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Wander a park on Labor Day

Grab family and friends and picnic at a park this Labor Day!

You’ll reel in the benefits of spending at least part of this year’s three-day holiday at a local, state or national park! A park visit is generally not expensive, nearby and a perfect way to enjoy the late-summer weather.

man fishing on the lake

Activities for everyone

“Our parks offer a number of fun activities, from hiking, golfing and boating, to biking and swimming,” said Mike Bailey, Chief of Parks and Watercraft for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Bailey said Alum Creek, Deer Creek and Grand Lake St. Marys state parks in Ohio are offering special Labor Day weekend activities for registered campers.

Cooler Bag & Flying Discs

Brian Miller, Southwest District Manager for Ohio State Parks, said disc golf (aka “flying disc golf”) has become a very popular sport at several of the state’s parks.

“We’ve got designated areas for it now at many of our parks. It’s a lot of fun and doesn’t cost much. All you need to bring are Frisbees,” he said.

A budget-friendly Labor Day

Ohio is one of only seven states in the nation that allows visitors free access to all its parks, Miller said.

“Our parks have so much to offer. People need to get out and see the resources available at no cost,” he said. “We’ve got to get that next generation outdoors.”

It doesn’t cost much to pack a picnic lunch, and the current low prices at the gas pump are added incentive. Dress for the weather and terrain; nothing fancy. Squirrels and birds don’t care what you’re wearing!

Lots of options and benefits

State park cottages

You can stay overnight in cozy lodges or rough it in tents, campers and cottages at many state and national parks. The majority of visitors prefer day trips for hiking or just taking in the scenery.

August and September also are popular months for family and class reunions. Most state and national parks have facilities that accommodate large groups on Labor Day weekend and throughout the year.Heron I personally love hanging out at parks with rivers and lakes. My husband and I often spend Labor Day visiting Grand Lake St. Marys, Hueston Woods, Punderson and  Burr Oak state parks in Ohio. I enjoy pointing my Nikon camera at fabulous sunrises and great blue heron, as you can see in this picture.

This time of year I often feel cheated by the Midwest’s brief summer season. Spending a day or two with Mother Nature helps me prepare for the cooler and likely snowy days ahead.

Still not sure if a park visit is your cup of tea?

More good reasons

  • You’ll sleep better. Fresh air. Long trails. Need I say more?
  • Lower your stress level. Tuck away your cell phone and other devices and you’ll be surprised at what you’ve been missing. (Hint: it’s not your boss.) Natural sunlight tends to elevate a person’s mood and create smiles.
  • Boost Vitamin D and overall health. Sunlight on your skin leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D, which reportedly helps fight conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, depression and heart attacks. 
  • Get in shape. Let your sense of adventure (and a good pair of walking shoes) help you discover forests, waterfalls, rock formations and other natural wonders. It can help with weight-loss, and your heart and lungs will thank you.
  • Your concentration could improve. A day with less stress is like a clearinghouse for all the clutter circulating in our brains.

Labor Day Drinkware

Find a park near you

For more information on events at Ohio’s state parks, click here. For a list of all U.S. parks in every state, browse here.

If a state or national park visit isn’t practical for you, check out your local park this Labor Day weekend. Even a short walk to push a child on a swing can be a positive experience for everyone.

“Spending one last weekend out in the great outdoors with family is a perfect way to celebrate the end of summer,” Bailey added.

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