Summer is upon us, yet our vacation plans are disappearing like letting go of a helium balloon. No matter how desperate we are to grasp hold, our dreams of dipping freshly polished toes into salty ocean waves are vanishing with the reality of living through a global pandemic.
Parents everywhere are asking, “What if the hotel we booked is closed? How can we know if the beach is open or closed? Will we feel safe flying to our destination?” With so much uncertainty, many families are staying put and calling 2020 the year of the summer staycation.
Melissa Lynch, of Orange, was planning a family trip to New York City when the onset of COVID-19 changed everything.
“We were going to New York to celebrate the birth of my best friend’s baby,” she says, adding she was nervous about venturing into a known virus hotspot, so she decided to cancel. “There are so many memories people aren’t able to make this year (and) huge milestones that we aren’t able to experience the way we want.”
But Lynch, a mom of two, decided that COVID-19 wasn’t going to stop her from still having a good summer.
“Everything we do is going to be recorded in a scrapbook,” Lynch says. “(We will be) making memories in a different way.”
What will go into a scrapbook when there are limited activities to explore? Lynch gave us a few of her fresh and fun ideas, plus we dug up a couple more on our own. Check out these five ways to make the best of your summer staycation right here in Northeast Ohio.
Count All Six CLE Script Signs
Nothing beats being a tourist in your own city, so this might be our favorite activity of all (thanks for the tip, Melissa) According to Destination Cleveland, they created the first three CLE script signs during the 2016 Republican National Convention. Now there are six around the city. Find the sign locations at thisiscleveland.com. Since these signs are considered a must-do for out-of-towners, there couldn’t be a more perfect way to celebrate staying in-town this summer.
Scrapbook moment: Hit all six of the script signs and snap a photo at each location. You can find them at North Coast Harbor, Edgewater Park, The Foundry, Abby Avenue, Euclid Beach Park and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Now that’s an easy way to have fun without leaving your hometown! Learn more at thisiscleveland.com
Sleep Under the Stars
Who needs a campsite to go camping? Buy or borrow a tent to pitch in your backyard, dust off sleeping bags from your closet and grab a flashlight to tell (not so scary) ghost stories. Your kids will thank you! According to KOA.com, stress reduction is the No. 1 reason to get out of your routine and become one with nature: “When you’re camping, there’s no place to be at a certain time, and there’s nothing interrupting you or competing for your attention.” So, turn off that cell phone while roasting marshmallows in the fire pit to give yourself and your family a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Scrapbook moment: Sneak out your phone to capture a few pics of the family huddled around the campfire and curled up in sleeping bags, but don’t keep it out too long or the magic of relaxing under the stars will be lost to the screen’s glowing blue light.
Whip up a Cooking Class
Everyone in your family has to eat, so why not turn meal time into a regularly scheduled activity? Cooking with your kids helps develop language and math skills, plus it teaches the importance of making healthy meals at home. But what your kids will remember about cooking together is more than just food. According to HealthyLittleFoodies.com, “A kitchen is a great place for parents to spend quality time with their children. It can be a place to talk about family traditions, through passed down family recipes, or it can simply be a place just to catch up with day to day life.”
Scrapbook moment: Don’t take pics of your kids alone. Be in the photo with them stirring a bowl, licking a spoon or sampling the goodies, so they’ll remember the time you spent together when looking back on the memories.
Hit the Streets in Search of Street Art
You don’t need a museum to see art in Cleveland. ClevelandTraveler.com provides a map to help you locate the best murals in the city. Probably one of the most iconic is “Greetings from Cleveland” at 2104 W. 25th St. (at the corner of W. 25th St. and Chatham), which is “part of NYC graffiti artist Victor Ving’s series of vintage postcard-style murals that are installed in cities all across the U.S.,” says ClevelandTraveler.com. There is a list of 26 larger-than-life art displays organized by neighborhood. Take a day, take a week or take all summer to explore Cleveland neighborhoods and the art that makes them unique.
Scrapbook moment: You’ll be dwarfed in front of these public art giants, but do your best to soak up the grand nature of the mural as well as the environment of the neighborhood itself. Sit on a picnic bench, eat an ice cream cone or twirl around a light pole to make the most of your photo op while you tour the city with an eye toward art.
Make the Most of Our Parks
Parents who love to hike the regional parks don’t always have kids who share their passion. But never fear, we’ve got a solution for enticing little ones to explore what the outdoors has to offer. Do you know about geocaching? We went to Geocaching.com for the 101, which explained, “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” Apparently, there are millions of geocaches hidden around the world, and there are more than a few in Cleveland. Go on a scavenger hunt like no other this summer by logging on to the website to find out where geocaches are hiding in your neighborhood or the metroparks.
Scrapbook moment: Document your hunt from start to finish with poses ranging from serious to silly as you search for treasure in its hiding spot. When you make the scrapbook, draw a trail that shows you traveling from point A to X.
Whatever you do to make memories with meaning this summer, do it safely with social distancing in mind. We’d love to hear how you spent your time, if you tried one of these staycation tips or came up with one of your own. Tell us about your experience and tag us @neohioparent!
Dahlia Fisher is a writer, artist, motivational speaker and workshop leader. You can follow her on her blog (dahliafisher.com) to learn more about her year facing new challenges to practice living with more presence and purpose in 2020.