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5 Quarantined adventures near Jacksonville

By Kylie Ruffino
January 12, 2022
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©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
Here are 5 socially distanced activities near Jacksonville.

Traveling in a post-quarantine, but still COVID world is daunting. It was obvious to me that one of the easiest ways to travel right now is to go camping. Just you in the woods with no one around for miles. This used to be the start of a good scary story, but now it seems we live in a world where “living in the city surrounded by everyone” is scarier. I wanted to know what it would be like to travel to a city I’ve never been to. Here is what I did when I went to Jacksonville, Florida.

To start, I live with someone at a higher risk for complications of the coronavirus. This is important because I took social distancing very seriously, making this an account of someone really considering what this new world looks like.

Before the Trip:

Traveling in today’s world takes some research. I looked up the top things to do in Jacksonville in a normal world, made a list of the things that interested me the most (already considering what would be most social distancing friendly), and then cross-checked them with what was open and what their policies are. I came up with an itinerary of five activities to occupy our day. Already this felt very different from my typical, spontaneous travel mindset.

What to Bring:

  1. I brought a bottle of 75% alcohol hand sanitizer and 75% alcohol sanitizing wipes
  2. Facemasks. Ours have interchangeable filters.
  3. A full bottle of water.
  4. Snacks because we weren’t sure what we would find.
  5. Our itinerary.
  6. Our IDs in case we stopped at a coronavirus checkpoint

Amelia Island:

We drove two hours from Savannah, Georgia at 7am to just outside Jacksonville. Amelia Island offers many public beach access points and felt like the perfect place to start our day. Further south on the island, higher traffic spots like the American Beach and the Amelia Island State Park would likely have more crowds. We entered beach access 39 from following South Fletcher Avenue all the way up to several more low key beach spots. There was definitely a comfortable distance between us and anyone else on the beach. We got to splash in the water and play in the sand carefree and without masks. We did go in the morning, so it could become a lot busier in the afternoon. Overall, this was a great find. We even saw people riding horses on the beach if you were looking for something a little more adventurous.

P1010034.jpg?mtime=20200723114645#asset:108726The beach at Amelia Island. Photo by Kylie Ruffino.


Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens:

Their social distancing policy required you to purchase an online ticket in advance. You have to select one of two times: 8am or 1pm and you cannot show up between them. This helps to regulate the amount of people in the zoo and limit interactions between you and the staff. It was super easy. Once inside, there were pathways laid out to direct us as we moved through the exhibits. One of the exhibits was closed for the protection of two older monkeys with geriatric conditions that made them at risk for the coronavirus. They were moved off-site to a safe place for quarantine. I will say, it was very hard to keep a mask on because we were outside and it was extremely hot and humid. This made walking around very difficult to breathe. I ended up constantly putting on and removing my mask as I entered spaces with more people. This was really frustrating, but the overall experience was still really nice.


Bold Beans Coffee Roasters

I made space for this one my itinerary, but wasn’t sure if this was going to happen. Nothing makes me happier than finding a really cool local coffee shop to pop in, rest a bit, and enjoy a latte. We were already outside for so long and desperately wanted some air conditioning. I haven’t dined anywhere since quarantine and was nervous to do so in another city. After some searching, the best looking option was Bold Beans Coffee Roasters in South Bank, Jacksonville. My experience couldn’t have been better. It was a large space that only made half of the seating available. Once we ordered we were given a card saying “This table has been recently used. Please find a staff member for us to sanitize.” When we left, we would place this on the table for future goers. It was great to know the table we had found had already been sanitized (of course, I sanitized it again just to be safe) and I reluctantly removed my mask. No one was sitting within a six-foot radius.


Riverside Arts Market:

Under a huge overpass by the river lived a thriving market. This was highly recommended in Jacksonville and I can see why. As per their social distancing policies, they only allowed farmers, packaged health and wellness goods, and food trucks. I imagine how fun it would’ve been to see a huge collection of artists and people walking around, but I am glad it was limited. The booths were spread out with enough space to remain six feet in distance from others. While I wore a mask the entire time, many others didn’t. I would again recommend going in the morning. We were there around 11:15am and noticed it getting busier as we left an hour later. Another social distancing friendly aspect is they offer an online shopping experience for the market and pre-order for food trucks. We shopped and walked around, bought some food, and found a place along the river to sit and eat without being near other people. We sanitized everything and enjoyed!

