By Michelle Reese

Governor Wolf issued a “stay-at-home” order for Montgomery County on March 23 to combat the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.  While schools and non-life-sustaining businesses are closed and gatherings with anyone outside of your immediate household are prohibited, getting outside for exercise and fresh air is allowed.  And we could all use the mood boosts that come from nature and Vitamin D right now, right?!

Here are some ideas of places to go or things to do in your own backyard when you need to get out of your house!

NOTE: Things are changing daily right now. When this article was published, these places were open. 

Open Spaces

State Park and forest facilities are now closed statewide until April 30. This means you can’t gather for group workout sessions, use the playgrounds, or have a picnic with friends. BUT you still have access to trails, roads and parking areas for passive and dispersed recreation such as hiking and biking, and boat launches and fishing are open.

Here’s a graphic shared by Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that explains:

If you do go to the parks, you should still be staying at least 6 feet away from any others that have the same idea.

Montgomery County Parks and Historic Sites are closed at this time. Trails are still open. Here’s a list of some of the spaces that you CAN visit during this time, while practicing safe social distancing:

Cross Country Trail
From its junction with the Schuylkill River Trail in Conshohocken, the Cross County Trail heads north through a mix of urban and suburban areas. Currently, three miles are completed from Conshohocken to Germantown Pike in Plymouth Township.

Evansburg State Park
851 May Hall Road, Collegeville

Fort Washington State Park
500 South Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington

Perkiomen Trail
The 20-mile Perkiomen Trail follows the route of the Perkiomen Creek from Oaks to Green Lane Borough. It connects to the Schuylkill River Trail and the Audubon Loop. For most of its length, the “Perky,” as it is known by many, uses the former rail bed of the Perkiomen Line of the Reading Railroad.

Norristown Farm Park
1500 Upper Farm Road, Norristown

Schuylkill River Trail
This multi-use trail runs from Philadelphia to Mont Clare and was built on the Pennsylvania Railroad right of way and parallels the Schuylkill River as it passes through various townships and boroughs.

Valley Forge National Park
1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia

Wissahickon Trail
The Wissahickon Trail stretches from the Wissahickon Creek from Stenton Avenue in Whitemarsh Township to a point near Lansdale Borough.

Outdoor Activities

We’re outside … now what? Bring your laptop outside for a change of scenery while you work from home. Do some yard work. Exercise. Read a book. Or just go for a walk.

If you have kids, you’ll need to get outside to let them burn off some energy! (And they’re likely going stir crazy in your house.) Read a book on a blanket. Play games. Blow bubbles. Ride bikes. Have a catch. Play Frisbee. Walk around the neighborhood.

The change of scenery is also a great way to get in some learning time in a fun way. Grab some chalk and do math problems, practice letters, and experiment with mixing colors in the driveway. Go on a scavenger hunt with varying themes depending on the child’s age: Find something that starts with these letters, colors, etc. Go on nature walks where you take pictures of different flowers, trees and birds. Research them when you get home.

Here’s a list with lots of links of activities you and your family can do while enjoying the fresh air. 

7 No Equipment Outdoor Exercises for Complete Fitness

Classic Kid Games (Mother May I?, Red Light Green Light, Hopscotch, Follow the Leader, and more!)

Family Olympic Games

13 Super Fun Backyard Activities for Kids

13 Fun Jump Rope Games for Kids

Scavenger Hunts with Free Printables

Printable Backyard Scavenger Hunt

10+ Fun Sidewalk Chalk Ideas

21 Fun Frisbee Games for Kids

Math Games You Can Play Outside

Outdoor Memory Game for Kids

5 Outdoor ABC Activities for Kids

25+ Easy Play-Based Learning Ideas

7 Fun Nature Walks for Kids 

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