John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

One of the most common questions that I have received from parents lately is “what activities are safe this summer?” After months of self-quarantine at home, I also am eager to get out and enjoy our summer, but do not want to take unnecessary risks. It is important to remember that COVID19 is not gone and although the sun is shining and the beaches are full, we still need to wear masks and socially distance. However, there are still plenty of ways we can have fun with our kids and regain some sense of normalcy. Here are my top 10 COVID19 summer activities:

  1. Take a hike. One of the unexpected blessings of the pandemic has been having my family reconnect with nature. We have found so many new parks to explore and while I’m hesitant to give away all of my secret spots, I have to share some!
    • Silver Lake Nature Center: there are walking trails and paths through the marsh and woods that lead you to a beautiful lake where you can feed swans and ducks. Be on the lookout for snakes basking in the sun. And don’t forget the bug spray!
    • Saunder’s Woods: there are few different loops that you can take here that lead you through a large field, a gentle hill, and over a creek. Be on the lookout for the perfect tree swing. And don’t forget to check for ticks afterwards!
  2. Go bird-watching: this is a great time to teach kids about different species of birds and then go out looking for some. You can outfit your little ornithologist at Wild Birds Unlimited and then head to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum or Awbury Arboretum
  3. Make a splash: while the city pools are closed, the splash pads are open. On these hot days, it’s important to find spaces where you can cool off while getting some fresh air and exercise. My favorite for little kids is Sister Cities Park, but big kids may enjoy Herron Sprayground more. If you don’t want to risk crowds, it is always fun to turn on the sidewalk sprinkler, toss some water balloons, or squirt each other with water toys.
  4. Support the zoo: summer historically isn’t a great time to catch animals being active at the zoo and many exhibits are temporarily closed due to COVID. But, if you are already a zoo member, it allows you to get out of the house and relive pre-pandemic memories. Lookout for hand hygiene stations around the zoo. And don’t forget, you need to wear your mask.
  5. Find fossils: if you have a dinosaur-loving preschooler at home, take a drive to Big Brook Preserve where you can dig up real fossils! The surrounding foliage makes you feel like you are among the Ewoks, adding to the ambiance of your fossil-hunting experience. Lookout for shark teeth too! And don’t forget, you will need a small shovel/trowel and something to sift.
  6. Eat some sweets: sometimes taking a walk for a treat is just the kind of exercise we all need. There’s always the perennial favorite, John’s Water Ice (good enough for Obama, good enough for me), and new gems like French Toast Bites, a Black-owned stand at Spruce Street Harbor Park.
  7. Decorate the sidewalks: one way that kids can do a socially distant playdate is to bring your own chalk and decorate each other’s sidewalks. Parents can even draw a 6 foot circle around each child so that they stay apart while doing their art.
  8. Play in the biggest backyard: who says city kids don’t have backyards? Head to the Navy Yard for the largest yard (20 acres to be exact) your kids can imagine! There are amazing views, tons of wildflowers, and lots of trees to climb. Look out for a running track where you can time your children doing laps (hello, tiring them out). Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
  9. Paint Pottery: the Expressive Hand has to-go pottery. Select your piece, paint at home, and return for it to be fired in their kiln. This is a great activity to save for a rainy day or heat wave. Your kids will love making original painted pottery for their socially distant grandparents.
  10. Ride a bike: Sounds simple, but we sometimes under-appreciate these classics until we are forced to do them. Head over to the trails along the Delaware River and cruise past boats or weave through the runners along the Schuylkill River Trail. Kids are less likely to lapse in their social distancing when they are contained on their own bikes. Lookout for runners and other bikers without masks on. And don’t forget to bring some water!

So get outside and enjoy the rest of your summer because we don’t know what fall will bring. Just do so responsibly: wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay 6 feet away from others.

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