101 Ways to Get Outside This Spring
As a Chicagoan, I’m no stranger to weird weather events: tornadoes in January, 20-degree-Fahrenheit mornings followed by 80-degree afternoons, multiple Snowmageddons in a single season. For readers from other regions that experience the full range of seasonal climate shifts, I feel you.
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But that rejuvenating time of year is once again here: I’m talkin’ springtime, baby! I’m ready to lace up my sneakers and bolt out of the house, and I’m armed with my handy list of 101 things to do outside this spring.
From quick and free activities, to daily rituals to blend into your routine, to weekend ventures perfect for a group, this list has something for everyone no matter how far from your front doorstep you’re willing or able to travel.
At Your Doorstep
1. Rehydrate after a good night’s sleep and start your mornings with a full glass of water on your stoop or balcony. Wave to the neighbors, soak up some vitamin D, and take the morning in. This springtime morning ritual is good for your soul and your skin. (Don’t forget sunscreen!)
2. Revamp your front entrance or balcony with new potted plants, an outdoor rug or welcome mat, and a cheerful vernal wreath.
3. Get some gardening practice by potting and cultivating some plants for beginners.
4. Plan a daily happy hour on your stoop or balcony. Mix up cocktails or mocktails and swap the day’s highs and lows with your housemates.
5. If you work remotely, designate a recurring meeting or project you can work on from your porch, balcony, or by an open window, just to mix things up.
6. Hang a bird feeder right outside and watch (and listen!) as your region’s birds start rolling in. Keep a record of what types of birds are stopping by.
7. Enjoy dinner al fresco with some handheld sandwiches on the stoop or a charcuterie setup on the balcony.
8. If your porch is covered, sit out there and take in a nice long spring rainfall.
9. On a whiteboard or in sidewalk chalk, pose a “question of the day” in front of your home for passersby. Leave a piece of chalk and see if anyone writes down their answers.
10. Sit right outside your door and spend a few minutes blowing bubbles. Why not?
11. Designate a podcast that you listen to only outside, or a book to read chapter by chapter just on the porch.
12. If you can’t sleep, grab a glass of water and spend some time on the porch or balcony in the middle of the night. Pay attention to the sounds you hear when the neighborhood is fast asleep.
13. Cross a boring item off your list! Tackling a dreaded task (detangling jewelry, organizing documents, deep-cleaning your social media) outdoors makes it a little less burdensome.
14. Give yourself a manicure and pedicure outside. Let the breeze dry the nail polish faster.
15. Upgrade your mailbox or address numbers with a fresh coat of paint or replacements.
16. Bring back the Midwestern porch goose! Acquire some seasonal outfits and change them out frequently to the delight and concern of your neighbors.
17. Grab a stack of notecards and write a few pieces of snail mail to friends and family near and far. Bonus points for mentioning you’re writing from the fresh air!
18. Bring your fuzzy sweaters outside and depill them, discarding the fluff outside for birds to add to their nests.
19. Collaborate with far-away friends on a spring playlist, and share photos of you relaxing on the porch to your curated tunes.
20. Not a damn thing. Straight up do nothing. Just sit there, like Stoop Kid, and take it all in from your entryway.
In the Backyard
21. Establish a weekly bonfire night. Whether using a firepit, tabletop fireplace, or even a cluster of candles or lanterns, swapping stories by firelight is one of the best human traditions.
22. I love a good spring cleaning. If you have a garage or shed that could use some organizing, put your “Get Organized with The Home Edit” season two binge to work and enjoy a weekend cleanout in the yard.
23. Host a spray paint party with your friends. Watch a handful of tutorials and enjoy a sip-and-spray day, with guests sharing their completed art with one another.
24. I find power washing videos deeply satisfying — if you do too, lean in! Rent or borrow a power washer and go to town on old sidewalks, driveways, garage floors, siding… you name it. (You can even create some cool driveway art!)
25. Collect some plants and flowers from around the yard and press them for future crafting.
26. Invite your family or neighbors outside for a movie night under the stars. Bonus points for outdoors-inspired films!
27. Embrace your inner child and invite your friends over for a water balloon war.
28. If you’ve got kiddos, establish an area in the yard that’s specifically for them. Water tables, natural terrain for toy car and action figure play, and plastic bottle greenhouse projects all belong in this spot.
