Although we crave entertainment and a return to normalcy this summer, the persistence of COVID-19 means pause, restrictions, masks, hand-washing and antiseptic wipes. Despite some entertainment-related venues re-opening such as zoos, botanical gardens, and art galleries, some states require each operates at limited capacity. Some entertainment spaces like movie theaters, indoor shopping centers, and casinos remain closed in many areas.
As we continuously adjust to this new and evolving way of living, how can we entertain ourselves and enjoy our summer of mostly at home? Our top recommendations include virtual exploring, quality programs on TV, putting the “oo” in Zoom, fun indoor/outdoor games, and keeping cool with an adult beverage (brand favorites and links to favorite recipes included).
Travel and tour virtually – no delays!
Explore the world in the most convenient way – from the comfort of your home. Technology makes it a snap to see The Great Wall of China, visit national parks, tour famous museums, or if you really need to get away from the third rock for a while, the final frontiers via NASA’s virtual space tours.
International (and Out-of-This-World) Getaways
Blast off with NASA virtual tours including a guided tour of the International Space Station and Langley Research Center, NASA’s oldest field center.
Brave the cold (from your couch) and visit Churchill, Canada, the polar bear capital of the world, and see firsthand how polar bears adjust to a warming environment.
Tour Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with legendary historian Sir David Attenborough who narrates an interactive, multimedia experience of this natural wonder.
Step into France’s Palace of Versailles for a private virtual tour, palace secrets, 3D models of furniture, and more.
Hike The Great Wall of China without shoes. Travel from Jinshanling to Simatai, a 6.5-mile stretch that provides you with some of the best views of China’s most famous attraction.
Explore National Parks
Peek into Exit Glacier, kayak through icebergs, and explore the frozen terrain in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.
Hidden beneath the surface of the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico are more than 119 caves called the Carlsbad Caverns. Explore the largest cave chamber in North America and learn about this incredible underground National Park.
Although livestreams of Yosemite National Park don’t provide much of an interactive experience, the views from Upper Yosemite Falls to El Capitan to Yosemite Valley give you a glimpse of 1,200 miles of meadows, valleys, and glacial cliffs.
Tackle three states with a virtual tour through the otherworldly landscape of Yellowstone National Park via photos, videos, and interactive maps that showcase the beauty of this massive park’s famous attractions.
Entertainment from the tube
Feeling like you finished Netflix? Luckily, the TV gurus have been brainstorming while quarantining and there are new offerings that entertain and bring us back to a time when life was less restricted.
HBO launched a darker version of Perry Mason that originally aired on CBS in 1957. The spicier reboot stars Matthew Rhys from The Americans. If you can make it through a rather drab first episode, this nostalgic murder mystery drama might just reign you in.
If you haven’t watched the 10-part documentary series of The Last Dance on ESPN, it’s worth checking out. Not only does it immerse us in the world of professional sports that we so miss, it takes us back to a time before 9/11, when the Dream Team was the best. Plus, kids, parents, and grandparents (from afar if necessary) can watch the series together and debate the generational question, “Is Jordan or LeBron the GOAT?”
Disney+. Yes, this is an entire app suggestion. Not only can you enjoy throwbacks like the original The Mickey Mouse Club from the 1950s, you can stream original series like The Mandalorian (for Star Wars fans), and watch any Pixar, Marvel, and National Geographic production. By the way, coming to Disney + on July 3 is Hamilton, the filmed version of the beloved original Broadway hit from writer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda.
If you enjoy American legal dramas based on true stories, Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, is worth the watch, and currently available for free on Amazon Prime.
Following the success of its namesake book by Celeste Ng, Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere attracts a diverse audience as it chronicles the lives of two families, their respective secrets, motherhood, and understanding one’s identity.
Add some zest to your Zoom
Consider hosting birthday parties, happy hours, and other family celebrations with friends and relatives. Plan an hour when everyone can get together, bring your own dessert, snacks, and drink, and share the moment. But keep it fresh, and keep it from devolving into politics or pandemic with some of these ideas:
Grab a copy of Questions to Start Great Conversations if you need some inspiration. Here are a few:
• What movie can you recite every line of?
• If you had a band, what would you name it and what type of music would you play?
• What is the first place you will go when quarantine is over?
• What would be the theme song of your life?
• And favorites from the children among our team: Did you have a sandbox when you were a child? What is your most embarrassing moment ever?
