For many non-essential workers, staying home during this pandemic is getting very old very fast. Maybe you’ve already finished your thousand-piece puzzles and failed at baking sourdough bread so many times that you forgot what real bread tastes like. Maybe you’re tired of your roommates and your family, and even your house.
Minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus is saving lives, and staying away from others you don’t live with is the best thing we can do right now. That said, we have come up with a few options for things you can do outside your house. Yes, that’s right: Outside. Remember that place?
What is one sport you can play without being in contact with a single person? That would be golf.
State guidelines on whether golf courses should be open are a little fuzzy. Of course, golf isn’t an essential business, but given that being outdoors and getting exercise are important for human health, it’s a gray area, and every county has its own shade of gray. Denton County closed all its courses, while Dallas County declared theirs essential businesses. Tarrant and Collin County courses remain open.
We spoke to the folks at the Oak Hollow Golf Course in McKinney, where things are in full swing. Though they are one of the courses that are remaining open, they say they're taking extra precautions, like wiping down carts after each use.
There is a way to play all 18 holes without touching a single thing you don’t own, and without coming anywhere near another human. First off, most courses allow you to sign up and pay online. If you do this, you don’t even have to check in at the pro shop. You go straight from your car to the first tee. Second, you can opt to walk the course instead of using a cart. Not only does this provide a lot more exercise, but this way you don’t have to touch a single thing that isn’t yours. Third, you can play alone or only with the people you live with. And there you go, 18 holes courtesy of social distancing.
Visit a Cemetery
This one might sound a little strange, especially at this somber time. We wouldn't count this as a fun family outing as much as an emo afternoon meant for soul-searching or something that might give you some perspective. Living through such a bleak time in history is a lot to process, and for some, the best way to cope is to watch a funny movie, while others want to use their isolation time to reflect.
When people around the world are dying alone in hospitals and are not able to receive funerals because of the pandemic, maybe it’s a good time to pay respects to the dead as we examine our own lives. Cemeteries are still available for visitors during normal hours, though they are asking for all guests to practice proper social distancing.
Though some places like the Oak Cliff Founders Park are closed, the Harry Myers Disc Golf Course is open in Rockwall. Disc golf includes a bit more risk than regular golf, since you will likely have to touch the net when retrieving your discs. But with disinfectant wipes and gloves, contact can be avoided. We do advise calling the parks and courses beforehand to make sure they aren’t closed due to the pandemic.
Go to a Park, but for the Love of God, Stay Away From Crowds
Stop crowding trails and White Rock Lake. Dallas has lots of hidden gems, whether you’re looking for something in the city or in the suburbs.The mythical creature-themed Dragon Park Garden in Oak Lawn is a great option for an escape among gargoyles. Another great option in a more spacious area that provides hiking trails and room for picnics is the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano, which recently blocked off a chunk of its parking lot in hopes of reducing crowds on the trails. The park is asking for people to stay 6 feet away from each other and warns that the area between the trails and the parking lot can get congested, so we recommend going early in the morning. The park’s official hours are 5 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.
The Public Art Walk
Take a stroll around downtown with this 3.3-mile public art walk located at the heart of the city. We recommend going at odd hours of the day/week in order to avoid overcrowding the walk. It’s a self-guided tour, and you can access a map here. The great thing about this art walk is that it involves exercise and looking at something that isn’t your own walls or your next binge show on your couch. Just make sure you maintain proper social distancing while out and about, and bring a mask.
Go on a Scenic Drive
This is probably the lowest risk activity you can do outside your house. It’s the best of both worlds, since you can both leave your house and there’s no contact with the outside world. Since the Dallas area can sometimes be a little scenically challenged, we recommend venturing a bit outside of Dallas or heading into the heart of the city when it’s empty. We highly recommend doing a quiet drive through the Arts District at midnight. Seeing an empty Winspear Opera House and admiring the lights and architecture of a usually bustling scene can be a refreshing change of pace.
If you're looking for a scenic drive, you can go south on U.S. Highway 67 past Belt Line Road, enjoy a 130-mile trip out to see the Red River up north past Denton, and more. Support a local business by getting takeout along the way, then turn on your favorite playlist and hit those Texas roads. You can even time your drive for sunset or sunrise, when everything is prettier. After all, when do we ever get a chance to just drive for the heck of it? No traffic, few deadlines, just the pure joy of being out of the house.
Take in a Movie at the Drive-In Theater
Some favorite spots like the Coyote Drive-In are currently closed because of the pandemic, but the Galaxy Drive-In Theatre in Ennis is open, with some conditions. They have a “Get Out, Go Home” policy, which means you cannot leave your car while at the theater. They also closed their concessions, but are allowing outside food. This week, they'll be showing movies like Onward, Trolls World Tour, The Invisible Man and more, but check their website for showtimes.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.