Best Way to Meet People During COVID: Tinder/Bumble
By Mickey Hutchings
Many of us lost our regular avenues to connect with new people during COVID. From canceled club meetings, limited in-person activities, little to no face-to-face classes, we’ve felt pretty isolated from socializing outside our “bubble” of close contacts. Luckily, in our day and age, most of us own smartphones, handy devices that keep us in tune with the world around us anytime we pick them up. For those of us who weren’t as fortunate to face quarantine with a partner, dating apps gave us some comfort. That device in your pocket means you’re only a “swipe” away from a new friend or love interest. Apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble reminded us that love can still be attained even when people feel further away than ever. Even if you aren’t looking to bunker down with someone, feel the flirting adrenaline or get dressed up for a Zoom date, you can still make new, platonic connections.These apps were, and still are, the “new normal” of dating and networking.
Best COVID-Friendly Place to Take a Date/Your Parents: The Blue Ridge Parkway
By Ansley Puckett and Emily Broyles
Like many things this year, COVID has changed the way we date. Setting up a date is no longer as easy as picking a public place and time to meet. Plus, when parents visit, it’s going back in time. Where did I go first that I really loved? What store was that? How far would that trip be? The Blue Ridge Parkway, however, is hard to forget.This year, the Parkway has claimed the title of the best place to take a COVID-friendly date and place to take your parents.Stretching 491 miles of breathtaking scenery, the Parkway is the perfect place for a romantic getaway and offers gorgeous views both alumni and rookie App State parents will love. With overlooks like Grandview, Raven Rocks and Elk Mountain, you can meet up and get to know your date from a distance or explore the more than 50 hikes available with your family like Rough Ridge and Green Knob Trailhead. Perfect for older family members and furry friends, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers amazing scenes in all seasons. It is, however, especially worth the traffic and twisty turns during “Peak Week,” a time where vibrant reds and yellows say goodbye to the fall season. For existing couples, the Parkway is the best place to relax and unwind away from crowded public places, where you can throw on a playlist and take in the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.The Parkway is a great way to start or end your Boone adventure with the people you love, as it does any sunrise, sunset and star-watching activity justice.
Best Way to Spend a Night at Home: Watching Movies
By Silas Albright
This past year more than any other, college students spent a lot of nights at home away from their typically active social lives due to the pandemic. Movie nights have long been an off-night favorite, but they turned into an almost nightly activity for many App State students this year. Streaming services realized their window of opportunity and most stepped up their game, making a more wide-ranging selection for former movie-goers to enjoy from their homes. HBO Max even began releasing some feature films, such as “Godzilla vs. Kong,” on its streaming service as well as in select theaters, allowing viewers to skip the usual waiting period before a recent film comes to streaming services. Movie night also allows students to enjoy a social setting with their roommates or friends without being too close to too many other people. Spending a night in watching movies also allows for some classic ‘Netflix and chilling,’ whatever definition you may personally have for the term.
Best Virtual Performance: Front Desks, APPS
By Sophia Lyons
Showcasing seven student musical groups thus far, Front Desk is Appalachian Popular Programming Society’s online virtual concert series. 80 Unlacey, Juniper Avenue, Mexican Hot Chocolate, the New Creatures, Parr Usual and Nostalgianoid have all played sets since the series’ debut with Cane Mill Road on Feb. 12. The series highlights North Carolina and Boone-based bands and performers, inviting listeners to find a new local act to love. Although big concerts haven’t yet returned to Legends Nightclub, APPS’s office hosts the literal front desk used as the stage for record-ing intimate live performances livestreamed on Facebook and Instagram. The series is available for viewers all free of charge, paid for through APPS’ budget that would’ve been spent on hosting concerts, and can be viewed on Facebook, YouTube and IGTV anytime.
Best Virtual Fitness Class: Caroline Cole’s HIT Class
By Jackie Park
When you work out at the gym, you know you’ll mop the floor with your sweat (and tears). But, COVID-19 means an indoor workout with strangers isn’t always the move. In that case, Caroline Cole’s HIIT class will keep you rocking from home, because who says a pandemic should stand between you and your workout goals? Caroline’s high energy and commitment to the craft will keep your energy up, even when your body is exhausted. Plus, the music is sure to entertain your mind while you build your muscles and your confidence. The best part? You won’t have to walk down the hill at the Student Recreation Center or Dwight W. Quinn Recreation Center when your muscles are burning and your legs feel like jelly after this high-intensity workout.
Best Place to Buy Masks: Boone Belles
By Xanayra Marin-Lopez
Face masks and coverings have undeniably been a staple in our wardrobes during COVID-19. Located on downtown King Street, Boone Belles was voted the best place to buy masks in Boone.Boone Belles sells masks for $8.99 with many styles to choose from. The boutique opened in the historic Boone Drug building in 2013 selling women’s fashion. The small business is family owned and led by two sisters.Upon entering the store, shelves of their famous masks greet you. Boone Belles offers reusable, cloth, washable masks as well as disposable masks to its customers. Only one size is available for adults. From solid colors to floral patterns, tie dye, animal print and polka dot, there are many masks to choose from to match an outfit. The masks are not medically rated and are not for professional use. If you can’t make it to either their King Street or Blowing Rock location, the boutique also has online shopping options.
Best Takeout: Sabeing Boone King
In the year when the inside of restaurants shuttered, one Boone staple stood out among the rest: Sabeing Boone King. With the aromas of basil and hot oil drafting out of the restaurant’s King Street digs, locals and tourists alike are drawn to Sabeing’s delicious pho, rice and sushi dishes the same way they appreciate the restaurant’s “no hassle” custom-er service. Guests didn’t see the inside of Sabeing this year, though it stayed adorned with vines and twinkling lights all the same. The spot’s quick and painless takeout rang out the bill on its win for best takeout. At-the-door service and all the silverware and sauces you could need are just a quick phone call away for this winner.