Park Alternatives

With the nicer weather, more and more people are heading out to popular parks and trails, making it more difficult to practice social distancing guidelines. If you’d like to skip the parks, here are some alternatives for enjoying safe outdoor exercise that offer a change of pace to well-trod paths.

Home turf: Walking your local streets gets you out to exercise, saves on gas and allows you to keep track of what’s what in your neighborhood. If you have a favorite route, consider doing it in reverse. You’ll see things in a whole new perspective.

Country roads: Do a Robert Frost and take the road “less traveled by.” Ambling down one of the valley’s innumerable rural (public) byways, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the countryside—wildflowers, cows, stone walls, a historic farmhouse or two, and lots of fresh air.

Cemeteries: Precursors of municipal parks, 19th-century rural cemeteries were designed to meet the psychological and recreational needs of communities. Historic cemeteries in Albany, Middletown, Poughkeepsie, Troy and other valley cities feature winding roads, an arboretum’s worth of trees and shrubs, picturesque ponds and fascinating funerary art. Meandering through one will indeed soothe body and soul.

Mall parking lots: If it’s pure aerobic exercise you crave, a power walk as opposed to a leisurely ramble through nature, these now-empty expanses of asphalt should fit the bill.

Golf courses: Mark Twain called golf “a good walk spoiled.” Some clubs where playing is currently prohibited have made their fairways available for strolling, meaning you can explore the well-manicured grounds without worrying about an errant shot ruining your enjoyment. If you don’t mind the potential for “spoilage,” playing a round on an open course also will get the heart pumping.