|May 14, 2024

6 Fun Outdoor Activities Anyone Can Do (And Why You Should)

By Sarah Kuta
Reviewed by Emily Gonzalez, ND for Scientific Accuracy

6 Fun Outdoor Activities Anyone Can Do (And Why You Should)

  • Outdoor activities are fun, low-stress and affordable ways to spend the summer months.
  • Spending time in nature can provide mental and physical health benefits, which range from improved concentration to stronger immune function.
  • Set aside time for the kids, too. Obstacle courses and scavenger hunts are just two great ways to engage your entire clan.

Many of us have fond childhood memories of spending endless hours outside, playing games with siblings and neighbors until sunset, when it was time to head home for dinner. But, as we grew up—and took on way more responsibilities—those moments became increasingly rare. Then, for far too many of us, the concept of outdoor living disappeared, entirely.

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of daily life—getting to work on time, shuttling the kids to and from sports practice, taking care of aging relatives, running from social engagement to social engagement—it’s easy to deprioritize spending time in nature and doing fun things as a family. However, the best outdoor activities can help you recharge your batteries, while also providing a pathway to be more connected with your community, the world around you and the people in your life who matter most.

If you’re looking for creative ways to get outside and make new memories, read on for some inspiration on how to crank up the fun under the sun!

The health benefits of outdoor activities

Woman smiling at sunset

Outdoor activities are downright fun, plain and simple. Getting some fresh air and a little sunshine with the people you love, all while engaging your senses and your brain—what could be better than that? Along with being a healthy escape from a draining routine and providing new ways to bond with friends and family, there are actually proven health benefits of outdoor activities you may not even realize, including:

  • Increased vitamin D levels: There’s a reason vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” When you step out into the sunlight, your body responds by producing vitamin D, which helps support immune function, bone health and mental health. While you’ll soak up some rays during a summer afternoon carwash, a vitamin D supplement can provide your body with an extra dose. Bulletproof Vitamins A-D-K takes things a step further with science-backed doses of vitamins A and K, which, when combined with vitamin D, help maintain bone and heart health, as well as offering immune system support.
  • Better mood and improved self-esteem: If you’re not feeling totally like yourself, know that spending time outdoors can help you get into a better mood, while also boosting your self-esteem.[1] Getting some fresh air actually does have some merit, after all.
  • Heightened concentration: Want to perform better at work or school? Head outside! Spending time in nature has been linked with improved cognitive function and memory.[2]
  • Reduced stress levels: Nature is one of the best de-stressors out there (and it’s usually free or affordable to access). In fact, research has linked time spent in nature with lower blood pressure and reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol.[3]

6 fun outdoor activities to plan

You don’t have to be an extreme adventurer to enjoy being outside. On the contrary, even just stepping outside for a few deep breaths of fresh air can help brighten your day. If you’re looking for low-effort ways to spend time outdoors and engage your brain, consider these fun outdoor activities.

1. Play a chess game

Couple playing chess

Fold up your chessboard and head to a local park or nature preserve. Pack a few snacks, find a picnic table and make an afternoon out of this challenging and engaging game. Not only can playing chess help boost your memory, but it can also help protect against dementia. Plus, playing chess is a fun way to engage in a little friendly competition.[4][5]

2. Build a home garden

Woman harvesting lettuce from garden

Gardening is a rewarding way to bond as a family. To build a home garden, all you need to get started is a small plot of land in your yard, a shovel, a water source and some seeds. If you’re short on space, consider building a small container garden or using pots or planters. Many communities also offer community garden plots for an affordable fee.

Why garden? In addition to producing colorful flowers or nutritious fresh veggies and herbs, gardening has been linked with a host of health benefits, including lower stress levels, improved cognitive function and reduced depression and anxiety symptoms, just to name a few.[6]

Related: Locavore 101: How to Shop, Cook and Eat Locally

3. Create some art

Man painting

Even if you don’t consider yourself the next Picasso, you can still enjoy the creative perks of doing an art project outside. A simple set of watercolor paints is all you need to start painting “en plein air” at your nearby state park or even your own backyard. You can also relax in the fresh air while knitting, using modeling clay, cross-stitching, making collages, woodworking or doing other projects that get your artistic juices flowing.

4. Read a book on a hammock

Woman reading a book while laying on hammock

These days, hammocks are lightweight, affordable and easy to toss into a backpack for a day of relaxing adventures. Scope out the trees on your favorite hiking trails or string up your hammock on your patio, then engage your brain while reading a book.

Reading can help improve your cognitive function and even help stave off cognitive decline as you age.[7][8]

So you should never feel guilty about propping your feet up and reading a good book!

Related: 11 Relaxing Staycation Ideas for a Much-Needed Break

5. Sign up for a walking tour

Couple looking at a walking tour map

An easy way to get moving while doing something fun? Take a walking tour. Plan a day trip to a nearby city or book a walking tour of your town. After all, when was the last time you played tourist in your own community? Keep the momentum going by wandering through outdoor sculpture gardens or planning a photo scavenger hunt with outdoor murals.

In addition to being refreshing and fun, walking can help boost your heart health, strengthen your immune system and improve your mood.[9][10][11]

6. Visit a local farmers market

Woman shopping for vegetables at a farmers market

Strolling through the local farmers market is a great way to spend Saturday mornings. You’ll get some fresh air while deepening your connection to your community. And, you’ll feel good knowing your shopping trip is sustainable and helps support small businesses.

Strike up a conversation with a local farmer or rancher to learn more about their lifestyle. Let them steer you in the right direction with some fresh veggies, herbs and proteins for easy meal planning.

Enjoying outdoor activities with kids

Being a parent can be draining, but so can being a kid! Plan some outdoor time for everyone in the family with these fun outdoor activities for kids (and maybe pencil in some solo outdoor time for yourself, too):

  • Plan a picnic: For a change of scenery from the dining table, plan an outdoor picnic. Make and pack easy, nutritious treats to enjoy al fresco, then plan an after-meal activity for your little kiddos, like drawing with sidewalk chalk, running through the sprinklers, making mud pies or breaking out the hula hoops. Pro tip: Toss a few Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars in your picnic basket for sustained energy for mom and dad.
  • Design a scavenger hunt: Your children will love the thrill of running around your backyard or your local state park, searching for items and performing tasks on their nature scavenger hunt list. You can download a printable scavenger hunt template from the web, or create your own. Plus, many family-friendly outdoor spaces like botanical gardens and nature preserves also have pre-made scavenger hunt lists. This is a fun game that will engage the whole family both mentally and physically—just don’t forget the prizes!
  • Set up an obstacle course: Give the kiddos a fun challenge that tests their physical abilities. Get creative with different ways for them to work on their balance, flexibility and hand-eye coordination. And, make sure to cheer them on every step of the way.
  • Get into bird-watching: Encourage your children’s love of nature by taking them bird-watching, a low-effort outdoor activity that’s just as fun in the backyard as it is on a day trip. Plus, it’s an accessible activity that anyone can do year-round—and longtime birders say looking for a new bird feels just like a treasure hunt. Bonus points if you help your kids make their own DIY bird feeders to hang up!

The bottom line: Getting outside as a family is a great way to bond and make memories that will last a lifetime. In addition to deepening your relationships with each other, you’ll also reap the numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with spending time in nature. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.

Take advantage of the warm summer months while you can! Learn more about the health benefits of getting outside.

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