5 Activities to Get You Outside This Summer

Teri Cettina

It’s a Tuesday afternoon and you want to do something outside this weekend. The kicker: You don’t have time to make reservations (most campsites and hotels at beach locales are already booked) and you’re not interested in doing any complicated activity planning.

We’ve got good news for you: There are literally dozens of simple but fun things you can do outside in the summer. Better yet, some of them may be things you’ve never tried before — which offers good brain and body training — or activities that could help you meet new friends. As with any summertime activity, be sure to prepare for the sun and the heat.

Here are five ideas to get you started:

1. Walk It Off

Walking is an activity that pretty much anyone can do. But to qualify as a fun weekend activity rather than just an exercise routine, your basic walk needs a little amping up. Some ways to add some bounce to your steps include:

  • Taking a walking tour. This is a great way to get to know a town you’re visiting. You can be a temporary tourist in your own town, too. Sign up for a group walking tour to learn about local history, flora and fauna, or even specialty topics like local ghost sightings (best appreciated during a night tour).
  • Walking with purpose. Got a fitness tracker? Challenge friends and see who can walk the most steps this weekend. Losers have to buy the winner coffee or drinks. Make the contest more enjoyable and get your steps in while you tour a local garden or arboretum. You’ll get plenty of outdoor time, and the interesting sights will make the miles fly by.
  • Walking someone’s dog. This is a great idea if you don’t have your own furry friend. Chances are good that a neighbor would appreciate a break from their dog-walking this weekend. Plus, dogs are great walking company, and tend to encourage chit-chat with passersby.

2. Click Away

You see your outdoor world a bit differently through the lens of a camera. So grab your camera or smartphone and spend a weekend collecting great images. Give yourself more incentive by coming up with a plan for using your photos:

  • Get crafty. Interesting images can be the basis for homemade greeting cards, calendars (great holiday gifts), computer desktop images, and more.
  • Challenge yourself. Sign up for the Instagram app, if you haven’t already. Next, search for an Instagram challenge to join, or create one of your own. For instance, challenge yourself to take and post a picture on Instagram every day throughout the summer. Or pick a specific theme for a 30-day photo challenge: “things that make me happy,” “cool stuff that’s red,” or “selfies with strangers.”

3. Go on a Treasure Hunt

Geocaching is the digital version of following a pirate’s treasure map. And if you’ve got grandkids, geocaching is an ideal way to get them outdoors. They can even bring along their electronic device — or borrow yours.

Geocaching involves using a smartphone or global positioning system (GPS) device to follow clues to a hidden (but above-ground) location called a “cache.” Caches are fun little containers filled with small trinkets, notes, a logbook, and possibly a disposable camera. You get to enjoy the find, and then leave it for the next searcher.

How to get started: Go to Geocaching.com and create a free account. This site gives you access to coordinates for more than two million cache sites around the country. Chances are good there are some search locations close to you. If you have a smartphone, download the free geocaching app and follow the clues to your cache site. With a GPS, you can simply program the coordinates into your device — but you may have to figure out exactly how to wind your way through to the final location, but that’s where the adventure happens.

4. Help Beautify Your Local Park

If you enjoy your local outdoor public spaces, why not offer to volunteer a little time to help keep them in tip-top shape? Most neighborhood parks and nature areas sponsor regular cleanup days. You’ll join an enthusiastic group, with people of all ages, who are ready to pick up trash, pull weeds, clear trails, and more.

You can work for just an hour or up to a full day, depending on the projects that need to be done. You may need to bring your own gloves, tools, and water bottle. Look for group cleanup listings on your park’s website, or on sites like Meetup or VolunteerMatch.

5. DIY Your Own Outdoor Area

If you’ll already be outside and sweating, you might as well put in some “sweat equity.” It’s time to use all the knowledge you’ve gleaned from a winter of binge-watching home and garden shows. A few ideas:

  • Create a simple outdoor fire pit with gravel and outdoor pavers.
  • Build your own raised vegetable beds.
  • Add a trellis to an unsightly outdoor wall and train a plant on it.
  • Install low-voltage outdoor lights to your yard.

Bonus Ideas: Revisit Your Favorites

And don’t forget to make time for some summer oldies-but-goodies:

  • Check local listings for outdoor concerts and other entertainment.
  • Pack a picnic and head to a favorite shady spot.
  • Find a friend who’d enjoy going for a bike ride.
  • Take out a kayak or rent one for the day.
  • Brush up on your tennis or golf skills.
  • Go camping, if you can reserve a last-minute spot — or just put up a tent in your backyard and “rough it” at home.

With a little forethought and imagination, you can come up with a list of weekend activities that will keep you busy all summer long. Better yet, most outings can be free or very inexpensive.

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