Consider starting a new Black Friday tradition by visiting a state park.
Forget the stampedes at the mall. Forget the sidewalk sales. Forget the shopping bags and gift receipts. This Black Friday, which falls on November 27, some states are encouraging folks to get reacquainted with nature by offering free admission to all the state parks within their borders. If you live or will be traveling in California or Minnesota for the Thanksgiving holiday, consider starting a new Black Friday tradition by visiting a state park – without paying an entrance fee.
California leads the move, citing Seattle-based outdoor retailer REI with inspiring its move to waive the admission fees at 49 state parks for one day only, provided you print out your own Save the Redwoods pass. Black Friday – also known in the United States as the day immediately following Thanksgiving – is a commercial holiday of sorts which began with a marketing campaign by American Express in 2010. Now, the day is synonymous with holiday sales and stores filled with stuffing-stuffed shoppers. REI won attention from the media last month when the retailer, which has 143 stores nationwide, announced it would not open its doors on Black Friday. Instead, the company launched its #OptOutside campaign in an effort to encourage people to go for a hike instead of trekking to the mall.
Many other retailers have followed suit with Black Friday closures, promising to give employees an extra day off to spend with their families and friends before resuming business on Saturday. In an era when many are struggling to maintain any kind of work-life balance, a move like this garners quite a bit of popularity and attention from the public – and surely company executives understand that closing on Black Friday may help boost sales during the rest of the holiday shopping season.
Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources has also decided to grant free entry to folks wishing to partake of state parks on the day after Thanksgiving. Visitors to any of Minnesota’s 76 state parks can enjoy nature at no charge.
Although California and Minnesota seem to be the only states waiving fees for the last Friday of this month, spending the day at a state park or other natural areas is certainly a good alternative to spending your hard-earned cash at the mall. Some state park programs are already fee-free for day use, so be sure to check your state’s park website for details before you strap on your hiking boots. If you’re looking for other things to do on Black Friday, check out our round up of more meaningful suggestions, and leave your wallet at home.