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Thanksgiving on the Road: Finding a Meal

Thanksgiving on the Road: Finding a Meal

For whatever reason, an increasing number of people are opting to forego creating their own Thanksgiving masterpiece for a meal out on the town. This means that more restaurants are choosing to remain open on the holiday, but it also means that the wait to get in could make the day less than enjoyable.

Many RVers find themselves heading south over Thanksgiving. This means that not only are they likely to be in an area they aren’t familiar with, but also that cooking may not be an possible. Here are a few options, as well as some of the potential pitfalls you may run into when seeking this fall feast.

Plan Ahead

In 2012, we decided to take our Thanksgiving meal out. We were traveling so it just made the most sense. We thought we had planned ahead. We really did. We looked up a couple of restaurants and determined which were open. From there, we picked the one that we thought would provide the best meal, the one most like what we would have made ourselves. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that they were taking reservations for that day. There were no indoor tables available and there was an hour long wait on the patio tables. Plus, it was snowing. We quickly started looking through Yelp for other options and the hunt began.

Go Early or Prepare to Wait

We had waited until a normal Thanksgiving dinner time to eat. Apparently, so did everyone else. By the time we found out about the first place, every other restaurant we tried either was closed or had over an hour long wait.

Both The Golden Coral (not our first choice) and Cracker Barrel had lines out the door, as well as inside. The line for the buffet at the casino was even longer with a several hour wait. We then tried Perkins and Denny’s with similar results. We even drove back to Cracker Barrel in the hopes that the line had disappeared just to find it was actually longer! At that point, we were hungry and starting to get cranky.

Make the Best of It

We pretty much gave up. After three to four hours of driving, we finally settled on going to the Lone Star Steakhouse just to get something to eat. We were pleasantly surprised to find that they were offering a special Thanksgiving plate. Of course, they had run out of turkey.

After all of the driving around, we were content to munch on appetizers while a busboy went to one of the other franchises to restock the turkey. All in all, it wasn’t the best Thanksgiving meal either of us had, but it was memorable. The next year, we cooked.

Related Read: Thanksgiving in your RV: Yes you can!

Restaurants open for Thanksgiving

There are several eateries that are open for the holiday. Keep in mind; these vary by location. Some have shorter hours for the holiday and some may have a limited menu. It’s always best to check online or even call ahead. Here is a general list of some to look into.

  • Applebee’s

  • Black Angus Steakhouse

  • Bob Evans

  • Bonefish Grill

  • Capital Grille

  • Churchill Downs

  • Country Cookin

  • Cracker Barrel

  • Denny’s

  • Golden Corral

  • IHOP

  • Macaroni Grill

  • Maggiano’s Little Italy

  • Marie Callender’s Restaurant

  • Mimi’s Cafe

  • Ruby Tuesday

  • T.G.I. Friday’s

  • Waffle House


Another option is your local truck stop. They are always open. They often have decent food, if not a festive ambience. Many offer a turkey dinner on their main menu, and they almost always have pie.

Related Read: Thanksgiving RV Style

In Conclusion

So, basically, plan ahead. Research your options. Decide where and at what time you want to eat. Make reservations if possible and arrive early. Try NOT to arrive with an empty stomach, so it won’t be that big of a deal if you must wait. Most importantly, remember that the day isn’t just about the food. Find something to be thankful for and consider celebrating on Friday when you have more options.

If you do decide to make your own meal, try reading How to Grill a Holiday Turkey-The Ultimate Outdoor Cooking Experience.


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Carrie Todd

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Carrie Todd

Initially, Carrie became a freelance writer, editor, and artist to support herself doing something she loves that also allows her to travel. Living in her Tourmaster coach, she has spent no more than five months in one place since October 2013. This ensures that she gets to experience the constantly changing scenery that accompanies the yearly seasonal changes, as well as meet new people across the country. She has since become a LuLaRoe Independent Fashion Consultant, as well to further this endeavor. In fact, Carrie considers herself fortunate, as most people have to be of retirement age to enjoy the sort of freedom she has, with every day bringing something different.

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