Spending time outdoors can be great for your overall physical and mental health, but sometimes it can be hard to make the time or know where to start. Here are some fun and relatively inexpensive ideas to get you outside and enjoying the great outdoors:

Stargaze – To get the most enjoyment out of stargazing, you should move away from the city lights because so many of the night sky’s wonders are hidden behind light pollution. Pick a night where the weather is clear and the sky isn’t cloudy. While the constellations, Milky Way and moon can be observed with the naked eye, if you want to up your stargazing experience and have a pair of regular binoculars laying around, you can actually see the craters in the moon with binoculars!

Picnic – In the words of Zooey Deschanel, “nothing is better than a picnic” – and we couldn’t agree more! There’s nothing like a traditional picnic with a wicker or wooden picnic basket and red checkered blanket, but you don’t have to be that fancy to still enjoy a nice picnic. Pick a day with pleasant weather, a scenic location and some great food and drinks to share with a few friends.

Geocaching – If you were a fan of pirates or treasure hunts as a child, Geocaching might be right up your alley! This activity can be played all over the world and all you need is a GPS, access to the internet and some free time to search for these hidden caches (stashed objects).

Bird Watching – Binoculars and a bird species guide are helpful for this activity, but they aren’t required.

Biking – Even if you don’t own a bike, that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy a leisurely bike ride or breezy commute. There are rentable bikes located all around the city! Take advantage of a sunny day to soak up some extra vitamin D.

Hiking – If you want to really be immersed in nature, take a hike! Walking trails, wooded areas, city parks and state parks offer beautiful scenery. The hike could be a time for meditation, a scavenger hunt to see how many (X) you see, or a neat photography session.

Kayaking or Canoeing – Improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility with this fun low impact outdoor activity! You can get up close and personal while interacting with nature whether it be by exploring the banks of hidden shorelines, circling a small island, getting <briefly> trapped in a forest of milfoil weeds or observing the wildlife without disrupting their activity.

Pick In-Season Fruit – Head to a local orchard to pick fresh produce while it’s in season:

  • Strawberries: Mid June – Early July
  • Raspberries: Late June – Late September
  • Blueberries: Late June – Late September
  • Cherries (Sweet): Late June – Mid August
  • Cherries (Sour): Early July – Mid August
  • Peaches: Mid August – Early October
  • Blackberries: Late August – Late September
  • Apples: Late August – Late October

Fishing – Fishing is another great way to enjoy time at a lake, pond or river. You can even fish from a kayak or canoe.

Nature Photography – Depending on what you want to photograph – whether it be landscapes, plants and fungi or animals – you could be up for an exciting adventure! Here are some tips for taking the best nature photos:

  • Invest in a great camera like a DSLR camera which allows full control of camera settings and customization
  • Wide angle zoom lenses are your friends!
  • Bring a tripod
  • Pay attention to lighting 
  • Research your area of interest beforehand so you understand the nature you plan to photograph
  • Be respectful of the wildlife

Pitch A Hammock – Whether you have a hammock with a stand or a camping hammock that can be strung up between 2 trees, there’s nothing more relaxing than pitching a hammock and reading or taking a nap outdoors.

Now that you have some ideas, get out and enjoy the great outdoors!