29. Construct a DIY butterfly puddler for local pollinators.
30. If you have old clothes or sheets piling up, breathe new life into those fibers with a tie dye project.
31. Deep clean the car in the driveway — really wash that thing inside and out.
32. Have friends over for a stargazing night. Check out the stars, share your horoscopes, and explore your astrology charts.
33. Put up string lights for some outdoor hygge year-round.
34. Stretch! Toss a blanket on the lawn and get your morning warm-up and evening cool-down stretches done in the fresh air.
35. Take an al fresco nap. Just be mindful of your surroundings for safety. (You can doze off on a group park outing if that’s a safer option.)
36. Grab your tools and paint and bring dated furniture outside for upcycling projects.
37. Lay out for an afternoon of sunbathing. Bring plenty of sunscreen and water, as well as your favorite book or podcast. Bonus point: Grab some print magazines from the store and cut out pictures to make a mood board.
38. Get some friends together for the Yard Game Olympics: Bags (aka cornhole), ultimate frisbee, spikeball, take your pick!
39. Fire up the grill. Try out new recipes each night for a week and discover all the foods that taste better grilled (not just meat and veggies!).
40. Host a backyard potluck featuring only dishes prepared with in-season ingredients.
41. Bring your area rugs outside and give them a good beating and cleaning.
42. For those living in warmer locations, cool off by running through the sprinklers.
43. Install a birdbath.
44. Catch (and release!) fireflies.
45. Camp out in the backyard with buddies. Bonus points for organizing s’mores, sing-alongs, and arts and crafts.
In Your Neighborhood
46. Grab some gloves and a trash bag and go on a clean-up walk, disposing of litter along the way. Beautify your block!
47. The lemonade stands are coming. Grab some spare change or singles (I have no clue how inflation has affected the price of kids’ lemonade stands these days) and invest in the entrepreneurial kiddos next door.
48. Learn how you can participate in your neighborhood’s community garden initiatives. Snag a plot and trade tips and tricks with your fellow green thumbers.
49. Surprise and charm your neighbors by installing fairy gardens around the neighborhood (just make sure you’re not encroaching on anyone’s property!)
50. Develop a daily walk habit, and take different routes around your neighborhood each time. Take inventory of all the new aspects of your community that you notice.
51. Become the steward of a Little Free Library on your street.
52. Organize a neighborhood yard sale weekend to optimize sale potential and build community (and, yeah, buy all your neighbors’ vintage Pyrex).
53. Host a mutual aid meetup where neighbors can get to know one another and identify needs and opportunities. Figure out who has a pickup truck they can lend out; which neighborhood teen is looking to build their babysitting clientele; and who needs help building a ramp or moving a piano.
54. Join a birding group or a local nature center’s tour and test out your ability to match up the bird calls you hear out in the wild with the sounds you hear at your own bird feeder.
55. Start a wacky neighborhood tradition. Under the cover of darkness, leave a garden gnome and some tasty homemade treats at a neighbor’s house with a note instructing them to surprise a neighbor with the Neighborhood Gnome next!
56. Organize a neighborhood-wide garden crawl. Schedule garden stops along the way and swap seeds and cuttings from different homes’ gardens.
57. Collaborate with your neighbors or local government to identify a spot in your neighborhood where you can steward a hub with care packs for people experiencing homelessness.
58. There’s something special about a quiet neighborhood at night. Taking necessary safety precautions, set out for a night stroll solo (if you’re comfortable) or in a group.
59. Organize a block party. Start new traditions!
60. Embark on a smell walk specifically for the scents. Focus on the aromas of blooming flowers, plants, and trees.
61. With block parties and weekend festivals popping up again, try out a festival in your area that celebrates a neighborhood, community, or culture with which you’re unfamiliar. Learn about the area’s history, try some incredible new-to-you foods, and maybe make some new friends along the way.
62. Grab a group of friends or enjoy date night at a local rooftop bar.
63. Bring your furry best friend (or join a friend and their doggo) at a local dog park. There are few places more delightful!
64. Join an intramural sports league in your community and meet some new friends while also dominating at kickball.
65. If you, like me, have spent your life curious about your skateboarding or roller skating abilities, pop over to your nearest skate park. Don’t be intimidated by the crowd — all of the skaters I know are the most supportive, lifelong learners out there! You’ll be sure to get some gnarly pointers.
