While we wait for vaccines to make their way to our communities, there are still winter family adventures that incorporate COVID safety. The Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains offer a host of outdoor activities considered to be “lower risk” by health professionals such as those at Johns Hopkins. And we’ve also found some indoor ways to make learning fun for your whole “quaran-team”.
Winter Family Adventures and COVID Safety
When you’re dressed for the elements, winter is a great time to explore. The area is home to not only the Shenandoah National Park but four Virginia State Parks as well. In Delaplane, you’ll find Sky Meadow State Park, a favorite for families. Shenandoah River State Park, Seven Bends, and Natural Bridge are all conveniently located off I-81 in the Shenandoah Valley.
Always check the parks’ social media and websites for updates. And keep reading to find out how you can get into a State Park for free!
Explore VA Parks for FREE with Your Library Card
Do you have a library card? That’s, right – a library card. Don’t have one? Then get one – they’re free! With your local library card, nature enthusiasts can “borrow” a backpack that includes a free parking pass to any Virginia State Park.
This service is just one of the many things offered by your local library. Downloadable books, audiobooks, and movies are available and there are online storytimes. Check to see if your local branch offers “curbside service” for contactless pickup. And if your branch is open, grab your mask and go on in. Library staff work diligently adhering to COVID protocols to make your visit a safe one.
Want to see a really cool library? If you’re in downtown Winchester, stop by Handley Regional Library. The architect designed the building to resemble an open book.
Take a Trip Into Space
With the recent “grand convergence” of Saturn and Jupiter, families are taking up astronomy. Clear winter skies offer excellent viewing. And later in the year, you’ll find free night sky programs at Sky Meadows State Park. To expand your planetary horizons, be sure to check out the Learning Portal of National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Sign up for live programs, virtual storytimes and field trips, along with STEM programs and hands-on activities.
Learn All About Locally Sourced Food
Treat the young chef in your family to a trip to West Oaks Farm Market just outside of Winchester. This community store continues to add to its locally sourced food selections. Pick up some goodies from area food artisans to add to your pantry. And be sure to ask about West Oak’s CSA (community supported agriculture) program. During the growing season, you’ll receive an allotment of fresh produce each week. Sign up now as “shares” in the CSA sell out quickly. You can also find other CSA farm programs on Taste of Blue Ridge.
Winter Fun at Massanutten Resort
What’s winter without a little fun in the snow? Massanutten Resort has put into place new COVID policies for its winter activities. For example, single skiers will no longer be paired up for the chairlift. Lift tickets must be purchased in advance, as well as tickets for snow tubing and ice skating. And the indoor water park is open as well. Advance purchase means limited capacity. And as always, keep your eye on the resort’s website and social media for updates.
More Outdoor Winter Family Adventures
Sometimes we catch a mild winter weekend in the Valley. Feel like you’re getting a case of cabin fever? Just get online and sign your “quaran-team” up for some weekend outdoor fun at Skyline Paintball in Strasburg. This family-owned business thoroughly cleans and sanitizes its gear and has separate staging areas for teams as part of its COVID protocol.
Support Your Local Treasure
The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum has had it rough during COVID. Yet, the staff continues to provide the public with limited capacity sessions twice a day when open. Between sessions the museum undergoes a thorough cleaning. You’ll also find a wealth of online activities. If you have younger children, put a trip to the museum on your schedule. To have a quality children’s museum in Winchester is a true treasure.
COVID is scary and you have to make decisions that are best for the health of your family and community. Remember to wear your mask, keep your distance, stick to your “quaran-team” and wash your hands. And whether you’re outdoors or snug inside, try some new things and enjoy this time with your family.