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In the middle of Midwestern winter, it can seem like the days will never be long and sunny again. This season hits especially hard in the midst of a pandemic when so many of our favorite spots are unsafe due to crowds and the threat of frostbite. Fortunately, there are still some lower-risk places and activities to keep us busy in Kansas City.

Visit Cafe Equinox / Family Tree Nursery

You may know of Cafe Equinox from all of the artsy Instagram photos taken there. Located on Nieman Road in Shawnee, Kansas, this greenhouse cafe is a local favorite and visiting in the winter is a lifesaver. When you walk into the building and through the greenhouse, you can see all kinds of tropical plants and beautiful pots. There are even a few birds chirping around, which always give me instant and much-needed serotonin. I recommend visiting during the week, as weekends continue to be packed and you’ll want plenty of time and space to soak up the atmosphere. Call ahead to get a better idea of which times are less frequented.

Take a walk around Loose Park

Okay, so pretty much everyone knows about Loose Park. But it’s always good to have a reminder that the “Jewel of Kansas City” is only a short walk (or drive) away from UMKC’s campus! In the winter, I drive over a few times a week in my hat, coat and gloves to walk a few laps around the park and get some fresh air. My biggest motivator is, of course, visiting the ducks in the pond. If the park doesn’t appeal to you, take a walk through the rich neighborhoods adjacent and marvel at all of the houses. 

Pick up a new hobby and learn from the experts

Personally, my favorites hobbies are the ones where I’m inexperienced with no desire to ever be an expert, but I love learning from people who have devoted much more of their time and energy to the craft. Try visiting somewhere known for its helpful staff, like Artist & Craftsman Supply Kansas City or Blick Art Materials, and ask questions to get an idea of what would work best for you. Then, search through YouTube to find tutorials and potential projects.

Book some free tickets to visit local art museums

Both the Nelson Atkins and the Kemper Museum are open to visitors who reserve time-slot tickets online in order to minimize crowds. The Nelson is enormous, which makes social distancing in its many exhibits easy. While the Kemper is much smaller, it’s also a lesser-known and visited museum, which will work in your favor if you visit during the week. Seeing colorful works of art and taking in the beauty and immaculate natural lighting of Rozelle Court never fail to brighten up my day. 

I have a consistently difficult time getting out of bed and staying motivated during these long winter months and this year has been harder than ever, but even now there are ways to enjoy ourselves while minimizing our exposure to the virus. There are ways to safely leave your house, apartment or dorm room, but remember to always wear your mask, wash your hands and socially distance during your outings. If your seasonal depression stagnates or worsens, consider reaching out to UMKC Counseling Services or calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s helpline at 1-800-487-4889.  

Lauren Textor is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who is studying English. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, painting, and sight-seeing at possibly haunted locations.
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