Socially-Distanced Outings

We’ve all gotten tired of our house, of course, but it’s also tough going out without getting too close to other people. This week has been the worst for that, honestly. I’ve seen people I know outside, and it’s hard to carry on a conversation while maintaining a six foot distance when someone else doesn’t care. I had one conversation where I literally put one foot forward and leaned the rest of my body back to avoid a close talker. But then it got worse. We got together outside with a few of M’s friends to take graduation photos, and I went into it thinking that they would pose at a bit of a distance, but then they didn’t. And it became clear to this naive mother that they’ve been less distant in their social distance socializing than I’d thought. I was appalled, but on the other hand, I couldn’t help thinking that they’d all gotten each other’s cooties, anyway, and I didn’t want to be the one to break up the closest thing we’d had to a graduation celebration. Then that night I was fretting so much about the accumulated exposures that I couldn’t sleep. I feel like I have a ticking 14-day incubation clock going at all times. I had finally gotten slightly more relaxed about going grocery shopping now that we all sort of know the drill, but figuring out how to navigate sort-of-slightly-more-open is rough.

Anyway, the girls have been going on a lot of runs or bike rides together, which is great. But they’re tired of the same landscape, and the bike paths and nature trails get crowded, especially on the weekends. One day recently, I suggested that they go visit the Shaker Heritage Society. It’s not too far from us–just near the airport–and I’d just received an email saying that the grounds are open to explore. The girls were a bit skeptical, but they had no better ideas, so they set out. And then they didn’t come back for a while, which was a good sign. They arrived home and reported that it had been worth the trip for the chance to walk around in a new location without encountering too many people. They’d liked checking out the buildings, they’d seen cows, and they’d found a plant labeled an abortifacient in the herb garden.

At about the same time, Cute W and I had decided that we should try to organize the occasional family outing. He’s been working way too hard, but in theory he has tons of vacation after canceling plans. And the girls were bored and melancholy. So we’ve decided that we’re going to make a concerted effort to do something fun occasionally. Our first socially-distant family outing was to Art OMI.

Art OMI is a sculpture and architecture park in Ghent, NY, with works of art set all over a sprawling landscape. During ordinary times, there’s a visitor center, gallery, and restrooms that are all currently closed. But there’s tons of art to see, and while there were other visitors there, it was really easy to stay far away from each other while looking at the art. You can click here for details about visiting and a downloadable map, and they also permit bikes on the grounds, if that calls out to you.

Normally this is one of several water fountains, but they’re shut off for now.

We thought this visit was really fun. There were some lovely nature trail-y paths and many sculptures, some of which we liked, many of which we didn’t understand. But it was totally worth the trip, and it was nice breaking up the routine by doing something new. If you’re thinking of going, I’d advise a morning trip, because while we did enjoy the shady paths, there’s also a ton of full sun, and I think it would get really hot.

We’d originally planned to stop at Samascott Orchards for ice cream on the way to Art OMI–it’s far from us but close to Art OMI, and it’s got great reviews on Yelp–but we somehow didn’t notice that they’re closed on Tuesdays, the day of our outing. So that was a bummer, and at that point I feared whole outing might be a bust. But our Art OMI visit was fun. Then we’d already planned to stop by an old favorite, La Empanada Llama, and have an empanada picnic for dinner. Then, since we’d missed out on ice cream earlier, we stopped at Emack & Bolio’s before heading home. Getting ice cream felt like the most normal thing we’d done in a long, long time. I mean, this is crazy: we just walked in, ordered ice cream, got the ice cream, and ate it. Sure, sure: we wore our masks and stayed at a social distance on the carefully-marked one-way route into the building and got ourselves a squirt of hand-sanitizer along the way, but overall, it felt very, very normal. And of course it was tasty.

I felt so enthusiastic about our innovative socially-distanced outings that I decided to look into more of them for an article on KidsOutAndAbout. And I am proud of all my ideas, so look at it here. And while I’m at it, keep in mind that there are tons and tons of virtual summer camps and other things listed there.


  1. Dave

    There is a hiking trail at Ann Lee Pond near the airport also. You can find a map of it on line, there is parking on Airline Dr. There is also a paved walking/bike path along the river off of Route 7 (Lions Park) I think it is.

  2. Claire

    I’m really surprised to hear that you’ve encountered people who aren’t adhering to social distancing. I’ve heard of that in other regions, but I thought our region was doing pretty well. We’ve been to parks, bike paths and nature preserves without a problem (I always bring masks in case it’s crowded and impossible to stay 6 feet away from people, but so far so good). However, I’m now trying to arrange some outdoor socially distant playdates, and yesterday another mom offered to take my son and her son in her car for an outing. That was an eye opener in terms of making me realize that not everyone takes this as seriously as I do (i.e. there’s no way I’m putting my son in an enclosed car with someone outside my household, even with a mask!).

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