Great Parks of Hamilton County reliably provides year-round programing to enjoy the outdoors — a tricky feat in our seasonal, moody climate. This year, despite restrictions brought on by COVID-19, the Parks have succeeded in providing safe programing for the whole family.
Great Parks provides activities to all ages to engage in the outdoors both inside and out, at the parks, and at home.
Virtual Programming: Every year, Great Parks offers science and history school programs for kindergarteners to 5th graders. Since the spring, these programs have gone virtual and will continue through the school year.
Parks @ Home: A new program that presents activities to engage children in nature from their own homes. Activities include indoor and outdoor options such as:
• Coloring pages of some local flora and fauna seen at the parks and in our own backyards including birds, insects, and other critters
• Nature journaling with prompts to engage in the wild world
• Backyard challenges with things to look for and activities to complete at home, like camping, fossil hunting, and scavenger hunts
Holiday in Lights: For more than 30 years, Sharon Woods has hosted a drive-through lights display. Approximately a mile long, this wooded road gleams with over one million lights and over 250 displays that visitors can enjoy from the safety and comfort of their own cars between November 21 and January 2.
Winter Hike Series: This series brings hikers together to meet new friends and hike new trails. The hikes are held at five different parks and are about 4-5.5 miles long. This year, to avoid large gatherings, the hikes will be spread out with smaller groups of 15-20 people who will hike at a staggered distance instead of one large group. This event sells out every year so registration is required and will open December 1 on Great Parks’ website.
Other social-distancing, cold-weather activities include:
Enjoying fall colors at any Great Park
Bird watching, which presents a different view in the fall and winter. See migrating birds, visiting birds, and birds that stick it out through the season. Spotting critters is even easier after leaves on deciduous trees have fallen.
Camping: Chilly weather camping means bundling up and cozying by the fire, a great reprieve from cabin fever
Trails for all types of visitors to enjoy walking, cycling, hiking, mountain biking, trail running, roller blading, and roller skating
Picnicking: Gather a small group to share a meal at open and sheltered picnic tables.
COVID-19 has pushed us out of most indoor public spaces and into the outdoors. In fact, parks visitor rates have increased 13% from 2019 to 2020. “We are up 16% in the month of September alone,” shares Kimberly Whitton of Great Parks. Patronizing the Parks offers a way to fend off cabin fever or, during the pandemic, quarantine fever.