James Rada, Jr.
With just about every summer event in the area canceled because of COVID-19 and worries about traveling out of state because of quarantining, people are looking for something to do nearby. And let’s face it, they need to do something enjoyable to release some of the stress caused by the virus. So, here are 10 things you can do locally to have some fun this summer.
Dine Outdoors at a Local Restaurant or Get Take-Out and Have a Picnic
Although the local restaurants are open for limited seating indoors, why not try their outdoor dining options? Many restaurants don’t offer outdoor dining typically. So, take advantage of the opportunity now. Who knows how long it will last?
As a variation, you could pick up a take-out order at your favorite restaurant and take it for a picnic in the park or another favorite location. Why not try a late meal under the stars?
Pick Up a Book at the Library with Curbside Pickup
The Frederick County Public Libraries were closed for months. They still remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future. However, you can still pick up a new book or movie for an escape from reality.
Both the Thurmont Regional Library and Emmitsburg Branch are offering curbside pickup of library materials.
To take advantage of this offering, use the library’s website (fcpl.org) or call your local branch to place the items you want on hold. The library will contact you when your items are available. You can then make an appointment to pick up the items (quickest way) or just drop by. Look for the curbside pickup sign in the library parking lot and call the number on the sign. Provide the staff with the information they ask for and follow their directions to ensure a contactless delivery that supports social distancing.
It’s as simple as that.
Swim at Cunningham Falls or the Emmitsburg Pool
Want to cool off when the temperature climbs past 90 degrees? You can swim in the Hunting Creek Lake at Cunningham State Park in Thurmont. COVID-19 has caused staffing shortages at the park, so lifeguards aren’t always on duty. You can swim when no lifeguard is present, but it is at your own risk.
Another swimming option is the Emmitsburg Community Pool, which is open from noon to 7:00 p.m. daily. However, COVID restrictions now limit the pool occupancy to 111 people. Because of this, the town has been limiting admission to residents of the 21727 zip code. If you live outside of this zip code, call 301-447-9820 before heading to the pool to check if the residency restriction is still in place.
If you do use the Emmitsburg pool, you will need to wear a face mask inside the bathhouse or when speaking with staff members. You are also expected to maintain social distancing, even when you are in the pool.
Pick Your Own Berries at a Local Farm
Enjoy the sweet taste of fresh-picked fruit at a pick-your-own farm. Make an afternoon outing and pick some of your favorite fruits—discover how much tastier fresh fruit is.
Catoctin Mountain Orchard at 15036 North Franklinville Road in Thurmont offers blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries, sweet and sour cherries, and strawberries. Call 301-271-2737 or visit www.catoctinmountainorchard.com/PickYourOwn.asp.
Gardenhour Orchards at 22511 Gardenhour Road in Smithsburg offers apples, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and peaches. Call 301-824-7466 or visit gardenhourorchards.com.
Glade Link Farms at 12270 Woodsboro Pike in New Midway offers strawberries, blueberries, red raspberries, vegetables, and flowers. Call 301-898-7131 or visit www.gladelink.com.
Pryor’s Orchard at 13841-B Pryor Road in Thurmont offers blueberries and sweet and sour cherries. Call 301-271-2693 or visit www.pryorsorchard.com.
Round House Farm at 23435 Ringgold Pike in Smithsburg offers blueberries. Call 240-818-2590.
Play Disk Golf at the Emmitsburg Community Park
Have a Frisbee? Try your hand at disc golf. Emmitsburg has a new 18-basket disc golf course in the E. Eugene Myer Community Park. The game is played like golf except you throw Frisbees instead of hitting a ball, and you try to get the Frisbee in a basket rather than a hole. True enthusiasts even have a set of Frisbees of different weights that are designed to fly at different ranges instead of golf clubs.
Enjoy Fresh Produce and Other Products at the Farmer’s Market
Both Thurmont and Emmitsburg are running farmer’s markets to bring you the best in local produce, meats, eggs, and other items.
The Emmitsburg Farmer’s Market is on Fridays from 3:00-6:30 p.m. at 302 South Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg.
The Thurmont Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday from 9:00 a.m.-noon in the Thurmont Municipal Parking Lot in front of the Thurmont American Legion.
You are asked to wear a face mask and practice social distancing at both markets.
Hike or Bike the Local Trails
Both Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park have dozens of miles of trails that you can enjoy. The trails vary in length and difficulty level, so you can be sure to find something that matches your ability. Just make sure to wear sturdy footwear and take along water to keep yourself hydrated.
Emmitsburg also has its 13-mile multi-user trail near Rainbow Lake. The trail has three loops that are suitable for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking.
For something more casual, try the Thurmont Trolley Trail or the walking trails around both the Thurmont and Emmitsburg community parks. These trails are level and less than a mile long.
Enjoy the Rocky Ridge Slide
If you have a need for speed, slide down the giant wooden slide in the Rocky Ridge park at 13544 Motters Station Road in Rocky Ridge. The wood is polished smooth from the thousands of people who have used it, and it doesn’t get hot on summer days like a metal slide. Best of all, unlike many sliding boards nowadays, you actually slide. And if you really want to go fast, try the slide sitting on one of the burlap bags you’ll find there.
Visit the Catoctin Zoo
Take a walk through the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve, and enjoy seeing and learning more about a variety of exotic animals. Because of the virus restrictions, the camel rides, parakeet feedings, and educational shows are not available. However, you can still walk through the 50-acre park and enjoy both the animals and scenery.
Face masks are required in the building, but not outside unless you are on the safari ride. You should also socially distance yourself from others not in your party. The number of people allowed in the main building is limited, so on busy days, you might have to wait to enter.
Kayak on the Monocacy River
The Monocacy River offers nearly 42 miles of river, along which you can kayak and canoe, although the water might be low in late summer. You can paddle or float with the current, which runs about 2 mph. You might even come across a few mild rapids. It will make for a fun afternoon outing.
There are two local access points at the bridge in Rocky Ridge and the Creagerstown Park. In all, there are nine access points where you can enter or exit the river.
You can download a free map of the river and the access points at www.recreater.com/292/Monocacy-Scenic-Water-Trail-Map.