10 Activities for the Outdoors

If you’re looking to pick up a new hobby or to just switch up your weekend plans with some fresh ideas, this list is for you. From potentially finding a new lifelong passion to pushing yourself to try something new for a day, these bucket list ideas are sure to get your wheels spinning and your feet out the door!

1. Make a New Campfire Favorite Treat

Cooking is a great way to bring people together and creates lasting memories with loved ones—and all the better if you can do it outside! The great thing about cooking outdoors is that it doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, the simpler the better. Sweet or savory, you choose. Whether you cook things at home, freeze them for the road and reheat over the fire, or pack your own seasonings for on-the-spot meals, your friends are sure to celebrate your efforts around the evening flickering flames. S’mores never disappoint and allow for a classic yet simple option sure to send your camping pals to bed with sweet smiles on their faces.

Bonus points if you can surprise your friends out on the trail or around the campfire with your newfound go-to adventure treat—make simple ham & cheese sandwiches on potato rolls at home, wrap them in foil and store in the freezer, and then whip them out when it’s time for your camping trip! Just pull them out of the cooler and throw them onto the campfire to thaw for you and your camping pals. You can also sneak an artisan chocolate bar into your backpack for long hikes or backpacking—it’ll be a surefire way to delight and surprise your friends after a long tiring day out on the trail!

2. Changing Colors—Find Your Area’s Peak Season for Beautiful Colors and Seasonal Shifts

No matter where you are between the east and west coasts, make it a point to search for your area’s best seasonal colors. Whether it’s the bright colors and vibrant plants appearing during the spring or the mesmerizing autumnal shift from green to red or orange and yellow falling leaves, take some photos and print them out as new wall art to either hang at home or gift to a friend. And don’t forget to check your local time zones for sunrise and sunset times to get that picture-perfect portion of the daylight!

3. Bike a Segment of Route 66

Get your legs ready and pack your bags (or panniers, which are bags for your bike), because we’re going biking! From Chicago to sunny Los Angeles, there are 357 miles of the storied Route 66 that you can pedal—from the wide Oklahoma prairies, the rushing Mississippi River, and the historic sites of famous expeditions that helped shape the nation, you’ll pass through some legendary areas no matter which segment you choose. Make sure you triple check your bike and gear ahead of time and plan out your pit stops to refuel and recharge at grocery markets and cafes. Play it safe and switch over to Bicycle Route 66 for the westward bike-only path that parallels Route 66 to avoid its most trafficked sections.

4. Learn to Fish

As the saying goes, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. But make sure to be patient and remember that there’s a reason why they call it fishing not catching—while we can’t promise that you’ll be catching fish your first cast, we can promise that you’ll never forget the excitement you get when you catch your first fish. Fish on! Learn to tie some basic fishing knots and what bait/lures are best for the areas you plan to fish.

But before you go, you’ll need to buy a fishing license. And you’ll need to check online government and state resources to make sure you’re up to date on the hunting and fishing guidelines and regulations in each area (for both salt and freshwater fishing). These license fees and regulations help protect fish populations, keep our waterways beautiful, and protect our shared lands for generations to come.

5. Picnic by the Water

Whether you’re on a sandy beach or your favorite local riverbank, pack a picnic basket and a cooler of some tasty snacks and refreshing beverages for a peaceful afternoon. Bring a book and some shade covering for maximum relaxation! Bonus points for pulling up a chair and getting cozy with a paintbrush in hand or sketchbook to recreate some of nature’s beauty while you’re there!

P.S. don’t forget to pack the utensils to chop up some fresh fruits and veggies!

6. Outdoor Yoga

Channel your inner peace and quiet down for a much-needed change of pace. Select a handful of poses (or “asanas”) that you’d like to do, set the timer for 20 minutes, and start focusing on your breath as you ease into each pose for a few minutes. A fun way to mix it up is to find your favorite online yoga instructor and put on a pair of headphones so that you can enjoy “silent” outdoor yoga, too!

7. Run Your First Virtual Race

If you’re feeling ambitious and want to try something new, look for a virtual race to run in! There are tons of options out there that range in length (anywhere from 5 miles to 10 miles and all the way up to full marathons of 26 miles and more) and some can be done either outdoors, just around your neighborhood so you don’t  need to travel for it, or even indoors on a treadmill. One of the great things about virtual races is that you don’t have to start and finish them at any exact time like a usual in-person race—instead, you often can choose your own date and time to start your run!

8. Swim in All 5 of the Great Lakes

If you’re a water person at heart and can’t wait for summer to kick back up already, start prepping for a trip to the Great Lakes. Check off another item on your 2021 bucket list as you take a dip in each of the five Great Lakes that span throughout the northeastern part of the U.S. and into Canada—Lake Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario! Together they make up the largest freshwater system on the globe. Just make sure you’re ready for the cold-water temps and have a towel nearby to warm back up with as soon as you’re out!

9. Hot Springs

Hot springs are the perfect addition to a bucket list and are great almost all year long. Each little pool is a gift from nature and a wonderful way to unwind and soothe achy muscles. And best of all, you can find them all over the U.S., with some of the best throughout Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Oregon.

10. Sleep Under the Stars

This one takes some planning around the weather, but if you live in a place that’s seasonable enough at night on occasion to sleep outside or you can drive somewhere that’s far away enough from the city lights to see the night sky, then this one's for you!

Best case scenario, you can time this around cool astronomy and celestial events, like a full moon, meteor shower, northern lights, or aurora borealis. Bring an extra layer, a pair of gloves, wool socks, and a warm sleeping bag and padded sleeping mat to cozy up while you stargaze. A thermos of hot cocoa or tea wouldn’t hurt either!

Stargazing pro tip—there will be two Supermoons in 2021! According to many Northern Hemisphere cultures, the first one, on April 26/27, is also called a “Pink Moon,” and the second Supermoon, on May 26th, is also known as a “Flower Moon.”

Sleeping Outside pro tip—for every 1,000 ft. of elevation you go up, the temperature drops just more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit. So that means that if you’re sleeping at 3,000 ft, elevation, the temperature will be about 10 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is at sea level.