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Having a picnic is the perfect way to enjoy the fresh air and good company.

Since the COVID-19 vaccine has been distributed to many Americans, more places are opening  back up, and people are starting to feel less anxious about being in crowds. This is the perfect time to turn the corner as summer approaches. Here are some ideas for a summer bucket list that can make up for missing out on some fun last year.

Have a barbecue

A summer tradition, especially around Independence Day, is a barbecue. This didn’t happen as often last year because of quarantine. Now that some rules are being lifted, one should start mastering their grill skills. This would be an outdoor activity and a great way to physically reunite with friends. One can even add a bonfire into the itinerary and have a s’mores session as well.

See some relatives

One of the hardest collective parts of this pandemic is not being able to see family in person. While people tried to do so, it was risky, and sometimes ended with several relatives testing positive for COVID-19. Now, medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed that it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to have small gatherings. According to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s official website, indoor gatherings can have a maximum of 50 people, and outdoor gatherings can have a maximum of 100 people. Because it’s summer, starting with a family barbecue or pool party that’s outdoors would be a good first reunion idea, as everyone’s outside and is able to continue social distancing if needed.

Go to an amusement park

Some may still be hesitant about going somewhere as hectic as an amusement park. Parks are well aware of this, so they’ve each enacted COVID-19 protocols. Busch Gardens has enforced the typical protocols along with temperature screening and limited park capacity. Kings Dominion is also enforcing protocols as well as requiring guests to use the Kings Dominion app, purchase tickets ahead of time and are keeping some rides closed. Some may still feel nervous, but this would be a nice place for celebrating the return of normalcy.

Attend a sporting event

Summer sporting events are usually outside, which is a small sigh of relief for cautious people. If one has been watching sporting events on TV or has been to a JMU game this semester, the common stadium rules are sitting a certain distance between parties, having to wear a mask the entire game and limiting the number of fans in the stands. Sports tickets might be hard to get this season due to the smaller capacity, but if one can secure some, going to a game might be a good idea.

Go on a hike

For people who want to go out, but are still worried about big crowds, going on a hike is a nice choice of activity. There are multiple hiking destinations within the Shenandoah Valley such as Massanutten Ridge Trail, Mole Hill Peak, Hillsdale Park, Purcell Park and Hidden Rock Trails. Hiking is a great way to have some alone time in nature and not worry too much about social distancing.

Have a Picnic

Since it’s going to begin warming up, it might be fun to talk to friends about setting up an outdoor picnic. For a JMU picnic, some good locations are the arboretum, the Quad, Hillside field and even outside D-Hall. One can also do this with some friends from home at their local park or a field. One can pack some snacks, lunch, a blanket, some outdoor activities and enjoy each other’s company.

Visit a local farmers market and help small businesses

When summer comes around, most small suburban towns and cities host weekly farmers markets. Because it’s outdoors, it’s not as condensed, which helps with social distancing. This is also a way to help small businesses in their time of need. The pandemic has made it hard for small businesses to make a profit and even to stay open. Going to one’s local market and purchasing from the small businesses’ booths can make a positive impact on the owner and their store’s income.

See an outdoor performance

A lot of towns offer shows and concerts from local bands or performing groups that have free admission. Although not many towns had these types of events last year, people might start scheduling outdoor shows for the general public. Listening to live music is something many people might miss, so sitting outside on a blanket six feet away from others would make a fun summer evening plan.

Go on a road trip

If one’s fully vaccinated and so are their friends, it’s a good time for a group to talk about a summer road trip. Whether it’s going camping or visiting someone’s hometown, this year should be the year. Lake areas and beaches may not be the safest places yet, so it might be wise to push the beach trip to when the number of vaccinated people is at a higher percentage.

See a firework show

Although there were some shows that occurred in 2020, there weren’t many opportunities to watch fireworks. Last year, some areas — like Rockingham County — had fireworks shows where people had to stay in their cars as the show proceeded. Hopefully, there’ll be more opportunities to see some fireworks displays this summer.

With the semester coming to a close and summer headed this way, students are getting ready to make some plans. While it’s still important to do things safely and follow COVID-19 protocols, there’s no reason one can’t have a somewhat normal summer break.

Contact Gracie Brogowski at brogowsx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle  of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture