It’s June and we’re finally able to get out and about a bit more! While some things are still off limits and still others are up in the air, we’ve got enough to get us feeling good about the summer. And what’s the best thing about summer anyway? Being outdoors in the sunshine, which we’ve got plenty of opportunities to do in Schuylkill County!

Our three state parks, Locust Lake, Tuscarora and Swatara are open. You can hike, bike, walk. You can camp. You can fish, boat and kayak. You can use the grills and have a picnic. And beginning Saturday, you can enjoy the beach and swim as well.

Our beautiful Sweet Arrow Lake County Park, Pine Grove, is open. While monthly public programs are temporarily suspended, you can still boat, fish, kayak, hike, picnic and otherwise enjoy yourself, seven days a week. Our many private campgrounds, including Twin Grove, Rosemount, Red Ridge, Laurel Lake, Echo Valley, Christmas Pines, Camp-A-While and Lakewood Park are open, too! Now is the perfect time to book a relaxing getaway in our beautiful corner of Penn’s Woods.

June is National Trails Month and Saturday is National Trails Day. National Trails Day was established to promote awareness of the wide variety of benefits trails provide, as well as celebrate, improve and enjoy America’s magnificent trail system consisting of more than 60,000 miles across all 50 states.

It is our nation’s largest celebration of trails and you can join in because you don’t have to utilize only national trails. Oh no! You can celebrate by heading out on our local and regional trails, too. An incomplete list includes The Lehigh Valley New England Rail Trail, Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail, Stoney Valley Rail Trail, Schuylkill River Trail, Senator James J. Rhoades Nature Trail and The Appalachian Trail. Some can be biked and hiked. Some allow horseback riding. They’re all good for bird watching, nature exploration and geocaching. To learn more about our community’s trails, go to and click “things to do.”

A variety of activities have recently reopened, too. Golfing is one of them. Mountain Valley, Hidden Valley, White Birch and Schuylkill Country Club are all open. Perhaps most importantly (for me anyway), Heisler’s mini golf and driving range are open. Famous Reading Outdoors and Rausch Creek are open for off-roading. The Schuylkill County Historical Society Museum and Gift Shop is open. Jerry’s Classic Cars & Collectibles Museum is open. Yuengling Museum and Gift Shop is open (no tours yet!). Hope Hill Lavender Farm is open. Kowalonek’s Kielbasy Shop is open. Vintage 61 is open by appointment. The Marketplace is open. Forget-Me- Not Florist is open. Lessie’s Greenhouse and Gift Shop is open. Peace Frog & Healthy Habits are open. C&C’s Candies & Country Store is open. Fighter’s Heaven: Muhammad Ail’s Training Camp is scheduled to open the weekend of July 4. The list and variety of local organizations and businesses opening up goes on and on folks. I think the best way to find out the necessary specifics for days, times and social distancing requirements before heading out is to check out their socials.

I don’t know about you, but my family has been enjoying some super take-out food and beverages the past few months from Wheel, Pressed Coffee & Books, The Brickhouse Grill, Yocko’s, Momma Millie’s, The Washington Hotel, Roma, Mountain Valley, Roman Delight, Vito’s, The Red Lion.

Even though I enjoy cooking, we still hit up a local restaurant once a week and now we going to be able to dine outdoors, too. I have to say I’m pretty excited about that! Vito’s Coal Fired Pizza and Restaurant opens up the patio today as does Bum’s Rush Restaurant & Pub and The Brickhouse Grill.

Wheel will be providing outdoor dining soon and so will our beloved Heisler’s. Stoker’s Brewing Company in Tamaqua is having a food truck event tonight. Mainstreet Moonshine is having Food Truck Fridays and Saturdays. Good Intent Hose Company in Llewellyn is having a drive-thru style pig roast Saturday. Outdoor food and beverage opportunities are beginning to abound!

In the coming weeks, the City of Pottsville is looking at models similar to Harrisburg and Cincinnati which use downtown spaces and businesses in creative ways to provide safe outdoor atmospheres for people to support their community and enjoy themselves. I think we will see many of our towns and organizations finding ways to accomplish this in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, remember to check out Explore Schuylkill’s Facebook page as well as the pages of the many fine organizations throughout our community, keep your PPE with you and get out and enjoy all that Schuylkill County has to offer safely.

Gargano is executive director of Explore Schuylkill.