Tired of watching TV indoors? Did you solve the last puzzle? As summer hits its stride, it’s time to get out and do something close to home in the South Sound — but remember to social distance, and stay home if you don’t feel well. Be as creative as you want or as simple as you need with these staycation ideas —  most can be enjoyed on a budget. Oh, and don’t forget: Wear a mask!

Pick a (new) park

Given the last few months, you might be tired of your usual park. So pack hand sanitizer and a picnic lunch (or grab takeout from a local restaurant) and explore a new park within the South Sound.
And with so many to choose from — Pierce County ParksMetro Parks TacomaFifeKey Pen ParksBonney LakePuyallup and others —  it will be fall before you know it. Make it even more fun by turning it into an outdoor scavenger hunt. Need ideas? The City of Fife offers suggestions on its InstagramLet’s Roam offers a few regional hunts and Seattle Shakespeare Company has created a challenge too.

A little further away, Vashon Island is home to several parks with beach access, hiking trails, and picnic areas. The Shinglemill Creek Trail is a 3-mile round-trip hike with a modest 400 feet of elevation gain. The trail winds through the forest, up a ridge, and flows by the Puget Sound at Fern Cove. Island Center Forest provides 10 miles of bike-friendly hiking trails. The preserve showcases restoration efforts and is a favorite bird watching location for great blue herons, kingfishers, ruby crowned kinglets, cedar waxwings, bald eagles, osprey, and a host of waterfowl.

Browse farms and farmers markets

If you’re looking for a culinary adventure, try reimagining the great outdoors into your very own salad bar. So many fresh veggies like beans, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers are arriving at our farmers markets — from Gig Harbor to Orting — throughout the South Sound. And don’t forget the fruit! Have you seen the peaches and berries right now? Maybe add some cheese, eggs or meat from a local farm. Let your taste buds guide you.

Tell ghost stories outside

Looking for something a little more temporary? Why not pitch a tent and camp in the backyard? Grab supplies for s’mores and other snacks to make the adventure feel authentic — think trail mix and beef jerky. Hang a sheet and project a movie. Sing songs and tell spooky stories while you cook up an al fresco dinner together. If you have a fire pit, you have endless possibilities of things to cook on sticks: hot dogs, firm tofu, vegetables, bread and, of course, marshmallows. Tinfoil packets are another fun project because each eater can prepare their own packet and watch as it roasts in the coals or on the grill.

Explore the waterfronts

Nothing says South Sound like a walk along one of our amazing waterfronts! Check out sea animals at low tide at Titlow Beach or Owen Beach, watch a harbor seal dive for dinner or (hopefully!) see a resident orca dipping in and out of the strait along Point Ruston. In Dupont, walk a bit of history from forest to sea on the Sequalitchew Creek Trail. Enjoy the spectacular views of sea and mountains from the beach at Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place. Follow ecolife in the sound through a series of maps of waterfront beaches and parks in Gig Harbor. Spot a ship at the Browns Point Lighthouse. Launch your kayak or paddleboard and get even closer to marine life. Want to teach kids a few lessons about marine life? Lee’s SUPs is offering summer camps.

Create art indoors and out

Let kids’ (or kids at heart!) imaginations run wild as they create a masterpiece of sidewalk chalk art! Challenge older kids to art games like drawing with their eyes closed or driveway Pictionary. Or try making a chalk mosaic with the help of painter’s tape.

Want to stretch beyond the driveway? Virtual and in-person classes are available through summer camps by Tacoma Arts LiveTacoma Little TheaterLakewood Institute of TheaterLakewood’s Camp CreatesMetro Parks TacomaPen Met Parks, and military-connected families.

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