Whether you consider yourself an "outdoorsy" person or not, summer is for exploring as well as soaking up the sun, getting a healthy dose of nature and enjoying fresh air. For breaking free from the notion that life must be lived indoors. Seeing a side of your city like never before. Whether you live next to a state park perfect for hiking or in the middle of a concrete jungle, these six fun activities will have you enjoying the great outdoors like never before! (And many of these ideas work great for parents with kiddos.)
1. Camping at home
Got a backyard? Then you've got the perfect bear-free zone in close bathroom distance for creating a fun camping spot for yourself or the whole family. Pitch a tent, drag your favorite blankets and mattresses outside, build a fire in a fire pit and enjoy a night of staring up at the stars (until you get tired of being outside and can slip back inside to sleep).
2. Forest bathing
In Japan, they have Shinrin-yoku, which translates to forest bathing. It basically means walking through a forest and immersing yourself in the aromatic smells of nature, even for a short time. If you happen to live near a forest, bathe away! But if not, find your own little spot of nature you can cell phone-free walk through, paying close attention to smells and textures. It could be a local park, a botanical garden or even your own backyard if you've planted lots of lovely flowers and other smell-good things in it.
3. Urban hiking
Grab a friend, pack a light bag, pick a within-walking-distance destination and do what I like to call urban hiking — a longer-than-usual jaunt through and past the same streets you drive past every day, going slower and pausing to take in sights, smells new scents and notice things around you. If you live in a hot environment, don't do this in the heat of day (in fact, don't do any of these activities at noon if you live in a hot zone). And though figuring out the best path to get to where you're going is part of the fun, remember that not every city in the world is super walker-friendly; be extra vigilant crossing streets and don't listen to music, rather paying attention to the sounds around you. And take these things with you.
4. Meetup for an outdoorsy thing at your own pace
We mentioned the website Meetup in the last exploring post (we swear they're not paying us!) but they are a great way to explore more of the outdoors in a way that you might find enjoyable, whether that's going kayaking with new friends or going on an outdoor photography excursion. Find the thing that makes you excited to be outside and do that.
5. Find a foraging class
Are you a foodie that prefers being in a kitchen than in the wilderness? Find a foraging class where you live or in a nearby bigger city. It's amazing the free plants to eat there are out there for the taking, and it'll make you view your surroundings in a whole new way.
6. Birding and bugging
You can find a bit of nature just outside your door, even if you live in a big urban city! Buy or borrow a bug or bird book, grab a magnifying glass or binoculars and marvel at the flora and fauna that exists even among the sidewalks and concrete. Just don't pick up anything you don't recognize and don't disturb any snoozing creatures!
How do you enjoy the outdoors where you live? What are your city's best outdoor activities to enjoy solo, with friends and with family? Share in the comments below!
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(Image credits: A Day in the Life: Katie & Soloman's California Homestead; Brian Schulz; Leela Cyd; Janel Laban)