Celebrate a birthday online by asking everyone to come and sing a song they think is meaningful to the birthday person. If people are too shy for a live performance, ask the teenager or college student in your family to edit together a video of everyone’s pre-made clips and unveil it at the birthday party.
Show up with “history” questions for the elders in your family or group of friends, and click on “record” to create a visual remembrance you can share and pass on to the next generation.
There are still moments when “live” TV brings us together—witness the excitement around the WebX Space Launch, for instance. Whether it’s the Hamilton premiere on Disney+, a stream of Jon Stewart’s latest political-satire Irresistible, or the 4th of July celebration with Boston’s Fireworks and Pops show, consider inviting friends to a “Zoom watch party,” where you can remotely cheer together, clap together, and crack jokes during commercials.
Get creative with games and sport
Professional sports haven’t returned in full, so now is a great time to try your hand at a sport or learn a new one—even from your backyard or computer.
Badminton is due for a resurgence. No contact, play on the grass, it’s hard to get hurt by a wayward birdie. And don’t forget the wonders of croquet and bocce.
Host a neighborhood, social-distance game night. Find an online game you like and an outdoor space big enough to accommodate your friends at six-foot distances. Everyone get their own snack bowl and plays from their own laptop so no cards, chips, Cheetos or game pieces are passed from person to person.
A backyard and a sunrise are perfect for yoga, A simple Google search for You Tube Videos or a visit to the app store for free apps will get you going, whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced yogi. Yoga for Beginners is a great app. Check out socially-distanced group sessions in your area. In Rochester, the Memorial Art Gallery is opening its grounds for bring-your-own-mat yoga meetups.
If you miss your trivia night outings with friends, consider a Zoom version of Trivial Pursuit. All you need is one person from each team to roll the dice, be responsible for asking the questions, and placing the pies in the pie dish! It works best if the leader of each team is using the same version of the game; sometimes the easy solution is for a couple playing from home to volunteer as leaders of opposing teams. Everyone else can contribute to the think tank and answers via Zoom!
Keep your cool with a summer beverage
Nothing says summertime more than a grill and a cool beverage. Below are some of our favorite go-to drinks.
Our current favorite for summer is a rosé, and n a sunny afternoon or golden evening, try a Gerard Bertrand “Cotes des Rosés” Rosé 2019 (France).
Or celebrate the homegrown and home-fermented from one of our favorite small wineries in Oregon, where the ridiculously charming Clare (resident artist and wife of the winemaker) still personally pours you a glass in the tasting room and regales you with tales: Big Table Farm’s Laughing Pig Rosé (where, yes, she drew that letterpress wine label herself). If not available in your local wine shop, consider ordering Oregon wine directly from the wineries.
Riesling is another fresh and light bet for summer food pairings. All Rieslings are lower-alcohol (good for lazy afternoons) and work well with spicy foods.
German Rieslings will be full-bodied but still layered with nuanced flavors, with those labelled Kabinett being lighter and less sweet and those labelled Spatlese tasting richer and sweeter. We can attest to the loveliness of these choices: St Urbans-Hof, Markus Molitor and Johannishof.
From here in New York, our own highly-acclaimed Finger Lakes Dry Rieslings can bring a refreshing bite of lime to your table. The semi-dry and sweet varieties are also good and will appeal to those who prefer less bite and more sweetness. A few New York wineries we recommend are: Hermann J. Wiemer, Ravines Wine, Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, and Heron Hill Winery.
Grab your copper mugs and mint and you’re halfway to the perfect Moscow Mule, a drink that in recent years has regained its 1941 debut popularity.
We’ve discovered the classic Gin & Tonic tastes remarkably better when you use a botanical gin like Farmer’s, and an artisanal tonic like Fentimans or Fever-Tree. Now, instead of G&T, we say, “Sure, I’ll have an F&F.”
Whether home or not, a classic Manhattan never gets old. Although this drink sounds fancy in nature, it’s simpler to put together than other cocktails. The key is selecting your favorite rye or bourbon and the perfect sweet vermouth.
The matcha craze continues with the Matcha Bee cocktail with Japanese roots. This drink is perfect for summer, and its health food qualities bring the taste buds an entirely different cocktail experience.
For non-alcoholic but still sophisticated sipping, try a simple mix of ginger beer and lemon-lime soda. This year, we are enjoying the Zevia brands, which are sweetened with no-calorie, no-carb natural Stevia. A slice of lime makes it festive.
Even, or especially, in the midst of uncertainty, it’s important to enjoy your summer moments. Invent ways to do the things you love.
~ Go ahead, live a richer life ~