Friday, May 29, 2020

A COVID Summer Kick-off

Well, the "gateway to the summer" sort of came and went for us in the context of this blurry “new normal.” Around dinnertime on Memorial Day, we belatedly recalled we’d usually have spent the day at the pool to kick off the season.

Such is the nature of these times and the shift from traditional anchor points to learning a more fluid way of living. Nonetheless, it’s summertime, and just because this one is going to be different, it doesn’t mean it can’t be full of meaningful fun.

This week, I shared some COVID summer activities and suggestions on WCNC's Charlotte Today. Here are my recommendations, along with some other tips and resources.

Just remember when you're out to adhere to the guidelines set forth by public health officials: Maintain a 6-foot distance from others, don’t gather in groups outside of your family unit, and keep a mask handy in case either of these conditions are difficult to meet.

A picnic is such a lovely way to take a refreshing breather. We like breakfast, lunch and dinner picnics. The backyard can do the trick, but there's something to be said for dining al fresco in other settings, too. Here are some of our favorites:

The Mint Museum on Randolph Rd (2730 Randolph Rd. Charlotte, NC 28207): Here you'll find a sprawling lawn with the added bonus of the 1-mile Eastover greenway for a short walk before or after your meal.

Big Rock Nature Preserve: Come for the school-bus sized boulders, stay for a picnic by the creek. This hidden gem, located in South Charlotte, has a little something for all ages.

UNCC Botanical Gardens: While the campus is closed, the gardens remain open and inviting. Find a quiet corner to sit for a spell and enjoy the beautifully maintained grounds.

Goat Island: An island park in Belmont, NC, that offers a novel recreation experience including a playground area, disc golf course, short hikes and waterside play spots.

There has probably never been a better time to ride bikes in Charlotte given how light traffic is these days. You can find any number of city bike routes, or consider a riding destination.

Shared Streets: These low-speed neighborhood roads have been temporarily closed to through-traffic to allow citizens to use them for outdoor exercise with a comfortable cushion for safe social-distancing.

Riverwalk: This smooth, paved, three-mile (one way) greenway in Rock Hill meanders along the banks of the Catawba River. The trail is mostly flat, somewhat shaded, and good for riders of all skill levels.

George Poston Park: Probably our favorite all-around two-wheeler option, this park includes mountain-biking trails in the woods, a short paved path for road bikes and, most exciting for the kids, a state-of-the-art pump track.


There are tons of hiking options in and around the Charlotte area. Take a walk in a nearby park, or venture a little farther from home.

Municipal Nature Preserves: Charlotte Mecklenburg Parks and Rec maintains more than two dozen protected nature preserves. You can't go wrong with any of them, but some of our favorites are Evergreen, Clarks Creek and Ribbonwalk.

Carolina Thread Trails: This regional network of trails in North and South Carolina offers hundreds of miles of hiking options. Some lesser-known beautiful destinations include Catawba Indian Nation Greenway Trail, Forney Creek Conservation Area, and Buffalo Creek Nature Preserve.

Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area: A little over an hour from Charlotte, it's well worth the drive for more than five miles of beautiful, challenging trails and an impressive natural playground and picnic area.

If you're looking for more ideas, check out these resources.
  • Follow Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation on Facebook and Instagram for updates and information on facilities and a fun "Happy at Home" video series teaching things like juggling and knot-tying.
  • Follow North Carolina State Parks on Facebook and Instagram for programs and park capacity status updates. This is especially helpful on weekends and high-traffic days. Save yourself from taking a trip only to be turned around at the gates.
  • Check the Carolina Thread Trail website for hiking destination or follow on Facebook and Instagram for activities and suggested outings.
  • Follow Bike Charlotte on Facebook and Instagram for tips and helpful information on two-wheeling around the Queen City.

And, of course, I hope you'll take some time to explore this site for more adventure ideas.

The hallmarks of this summer may not be conventional, but consider ways to make it memorable for more than just what we can't do under the current conditions. Go ahead and get out. Just be safe. Be careful. Be responsible. And have fun!

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