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By Jared Shive


The fall and early winter might be one of the best times to check out new areas and try out recreational activities one last time before the weather shuts down the local marinas and bike rental locations.

Football and basketball games on every other channel might trick you into camping out on the couch growing a winter beard while overloading on snacks.  Fight the urge and enjoy the sunshine.   So how is a single guy, married man, or family patriarch supposed to use the parks?

A Full Body (and Mind) Workout
Feel the burn from head to toe and utilize features in the park or along a trail to provide a great workout.  A park bench is great for dips and push-ups or abdominal exercises.  That open grass area has plenty of space for burpees, squats, and sprints. While you’re catching your breath, take time to appreciate the area and the free admission.

The Extra Mile: With a little coordination you can set up a mini-triathlon or adventure race challenge for you and your buddies.  Lock your bikes up in a vehicle at the turnaround point before running the trail in one direction then biking back, or substitute canoes/kayaks to keep heading downstream.

Quality Time on the Cheap
Holiday movie season is right around the corner, but there will be time for the theater in a few months.  Just pick up your date an hour or two earlier than usual and bring walking shoes.  You can walk, bike, or paddle to a peaceful spot and share how special you are to each other.  Find a local park or organization that offers star gazing programs or guided night hikes to join.

Layer up with clothing and try some new outdoor pursuits.  With a few inches of snow you can rent snowshoes and cross country skis, go ice skating, and you are never too old for a trip or two down the sledding hill. (Talk about a workout).  You can head north to the Cuyahoga Valley area for snow tubing or west to Strongsville for a tobogganing chute.

A pair of Yaktrax (metal coils wrapped around rubber tubes) slip over your shoes and will give you a better grip on packed snow and ice so you can still get out and move or enjoy your favorite park in a new season.  Stark Parks has over 90 miles of trails across Stark County. Make a goal to visit a few parks and trails this winter.

The Extra Mile: Organize a scavenger hunt with the clues ending at a picnic dinner.  Keep it PG though, this is a public area.  Don’t forget to leave enough time to be back to your car by sunset and don’t be that couple who etches your name in the tree…not cool!

Family Adventure
That happy family in the photo having the time of their life exploring will never be your family, right?   Maybe you don’t have that picture perfect moment to capture and show off in the newsfeed, but you have to try!  Kids want adventure and parents say they want their kids to explore, so show them the ropes and let them off the leash.  Start out with a family backyard campout and work your way up to a local or regional campground or primitive camping area.  You will have memories from the trip and hopefully a few moments to impart parental wisdom without it being so obvious.  Father’s Day isn’t until next summer so it’s probably up to you to plan this one.

The Extra Mile: Too many kids that you foresee an epic meltdown?  Have a daddy/daughter or father/son adventure day or campout.  If it goes well, add the rest of the family or tell them they can invite a friend or cousin to come along.



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