P1010111.jpg?mtime=20200723114805#asset:108727Riverside arts market. Photo by Kylie Ruffino.


Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville:

One of the other most important things to me when it comes to exploring new places, especially big cities, is to find and explore local art museums. Unfortunately, all of them are still closed and preparing for reopening. To conclude my day trip to Jacksonville once I returned to the safety of my house, I explored the virtual experience offered by the MOCA. While it definitely wasn’t the same as attending in person, it was a great effort to still showcase and teach about the art it holds. On their site, they had everything from pre-recorded virtual tours or artist talks to LIVE art lessons and projects to do from home. This could definitely be something someone did in their hotel room.


Things to note:

  1. Wearing a mask for the majority of the day gave me a major headache. Next time I’m going to bring some Advil.
  2. It is really hard to breathe through a mask in the humidity and we were there during a hot, drizzly day. Weather doesn’t usually slow me down, but it is worth thinking about.
  3. As we were leaving we noticed a huge line of cars entering Florida as they went through a COVID checkpoint. We had missed it because of our exit to Amelia Island.
  4. I don’t think this would have been possible without a car. We drove between each destination and that extra time in air conditioning made it easier to stay outside during all of our activities.

Overall, I had a fantastic time exploring a city I’ve never been to. It was especially fun to just get out of my house and out of my head, but it definitely isn’t the same having to stick to a more rigid itinerary. During a day trip, it felt like there was plenty to do. If we had stayed the entire weekend, I think we would have done another day trip to some hiking grounds a couple hours outside of Jacksonville. I will definitely consider going again, even in these conditions.


Kylie Ruffino is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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10 options for social distance traveling near Chicago

