By Shannon Traphagen

The weather is getting warmer, businesses across the US are reopening, and many people who have stayed home for more than two months are anxious to resume some of their routines. And as summer is finally felt here in WNY, many are getting the itch to get out and go…..anywhere!

However, the pandemic is far from over, and in many states Covid-19 cases are growing. It’s still safest to stay home, experts say, but if you must see others and get out, they have two words of advice for you: get outside.

For example, the Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC), located in Jamestown, NY is a nature preserve that includes close to 600 acres of wetland and forest ecosystems, and a variety of native plants, animals, and insects. Visitors can enjoy hiking on the six miles of trails, which are easily navigable for people of all ages. ACNC is also home to Liberty, a non-releasable Bald Eagle, as well as a variety of other live animals. Liberty and the trails are made accessible to the public and free of charge. Tifft Nature Preserve is another place to explore that offers free access, boardwalks, and trails for people to enjoy. The ACNC and Tifft ask that visitors practice safe social distancing when they encounter others on the trails.

Another option this summer is family camping! “New reservations for all available sites – including tents, trailers, RVs, cabins, yurts, and cottages will be accepted for camping stays beginning on June 22. Reservations are expected to fill quickly,” say NY State Parks Department officials. Some state parks now accepting reservations for summer and fall camping are Alleghany, Golden Hill, Evangola, Letchworth, and Stony Brook. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-456-CAMP or visiting

Local farmers markets will also be open this summer while adhering to safety practices. If venturing out to a farmer’s market, you may notice vendors will be lined on only one side of a parking lot or street or spaced 10 feet apart, no socializing will be allowed, dogs aren’t allowed this year, masks must be worn, and all patrons will be required to space themselves from others as they walk along. Some open markets are Bidwell, East Aurora, Elmwood, Hamburg, North Tonawanda, and Williamsville.

Visit Buffalo Niagara is offering a fun scavenger hunt for families. It’s a great way to see all the wonderful sights, and even learn something new about WNY. There are three area scavenger hunts with designated landmarks — the city of Buffalo, a Southtowns edition, and a city art edition. Use the hashtag #InTheBUF and post the ones you find at Visit Buffalo Niagara’s Instagram page!

While the city of Buffalo Garden walk is cancelled, the Amherst Garden Walk and Lockport in Bloom Twilight tour will take place. Visit for details.