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State parks offer an alternative to post-Thanksgiving football or shopping

The State Department of Conservation and Recreation
A fall hike at Natural Bridge State Park

Virginia’s many state parks are encouraging families to get outdoors at a time when many are gathered at home.

The annual ‘Opt Outside’ campaign offers an alternative to of watching football or holiday shopping in the days after Thanksgiving.

Kim Wells is with the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation. For young kids, she suggests a self-guided scavenger hunt through the the Department's Junior Rangers program.

“When I walk with my nephews, sometimes they’ll get a little bored," she said. "I always get them to help identify a tree – can you tell what type of leaf this is? It’s very informative. So at the end of it, they turn in their book, and then they get an award, or a pin, or some sort of junior ranger patch.”

Virginia's 42 state parks also offer a number of hikes led by rangers.

A few in Southwest Virginia, including Natural Bridge State Park, are now holding a Festival of Trees.

“A lot of parks offer ornaments, you can go make ornaments," Wells explained. "I used to pick out ornaments, when I was little at the tree. I still have some of those, but to make them with your family I think would be a little bit more exciting.”

The state is also selling park gift certificates at a 20-percent discount through the day Friday. They can be used towards the rental of camping space, or park merchandise.

Jeff Bossert is Radio IQ's Morning Edition host.