Chicago is known as a busy tourist destination with lots of food, nightlife, and baseball to experience. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are opting for less crowds and traveling outside major cities. There are plenty of amazing gems to discover in places you wouldn’t expect! Here are 10 great options for social distance adventures near Chicago: 1. Chicago Botanic Garden Just a short drive from the city, the Chicago Botanic Garden has 385 acres of beautiful gardens and natural areas. Spend a day exploring the themed gardens, waterfalls, nine islands, or six miles of lake shoreline. The Garden is also offering online classes with topics in gardening fundamentals, photography, yoga, and more. Much of the garden is open to visitors, but some services will be limited. Face coverings are required when you’re within six feet of people outside your own party. All visitors must pre-register for a specific date and time from the Garden’s website (https://www.chicagobotanic.org/). Time from Chicago: 30 minutes 2. Indiana Dunes National Park Indiana Dunes National Park has several beaches, hiking trails, rivers, campgrounds, and much more. It has the area’s three tallest dunes and over 50 miles to explore. Walk the pier to the Michigan City lighthouse, take in the picture-perfect Lake Michigan sunset, or try and spot the Chicago skyline. With 15 miles of shoreline, Indiana Dunes is the perfect beach getaway! Most of the park is open, but parts of Lake Front Drive in Beverly Shores and Central Avenue Beach are closed. Visit https://www.nps.gov/indu/index.htm to stay up-to-date on the park closures. Time from Chicago: 55 minutes 3. Anderson Japanese Gardens The Anderson Japanese Gardens is one of the most premier Japanese gardens in North America. Japanese gardens are designed very carefully and are a peaceful beauty. The gardens work to create an art that inspires calm, discovery, and invigoration, which is definitely needed during these times! The Gardens have reopened with reduced capacities and strict social distancing protocols. Pre-purchased timed admissions are required for entry. Book directly from their website: https://andersongardens.org/ Time from Chicago: 1 hour and 25 minutes 4. Starved Rock State Park Starved Rock State Park, the state’s first recreation park, is one of Illinois’ most beautiful places with a great deal to explore. The State Park offers 13 miles of trails, 18 canyons, waterfalls, campsites, and fishing and boating on the Illinois River. Starved Rock is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and indoor/outdoor dining and carry-out is available at the park’s restaurants and concessions. The visitor center and playgrounds are closed, and guests must follow state rules for social distancing. More information on the park can be found here: https://www.starvedrocklodge.com/starved-rock-state-park/ Time from Chicago: 1 hour and 30 minutes 5. Matthiessen State Park Located a few miles south of Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park also offers amazing views. Matthiessen has a combination of beautiful rock formations, canyons, streams, prairies, and forests. The park has five miles of hiking trails and many areas for picnics. If the park reaches capacity, it will be temporarily closed until parking becomes available. Face coverings must be worn in the shelters and playgrounds if social distancing cannot be obtained, and the horse campground and trails are now open for use. https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Pages/Matthiessen.aspx Time from Chicago: 1 hour and 35 minutes Stepping stones at Matthiessen State Park. Image by @thatrudyguy 6. Kettle Moraine State Forest The Kettle Moraine State Forest, located in southeastern Wisconsin, has more than 30,000 acres of hills, lakes, and forests. The Forest is known for its beautiful glacial features and contains part of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a 1,000-mile trail throughout Wisconsin that highlights the wondrous glacial landscape. Take a stroll through the enchanting paths or enjoy one of the three swimming beaches. Starting July 13, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will begin to allow camping for groups of 50 or less with reservations. Shelters, playgrounds, and visitor centers will remain closed until further notice. For more information, visit: https://dnr.wi.gov/covid-19/ Time from Chicago: 2 hours and 10 minutes Kettle Moraine State Park. Photo by Tony Savino/Shutterstock7. Mississippi Palisades State Park The Mississippi Palisades State Park is known as one of Illinois’ hidden gems. The State Park is located where the Mississippi and Apple Rivers meet up, which complements the steep cliffs and unique rock formations. There are many hiking trails in this 2,500-acre park and plenty of amazing views. Visitors should check out the guidelines for state parks in Illinois before visiting: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/closures/Pages/ParksOpenDuringCoVID19.aspx Time from Chicago: 2 hours and 30 minutes 8. Galena, IL Galena is a small town in northwest Illinois known for its preserved 19-century buildings. Galena has much history to offer, including the house and leather shop of Ulysses S. Grant’s family. Take a stroll through the downtown district to feel like you’ve traveled back to the 1800s. Galena also offers outdoor recreation activities, including: golfing, hiking, boating, fishing, and more. Galena is moving into Phase 4 of the governor’s Restore Illinois guidelines (https://www.visitgalena.org/coronavirus-updates/), with restaurants offering indoor and outdoor dining and a 10-person party limit. Time from Chicago: 2 hours and 45 minutes 9. Grand Haven Beach, MI You can’t get enough of beaches when you live in a landlocked state, and the Grand Haven Beach is known as one of the best beaches in the U.S. Located on Lake Michigan, Grand Haven has a soft-sand shoreline, a 2.5-mile boardwalk, and two 19-century red lighthouses. The Channel parking lot is now open. Officials say visitors to the park and beach should follow the CDC social distancing guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html Time from Chicago: 2 hours and 50 minutes Grand Haven Lighthouse. Image by Dean Pennala/Shutterstock 10. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, located in Grand Rapids, MI, features more than 200 works located both indoors and outdoors on their 158-acre campus. The collection focuses on works from the Modern transition to the present. It includes sculptors dating back to the late 19-century. Some areas will be temporarily closed and face coverings are required when in enclosed public spaces. Look at the full list of safety precautions on their website: https://www.meijergardens.org/ Time from Chicago: 3 hours Tess Knickerbocker is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a senior at the University of Iowa.

