Pandemic got your down? Don’t know what to do with your family on the weekend? Nature might be the answer! During the pandemic places with enough space have been hard to find, but I’ve found the following three outdoor destinations to be perfect for keeping 6 feet apart.
1. Moraine State Park
Moraine has something for the whole family to enjoy, from swimming to hiking. Lake Arthur, the park’s centerpiece, is much bigger than expected from looking at the park map! My family always loves fishing at Moraine because there are plenty of fish for us to catch, from bluegills to bass. Besides fishing another one of our favorite activities to do at Moraine is geocaching! If you are not familiar with geocaching, I highly suggest it. This outdoor interactive challenge is basically a “treasure” hunt hike! Participants can bring small toys or trinkets to switch out with the ones you discover within the small hidden containers, or caches. To reach these caches, you need to plug coordinates into a GPS unit and follow them to your destination. The activity is great for kids because sometimes hikes can be hard with small children, and the trinkets in the caches are a great way for them to stay engaged. We plan for the day and pack a big lunch with lots of snacks. Maintaining social distancing at Moraine is easy because the park has tons of picnic areas to choose from. Due to the pandemic we have visited there a lot more this summer!
2. Keystone Safari
Keystone Safari is a place I never heard of until this year when my sister purchased a house about a mile away. I wished I had known about it sooner! It is a huge zoo near Grove City where you can encounter all sorts of different animals from the tiniest butterfly to the tallest giraffe. You can feed those animals if you do the walk-through park which has all sorts of other amenities such as ziplines. This year, due to COVID-19 the park added a feature where you can drive through a separate area of the park and feed all sorts of animals as they walk up to your vehicle. We decided to try it out since it was the ultimate social distancing activity! It was such a cool experience. The park provides a bucket of food for you as you drive through the safari, and as you put your hand out with food the animals will walk right up to you. My niece is 3 and could not stop smiling and giggling the whole time! This was undoubtedly one of our favorite activities during the pandemic.
3. Neighborhood Walks
Sometimes people forget they can enjoy nature right outside their own front door. Neighborhood walks are an out-of-the-house activity the whole family can get involved in, especially during the pandemic. Every time I walk around my neighborhood, I notice new things in nature. Whether the sighting is an interesting bird or a scary looking spider, I always learn something new. Sometimes, if you are lucky enough to snap a good picture, you can use an app called iNaturalist to help identify unknown life forms. The app is free and easy to use. You upload a picture, and other nature enthusiasts can help identify it! My family uses this app all the time, especially for flowers and different spiders we see around our neighborhood. It makes a walk around your neighborhood ten times more fun. This is a great activity and fully compliant with COVID-19 guidelines.
During the pandemic everyone has been trying new things. Exploring new places in nature has been my favorite one and it is something people of all ages can enjoy. I love finding new places to go and cannot wait to discover more social distance friendly activities. Hopefully others can enjoy these places too!
Claire Ianachione is a Teen Volunteer in the Education Department. Museum employees, volunteers, and interns are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.