Wow. What a year! For many of us, it seems like it’s been a decade since we’ve been able to live lives as we normally would, but times are quickly changing now that the COVID-19 vaccinations are being distributed speedily across the nation. And, with summer around the corner, the timing couldn’t be better!
If you’re anything like me, jumping back into “normal” life can be a bit frightening after a year of social distancing and self-quarantining. We’re in need of a kickstart. The CDC is telling Americans that once you’ve been vaccinated, it’s safe to enjoy time with others who are fully vaccinated and to breathe fresh air without worrying about a mask as long as you aren’t in a crowd. But diving right into the deep end of the pool can be scary, so maybe it’s time we just put our toes into the shallow end and start from there.
With warm weather fast approaching, here is our list of some fun and safe outdoor activities that you can do after you’ve been fully vaccinated. Let’s get out there and start living life to the fullest again!
1. Let’s Go Jogging!
I know, jogging isn’t for everyone, but it’s one of the best exercises that you can do at any age and is particularly helpful for older adults. According to the US Department of Health and Human Service, Aerobic exercise helps you control your weight, build muscle strength, reduce body fat, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, build endurance, stave off depression and stress, increase energy and self-esteem, improve sleep and live longer
On top of just generally being good for you, jogging can be fun! It’s a great way to explore your neighborhood, your local park, or really any beautiful part of your city. You don’t need to feel like you’re in a race to enjoy jogging as an outdoor activity, you can go at your own pace. Use it as an opportunity to get back out there. Enjoy the fresh air, the sunshine, some greenery or beautiful architecture. Jogging can be a meditation and an exercise for your mind as much as it is for the body.
2. Go For A Hike
If jogging along a flat surface in your neighborhood doesn’t excite you, consider going for a hike. This may be one the most popular outdoor activities and it is picture perfect for anyone who’s fully vaccinated. Hiking gives you a chance to forget about those days stuck at home, watching Netflix documentaries about other people exploring the world.
Even if you don’t live near mountains, nearly any city has a nature reserve a short drive away and it makes for a splendid morning or afternoon safely outdoors. If you are new to hiking and not sure where to go, download the Alltrails app. It’s like Yelp for hiking trails and will show you all of the great places nearby for you to start your adventures. Just don’t forget a bottle of water and your sunscreen!
3. Outdoor Movie Night!
Sick of sitting on the couch, but not feeling ready to venture to the movie theater? Consider throwing outdoor movie nights all summer long for you and your vaccinated friends. You see, not all outdoor activities need to be exercise!
If you or one of your vaccinated family members has a nice back yard, just hang a white sheet on the side of the house, set up some chairs, pop some popcorn or maybe bake some brownies, and purchase an outdoor projector like this one for under $100 (the price of about 6 movie tickets) and become your own outdoor, socially distanced, CDC safe movie theater.
4. Take Up Photography
It seems like everyone is a photographer these days with their iPhones and Google Pixels, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Sure, it’s great to have access to your phone as a camera for life’s little moments, but the lost art of holding a real camera and taking stunning photos has been lost, but not forgotten. The best part of photography? It makes for one of the best outdoor activities after you’ve been vaccinated.
You don’t need the best camera out there to start up as an amateur photographer. You can start out with a lower tier Digital SLR from any of the top brands (just search for DSLR on Amazon or head to your local camera store) and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying this summer outdoors with a collection of great shots to show for it. You can even make it a goal to focus on a certain subject matter and print a coffee table book of your work and gift it to your family for the holidays.
5. Get Serious About BBQ
Grilling might not seem like a true outdoor activity, it might be a bit more utilitarian for most of us – just a way to cook some hamburgers or chicken breasts – but if you get real about this activity, you can easily turn it into a weekend hobby along with your other vaccinated family members and friends.
You’ve likely saved some cash this year while you stayed away from restaurants and bars, so maybe it’s time you upgrade your grill or even look into one of the newfangled electronic smokers that everyone seems to be loving. Buy a couple BBQ cookbooks, watch youtube videos on how to make the BBQ sauce from world famous Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, Texas, and invite your friends over for a weekly feast. Let’s file this one under “most delicious outdoor activities for after you’ve been vaccinated”.
6. Sports! Sports! Sports!
I hear it every day and thinking it myself: “my knees aren’t what they used to be.” But that’s no reason that you can’t get back out there and play some sports. Perhaps we aren’t quite ready to consider full contact sports like rugby or football. Maybe soccer is a bit too strenuous and puts us into contact that is a little too close for comfort in these early days post vaccination, but there are plenty of great sports that keep us socially distanced and won’t cause us to keel over in aches and pains.
Tennis is a great option as you can set up games with just your vaccinated friends. Maybe even get yourself a basketball and set up some 2 on 2 tournaments with your family. If you took up golf over the past year as a socially distanced past time, you can now consider getting into a golf cart, mask free, with your fully vaccinated friends and family. Talk about a great outdoor activity!
Looking for a sport that you may have never played before? Pickleball is possibly the fastest growing sport in America right now and is a stellar outdoor activity. It’s a combo of tennis, ping pong, and badminton. And also it’s super fun and there are courts opening up all over. Do a local Google search for it.
7. Build Something
Crammed indoors over the past year, many of us have taken up different crafting projects. We’ve been painting and puzzling, sewing and tinkering with house projects. Now that we’re able to spend time with our fully vaccinated friends, perhaps its time to go big.
Have you been thinking about buying a gazebo for the back yard? Are you looking to get a playhouse for the kids or grandkids? Why not invite a couple people over, hang out in the garage and the front yard and build something from scratch! Building things can be a great outdoor activity and with all of the guides on youtube or on blogs, with just a few tools and some lumber, nearly anything can be accomplished this summer.
8. Plant A Garden
One of the best outdoor activities is gardening. This is a tried and true way to get outdoors and now that you can invite some close friends over to spend time in your yard, perhaps its time to get down and dirty in order to beautify things. Gardening can be extremely relaxing and the results are relatively fast and awe inspiring. Whether you’re into colorful flowers or tasty vegetables, gardening is fun and great for the whole family. (Maybe team up with the other person in the house who wants to build something, and create a raised vegetable garden!)
9. Go People Watching
Typically this might not be on my list of favorite outdoor activities, but in a world that’s been hidden from one another for a year… this might be my favorite suggestion for the summer of 2021.
After all of this time spent indoors and days spent just with a very small circle, getting outside and just watching the world wake back up is inspiring. If you aren’t feeling super comfortable being around other people yet, you can even keep your mask on while sitting on a park bench. Really, this is just about getting outside and slowly realizing that things are starting to get back to their 2019 normal. Kids are playing in parks, people are back at outdoor seating restaurants, tourists are back to wandering shopping streets, and while it may be a bit different still, it’s good to see what’s going on and realize that we aren’t alone.
10. Read a Book
I’ve saved the most relaxing outdoor activity for this summer for last. Step away from the television. Escape the news stories, the reality show binge watching, and the true crime documentaries. Settle down with a good book and cold glass of lemonade and sit outside.
I often find that I’ll only do this on vacations. I’ll sit by the beach and read a book for hours on end. So why not do it at home? The escape for your mind is important and the relaxing value of reading with some sun on your shoulders can help you stay mentally healthy and excited about the year ahead.
Outdoor Activities Wrapped Up
Whatever you choose to do this summer, just be sure you’re still being safe. The fight with COVID-19 isn’t yet over – in fact, it’s still devastating parts of the world and many communities within the US – but with 30% of the US being fully vaccinated, we’re okay to get out there and to start living again. Choose the outdoor activities that you’ve missed and enjoy them with your other vaccinated friends and family members.