Everyone with kids seems to be homeschooling these days, whether they planned it or not! Thanks to COVID-19, you are home, and so is your family. You might be dreaming of a much-needed vacation from juggling work and your current home situation. With warmer weather coming, you can still plan a great summer vacation.
While you plan, realize that your travel options could be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. Many attractions that are closed now could remain closed when you travel. The places that are open will expect you to practice responsible recreation as the new norm.
The good news is that there are many things to do during the summer in Newton County. You might also be able to combine your impromptu teacher’s hat with travel to learn new skills and hone others.
Before making vacation plans, we’ve got a few family travel tips for summer.
Keep current on restrictions.
It’s important to understand effective dates and travel requirements for shelter in place and state of emergency. We don’t know how long these will remain in effect, but the Georgia Governor has extended statewide requirements for the shelter in place until April 30th and the public health state of emergency through May 13th, at the earliest. Since the restrictions allow travel to parks and other outdoor recreation areas, you don’t have to let COVID-19 wreak havoc on your summer vacation. You can plan a vacation while still maintaining social distance and thinking of visiting these places that are open.
Think outdoor activities.
For things to do in the summer in Newton County, think outdoor fun like kayaking along the Yellow River, hiking on the Newton Trails and fishing on the lakes at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. Many outdoor recreational activities have not been cancelled, and that includes hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, wildlife viewing and more. The main requirement to keep top of mind is that you maintain social distancing of six feet between all persons who are not occupants of the same household or residence.
Keep your vehicle maintained.
Travel is permitted to get to and from your destination. For your safety and that of your family, get any necessary repairs and maintenance completed on your vehicle in advance. Map out your destination. And have emergency contacts readily available along with a backup plan in case something goes wrong.
Now that you’ve got a few family travel tips for summer and are ready to start planning, here’s a suggested 5-day itinerary.
Day 1 – Bird Watching at Lake Varner
As a homeschooling family, education is always important and learning about the birds is a simple way to get out in nature with a leisure day of relaxation. Lake Varner is a great place where you can practice your bird-watching skills while maintaining social distance. Start out walking along the lake where you might see waterfowl, hawks, and other birds. Then take the short nature trail that starts across from the playground and goes to a rock outcrop. You might see a variety of birds along the wooded trails. This is not a day for you to rush yourself so take your time, listen for the songs of birds and watch for their movement. You might even catch sight of other wildlife in the area. For planning ahead, you’ll need some binoculars and a birding book or app to identify the birds. Also, bringing along a notepad is helpful to keep a list of what you see.
Day 2 – Explore at Charlie Elliott
Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center is challenging people to an Earth Month 20 Picture Challenge. This is very much like a scavenger hunt where you take pictures of what you find. While the challenge is being promoted in April, you can use the list anytime to have some fun with the family. Or if you prefer, make your own list. The idea is that your family can enjoy getting outdoors this summer while having fun searching for items to photograph. There are several short trails to explore along the nature center, and the many lakes offer extensive points of interest to get out and look around. Bring your rods to fish along the beautiful lakes once you’re done with exploring.
Day 3 – Picnic on the Square
With a plethora of restaurants providing take-out and curbside pickup in Downtown Covington, you can easily grab family meals and head to the Square for a picnic. But don’t make it a simple picnic. Spend time basking in the sun and playing games – like “I spy”. Plan extra time to walk around. There is a lot of history to explore around the Square, and if you are adventurous, head over to the Eastside Trail behind the library for a nice walk.
Day 4 –Self-guided TV and Movie Tour Downtown
Many people travel to Newton County to go on our TV and film tours, and although our local touring companies might be closed, that doesn’t mean you can’t take your own self-guided tour with the family. Contact the visitor’s center about information on walking tours or create your own route that passes your favorite filming locations. If you prefer, plan to drive and make stops at locations. When you are ready for a break, pick up curbside meals and have a picnic on the Square or at Legions Field.
Day 5 – Play Golf
Golfing is on the approved list of safe places to go while you are social distancing. Although many vacation resorts around the country have closed, The Oaks Golf Course and Ashton Hills Golf Club are open!
Stay current with COVID-19 resources so you plan appropriately. If you have questions about traveling and things to do in the summer in Newton County, contact the Newton Visitor’s Bureau. Stay alert as access to areas may be limited during the COVID-19 crisis. And remember, steer clear of crowded areas where it's difficult to practice social distancing.