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10 socially distanced travel experiences near Indianapolis

The state of Indiana is in Stage 4.5 out of 5 of reopening due to COVID-19. The good news is that Indiana has not only farmland but also rivers, forests, and lakes that are great ways to have socially distanced travel fun. 1. Turkey Run State Park There are many ways to explore Turkey Run, especially the ravines and sandstone gorges. Trail 2 and Trail 3 (Ladders Trail) are notable hiking trails and were voted as the top two hiking trails on VisitIndiana.com. Trail difficulty ranges from “easy” to “very rugged.” Other activities include camping, hiking, fishing, boating, birding, hunting, bicycle riding, horseback riding, and geocaching. Turkey Run State Park is open for nearly all activities. The public outdoor swimming pool is closed for the summer season, and the drinking fountains are turned off. The Nature Center and historic buildings are open but may have limited hours and visitor capacity. 2. Brown County State Park Within an hour drive from Indianapolis, the largest state park in Indiana has many opportunities to recreate responsibly. It has the longest mountain biking trail in Indiana, which Bike magazine said has the most varied terrain east of the Mississippi, and the hiking Fire Tower Trail which was ranked as the fourth best hiking trails on VisitIndiana.com. You can also go horseback riding on well-marked trails or visit picnic areas, fishing and boating lakes, and tennis courts. Stay overnight in various campsites, cabins, or lodging. The state park is open for nearly all activities. The public outdoor swimming pool is closed for the 2020 summer season, and drinking fountains are turned off. Gates may be closed on busy weekends when parking capacity is reached. Photo by Katelyn Milligan 3. Kosciusko County lakes Build your own weekend getaway by visiting Lake Wawasee, Tippecanoe Lake, Winona Lake, or Barbee Lake which are some of the lakes formed from glaciers in Kosciusko County in northern Indiana. On the water, each lake has opportunities to go boating, fishing, skiing, or kayaking, and outside of the lake, there are areas to go biking, geocaching, and bird watching. Stay in hotels, resorts, rental houses, or condos. Most of the area is commercialized and has several local tourism attractions. Most places are open, but check for COVID-19 updates and restrictions on their website. 4. Hoosier National Forest Hoosier National Forest spans nine counties in southern Indiana. You can hike, mountain bike, ride horses, camp, fish, hunt, or canoe. There are many special places, like the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, to visit within the 203,000 acres of land. Most areas are open. After you’re done exploring, cool off from the hot weather by visiting the nearby Patoka Lake, the second-largest reservoir in Indiana. If you a weekend getaway, Patoka Lake has houseboat rentals and floating cabins, and within a half hour drive is the iconic hotel The French Lick Resort which has many outdoor leisure activities like golf, horse stables, swimming pools, and sporting clay ranges. Most places are open with social distancing guidelines in place. 