There’s no shortage of summer recreation ideas
By Bernard Freeman
Have a Staycation
Great summer memories can be made in your own local community — or right down the highway. Save money and support local businesses by attending local fairs, medicine festivals, cheap campgrounds and concert series. Best of all, they offer you the opportunity to stay close to friends and family members this summer while you soak in the summer fun together.
Find Good Times
Having trouble figuring out where or how to spend your summer fun time? Virginia.org is the Official Tourism Website of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is an excellent source for upcoming events, times and details.
Rent a Cabin
According to I Love Virginia State Parks’ website, there are more than 300 cozy, climate-controlled cabins of various sizes throughout the state.
With a little investigation, you may stumble across a unique bed and breakfast or treehouse cabin that you didn’t know existed. You’ll save the time usually spent taking a long car or plane ride to your destination, allowing you more quality experiences with your spouse, friends or family members.
When you think summer vacation, your mind may automatically wander to water, sand and suntan lotion. Many enthusiasts are instead opting for trees, speed and flying.
That’s right, zip lining is picking up momentum as a fast-growing summertime favorite across the world. It’s an affordable, easy-to-do activity — if you’re not afraid of heights, that is.
Some of the most scenic zip-line adventures take place high in the jungles and rainforests in tropical countries such as Costa Rica. The natural beauty of the environment, coupled with the sounds and sights of native wildlife, can offer a stunning backdrop for your next zip-line experience.
Many businesses offer zip-lining tours or destination experiences for the entire family to enjoy. You don’t have to leave the country to have an amazing adventure. Just to the west of Richmond, Virginia Canopy Tours promises through their website that “participants will enjoy stunning views of the Massanutten Mountains and the gorgeous hardwood forest of the Shenandoah Valley. Guests will learn the rich history of the Shenandoah Valley, native plant species, and the wild inhabitants who make the woods their home.”
They state that “participants will soar through the Shenandoah hardwood forest at speeds which can exceed 40 miles per hour and at heights reaching 90 feet above the forest floor – all while attached to two steel cables. The canopy tour finale is an adrenaline-pumping 1,035’ zip down the face of the ridge to our rappel.”
Your zip-lining venture will likely start with a how-to explanation for a safe ride. You will learn how to put on your harness, latch onto the zip cable and properly brake if you want to slow down on the cable.
Some companies will let you practice a few times on a short line that is only a few feet off the ground. This will give you the basic understanding of how the zip-line moves across the cable.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have any concerns for your safety or if you simply need to clarify any part of the activity.
Looking to work up a sweat this summer? Striving to reconnect with nature and all of its natural beauty? Mountain biking is your answer.
It provides a combination of adrenaline-packed challenges and scenic magnificence that is unique to the sport.
Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned veteran, there is an assortment of trail options, likely in your own backyard. Take a multi-day blast across a time-tested mountain track or simply spend a Saturday cruising through a wooded trail. Whatever your preference, mix in some mountain biking this summer to make it one to remember.
Four featured rides from MTB Project
James River Park System
Challenging singletrack trails in the heart of Richmond
Whatever trip you decide to take this summer, don’t forget the essentials:
- Safety gear: Helmet, reflective lighting and gloves can make all the difference in protecting you from injury. Remember that mountain biking can be a relatively dangerous sport, so take proper precautions and always bring the essential gear.
- First-aid kit: Load your kit with small alcohol pads, bandages, tweezers and anti-infection spray. This will help keep any minor cuts or scrapes under control.
- Repair equipment: A broken-down bike equals the end to your day, unless you bring tire levers, spare tubes and a patch kit. Keep your bike functioning with these invaluable tools.
Fishing on a warm, sunny day with cloudless skies is a quintessential summertime activity in America. It is the perfect pastime for all ages, requiring only a simple assortment of equipment.
Check Your Gear
While you technically only need a pole and a container of bait to have an enjoyable fishing experience, there are some technical details to check before you hit the lake.
What you need depends on the type of fishing you’re looking to do. Will you be fishing from the banks of a small creek or pond? An inexpensive spin-cast rod and reel combination should suit you just fine.
Fly fishing requires a special kind of rod that may take some getting used to, as will deep ocean fishing. Research which type of fishing you’d like to tackle this summer and build your equipment stockpile accordingly.
Don’t forget to find out what kind of fish are likely swimming in the water at your destination. Knowing this will determine what kind of bait or lures you will need to reel in the big one.
Wherever you go, understand your local and state fishing regulations. You can bring a copy of the rules pamphlet to consult during your trip so you are fishing within various laws and limits.
Especially if you’re bringing young children with you, be sure to adhere to all and any safety standards. Children should always wear a life jacket, no matter if they are on a shore, dock or boat. Make sure it fits properly and the child is comfortable wearing it.
Also be careful allowing young children to handle hooks. Consider using barbless hooks for kids and take care of baiting the hook yourself until your child becomes more practiced in the skill.
Once you ensure that you’re safe and following the rules, it’s time to head out on your adventure.
Responsible Summer Fun
While having fun this summer, don’t forget to respect the environment around you. A fun summer trip can create memories to last a lifetime.
Being a good environmental steward can ensure that families in the future get to have the same type of experience. What is an environmental steward, you ask?
The U.S. Forest Service helped deliver an outdoor code of ethics — a list that includes promises to not damage natural features, to respect other people’s property and rights, to obey all regulations and to lend a helping hand when you see someone in distress.
Learn more and check out the full code of ethics at www.fs.fed.us.
Nothing can ruin the natural beauty of a park or public beach like an empty soda can or sandwich wrapper. Litter is a completely unavoidable stain on our public lands and one that we can work together to remove. It also can be damaging to wildlife and compromise their habitats.
Bring along a trash bag or other receptacle for collecting your trash so you aren’t tempted to ditch your trash inappropriately.
Take pride in your environment by reporting any littering activities you see during your outdoor activities.
Some areas do not allow certain activities, such as fishing, swimming or surfing. It is always a good idea to check with your local land authority ahead of time before risking a wasted trip or costly non-compliance ticket.
Remember that agencies implement these regulations for your health, safety and well-being. Certain beach areas may have numerous reports of shark sightings. Maybe there is a storm forecasted for a certain region that could cause injury to people swimming or boating.
Depending on where you plan to relax, there may be protected land around you on which activities or sports are not permitted. These areas are designated off limits in many cases to protect wildlife and vegetation.
Along these lines, be sure to be mindful of any local hazards that may pose a danger to your summertime fun. Any deep water or snake-infested areas can be extremely dangerous, so it is best to avoid them altogether.