So the everyday workweek grind has taken its toll. Long hours, whether it is during the school year or at your job have finally started getting to you. You take a step back from whatever you’re doing and you start to daydream about vacations, relaxing, and just enjoying life in the way that only summertime can bring. Ideas bubble in your brain as you start to plan on your summer schedule, but soon you hit a wall. What can you do during the summer? You feel cramped from the long winter months spent inside and you just want to spread your wings and be active again! This article is to help everyone reading out there with their summer adventures by suggesting some of the many great activities that you can enjoy during your spare time. As a helpful tip, I’ll also provide the general price for each activity.
1. Do Outdoor Chores:
Remember that thing you’ve been putting off? You know, that tree that needs to be cut down? That fence that needs to be painted? Why not take advantage of the beautiful weather and do it? Drag your significant other or a friend along to help make the experience more enjoyable as you work. Having a companion can turn a dull activity into an enjoyable and productive afternoon. For me, the best example of this is washing my car. Alone, it is painfully tedious, but with my girlfriend it becomes a fun bonding experience. Trust me, when you’re finished you will feel accomplished and proud of your productive day. With this one, you actually save money by doing the work yourself rather than paying someone else to do it for you!
2. Try Your Hand at Geocaching!
Geocaching has been growing in popularity over the past few years and has become a staple in my summer activities. It has been likened to a global treasure hunt with thousands of participants. Essentially, a geocache is a container; maybe an ammo can in the wilderness or a film canister in a parking lot, that has been hidden from passerby in order to create a quasi-permanent treasurebox. The person who hid the container records the geographic coordinates using a gps device and then uploads them (usually along with a hint about the hiding spot) and then allows other people to search for the container using the same coordinates. All that is required to participate is a gps device or a smartphone with a geocaching specific application, and a free membership to www.geocaching.com. This is a nearly limitless game in which I have spent countless hours of my life enjoying. Head over to the website to see if there are any geocaches hidden near you! Keep in mind that while gps devices may be expensive, the smart phone applications are cheap or free in most cases.
3. Get fit!
This activity needs little introduction. Aside from the obvious physical and mental health benefits, getting fit gets you ready for swimsuit season (if that’s your thing) and opens up the opportunity to do more strenuous and fun things. Exercise can provide hours of productive and positive fun while also giving yourself a foundation for other, more physical summer activities. Get creative with this.
-You can go with the traditional gym membership, but this isn’t necessarily the best option for everybody. Realize that there are many more ways to improve your physical fitness than just this.
-Instead of the gym, gather a group of friends and play a pickup game of basketball, soccer, or any other sport once or twice a week. This will improve your cardiovascular fitness and also provide positive interaction with others.
-If you’d rather not play a sport, trying creating a consistent running or walking schedule. You can do this alone or with some friends with similar fitness goals. If the area where you live is usually too hot to run outside comfortably, try running in the morning or evening.
-Swimming and cycling are great alternatives to running! Create consistent schedules for whichever activity you prefer in order to maximize your improvement. If you’re worried about pools or streets being too crowded then go early in the morning. Children usually can’t drag their parents to the pool before noon and this tip also provides a healthy and energizing way to start off your day!
- Don’t disregard the traditional pushup and situp workout! This is a cheap (read free), simple, and effective method for improving personal fitness. There is a wealth of information out there on different types of pushups and situps that is at your disposal. A quick Google search can provide a completely free and effective pushup and situp workout that you can do every day!
-The best part about this activity is that for most of the options the price is free! Obviously, gym memberships cost money, but running, pushups, situps, and the like are available to everyone.
4./5./6. Hike/ Camp/ Commune with Nature
This is an exceedingly broad category with limitless potential for a great time. Outdoor adventures are an amazing stress reliever, as can be attested by the millions of Americans that venture into the wilderness every year, and a great way to sooth the modern day rushed mind. People have found peace and clarity in nature since the dawn of time and will continue to do so until doomsday. Take advantage of the summer months to enjoy some of these adventures.
-For the minimalist, try taking a walk through your local park. Beauty is everywhere if you just look for it. A free relaxing walk in the park might just be all you need to appreciate the outdoors.
-Research national parks and camping areas in your area. I can almost guarantee that there is a government funded nature area somewhere near where you reside. These national parks are little havens of wilderness that Uncle Sam has deemed protected from the touch of man. Serene natural beauty in the form of waterfalls, canyons, mountains, and overlooks could very well be just a short drive away. You’ll never know if you don’t search. Trails usually run throughout the parks, promoting hobbyist hiking and the appreciation of nature. Many of these areas are free, but some require a small parking fee. Look up your local national park’s website to find out for sure.
