As people feel comfortable taking advantage of summer weather to resume outdoor activities, many Americans are getting into their car and hitting the road. A recent survey about road trip destinations from GasBuddy shows that 60% of respondent plans to visit friends and family while 38% are opting for the beach or lake, and 24% for a national park. And whether it’s a road trip to visit family and friends, or first-time RV’ers hitting up national parks, Stanley has the gear.
Stanley has created a shopping site of the essentials for “Compact Adventures” with everything needed for road trips to backyard camping – “built for life’s (little, and not so little) adventures and Built for Life”. Here are some examples:
The best co-pilots create epic playlists, can navigate highway traffic with Google Maps, find speed traps on Waze and keep the snacks coming. The Stanley 7-qt cooler ($50) can do one of those things, but we still nominate it as a perfect ‘front seat’ companion. This bad boy keeps your snacks in close proximity and cool for 27 hours, which is about 40 percent longer than your typical cooler. It also will not judge your singing voice.
Car Cup Compatible? Check. Keeps drinks cold? Check. Straw? Check. Gulp? Check. Closed? Check. Stanley Vacuum Quenchers (20- and 30-oz sizes / $20 and $28) are just about the most perfect drinking vessel for your road trip as we could imagine. This stainless steel vacuum insulated vessel keeps drinks cold for hours (iced for 40 hours!) but the real genius is its 3-position lid that has a rotating cover with a straw opening, large opening for chugging and a full cover top to reduce spills.
It’s a pot, it’s a frying pan, it’s 4 plates and 4 bowls. It’s your kitchen-in-a-box. Like a Russian Nesting Doll, this is the gift that just keeps on giving. The Full Kitchen Base Camp Cook Set ($80) is a 19-piece cooking set offering all of the convenience of your kitchen into one small package that’s perfect for saving space. It’s saves on space but doesn’t skimp on performance; it’s just a capable as your ‘good’ kitchen gear (for some of you, maybe even better).
Whoever said ‘the fun is in the journey, not the destination’ clearly hasn’t tried to back-up an RV. Assuming your friendship/relationship/marriage has survived the journey, celebrate the milestone with the Happy Hour Cocktail Shaker Set ($35). The MacGyver of cocktail shakers, this all-in-one set features a removable reamer to juice and strain, 2 rocks glasses and a shaker.
‘Eat outside,’ they said. ‘It’ll be fun,’ they said. ‘Everything taste better in the great outdoors…’ Except when you get food poisoning because Karen’s potato salad has been baking in the sun for the past 4-hours. Say good-bye to whatever that ‘film’ is on the macaroni salad they’ve been dishing out for generations, and hello to the Stay Hot Camp Crock ($65). Yes, vacuum insulation keeps hot things hot, and cold things cold, so load this puppy up with chili or gazpacho (which, is basically running salsa, tbh). You can even use it as an ice bucket. Thanks to the durable locks and ergonomic handle, there’s no need to practice your balancing act when unloading the meal.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is accepting new camping reservations for this season. Campers are reminded to practice social distancing, bring and wear a face covering, respect the rules, and do their part to keep the campgrounds, parks and beaches open and safe for everyone. Camping capacity is limited and visitors must make an advance reservation before arriving at a campground.
New reservations are being accepted for all available sites – including tents, trailers, RVs, cabins, yurts and cottages. Reservations can be made in advance by calling toll free 1-800-456-CAMP or http://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com. Online reservations are recommended.
State Park Police and operations staff are patrolling campgrounds to ensure compliance with social distancing and crowd control measures. Anyone who does not adhere to this guidance will be requested to leave the facility, and will not receive a refund.
Upon check-in, campers will be asked a series of screening questions to determine if they may have been in contact with anyone suffering from Covid-19, or if they have any potential symptoms of Covid-19, including fever or respiratory illness. People who may be at risk will not be permitted to camp.
Campground density reduction and social distancing measures will be in effect, including:
No walk-up reservations are allowed.
Each congregate restroom facility will be opened and cleaned per DOH protocols.
Rest rooms and shower buildings may have reduced capacity and may be closed periodically for cleaning.
Campground gatherings are limited to immediate household members only.
Campground events and programs have been suspended.
Park Social Distancing Ambassadors monitor campgrounds, picnic areas, beachfronts, lawns, boardwalks and other areas to ensure park guidelines are being met.
COVID related signage has been installed throughout the park system.
For a listing of campgrounds operated by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, visit https://parks.ny.gov/camping/. Campgrounds in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks overseen by the Department of Environmental Conservation operate on a different schedule.