66. Venturing into the outdoors can be more fun with friends and like-minded, outdoorsy folks. Research and join affinity groups that relate to outdoor activities. Melanin Base Camp, Black Folks Camp Too, The Black Foxes, Vamos Outdoors Project, Latino Outdoors, The Lady Alliance, and Paddle Like a Girl are just a few good places to start.
67. Embark on a city-wide scavenger hunt.
68. Head out to a park for a good old-fashioned picnic.
69. Make it a habit to venture out to local bike paths and trails for your routine walks, jogs, runs, and rides.
70. Find a nearby miniature golf course and kick your opponents’ putt-putt.
71. Grab a soccer ball and head to a nearby field for a soccer practice workout.
72. Join a friend or two at a playground and hop on a swing. When was the last time you jumped off the seat mid-swing? (Please don’t hurt yourself channeling your inner child!)
73. Local museums, gardens, and city landmarks often host group yoga sessions in unique locations. Seek out guided outdoor yoga.
74. Venture to a farmers’ market and make a whole thing of it. Wear the cute big hat! Bring a reusable bag! Buy the vegetables you don’t typically prepare!
75. Get a group of friends and go berry picking. Optional: Host a tasting of all the different dishes you make with your berries!
76. Sign up for a 5k, 10k, or any of the countless race options available.
77. Taste test around town at locals’ favorite ice cream stands. Grab a scoop at each and rank your favorites. Bonus: Come up with your own superlatives, like best consistency, best scoop, best toppings, etc.
78. Snap some photos around town. Especially if you live in a community with fabulous murals, gardens, or architecture, dress up for some portraits and take a new headshot.
79. If you’re not super active or hate competitive sports (hi, it me), look into ways you can volunteer at a charity run or sporting event.
80. As the weather improves, many bars, restaurants, shopping centers, and museums offer outdoor music. Head out to take in a starlit performance.
81. Stroll to the nearest pond and see if you can find any fuzzy ducklings. Bring duck-friendly snacks for feeding, like frozen peas and sliced grapes.
On the Outskirts
82. Try out being a tourist for the day, stopping at well-known outdoor locations in and around your community. Take pictures and tag your local tourist board on social media!
83. Find a hiking trail near you and enjoy an afternoon in nature. Use TrailLink to explore wheelchair accessible trails for safe and accessible adventuring for all.
84. I’m all about digitally disconnecting while outdoors, but while you’re out and about exploring nature this spring, pull up Native-Land.ca and learn about the Indigenous history of the land you’re on. Land acknowledgment is just one of many activities you can take part in this spring to honor Indigenous people.
85. Get a group together to venture to your nearest theme park for a thrill-filled day.
86. Save up for tickets to a nearby baseball game! Whether you’re attending a major or minor league game, there’s nothing like a hotdog at the ballpark.
87. Plan a cycling day with friends with plenty of built-in stops along the path. Roadside cafes, breweries, and parks are some pit stop ideas.
88. Attend a protest or demonstration for a cause that you’re passionate about.
89. Spring is a wonderful time to honor those we’ve lost. Tidying up a headstone, planting a memorial tree, or visiting a late loved one’s favorite outdoor spot are all ways to celebrate the special people in our hearts.
90. Get a group together for a geocaching excursion.
91. Check with nearby nature museums and centers for nighttime guided hike opportunities.
92. Test out your nature photography skills by exploring noteworthy areas and snapping pics of anything and everything that inspires you.
93. Use Within Hours to take a spontaneous day trip to a popular or off-the-beaten-path outdoor attraction that fits your time commitment.
94. Check in with your favorite fall and winter outdoors locations, like apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and tree farms, and ask about volunteer opportunities to prepare the grounds for their busy seasons.
95. If you live near water, head to a lake, river, or oceanfront for an afternoon of fishing, collecting sea shells, or just dipping your toes in the water.
96. Seek out a petting zoo and spend an afternoon feeding local animals.
97. Two words: Renaissance faire.
98. Wander through an outdoor flea market.
99. Treat yourself to a real outdoor adventure by visiting a ziplining, white water rafting, or skydiving facility.
100. Visit the nearest zoo. Bonus points if you bring home a plushie of your favorite zoo animal.
101. Meet a far-away friend halfway between your locations, stopping for lunch at a park by the meeting spot.
This piece is part of Get Outside Month, where we’re covering all things out-of-the-house, from curb appeal tips to al fresco hobby ideas. Whether you have a backyard, a patio, or 1 square foot of a fire escape. Head over here to read more!