The term ‘social distancing’ did not feature in our vocabulary a week ago, but now it’s on everybody’s lips. But what does it mean? The Federal Government has issued guidelines which include avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, cancelling unnecessary travel and curbing shopping trips and social visits. As the week has gone on, further restrictions have been introduced at a local level - restaurants are closed to diners, hairdressers, nail salons and gyms are being asked to close and shopping malls are shutting down. So what can you do to stay active? Well, unless you or someone in your household is showing symptoms of the virus (in which case you should contact your healthcare provider about self-quarantine or isolation procedures), getting outdoors is one of the few remaining options. In fact, it has been encouraged by many health professionals for the benefits it brings - fresh air and sunshine are good for boosting the immune system as well as improving mental health. We are fortunate to live in an area with many beautiful outdoor areas to explore right on our doorstep. Here are some of our favorite places where you can get out and explore while still observing social distancing protocol. Grab your coffee or pack a picnic and make a day of it!
Middlesex Fells - the reservation has parking lots and entrances in Winchester, Medford, Melrose and Stoneham and offers over 100 miles of mixed-use trails. You can download a map or pick one up at one of the main entrances. Note that the visitor center in Stoneham is closed.
Horn Pond - located in Woburn on the Winchester line, there is a paved route around the pond suitable for strollers and bikes, plus other rough trails off the main route if you are looking for more of a hike (try the trail to the top of Mt Towanda for great views of the Boston skyline). The main parking lot is located on Pond St, with further parking available along Arlington Road and Sturgis St.
Tri-Community Greenway - running from Stoneham to Woburn via Winchester, this is a paved route for cyclists, runners, walkers, rollerbladers and everyone else!
Minuteman Bikepath - the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway (to give it it’s full name) follows a 10 mile route from Alewife station in North Cambridge to Bedford, passing through Arlington and Lexington on the way. Check out this map for places to join the path and points of interest.
Walden Pond - located a short drive away in Concord MA, explore the site that was the inspiration for Henry David Thoreau (note the Visitor Center and Thoreau House Replica are closed).
The Trustees outdoor properties remain open, and are for the most part free (donations gratefully accepted at the self-pay parking kiosks). Some of our favorites are deCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Crane Beach in Ipswich, Agassiz Rock in Manchester-by-the-Sea and Weir Hill in North Andover.
Hit the beach! No need for bathing suits but you can still head for the coast to stretch your legs and feel the dual benefits of fresh air and an ocean breeze. Bonus - at this time of year there are no crazy parking fees! Try this list from Northshore Magazine for some ideas.
PLEASE REMEMBER - the idea is to stay away from crowds, so remain at least 6ft away from other people even when outdoors. Also be aware that many playgrounds have been closed due to individual city / town ordinance - so stick to walking or hiking rather than swings and slides. Check here before heading out for the latest guidance on staying safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.