Thursday, December 17, 2020

4 COVID-Conscious Holiday Outings

Winter break and holiday time-off is going to be different from what many of us are used to this year. But there are still fun, safe ways to enjoy the excitement of this season. 

Here are some COVID-conscious outings for the weeks ahead. Whatever adventures you embark on, wear your mask, keep your distance, and be of good cheer! Happy holidays and stay well, friends.

Uptown Lights
On one hand, it's a little eerie how quiet uptown is these days. On the other, it's actually quite a festive place to be. While you won't find some of the annual favorites, like singing bears in Founders Hall or ice skating on the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza, you will find some fun and dazzling holiday decorations throughout the heart of town.

We took an informal walking tour the other evening and found lots to look at and enjoy. Some of our favorites included the lighted animations around the perimeter of First Ward Park, the great big tree and hanging lights at The Square (the corner of Trade St. and Tryon St.), the giant ornaments at the Levine Center for the Arts, and the colorful tree at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza (400 E. MLK Jr. Blvd.). 

Just as exciting as spotting the large outdoor ornamentation was peering through the windows at building lobbies and shop fronts. If you go, make sure to take a peak at the "book tree" just inside the entrance of Imaginon. So fun!

McAdenville Magic on Foot

It's been an annual tradition since I was a kid for our family to visit the spectacular whole-town light display at Christmastown, USA. These days, we like to experience the magic of McAdenville on foot. Check out this post for details on how to do this.

New this year, wear your mask! Yes, even outside. There are spots where foot traffic can get a little congested if you're there at a busy time.

Also, if you've been before, you may recall the beauty of the lighted trees reflecting in the lake at the center of town. They decided not to decorate this area and other public gathering spots to prevent crowding. Bummer, but absolutely the right call. Don't worry, there are still plenty of lights to go around.

When you're there, consider taking the side streets. While vehicular traffic is relegated to a set route through the main street, pedestrians are allowed to wander. I encourage you to do so. Some of the houses "off the beaten path" are breathtaking. (Look for the yard with a million blow-up penguins.)

Finally, I recommend going early (lights switch on at 5:30 p.m.) on a weekday, if you can. Lights go out at 10, but get your visit in before then to adhere to curfew. The display runs through December 26. 

Ice Skating at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
Last year, the USNWC debuted a skating rink, and we plan to make it an annual tradition as long as it's part of the winter activity line-up. Read this post about what to expect if you go -- and it's definitely worth considering!

Some things to note this year:

Due to the pandemic, there's limited capacity and everyone is required to sign up for an assigned time slot, which can be secured in advance online or by phone, or onsite when you arrive (call guest services at 704-391-3900 for more information).

To avoid crowds, I suggest that you go during the day on weekdays, if you can. We went at 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday and found the crowd sizes to be comfortable. On the ice, masks are encouraged, but not required. Most, but not all, of the people we skated among were wearing them.

Check the website for hours for both skating and the adjacent lights display. Ice skating runs through mid-February. 

Star Gazing
Maybe you've heard about the "Christmas Star" shining down on Earth this week? This rare and fascinating alignment of Jupiter and Saturn is visible now and will be at it's brightest on December 21. It has been 400 years since the planets passed each other so closely, and nearly 800 years since it happened at night. You can read more about this "great conjunction" on the NASA website

We're considering a short trip to a place where the view will be unencumbered by light pollution. We'll be using the free SkyView Lite app, which I highly recommend, to figure out what we're looking for and where. 

I think it will be a fun, memorable excursion. Wouldn't it be neat if we all share this moment together, apart?

No comments:

Post a Comment