5. Clifty Falls State Park If you are looking for waterfalls, creeks, and canyons made from the last Ice Age, then Clifty Falls State Park is the place to visit. Big Clifty, 60 feet in height, and Tunnel Falls, 83 feet in height, are popular waterfall attractions. In addition to hiking, there are picnic tables and tennis courts. Clifty Falls is located in Madison, IN. It is open for nearly all activities. The public outdoor swimming pool is closed for the summer season, and the drinking fountains are turned off. Photo by Patrick Williams / @cartoonsushi6. Indiana Dunes National Park Explore the 15,000 acres of sand and beaches among this shifting Hoosier landscape. Swim on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, or hike the multiple trails of dunes, wetlands, prairies, rivers, and forests. The 1.5 mile 3 Dunes Challenge reveals a great view of Lake Michigan. It is currently recommended to visit West Beach due to the open space available there. Near the Indiana Dunes central beach is the Michigan City Lighthouse, built in 1904, and pier. Most beaches, trails, and restrooms are open. Park closures and updates are in a constant flux. Visit here for the most recent information. 7. Canoe Country Located in Daleville, IN, rent a kayak, canoe, or inner tube for the day and float down the White River with different options for length of trip. Park at the main building and board a shuttle that drops you off upriver so you will end up back at your car. Along the river, spot turtles basking in the sun or eat a packed lunch on the riverbank. Due to Covid-19, online reservations are required, and they close at 3 p.m. For evening activities or eateries, check out the nearby cities of Yorktown, Muncie, or Anderson. Photo by bellena/Shutterstock8. Shipshewana Located in northern Indiana, this town is home to the third largest Amish community in the U.S. and operates the Midwest's largest flea market. Shops have a reputation for selling hand-crafted wares and antiques. The flea market is outdoors and is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays through September 30. The Blue Gate Restaurant, known for home cooked Amish meals and featured in USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times, is also open and following state guidelines. LaGrange County is currently requiring face masks to be worn indoors or when 6 feet social distancing cannot be maintained while outdoors. A violation of this may result in a fine. 9. Mammoth Cave National Park Exactly a three hour drive from Indianapolis is Mammoth Cave National Park, which has the world's longest cave, 400+ miles. below ground and 53,000 acres of forest. There are 70 miles of trail, including tree covered ridges and valley floors, nearby the Green River. The visitor center, food/beverage opportunities, and retail sales have recently reopened. From June 1, 2020 - July 31, 2020, you can take a 2 mile round-trip, 1.5 hour self-guided Extended Historic Tour of Mammoth Cave, done at your own pace. Make a reservation online for your ticketed entrance time because tickets are limited to reduce capacity. Park campgrounds are open. Masks are strongly encouraged. Check the website for additional information on park operating modifications. 10. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden The Cincinnati zoo, the fifth-oldest zoo in the U.S., is open to the public with new changes in place. Outdoor animal habitats and large garden exhibits are open as well as the train ride and giraffe feeding. Some indoor animal habitats are closed, and animal encounters are closed momentarily. Per Ohio’s city ordinance, face masks are required in all buildings and high congestion areas. Indoor restaurants and gift shops are closed at this time, but outdoor dining options are available. Online reservations with reserved entry times are required to ensure limited capacity. To learn more, visit the Reopening FAQ. Katelyn Milligan is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a graduate of Purdue University.