-Realize that the beach counts as nature too! A visit to a less popular beach can be very rewarding. To find one of these hidden gems, search the aforementioned national parks for wildlife preserves that include beach areas. These have restrictions placed against building business on or near the ocean, leaving pristine natural coastline for your enjoyment. Again, the site will be cheap or free. Warning! Some beaches are refuges that you cannot visit. Make sure this isn’t the case for your intended trip!
-Camping is another great way to appreciate nature. There are a multitude of state and local funded camping areas wherever you may live. Many of these national parks also have camping areas that you can stay in overnight. R/V camping has also become increasingly common in the last few years. To the more experienced outdoor adventurer, you may enjoy planning out a multi-day camping trip where you backpack out into the woods, enjoy the scenery and make camp for the night. Again, they are usually free but may have a parking fee.
-For the nature confident individual, try your hand at hiking parts or all of the Appalachian Trail or having week long canoe trip out to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. Both trips are said to be life-changing and one of a kind experiences. There is a variety of resources with information easily found through the internet. It is highly recommended that you plan these trips through an outfitter as they will make sure you are properly prepared for these kinds of adventures. Prices for these advanced trips range a good bit. You may save a few dollars if you have some of your own equipment to substitute for theirs.
7. Learn to slackline!
This is my personal summer hobby. Slacklining is essentially low-level tightrope walking. There are a few differences but the concept is the same. It is a surprisingly unknown phenomenon that is growing in the U.S. today. The idea is simple. You traverse a low (usually 3-4 foot high) flat nylon rope strung between two trees either barefoot or with flat shoes. At first, it will probably seem impossible. You will fall countless times as you work your skill level up. Don’t get discouraged! The beauty is that you will never fall far because the slackline is so low to the ground. Embrace the fact that it will be difficult for a while. It is part of the process and you should use it as motivation to continue. Usually, after 30 minutes to an hour of practicing, your body starts to “get it”. You’ll be able to stand for a little while. Gradually, after many practice sessions, you will be able to walk, jump, and do all sorts of fun things. Slacklining is great for the body, by improving core strength and flexibility, and also for the mind. It is very relaxing and many people use it as an outlet for meditation because it requires complete focus. The best thing about slacklining is that anybody can learn to do it. It just requires practice. In addition to the ease of access, it is a comparatively cheap hobby. Most slacklines run about 60-80 dollars. This includes essentially all of the necessary gear and that will last for many years of casual use. Gibbon slacklines is currently the most reviewed and trusted slackline provider out there. To increase generation of interest in slacklining, they have designed a unique slackline for newcomers to the sport.
8. Rock Climb
This one, on the other hand, is an established sport that also traverses many age groups. It is very popular among college students, but you’d be hard pressed to find a climbing gym without older members. Use Google to see if there are any rock climbing gyms in your area as they are a great way to get into the sport. They usually offer rental gear for relatively cheap, classes for beginners, and a variety of routes with different difficulty levels. Understand that these places offer the opportunity to climb in safety, whether with pads below the rock walls or belaying gear for higher problems. There is no better environment to learn to climb than with the help of people who have devoted their lives to the sport. Their expertise will guide you whether you just want to spend an afternoon on the wall or if you want to make turn it into a lifelong hobby. Prices vary from gym to gym but are rarely more than 20 dollars for an entire day’s worth of climbing.
9. Mountain Bike!
Mountain Biking is another outdoor hobby that is enjoyed by many nature enthusiasts. Check your local websites to see if there are any state-funded biking trails in your area. With any luck, there will be. This is becoming a common practice in state and local government as these can also double as hiking trails. Moutain biking is a great way to be active and enjoy the beauty of nature. The initial cost can be steep though! Good mountain bikes can range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, in addition to the cost of helmets and gear.
This is similar category of activities with a high initial cost. The amount of danger is also proportional to the price. Riding through the woods, up and down hills, makes for a great time, but take this warning. This activity is best done with someone who is already experienced in this area. Having someone to teach and guide you is much safer (and cheaper) than attempting to figure everything out yourself. You’re investing a few thousand dollars into these machines. The smart thing to do is to figure out how to use them before you crash your investment (or your life!).
11. Paintball With a Group!
Paintballing is a classic example of how to spend a summer day. This applies to adults too! Bringing a group of friends or family to a course can be a great way to kill the afternoon. After renting gear and guns, or bringing your own, the two (or more) teams just go at it. The goal is to shoot the opposing team(s), causing them to become “out”. After everyone on the opposing team is “out”, your team wins. There are plenty of other games you can play with this including; capture the flag, hostage, free-for-all, etc. The only limit is your imagination. Prices range around 30 dollars a person for a large group.
I hope this guide helped you in some way. I wrote it in order to improve at least someone’s summer experience this year. Please leave a comment saying what you think and how you felt about the article. Definitely leave suggestions if I left anything that’s dear to your heart out. I will give you credit for the suggestion.