Beaches and day-use areas
New York State Parks’ beaches and day-use areas are open for visitation across the state. In alignment with NY Forward, State Park beaches, day-use areas and historic sites are charging the normal entrance fee (between $6-$10). For information, visit: https://forward.ny.gov/. Entrance fees may apply beginning Saturday, June 6.
Visitors can purchase a 2020 Season Empire Pass for unlimited day-use entry. Available for $80, the 2020 Season Empire Pass is a wallet-sized card that can be shared within a household and not assigned to a specific vehicle. For more details, visit: https://parks.ny.gov/admission/empire-passport/default.aspx
Visiting State Parks during the public health crisis
To encourage physical social distancing at popular parks, beaches, trailheads, and scenic areas, several restrictions are in effect, including reduced access on high visitation days
State Parks encourage visitors to State Parks, State Lands, and other parks to:
Visit in small groups limited to immediate household members.
Maintain distance from others while in places where people tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks.
Bring and wear a face covering when social distancing cannot be maintained.
Face coverings are required to be worn anytime you enter a rest room or park office.
Avoid games and activities that require close contact, such as basketball, football, or soccer.
Avoid playground equipment like slides and swings and other frequently touched surfaces.
Do not share equipment, such as bicycles, helmets, balls, or Frisbees.
If you arrive at a park and crowds are forming, choose a different park, a different trail, or return another time/day to visit; and
If parking lots are full, please do not park along roadsides or other undesignated areas. To protect your safety and that of others, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available.
Looking for destinations that you can drive to, but bring you to some level of paradise, escape, revitalization? Gloucester, Ma., fits the bill, especially in these times: It is a charming beach destination where you can spend the days outdoors, rejuvenating in the fresh sea air.
With Massachusetts under a phase II reopening (coordinated with New York and the Northeast region), visitors will find hotels and motels adhering to rigid state and American Hotel & Motel Association standards (motels are particularly popular because you can just drive up to your own door); restaurants serving outdoors; and retail shops (eight people per 1,000 square feet, or 40 percent capacity, which in many cases means just one or two shoppers at a time. Customers will be handed gloves and there is no try-on).
And though you can’t go whale watching, cruising, or visit museums or theme parks yet, there are still wonderful attractions to discover.
Elizabeth Carey, executive director of Discover Gloucester, offers these suggestions:
10 Gloucester Destinations You Can Safely Visit This Summer
Known as “America’s oldest seaport,” Gloucester was the largest fishing port in America in the second half of the 19th century and one of the top five ports in the world at that time. In addition to its contributions to the fishing industry, Gloucester also produced granite in nearby quarries as well as a thriving art community. Founded in 1623, the city is less than one hour north of Boston, directly on the Atlantic Ocean. Gloucester is one of four communities (Essex, Rockport, and Manchester-by-the-Sea are the other three communities) that make up the Cape Ann region.
Stage Fort Park: Site of the landing of the first settlers in 1623, Gloucester became the second permanent settlement of the early Puritans in the New World, preceded by Plymouth in 1620. Enjoy the park with over 25 acres of natural beauty, including our beaches and spectacular views of the harbor and beyond. The Welcoming Center will be open to visitors to assist with brochures, maps and guides. Stage Fort Park is part of the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway.
Ravenswood Park, Gloucester: Explore a shrouded landscape of hemlock groves, a magnolia swamp, and other trees species where you’ll find remnants of Colonial habitation. Ravenswood Park offers 600 acres for solitude and quiet contemplation of nature. With 10 miles of carriage paths and trails that meander through the park, you can find plenty of room to picnic, bird watch, walk and simply appreciate the outdoors. You don’t want to miss trekking to the overlook to Gloucester Harbor or traversing the boardwalk through the Great Magnolia Swamp, home to native Sweetbay Magnolias. The reservation is located along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, part of the congressionally designated Essex National Heritage Area. The area’s extensive historic, cultural and natural resources tell the story of the region’s role in the nation’s early settlement, maritime trade and industrialization. Trails: 10 miles of trails and former carriage roads. Moderate hiking. Carriage roads are covered with dense crushed stone and are generally wheelchair accessible. When to visit: Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of two hours.
Wicked Tuna Captains and Vessels: In March 2020, Wicked Tuna premiered its 9th season on National Geographic TV. This “monstah” of a show landed in 2012 and brought viewers around the world to America’s oldest seaport. The show features five local bluefin tuna fishing captains who share their real-world tales and trails of the fishing industry here. Fans travel here hoping to meet the captains, see their boats, buy Wicked Tuna gear and see all that the city has to offer. You might even catch a glimpse of one of the captains in town. Their vessels are docked throughout our inner harbor.
