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A SUMMER UNDER QUARANTINE

Family Vacations Not Totally Lost as Locals Enjoy Short Jaunts

It’s no secret that “normal” vacation plans during this topsy-turvy time of battling a world-wide virus have been voided or greatly scaled back. Whether it is due to the fear of contracting the coronavirus or lack of funds from lost earnings, Ohio Valley residents are rethinking their plans. Some families are making the most out of their backyards with cookouts and sprinklers. Others are taking to the woods for hiking and biking while area lakes and streams are busy with anglers.

A sampling of local folks, however, offers a number of suggestions of ways to enjoy not-so-far-away trips on family-friendly budgets, too. Listed below are some suggestions from readers who have experienced or plan to enjoy future trips.

One suggestion mentioned several times was taking a leisurely car ride down Ohio 7 along the mighty Ohio River to Marietta, Ohio. One friend noted how, while sitting along the riverfront in Marietta and enjoying a bite of lunch, she witnessed an eagle swoop down and snatch a fish out of the water. She said the change of scenery was a morale booster.

Others who have traveled to Marietta pointed out the “quaint town with different shops and a winery” to visit. Another noted a favorite greenhouse and vegetable stands found along the way there. And yet another noted favorite stops along the way included Ables Cheese and Sardis Dairy Bar in Sardis, Ohio.

At the Dairy Bar, old-fashioned ice cream treats and lunch counter goodies will ensure you visit again and again.

And don’t forget Barkcamp in Belmont County suggested one regular visitor there. Others remind us that Tappan, Buckeye, Senecaville and Salt Fork lakes are an easy day trip or great for camping.

Anytime of the year seems a good time to visit Amish country near Sugarcreek, Ohio, wrote several readers. A gift shop on Old Route 39 N.E. is a favorite stop and numerous bakeries were destination stops.

Back in West Virginia, many friends agree the local area boasts of Grand Vue, Oglebay and Wheeling parks where you can spend a day or longer enjoying the great outdoors or socially-distanced indoor activities for the whole family.

From ziplining and swimming, to miniature golf or a visit to a zoo, check these great facilities for what is available today.

One visitor to Oglebay said she and her family back up the picnic basket and cooler, find a picnic table in the trees and enjoy a late supper to avoid the heat of the day. They always include a walk on one of the trails where deer and other wildlife are visible.

Another suggested destination was Thomas, W.Va for a day or an overnight trip.

Located near the Monongahela National Forest in the northeastern part of the state, it’s less than a three-hour drive. This town is described as “in the middle of nowhere but still a happening place.” In addition to the hiking and biking trails, a visit to Dolly Sods Wilderness will have you forgetting all about the hustle and bustle of the city, a friend assures. It also has an eclectic mix of shops and art studios. Check for live music offerings — if social distancing allows.

While in the eastern part of the Mountain State, why not make a stop at Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County for some rock climbing or at Smoke Hole Caverns near Petersburg for a cool trip through the world’s largest ribbon stalactite. Tygart Lake State Park near Grafton also offers a chance to enjoy a cool dip in the lake and secluded cabins.

Stonewall Jackson State Park on U.S. 19 near Walkersville, W.Va., also provides a respite from the heat via swimming and boating, one reader suggests. She noted they take their own food or go through a drive-through and have a picnic after enjoying the water.

For railroad enthusiasts, a trip toward Romney, W.Va., will bring you to the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad. Always check for availability of times and trips before going as the governor’s social distancing mandates may affect plans.

While many folks suggest trips a bit farther from home — Ocean City, Maryland, Chinocteague, Virginia, Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania, Lake Findley, New York, Deep Creep, Maryland, the Grand Canyon and so on — most agree that staying close to home is less stressful.

In Pittsburgh alone, there are dozens of museums to visit and get out of the heat. Or maybe enjoy the Fallingwater landmark and historical place in Mill Run, Pennsylvania.

The Seven Springs Resort in Somerset County, Pennsylvania has a host of outdoor activities and spa to keep the whole family busy including golf, sporting clays and Alpine slide and more.

Tentatively, Mud on the Mountain has been set for Sept. 5 while the kids’ Mud on the Mountain is slated for Sept. 6. For more information, go to 7springs.com.

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