Last summer, at least for me, was mostly spent either outside on hikes/walks with my family or inside playing lots of games. Not exactly what we all expected the summer of 2020 to look like, yet, it was still a time to be surrounded by family and to focus on ourselves. Seeing now that summer is coming and we still need to be careful with COVID-19, I wrote this list with the goal to make the summer of 2021 as fun and safe as possible.
- Do Small Acts of Kindness
The first, easiest, and probably one of the things that makes me the most happy is doing random acts of kindness. While this seems cheesy, it is the easiest way to put a smile on yourself and others. It's so easy to do this! By painting and placing rocks around your neighborhood, giving small compliments to those you see, cooking a family or friends a meal, volunteering online or in your community, and so many other small acts of kindness, the options are endless!
- Try Geocaching
An activity to get you out of the house and on a little adventure is geocaching. Geocaching is when you leave a little treasure or box for others to find. Your rules are your own. Some ask people to leave something, to write notes, and to sign their name and the date they found it. There are many apps for it, and it is so fun to bring a friend along and go searching for all these hidden treasures.
- Pick Fruit
While this takes a bit more planning, fruit picking is always a fun and delicious activity. While apples are only in the fall, over the summer in New England there are so many other fruits to be picked such as cherries, blueberries, peaches, and strawberries. You can bring friends and family along, and afterward, you can either have your delicious fruit or bake something with what you got.
- Have a Picnic
Going on a picnic may not be new, but it is always such a fun and COVID-19 friendly activity. During the summer, a friend and I would bring food and the materials for some sort of activity like painting supplies, DIY’s, podcasts, a frisbee, or ball to kick around. Plus, who doesn't love an amazing cheese board and good company?
- Go to a Drive-In Movie
Another that may cost a little, but is definitely worth it, is going to a drive-in movie. I could not tell you the last time I have seen a movie in a theater, but drive-in movies are definitely the second best if not better. Bringing a friend (or a few) and sitting under the stars in blankets watching a movie is always a fun go-to.
- Find Ways to Cool Off
While we cannot all be traveling to some beautiful beach this summer, you can always try and bring the water to you. I know finding nearby lakes or ponds was something I loved to do to beat the heat, but even that is not an option for everyone. Something some friends of mine did was get a kiddie pool to fill up and lay in. You could also bring it back to your childhood days by using a lawn sprinkler or water balloons. While this may not be for everyone, it’s always an option to try and cool off.
- Get Outdoors
Though I am sure everyone spent a lot of their summer 2020 outdoors, I always find that the outdoors is the best part about summer, so going on hikes is never out of the question. Any outdoor activity is always good to spend quality time with friends, whether it be hiking, maybe spend a weekend camping with friends, going kayaking, or finding a bike trail.
- Host a Cook Out
A way to keep things outdoors, and a bit safer, could be having a food cookout in your backyard. Maybe invite a small group to do a potluck of everyone's favorite dish, while distancing. You can always keep it smaller and just have your family roasting s'mores around a bonfire and talking under the stars.
- Find a Farmers Market
Finding a local farmers market is always another fun thing to do and could become a weekly thing to look forward to. You can get fresh vegetables and fruit, or see what others in your community are making. I know at the local Amherst farmers market people sell locally made skincare products, beautiful plants, handmade pottery and so much more than just fruits and veggies – though fresh fruit is always amazing too.
- Search for a New Favorite Shop
Trying new things is something I have not always liked until the pandemic hit. Then, I went on a mission to try every coffee shop in my town to find which one I thought was the best. Though this is not exactly a free activity, it is a fun and delicious one. Pick your favorite thing — ice cream, coffee, sushi, bubble tea, pastries — and find one person to go with you. This could be an activity that happens throughout the whole summer to find a new favorite shop. It is a way to find new hidden gems in your town and get some yummy treats too!
Though not everything is as back to normal as we hoped, it does not mean our summers have to be spent indoors and be boring. Try any one of these free and low-cost activities to have safe fun with friends and family. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what we do as long as it's with people whose company we enjoy.