Fun things to do while social distancing

A view of the Whitewater River valley
A view of the Whitewater River valley, as seen in spring 2019 from the Chimney Rock Trail in Whitewater State Park near Elba, Minn.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

What a week. Looks like we're going to be spending a lot of time alone or with only our closest loved ones for the foreseeable future. But it doesn't have to be all grim. Here are some quarantine-friendly activities to make your downtime better.

Looking for more to do outside? Download our Outside in MN app. It's available on Apple or Android devices.

Minnesota state parks and trails are still open

The landmark Swinging Bridge in Jay Cooke State Park
The landmark Swinging Bridge spans the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park near Carlton, Minn. It's seen here in summer 2019.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

One thing that’s still open amid the pandemic: nature. State parks and trails will remain open for now, the Department of Natural Resources says, but park offices and visitor centers will close during the coronavirus outbreak. Parks will transition to a self-pay system for visitors during the closure. “We recognize the importance of nature in helping to relieve stress during this time and are committed to providing a safe environment for our visitors to enjoy, while ensuring we protect the health of our staff and Minnesota’s communities,” the DNR says.

Take a virtual trip to the great outdoors

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a live feed of the Mississippi River headwaters. Check it out for a moment of zen. has a bunch more nature-themed live streams.

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Keep your kids entertained, learning

Minnesota parents and students received something of an unexpected spring break this week, except this one isn’t any fun. Here are some ideas from the MPR News audience and elsewhere for kids to continue learning from home. You can find more resources, and share your own in our Raising Kids in Minnesota group on Facebook.

No concerts, but you can still get to the gig

rock the garden car seat emmet kowler
The Rock the Garden crowd viewed from the stage in 2017.
Emmet Kowler for MPR

Many artists are hosting virtual concerts in lieu of gathering large numbers of people in person. Fortunately for all music-lovers, The Current has compiled a list of virtual gigs. Everyone from Miley Cyrus to local favorite Nur-D have joined in on the digital show action.

Let's learn some quarantine cooking: dried beans

Rinse. Soak. Cook. Enjoy. Our friends at Splendid Table have all you need to know about making this affordable and healthy food into a tasty staple. They also have a guide to caramelized onions — good for people that have time on their hands and a need for foods that can be made in advance and refrigerated for future use.

How about some free, virtual theater classes?

Stages Theatre Company has something enriching to keep your kids busy: "Now more than ever it is critical that we imagine, create, share and spread joy to each other. It is in this spirit that on Friday, March 20 we are launching STAGES BEYOND THE STAGE. These free virtual Theatre activities for AGES 18 months to 18 years will be designed to get our bodies, voices and imaginations moving and creating!"

Art Hounds: Art in a time of 'social distancing'

Gully Boys
Gully Boys were going to go on tour and perform at SXSW, but the arrival of the coronavirus in the U.S. has forced them to cancel those plans. But you can still enjoy their music and even see them perform live on Facebook.
goldrosecrown via Facebook

The new coronavirus has forced bands to cancel shows and theaters to go dark. But there’s still plenty of great work by Minnesota artists that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Check out Art Hounds' suggestions for the week.

Need a book recommendation? Visit The Thread

We also want to know, what are you doing to pass the time? Tell us about it via this survey!

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