Spend this Black Friday in the green.
While millions of line up outside of stores and log on to their computers on November 24 for Black Friday deals, parks across the country are offering their own incentives to ditch shopping in favor of the great outdoors.
REI is encouraging people to spend the day after Thanksgiving in nature with their third annual #OptOutside campaign. In addition, the National Park Service and 16 state park associations are hosting events and offering free admission.
In addition to closing all 151 stores on Black Friday, REI launched a search engine this year that helps people locate the nearest and best locations to head outside. The webpage culls images from the #OptOutside hashtag on Instagram (of which there are 6 million posts) and provides “real-time information about locations and experiences across the country,” according to a statement.
If a user clicks on an image of someone hiking, #OptOutside will tell them information about a trail’s difficulty, directions to the trail, and recent reviews. Users can also search hashtags for dog-friendly locations, campsites, or specific activities (like snowshoeing).
And those who love Black Friday for the deals can still translate that sentiment to nature. Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and Washington are opening all of their state parks for free admission on Friday. Alaska and Oregon will have free parking at state parks. Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia are all offering free events or contests in conjunction with the day. Select locations in the California Redwoods are offering a limited number of free admission passes and South Carolina parks are offering discounts on campsites and cabins.
The National Park Service will host events at various parks throughout the countries, including free guided hikes and classes. The list of alternative Black Friday activities is available online.