After this harrowing first half of 2020, many people have opted to stay home from their planned summer vacations. Flights have been canceled, hotels closed, and stay-near-home recommendations made due to Covid-19.
So, you might be looking for ways to get your family outside and have fun close to home this summer. Here are some ideas that will get you out of the house, but away from the crowds.
Get Up and Move
Up north, we don't waste summer. We only get three months of warm weather before another long winter. If you live in the Upper Midwest and don't love the cold, you better get a lot of physical activity crammed into June-July-August.
Walking is a great fallback plan that provides a good baseline of activity to your day. It can be a solo activity or social. My kid brother has been taking a walk EVERY DAY since school closed down months ago. I'm very impressed.
Biking can be a great way to explore your town along pathways you never noticed before. I find that when I go biking, I begin discovering a myriad of new ways to get places that are not open to cars. Biking is also faster than walking or running—and easier on your knees if that's a concern for you.
Rollerblading is less popular, but it deserves some attention. If your city has well-paved roads and trails, this can be great exercise. It's like taking a walk except you can cover twice the distance—and see twice the amount of scenery zoom by.
Backyard games like ladder ball and croquet can be a fun way to get some friendly competition going. Plus, there are a ton of great DIY yard game plans available on the internet. Maybe we'll have to dive into some of those on our YouTube channel this summer. Which would you like to see us make? Anyone up for DIY paracord ladderball?
We've been seeing a ton of people making #covidcrafts on social media. Indoor and outdoor crafts are a awesome way to accomplish something in your free time that you can be proud of. Consider taking on a large paracord project like a hammock or patio chair weave (coming soon!).
Woodworking is also a great way to get out of the house...and into the garage. You can use it as a way to snag some alone time or teach your kids some new skills. If you don't have a bunch of big power tools, don't worry! Follow Nick Offerman's advice instead. He believes the most fun in woodworking comes from using simple hand tools.
“Every operation with every tool in the shop is basically employing some version of [a] chisel. A table saw utilizes a few dozen little chisels on a spinning wheel. A plane or spokeshave is really just a wide chisel in a clever rigid frame for specialized cutting and shaving…If you can afford only one really nice chisel, shell out for a 1/2-inch or a 3/4-inch bench chisel and learn to properly sharpen it. Once you’ve experienced the power that a sharp chisel affords the woodworker, kid — you will be hooked.”
If woodworking sounds too ambitious, there are a ton of other creative hobbies you can try. For ideas, take a look at our list: Hobbies You'll Wish You Started During Quarantine.
Embark on a Mini Adventure
If you've never heard of Geocaching, you're in for a treat. It's a worldwide treasure hunt game that you can probably participate in less than a mile from wherever you live. There are nearly 500K hidden physical "caches" all over the United States and more around the world. They range in size from micro containers with only a find-log inside hidden under a park bench, to ammo-can-sized treasure troves hidden in the woods. All you need is a GPS enabled device. Sign up for an account at geochaching.com and download a free app like c.geo to get started. Maybe in a future post we'll show you how to hide your own geocache using paracord.
Larger caches have room to leave items for trading. Paracord bracelets or keychains would make excellent trade items.
Camping in the wilderness with a clear view of the starry sky is one of the most relaxing activities known to man. But a Backyard Campout can be a great way to get your kids used to sleeping outdoors or in a tent. An activity like this that's outside of their normal routine is sure to create lasting memories.
If they are old enough, you can teach them how to hang a bear bag or construct their own shelter using paracord.
If you live in a big city, you can still find a surprising amount of nature all around you. Take yourself—and your kids—out on a nature discovery walk. Learn the names for the trees in your area or check out a book from the library on local birds to watch for. If food is what motivates your family, find a place that lets visitors pick berries or other fresh fruits for a fee. I've found that when I don't step away from the modern hustle and bustle occasionally, I start to loose perspective.
We'll leave it up to you to decide what is best for the health of your family, but throwing a small Backyard BBQ with your neighbors or best friends is a great way to break the quarantine blues. Spread out the load of hosting by having them bring a dish or drink to share.
After a picnic, start up a game of catch. Whether or not you consider yourself athletic, a Frisbee (or "throwing disk" to avoid trademark infringement with Wham-O) is hands down one of the best objects for a game of catch. This is a favorite way of mine to stretch my legs on road trips—and it makes a great backyard activity too. One frisbee is all you need to keep 10 people entertained. Stand in a circle and chat casually throwing it back and forth, or start a game of ultimate frisbee or frisbee 500.
Keeping with the frisbee theme, a little less of an entry-level sport is frisbee golf (disk golf). Most cities have parks with baskets set up for playing this specialized version of golf using throwing disks. Perhaps you've seen one of these weird baskets in a park and wondered what it was.
We hope you are inspired by this list to break out from your usual summer routine and try something new in your area. Some of my favorite memories from growing up are of family vacations—and some of them happened pretty close to home.