The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on social behavior. No longer can you just waltz into your favorite restaurant or watering hole. Concerts, festivals, and sporting events? Those are gone, too. But fear not, you social butterfly. You can still have a blast with family or a small group of friends, all while adhering to social-distancing principles. To have fun off the beaten path this summer while avoiding the crowds, here are some ideas!
Indulge Your Competitive Side With Backyard Games
Backyard games are the pinnacle of competition and summer fun. While this isn’t necessarily fun off the beaten path (depending on who you ask), it can bring your family together for some friendly competition. Or you can have some cutthroat tournament against your friends. While backyard football is an American classic, here are some other game ideas to consider:
- Lawn darts (the safe version, not the poke-your-eye-out metal version from the 1950s)
- Full-size Jenga with 2X4s
- Ladder golf
- Bags, a.k.a cornhole
Fun Fact: The Australians have invented their own backyard game known as trugo. So if none of the games above satisfy your curiosity, create your own. You never know how inventive that brain of yours is.
Visit a Local, County, State, or National Park
Although COVID-19 protocols have closed some playgrounds and swimming pools, parks are still open. With wide-open spaces to do whatever you wish, parks are the ideal choice for some summer fun off the beaten path. Depending on where you live, you’ll have access to local parks, country parks, state parks, or national parks—each with their own unique features and activities.
At each of these parks, you can potentially isolate yourself over the thousands of acres. Popular activities may include:
- Backyard games in a new venue
But the true joy of visiting a park is that you can experience one of your favorite activities in a fresh setting. Not only will this provide an alluring backdrop, but you also might find a new favorite hangout.
Go on a Road Trip
Maybe you haven’t done it since college. Or maybe you always have a schedule that’s taxing. Either way, nothing is better than a good, old American road trip. But instead of a destination packed with other tourists, seek out the lesser-traveled places. Even the Dalai Lama gets behind the idea:
“Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.”
The idea seems simple enough, but you have infinite ways to go about it. One adventurous way to undertake a road trip is to have no destination at all. Instead, start heading one direction. Make turns at random and see where you end up. Odds are, you’ll find somewhere you’ve never been before.
Another adventurous way is to put a map on your wall a la “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” Find a map of your state or the United States, blindfold yourself or your partner, and see what happens. Even if you place the pin in a town of 400 people in rural Nebraska, odds are you’ll end up with a story to tell the rest of your life. You can also use a road trip planner to choose where you want to go and find interesting roadside attractions along the way.
If you’re comfortable enough to fly, both Google Flights and Skyscanner have search bars that allow you to pick dates without a destination. In that regard, your summer’s about to get super interesting. The idea is that it’s not where you go. It’s how you get there.
Get a Taste of Nostalgia at a Drive-In Movie Theater
Although plush recliners, pricey concessions, and $20 movie tickets have become the norm, you can still get a taste of nostalgia and significant savings at a drive-in movie theater. Believe it or not, the country still has 325 drive-in theaters in operation, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, only Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and North Dakota are devoid of the ambiance of a drive-in theater.
In most cases, drive-in theaters provide a double feature at an affordable price. And while you might think that two movies are too time-consuming, remember that half of the fun off the beaten path is socializing, drinking, and eating. Bring some comfortable chairs or a picnic blanket and enjoy the time you have with your family and friends. And because most movie studios are delaying the releases of new films, you can catch a classic release.
Fun Fact: As of June 2020, the top two movies in America at the box office are Jurassic Park (1993) and Jaws (1975), marking one of the first times in history that the top-grossing movies of a certain year were released in different years.
Start a Cool Project
Do you find that without socializing that you’re stagnating? Are your hobbies starting to become mundane? Well, a summer quarantine due to COVID-19 isn’t all bad. It gives you the time to start a cool project. The exciting part is that you can choose any project that stirs your excitement. Some projects that you can reasonably tackle—even if you aren’t that handy—include:
- Minor home renovations
- Raised bed gardens
- Kid’s treehouse or play place
- Crocheting or knitting something
- Learning an instrument
- Learning a language
- Taking virtual cooking classes
- Taking up dancing
Regardless of which project you choose, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment upon completion. Plus, you’ll have something to show for your troubles. That’s a one-two punch that few other tasks can offer.
Start a Virtual Trivia Tournament
The days of video-conferencing are in full swing as companies such as Zoom and Skype have more users than ever. While these apps are especially handy for remote workers and globally distributed teams, they also provide a social aspect that’s almost like face-to-face contact. One such idea you can organize with these platforms is a virtual trivia tournament.
To start your virtual trivia tournament, set a date and time when your friends, co-workers, or family can join you. Once you have some willing parties, begin a rotating schedule of trivia emcees who come up with the questions for the week. While you can do this just for bragging rights each week, keeping a running tally of scores is one way to have fun off the beaten path while encouraging a bit of friendly competition. If all the parties are willing, have people throw in some cash for an Amazon gift card or something that people can use while still adhering to quarantine or social-distancing rules.
Rent an RV
Because of the fear induced by COVID-19, many families and individuals are foregoing a traditional vacation to stay at home. As a result, rental cars and RVs are at rock-bottom prices. Take advantage of this scenario by renting an RV for a cross-country trip. Like the road trip mentioned above, you don’t necessarily need to have a destination in mind. But you can hop around scenic RV parks or other parks around the country. Plus, you have a shower, kitchen, and bedroom all within your mobile domicile. Not only is this convenient, but you can cut costs on accommodation and live without fear of contamination in hotel rooms that may ruin your vacation.
Reconnect With Old Friends on Social Media
Do you remember the old college roommate or childhood friend that you used to have fun with? Chances are you’re friends with them on social media. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to connect with them. Some of the best friends are the ones that you have a timeless relationship with. Neither time nor distance can fracture that. So be a little adventurous and send them a message. If all goes to plan, maybe a road trip to hang out with them is yet another way to have fun off the beaten path this summer. Plus, you just might be able to expand your professional network.
Hit the Links or the Disc Links
One of the only sports that requires no physical contact is golf—and disc golf. Both of these sports allow you to enjoy some sunshine, indulge your sense of competition, and socialize with friends. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, most golf courses and parks have courses open to the public. Just remember to keep your social distancing measures in place, disinfect your golf cart, and enjoy your time. Who knows, you might even hit/throw a hole-in-one or set a new personal record. And with fewer people on the course, you won’t have to worry about losing your ball, yelling “fore!” or worrying about holding up other foursomes.
Armed with these tips, you can still have a summer’s full of fun off the beaten path without compromising your health or potentially exposing yourself or others to COVID-19. So pack up the sunscreen and cooler, this summer is going to be one you won’t soon forget.
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