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10 budget-friendly social distancing adventures near Dallas

1. Wild Berry Farm For those looking for a perfect summer photo setting, Wild Berry Farm in Sadler, Texas is a perfect day trip. It was Voted as one of the 30 best sunflower fields in the United States by Country living magazine. Not only can you spend the day running through a giant sunflower field, visitors are also allowed to pick them as well. Wild Berry Farm has other activities including picking, blackberry and blueberry tomatoes, melons and zinnias flowers. Visitors must bring their own jars and scissors for picking. Currently, reservations must be made in advance online and their cafe is closed. Image by Ruston Anne/Lonely Planet 2.Denton, TX Just 40-minutes north of Dallas, you'll find yourself in the city of Denton.Visitors can take a stroll through its historical downtown and take a walking tour of the street art and murals. Another site many travelers come to visit is to see the very famous Old Alton Bridge also known as Goatman's Bridge which according to local legend some believe is hunted by a figure that looks like a goat head with a man's body. The bridge has even been featured on the Tv show “Ghost Adventures”. But For those who still want to be outdoors Ray Roberts Lake State Park is perfect for hikes, swimming and camping. As of July 3, groups of more than 10 are not allowed in the park and face masks are required for indoor facilities. 3.Dinosaur Valley State Park Located near Fort Worth, Dinosaur Valley State Park stands out not just because of its name, but because of how it got it. Visitors get the opportunity to walk, hike, and camp like any other park, but they can also discover real dinosaur footprints. Dinosaur Valley also created a map people can follow to locate each of the footprints. Most of the footprints are located near the Paluxy River, where visitors can also swim and fish. There are also self-guided and guided horseback riding tours to take around the park. Dinosaur Valley is open but does require reservations to be made online or by phone.Source: Puwadol Jaturawutthichai/Shutterstock4.Cedar Valley State Park Cedar Valley State Park is the closest state park to the city. Perfect for hikes, biking and camping and for water lovers this park is also home to its own gravel beach. The 7,500-acre Joe Pool Lake makes Cedar Valley State Park a great location for swimming, boating, paddling and fishing. Visitors can also take a tour of the Penn Farm Agricultural History Center and learn about the Pen families farming history in the area. Although the park is open to the public again, online reservations are still required and there are other guidelines recommended by the state. 5.Lavender Ridge Farm Hidden in Gainesville is Lavender Ridge Farm, located just an hour outside of Dallas. The farm was originally a melon and strawberry farm but as of 2006 it now grows lavender, cut flowers and herbs in its fields. This farm allows visitors to roam its fields making it a great place to take pictures. The farm also has its own gift shop and cafe. You can find handmade lavender products from hand soaps, lotion and bath salts in their gift shop. The cafe, Cafe Lavender, includes a lavender inspired menu. The farm has been open as of May 8 and is taking precautions to clean and stay safe. Source: Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock6.Possum Kingdom Lake If you travel to Palo Pinto county, you don't want to miss a visit to Possum Kingdom Lake. This park is a perfect location for those who enjoy spending time in or around water. Possum Kingdom Lake has 300 miles of shorelines and is known for its clear blue water. And for water sport enthusiasts, visitors can go swimming, fishing, skiing, scuba diving and snorkeling. But this park is also a great location for picnics, camping and offers different campsite options and air-conditioned cabin rentals. Like other state parks in Texas, Possum Kingdom Lake is open and with some guidelines such as keeping a distance and recommended face covering and reservations must still be made online or by phone beforehand. 7.Turner Falls Park If you're driving to Davis, Oklahoma you're most likely on your way to Turner Falls Park, home to Oklahoma's tallest waterfall with a height of 77 feet. Since its reopening on May 1st, Turner Falls has limited its capacity to 2,000 people, but tickets can be bought online in advance to secure a spot. The park is also known for its hiking trails, waterslides and even cave exploring. For overnight stays visitors can camp out, bring their own RV or rent a cabin but to comply with social distancing only half their rentals will be available to reserve. Source: Christopher Winfield/Shutterstock8.Mineral Wells, TX While visiting Mineral Wells is heading downtown. Visitors can take a walking tour outside of the now closed Baker Hotel built in 1929 which was once known as one of the most glamour’s resorts of its time. And for nature lovers Mineral Wells is a great location for trails and rivers for anyone interested in hiking. Mineral Wells is following the state of Texas reopening guidelines and is advising to stay in small groups and keeping your face covered. 9.Fort Worth Botanic Garden Fort Worth, Dallas' neighbor and just west of the city. One destination you don't want to miss is visiting The Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Since being established in 1934, it is actually one of the oldest Botanic Gardens in the state of texas. It's home to a variety of different gardens from rose gardens to rain forest conservatory but its most popular section is the Japanese garden. Its 7.5 square feet japanese inspired gardens including artecute pieces,cherry blossom trees and other native plants, complete with a koi fish pond. Because of Covid-19 the garden is capped at 200 visitors a day and no picnics are allowed at this time. 10.Fossil Rim Wildlife Center At Fossil Rim Wildlife Center you can experience a real life safari right here in Glen Rose,Texas. the park is a not-for-profit captive breeding programs for indigenous and exotic endangered and threatened species. Guests can take a tour hour self guided tours around the park right in their own vehicle. Guests are required to wear a mask anytime they are not inside their vehicle. Stacey Ramirez is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a Senior at Texas State University.

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10 ways to explore the San Francisco Bay area while social distancing