Rocky Neck Art Colony:: America’s oldest continually operating art colony since 1850, Gloucester has played a vital role in America’s art history. Artists such as Fitz Henry Lane, Winslow Homer, John Sloan, Stuart Davis and Edward Hopper have all captured the light of Gloucester, as our many artists do to this day. This quaint neighborhood is a lovely area to stroll, shop and get up close and personal with many artisans who showcase their work with pride. You can catch some beautiful water views and enjoy an ice cream cone, fresh seafood or a nice iced cold beverage along the way.
Man at the Wheel Statue: The statue, also known as the Gloucester Fisherman Memorial, presides over Stacy Boulevard at the edge of Gloucester Harbor. Sculpted by artist Leonard Craske and modeled after a local fisherman, the monument was completed in 1925 in honor of Gloucester’s 300th anniversary. It has become the symbol of the city and a place to remember the 10,000-plus men lost at sea during the city’s long history. Their names are recorded on memorial plaques surrounding the structure.
Visit Eastern Point, the southern tip of the peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the eastern portion of Gloucester Harbor. Poet T.S. Eliot summered here for 20 years (“The sea is all about us,” he wrote in “The Dry Salvages”), and painter Winslow Homer lived at the lighthouse for a time. Come sunset, it’s easy to see why. Get a better look by walking or fishing on Dog Bar Breakwater, a quarter-mile stretch of granite blocks built in 1904 to keep ships from running aground and to shelter Gloucester Harbor from storms, which offers panoramic views of the water and shorelines.
Maritime History: Nearly 400 years of history and innovation are written in the streets and buildings of this town. Wander the downtown Harbor Walk or visit Maritime Gloucester (Phase 3) to learn more about Gloucester’s past and present as one of America’s important fishing towns. Walk along the harbor to view working vessels and pleasure craft. Or get on the water, with your own vessel or a chartered fishing excursion or water shuttle. Being a mariner in Gloucester allows you to view the city and coastline from a new perspective.
Harborwalk for the best views from every angle in town. The 1.2 mile path traverses through town between The Gloucester House and Stage Fort Park. Make sure to stop at the Fisherman’s Memorial (famous for the statue and sobering list of fishermen who died at sea) and the Fishermen’s Wives’ Memorial. The walk is defined by 42 granite pillars which tell the stories of important people and events of Gloucester’s history.
OutDoor Dining: Here are a few restaurants that are providing out-door dining that coincides with the Massachusetts regulations as we enter Phase 2, but for a more comprehensive list, visit the site.
Minglewood Harborside for large portions, several gluten-free choices, tons of open space for families, and attentive service.
Mile Marker One is a beautiful setting right along the Annisquam River. You can sip a cocktail and enjoy their menu selections while watching the activity on the river.
Castle Manor Inn Restaurant on Essex Avenue offers outdoor dining under a tent surrounded by the perfectly groomed landscaping at the inn. Laura and Don are gracious hosts.
Check out Blue Collar Lobster for downtown water views and great seafood. Amazing array of choices on the menu to bring to your outdoor table. The restaurant is walking distance to many shops, museums, boat tours, and the Harborwalk path. And if you see Lenny, whose family has owned the restaurant since it opened in 1957, ask him to pull up a seat – he’ll be glad to share local folklore and history.
1606 Restaurant at the Beauport Hotel for outdoor seating on the waterfront and distinctive takes on traditional favorites. The stunning views are the perfect ambience for date night and special celebrations. Children are welcome. The outdoor patio has a large deck with comfortable seating. An outdoor fireplace and blankets are available should your evening get cooler.
Shopping: Gloucester’s charming Main Street features some favorite recognized brands, along with many unique locally made items handcrafted by resident artists and craftsmen -antiques, art, pottery, books, jewelry, toys, clothing, shoes, home goods and souvenirs for that one of a kind item to take home. Food lovers will also delight in the offerings in Downtown from charming coffee shops, to unique olive oils, fresh pasta, chocolate and cheese, homemade Italian bread and pastries to Wicked Tuna tee shirts.
DiscoverGloucester.com is a great resource for “charting” a trip to the area. There are comprehensive lists of lodging options (from motels and hotels, to inns and bed and breakfasts, to campgrounds and vacation rentals) to lists of activities for every hobby and interest (both indoor and outdoor!)