadows to hunt for edible finds like mushrooms, herbs, greens, and berries.

Select foraging tours end with an option to have your finds incorporated into an appetizer at one of five area restaurants.

Hook and cook a fish in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Catching lunch with Coastal Blue Persuasion Fishing in AlabamaCatching lunch with Coastal Blue Persuasion Fishing in Alabama — Photo courtesy of Tamara Gane

Defined by sparkling waters and white sand beaches, the Alabama Gulf Coast is one of the best destinations in the country for fresh seafood. Book a saltwater fishing excursion with Coastal Blue Persuasion Fishing to sample regional bounty. Afterward, bring your catch to a local restaurant like Tacky Jacks, with multiple locations in Orange Beach, Fort Morgan, and Gulf Shores, Alabama. The chefs cook your fish and serve it up with side dishes. Seafood doesn’t get any fresher than this.

Ride to an Old West cookout in Yellowstone National Park

Dishing up an Old West meal in Yellowstone National ParkDishing up an Old West meal in Yellowstone National Park — Photo courtesy of Xanterra Travel Collection

America’s original National Park is saturated with natural wonders and endless opportunities for adventure. The Old West Dinner Cookouts in Yellowstone National Park conjures the spirit of the Old West with steak dinners cooked over an open fire, while a cowpoke sings and strums along on a guitar.

Afterward, enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a piece of cobbler around the campfire. Transportation is provided via horseback or wagon ride.

Kayak to a picnic in Morro Bay, California

Kayaking to watch oyster farmers at work in Morro Bay before a picnicKayaking to watch oyster farmers at work in Morro Bay before a picnic — Photo courtesy of Tamara Gane

California’s iconic Highway 1 is beloved for stops like Hearst Castle, the free elephant seal-viewing area in San Simeon, and beautiful Morro Bay. Famous for the colossal Morro Rock, the bay is a haven for wildlife, like sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and even the occasional whale.

Central Coast Outdoors leads excursions across these magical waters, and, depending on conditions, you might visit an oyster farm or a seal haul-out area. Come lunchtime, you’ll beach your kayak on the dunes for a gourmet picnic sourced from local purveyors. It’s one of the best culinary experiences along the Central Coast.

Indulge in cliffside omakase in South Big Sur, California

Enjoying an omakase experience with a view at Treebones Resort in Big SurEnjoying an omakase experience with a view at Treebones Resort in Big Sur — Photo courtesy of Megan Handy, Treebones Resort

With luxury tents, yurts, and nests perched above a cliff south of Monterey in Big Sur, Treebones Resort is one of the best glamping destinations in the country. Guests spend days hiking, kayaking, and reveling in the wild beauty of California’s Central Coast. At night, the resort’s Wild Coast Sushi Bar offers a cliffside omakase experience with an elaborate 15-course menu served above the ocean. (Vegan options sourced from the garden are also available.)

This is an intimate experience, limited to eight people per seating. You do not need to be a guest at a resort to make a reservation for the omakase experience.

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