San Francisco is unlike any other city in the world. There are always new places to visit with views to appreciate. Unfortunately, this area is in Phase 2B until further notice. This means that the requirement to wear a mask is in full sail and there are still some places that haven’t reopened, thus limiting options for adventure. Though you will not find yourself on the eerie Alcatraz Island, cheering at a Giants baseball game or watching the sea lions at Pier 39, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy. Source: Milleflore Images/Shutterstock Outside of San Francisco 1. Napa Valley and Sonoma County If you like sipping wine with your friends, then this is the area for you. With over 850 wineries between Napa and Sonoma, you will never run out of wine to taste, restaurants to enjoy, places to stay, and shopping/museums to explore. Whether old or new, each winery will bring their own unique taste and experience. Due to COVID-19, only wineries, restaurants, and tasting rooms that are able to operate outdoors will remain open for the time being. 2. Corning, California Though Corning is a small town of only about 7,500 people, it is the olive capital of the United States and the largest olive processing plant in the nation. The Olive Pit is still operating under COVID-19 restrictions, so the café (to-go orders only) and store are open but the option to pick-up is available as well. The Olive Pit has expanded their products beyond just olives to olive oil, craft beer, wine, nuts, flavored balsamic vinegar, mustards, and gift items. This local shop is the perfect way to introduce you and your family to the new exciting olive flavors. 3. Tiburon, California Just across the Golden Gate Bridge north of San Francisco lies the beautiful city of Tiburon. Life there includes lovely family bike rides, landmarks, shops, wineries and restaurants and many opportunities to get out in nature. One of the hidden gems within Tiburon is Hippie Tree. All you have to do is park near 100 Gilmartin Drive and take a little hike up the fire road. Once you have reached the top, you will find a secluded area with a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge with a huge eucalyptus tree and a swing. 4. Half Moon Bay If you’re looking for a place to go surfing, spend time on a pier, launch a boat for a morning on the water or even fish off-the-dock, Half Moon is the place for you and it’s only about 40 minutes from San Francisco. There is also endless sea food calling your name. San Mateo County is following social distancing guidelines and some places require a mask to be worn but almost everything remains open. Half Moon Bay and Pillar Point Harbor are ready to give you a day of fun. Source: Brian Patrick Feulner/Shutterstock 5. Carmel, California Point Lobos State Reserve has a little bit of everything for everyone. It has even been called “the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world.” There are plenty of opportunities to see wildlife such as sea lions, harbor seals, elephant seals, sea otters, orcas and in the winter, grey whales seen from the shore. Point Lobos is also very well-known for birding and hiking. It is a birders paradise and offers hikers several trails ranging from beginner to challenging. One of the most unique parts of Point Lobo is what lies under the water. The undisturbed aquatic life is one of the most varied in the world and is one of the top preferred diving and snorkeling spots. The reserve has closed and/or changed the hours of operation throughout the pandemic so make sure to check before hopping in the car. Hidden Treasures Within the City 6. Mosaic Stairways One of the reasons San Francisco is adored by so many is because of the culture and art scattered all through the city in the most unique ways. The staircases started as average concrete stairs but were transformed with gorgeous, colorful, and bright handmade tiles arranged in patterns that all flow together. There are three locations. One at 16th Ave, one in the Hidden Garden and the last in Lincoln Park. Source: bgrissom/Shutterstock 7. Beaches Two of the most popular beaches in San Francisco are Baker beach, known for the northwestern view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Ocean Beach on the west coast, though foggy and a bit chilly, is the city’s longest and sandiest stretch of shoreline. These beaches are only open to those on foot or bike (still available for rent throughout the city and perfect for a trip across the bridge) as the parking lots are still closed due to the Coronavirus. 8. Sutro Bath Ruins This architectural landmark in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, on the western side of San Francisco, is from 1894 when millionaire Adolph Sutro designed the largest saltwater pool that was filled by the ocean during high tide. The baths have not been in operation since before the Great Depression, but this piece of history remains and is intriguing to check out. Right near Sutro Baths is the well-known restaurant, Cliffhouse (open for takeout Thursday-Monday.) Normally there are tons of other activities in the park to enjoy, but unfortunately, any facilities that don’t make social distancing possible remain closed until the state of California can find a way to open them safely. When they do open again, one of the main attractions are all of the historical sites. For a jump back in time there are locations like Fort Mason, a Cold War Museum called Nike Missile Site, or a lesson on homeland security in the 1930’s with a 16-inch gun at Battery Townsley. Once there is a plan in place, the park will open in phases. This doesn’t include a long list of beaches, some campgrounds and other outdoor activities that visitors are still welcome to explore. Source: Michael Urmann/Shutterstock 9. Haight- Ashbury This district of San Francisco has always been a hotspot in the city, especially during the 50’s and 60’s. It is a lively and funky place with shops, restaurants, and historical sites. The most magical part of the area is that most of the people who work or live there have been able to keep the flower power and hippie vibe alive over the years. Haight-Ashbury is also known for the brightly colored Victorian style homes that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. (For another hidden gem within the city, search for the golden fire hydrant which is said to be the only functioning hydrant during the fire!) 10. Seward Street Slides For a quick adventure, these slides are always a blast! They were created by a 14-year-old girl in a “design the park” contest in the 1960’s. The slides are still in use today. All you have to do is bring a piece of cardboard with you to sit on! Haley Beyer is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a Senior at the University of Nevada, Reno.