The Most Fun You Can Have While Staying Socially Distant
(Bloomberg) -- By now, you’re familiar with every blade of grass in your yard, as well as every tree in your neighborhood park. For some, the wildest adventure of the last two months has been a trip to the grocery store.
But states are beginning to allow recreational businesses to open alongside essential ones, which means that opportunities to take a walk—or climb, or ride—on the socially distanced wild side are beginning to avail themselves. “Right now, we’ll be keeping to family units, or no more than two people,” says Jon Richard, owner of Vertical Voyages, which teaches extreme tree climbing in the St. Louis area.
Flexibility, not just in group size but in location, is going to be a part of any adventure, says naturalist Christian Schwarz, whose mushroom-hunting walks are one of the more unique ways to discover the wonders of California’s forests. “We are only able to do this in counties where SIP [shelter in place] has been lifted,” he says, “and in open spaces that are open.” Here are seven options to get you started.
Go Catch Some Fish
Tell people you’re heading to The Boardroom at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, and they’ll admire your industriousness. Tell them that The Boardroom is actually a 65-foot Hatteras sport fishing yacht operating out of Dana Wharf in Orange County, Calif., and they’ll invite themselves over for dinner. Though fishing has long been a way to put some distance between you and your fellow humans, you’ll be sure to come home with plenty to eat under the guidance of Captain Todd Mansur: Recent excursions have brought in calico bass, yellowtail, bonito, barracuda, rockfish, and halibut. “I’ve already had our first white seabass over 50 pounds this year,” he says. The boat is outfitted with four bathrooms and a full galley—its three staterooms are currently closed to keep our guest out in the open air—but it’s built for comfort, all the way down to Naiad stabilizers that provide a comfortable trip for even the most seasick-prone passengers. From $1,575, plus gratuity for half-day coastal charter
Go Fly a Kite
Stiltsville, a collection of pastel-hued houses standing in the middle of Biscayne Bay, is one of Miami’s strangest, most striking attractions. The most thrilling way to explore these offshore flats, which are part of Biscayne National Park, is while harnessed on a kiteboard with a large, steerable airfoil. Miami Kiteboarding’s owner Melissa Mejia calls it “the ultimate social distancing sport,” noting that even novices get radio helmets that “connect students to instructors [in] real time, allowing lessons to be coached from a distance.” From $375 for a half-day private lesson
Go Foraging for Mushrooms
One can’t help but look up in awe when walking through California’s redwood forests. But during a privately booked (and safely spaced) guided walk, naturalist Christian Schwarz will awaken the wonder of looking down. Schwarz, co-author of the essential book Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California (Ten Speed Press, $23), can decode a forest’s ecosystem for beginners and open up the beautiful and bizarre world of fungi. From $200 for 1 to 4 people
Go Fast ...
The Monticello Motor Club’s raceway, nestled in the wooded foothills of the Catskill mountains, is about a two-hour drive from Manhattan. Sign up for the Taste of the Track package when it reopens to the general public in June, and you can spend the day whipping one of their Minis or BMWs—steam cleaned and sanitized before your arrival—around the 4.1-mile track. You’ll also get instruction from a driving coach over an in-helmet radio. For more practice, try a few laps on the club’s .6-mile go-kart track. From $1,700 per day
… Or Off-Road
In the hilly, forested Tennessee-North Carolina borderlands, a section of US 219, called the “Tail of the Dragon,” is infamous for packing 318 curves into 11 miles. Sign on for a one-day Off-Road Foundations class or a two-day Adventure Bike Skills Class with the BMW U.S. Rider Academy in Spartanburg, S.C., and you’ll get to ride the dragon, as well as receive expert instruction in how to handle mud, gravel, and every other gnarly terrain the mountains can throw at you. You need a motorcycle license but not a bike; BMW will give you the pick of the litter for the day. From $795 for the one-day off-road class
Go Conquer Your Fear of Heights
Almost everyone has, at some point in life, climbed a tree—or at least thinks they have. But if you’ve ever seen an arborist scale a redwood (or a neighborhood maple) with ropes and harnesses the way a rock climber tackles a cliff face, you know there’s a whole other level of scaling. With half- and full-day introductory classes, St. Louis-based Vertical Voyages makes the world of ascending and exploring nature’s giants accessible to everyone. Book one of its “Canopy Campouts,” in which you can go up a 100-year-old oak outside the city and spend the night perched 30 to 50 feet above the ground, safely harnessed in a Treeboat hammock. From $300 per person for 2 people
Go Float Down the River
Staying in one of the 18 cottages or six cabins at 5,200-acre Blackberry Mountain in Walland, Tenn., provides an object lesson in just how refined the rural life can be. The sister property to foodie paradise Blackberry Farm offers a summer camp’s worth of outdoor activities, from hiking and yoga to mountain biking and rock climbing. Families can sign on for a two-hour guided paddle on the Little River aboard their choice of canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard. From $250 for four guests
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