In the midst of COVID-19, nearly every aspect of student life at Lehigh looks different. An integral component of the Lehigh experience is social life. While social activities as we know them are a thing of the past, there are plenty of outdoor activities with safety precautions in place that are available to the Lehigh community.
Lehigh Outing Club
One way to get involved with outdoor activities on and around Lehigh’s campus is through the Outing Club. Outing Club President, Sam Seymour, ‘21, said the club plans to conduct events while adhering to the university’s policies regarding limited group sizes and mandatory face coverings.
The club is planning to run both a hiking trip and a fly-fishing trip this weekend, and Seymour said these trips are evidence of the club “testing the waters” before they release a full semester schedule.
Participation in the Outing club is free for all Lehigh students and is a great way to be social this fall.
“Now it’s more important than ever to get outside and try these things, because everyone’s stuck in their dorm room taking classes all day,” Seymour said.
Seymour said the best way to stay updated on upcoming trips and activities is by following the Outing Club on Instagram @luoutingclub.
Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
Another way for Lehigh students to get outside and to stay active this semester is by exploring the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. There are entrances to the D&L just over the Lehigh river and access to over 80 miles of bicycle trails. At 3.5 miles, Bethlehem-Freemansburg trail is a great way for Lehigh students to exercise for free and at a safe distance.
Go to the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage website for more information on trails.
Emmaus Farmers’ Market
The Emmaus Farmers’ Market is a great option for students who are looking for outdoor activities this fall. While it is a 20 minute drive from Lehigh’s campus, the Emmaus market is open through November every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Beginning in December, the market operates on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The market is free for all to walk around.
With vendors selling produce, meat, dairy, breads, honey and more, there is a great variety of local food to choose from.
“You can really do all of your shopping locally at the Emmaus farmer’s market if you want,” said Jen Schuster, Emmaus Marketing and Events Coordinator.
In efforts to amplify the shopping experience, the market also features weekly live musicians. Schuster said the music has served as a way to bring back some normalcy into these unprecedented times.
Not only can students get their weekly shopping done at Emmaus, but they can also give back to the community.
“For the community, when you buy locally, whether it’s it a local business, a local farmer, you’re putting money back into that person’s pocket,” Schuster said. “So, you’re helping support your neighbors (and) you’re supporting your local economies.”
Schuster described being able to talk to individual vendor’s about their experiences and learn about where the food is coming from. “It’s not just a market of food but it’s a market of community and togetherness,” she said.
For a full schedule and more information on the market visit the Emmaus Farmers’ Market website.
Many Bethlehem restaurants are offering outdoor seating and increased distance between tables. El Jefe’s Taqueria, Sotto Santi’s Restaurant, Roasted Cafe and Rakkii Ramen are within walking distance of campus and now offer outdoor seating.
Tables are socially distanced to meet local dining guidelines and many local restaurants are planning to keep tables outside into the fall months.
Unangst Tree Farm
Beginning September 26th, the Unangst Tree Farm will be open Mondays through Fridays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the week, farm visitors can access a small corn maze for $3 and shop at the farm market. On the weekends, visitors can feed goats and sheep for $1, complete a large corn maze for $7.50 and observe pigs and chicken and pick pumpkins. Pumpkin prices vary by size. Hayrides to the pumpkin patch and large corn maze are available for no additional cost.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitors must wear a mask when on the hayrides and when in line. The farm will also implement enhanced sanitization and social distancing on hay rides.
Co-owner Trudy Unangst said the farm will be working with the Department of Agriculture and the CDC to follow changing COVID-19 guidelines. Unangst also said the farm will be implementing hours before opening where immunocompromised visitors can walk out to the pumpkin patch.
Unangst said the farm has a commitment to giving visitors an authentic farm experience.
“When people come here, they do see what an actual working farm is,” she said. Unangst said the main goal of the farm is to educate the community on what a “real farm experience” is like.
More information is available on the Unangst Tree Farms website.
Historic Bethlehem Walking Tours
Another outdoor option for Lehigh students is to explore the rich history of Bethlehem through walking tours. For $12, students can download and complete the Heritage Trail Self-Guided walking tour at their own discretion. The Bethlehem Visitor Center also hosts an Old Bethlehem Walking Tour every Saturday and Sunday in September at 1 p.m. The tour is $15 and $10 for members of the Historic Bethlehem Member Society. You can become a student member of the Society for $20. Students can walk from campus to the Visitor Center to begin the tour in 20 minutes.
Additional information for tours can be found on the Historic Bethlehem website.