25 safe, fun and productive things to do in RI during coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With Rhode Island schools and child care centers closed and residents asked to exercise social distancing, families may be left looking for ways to fill their days as the coronavirus pandemic plays out.

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Here’s a list of some things you can do here in Rhode Island that are either fun or productive – and most importantly, safe – during this unprecedented time:

  1. Family staycation: Often coveted, always harder than it sounds, now’s the perfect time to execute your staycation if your job will allow it. For ideas on what to do during your sudden Little Rhody staycation, read on!
  2. Take a hike: Simple outdoor activities are no-brainers when it comes to healthy and COVID-19-safe fun. Whether solo or with some friends and family, Rhode Island has amazing hiking trails, beautiful beaches to stroll, and plenty of parks and open spaces to wander. Go take a hike! Author’s Recommendation: Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown.
  3. Binge watch some shows: Fire up your streaming media platform of choice! Now’s the perfect time to catch up on the dozens of series that you just couldn’t seem to make time for. Mix in kid-friendly shows and make it a family affair! Author’s Recommendation: The Office. Every episode.
  4. Catch up on some reading: If you are like me, just like your shows begging for binge watching, you have a heaping pile of books, magazines, and saved web articles you have been meaning to get to. Start chipping away! Author’s Recommendation: Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman
  5. Go fishing: It’s not the called Ocean State for nothing, and we are lucky to have world-class sport-fishing opportunities here with a plethora of game fish species that are relatively easy to catch. Freshwater or salt, from the shore or by boat, there are guide services and charter boats abundantly available in RI and Southeastern Massachusetts. Author’s Recommendation: Young striped bass begin running out of the upper bays and estuaries and make fun, easy targets in April, May and June. You can also support your local tackle shops by getting your gear and bait from these small businesses that will certainly need all the business they can get during this economic slowdown.
  6. Try a new exercise or workout: Develop your own in-home regimen or make it an outdoor fitness affair. Author’s Recommendation: Sunrise beach workout — any east-facing RI beach will do.
  7. Fly a kite: It’s plenty breezy here in RI and near the coast its even windier, so buy a kite and let it soar. It’s more fun than you might expect. Author’s Recommendation: Brenton Point Park in Newport is THE place for kiting.
  8. Learn a musical instrument: Pick an instrument, log onto YouTube to find the best instructional video and teach yourself to play. Author’s Recommendation: Harmonica
  9. Embark on a lighthouse sightseeing tour: Rhode Island has 19 very scenic lighthouses. Go seek them by car, boat or on foot. Author’s Recommendation: Here’s the full list with location information: visitri.com/state/lighthouses/
  10. Organize and digitize your photos: Even if you have cloud backup, it’s still a good idea to download all your photos and videos from your phone and save them to an external hard drive. Get them well organized too, so you can easily find them when you need to make a gallery for your aunt’s 90th birthday. External media storage is cheap these days and you can keep your memories secure in your home if you store your drive in a fireproof safe. Now’s the time also to scan any hard photos or convert old videos into digital files. Author’s Recommendation: Do this on a rainy day.
  11. Collect sea glass: The beaches this time of year aren’t crowded, so you can discover and have all the pretty beach glass for yourself. Author’s Recommendation: South Shore Beach in Little Compton tends to reveal sea glass deposits at low tide.
  12. Beach cleanup: While you’re at it looking for sea glass, bring a garbage bag and some gloves and pick up trash. Author’s Recommendation: See how many cigarette butts you can collect and rid the beach of — you will be disgusted to see how many there are.
  13. Paint your house: Pick a room or two that can use some fresh color or hit up some exterior spots that have taken beating from the harsh New England seasons. Author’s Recommendation: Try a bold color in a room or just add an accent wall. Expand from the typical neutral wall colors!
  14. Wash your car inside and out: You know your car needs it. Author’s Recommendation: DIY full detail and save yourself $100.
  15. Help an elderly neighbor with some yardwork: Offer to rake the lawn, do some early season mulching, or manicure shrubs for a neighbor over 60. Author’s Recommendation: It was a windy winter, so tree branches and twigs are littering most Rhode Islander’s yards right now. Go pick up sticks and save a neighbor’s back!
  16. Go for a drive: Your own car with a friend or loved one is safe from COVID-19 — hit the road and explore the state! Guaranteed, there’s a city, town or coastline you have not yet driven through. Author’s Recommendation: Ocean Drive in Newport
  17. Go bike-riding: Same as hopping in your car for a ride, exploring by bicycle offers all the same benefits plus some great exercise. Author’s Recommendation: East Bay Bike Path – 14.5 miles between Independence Park in Bristol and India Point Park in Providence
  18. Clean out your fridge: With restaurants closing down and increased reliance on eating at home, now’s the perfect time to make room and get your refrigerator organized so you know your inventory. Author’s Recommendation: Don’t forget the freezer!
  19. Donate blood: There is already an increased shortfall in blood donations from this pandemic, according to RI Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott and the RI Blood Center. Donation centers have ensured thorough measures to assure donor health and safety during this time. Author’s Recommendation: Did you know you can schedule an appointment here to save time?
  20. Take a virtual learning course: There are thousands of online courses and lectures to choose from. Learn something that interests you! Author’s Recommendation: Fundamentals of photography
  21. Kayak: The Ocean State just so happens to have many square miles of bays, rivers, and estuaries in addition to its ocean, and all are all perfect for kayaking. Just be safe and wear a wetsuit this time of year when the water is cold. Author’s Recommendation: Upper Wood River in Arcadia Park, Block Island’s Great Salt Pond, Narrow River in Narragansett, or the Woonasquatucket River in Providence
  22. Bake a cake: I hate baking, but it’s been at least a decade since I last tried to bake a cake. I think I am due to try again so I will grab my youngest daughter and bake with her. Author’s Recommendation: Always use icing.
  23. Cook something you’ve never made before: I may hate baking, but I love cooking. Cooking is also less frivolous because you need meals, not cake. And with the recent closure of many restaurants, now’s the time to expand your cooking horizons and dig into those exotic recipes that life has been too busy to try before. Author’s Recommendation: Stuffed quahogs. Quite involved to prepare, but they are delicious and buying clams will help support local shellfishermen whose businesses will be hurting during this time.
  24. Hit an off-leash dog park: With or without your dog, visit one for a change of scenery from the usual dog walk, or just meet and mingle with some cute K-9s. Author’s Recommendation: Here’s a great list of off-leash dog Parks in Rhode Island.
  25. Meditate or pray: Attending church masses is definitely not coronavirus compliant so etch out time for meditation, reflection or prayer.

26. One more for good measure! Watch WPRI 12 and keep on WPRI.com to be in the know and keep yourself and loved ones safe during this coronavirus crisis.


Lee Dooley is WPRI 12’s Digital Director. He doesn’t write many news stories on WPRI.com, but this one was born from his own personal list of things he’s aiming to do during the coronavirus pandemic and thought good to share.

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