Safe Senior Fun – Right in Your Own Backyard

Staycations are hugely popular these days, and a great way to enjoy some rest and relaxation without the added risks of travel. A staycation is more appropriate than ever, given the pandemic and the uncertain economy. Yet a staycation is also chock-full of vacation vibes—it rarely disappoints. Here are suggestions for safe senior fun, right in your own backyard.

Add a simple but luxurious upgrade to your backyard.

Sprinkle LED votive candles everywhere on your deck and have candlelit dinners and lingering late-night conversations. For the more ambitious folks, twinkly LED lights strung from trees add a downright magical effect. To expand the sense of fun and possibility in your backyard, you might try a simple fire pit; an inflatable pool for a new daytime reading venue; or an elegantly designed hammock. Reading, napping, or sipping a cocktail in a hammock remains an iconic summer pleasure that people rarely get around to actually trying. Now’s the time! Even backyard games, like badminton and croquet, can feel like resort-level fun.

Check out exciting offerings in a nearby town.

Visit a nearby town to explore an art gallery with sidewalk art, restaurant with outdoor seating, festival, farmer’s market, or winery. Sometimes, a nearby town has such different delights that you feel far away. Go online to find festivals listed in the local paper or the Chamber of Commerce. Find out if a local library is hosting any events. You might even join a Zoom book group (or second book group) through your library. Theme reading—such as travel fiction—is often a fun organizing principle with library-run book groups.

Take up new open-air activities like pitch-and-putt or canoeing.

A fun pandemic-inspired trend is the comeback of the drive-in movie theater, so see if one is within driving distance of you or create your own in the backyard with a low-cost flat-screen TV. You can also check out a nearby state park you haven’t yet explored or a wildflower preserve. Walking or hiking amid flowers or forest can be energizing. There’s even new medical research showing that “forest therapy” can reduce stress hormones. Just be sure to use a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers to avoid tripping on an uneven path, wear no-glare sunglasses, and consider downloading a trail map like AllTrails, especially if you’re hiking in a place with no cell phone coverage. AllTrails helps you discover local trails you never even knew existed, offers reviews including tick warnings and high-traffic times, and lists wheelchair-friendly paths.

Venture out on a day trip with an overnight stay in a Vrbo or an Airbnb.

The app-based rental service known as Vacation Rental by Owner (Vrbo) reported a 15% jump in demand for vacation homes within a day’s drive of where you live. Most of the demand is for non-urban destinations, where it’s easy to practice social distancing while enjoying a getaway feeling at an affordable price. Wherever you stay, ask the host about their disinfection practices and take charge yourself by wiping doorknobs, faucet handles, refrigerator doors, and TV remotes.