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10 Microadventures Close to Home

Making the Most of Time Outside

For many who don’t have mountains in their backyard, this past year has held a lot of disappointment. While canceled trips are always a bummer, you can still get out and after it close to home. Below are 10 microadventures you can take with adequate social distancing and proper personal protection.

 Go On A Nature Walk 

Even city centers can be great places to view wildlife—New York City has reported over 400 unique bird species sightings as of 2020. Once you start looking, you might be surprised at the biodiversity you find in your backyard. Use free apps like Seek by inaturalist to identify plants and insects or Merlin Bird ID to identify birds. Additionally, seasonal migrations are a great opportunity to see species that are not common in your area.

Plan a Picnic 

 One word: charcuterie. Pack an elaborate snack and head to a local park. It’s winter? Even better–chances are you’ll have the park to yourself! Bundle up, pack a blanket, and enjoy a steaming cup of cocoa in the winter sunshine.

Herd Hack: Sit on a sleeping pad to insulate you against the ground.

Hike Under A Full Moon

The world looks different in the moonlight. Not everyone has the fortune to see stars in their area, but a full moon is accessible to all. Bundle up, grab a warm beverage, and take note of how your neighborhood transforms. If you’re feeling adventurous, remix your picnic and make it a late-night feast.

Visit Your State Parks

Move over, Yellowstone. Local green spaces are some of the most underrated places to adventure. Often less crowded and with the added benefit of being close to home, most state parks are listed on the department of natural resources webpage, and a quick internet search can get you started. Want to go above and beyond? Set a goal to visit all the state parks and natural areas within a 50-mile radius of your home.

Sleep Outside

 Sleeping outside is a great way to take a break from the day-to-day noise and reset your circadian rhythm. This doesn’t always mean camping next to a pristine alpine lake, it could look like sleeping under a tarp on your parents’ back porch. If that’s not your idea of fun, bring “outside” in during the winter months—wake up with the sun if your schedule permits, or keep your windows open for a night. Alternatively, put a tent up in your living room and watch an adventure movie.

Switch Up Your Commute

If you’re still commuting, try to sneak in a little exercise. If you take the subway, get off a few stops early and walk or bike the rest of the way. If you’re already biking, try walking instead. Pick a day to have an extended commute time and see if a little extra morning meditation improves your day. If you’re stuck at home, set aside time to take a walk in the morning.

Take An Arbitrary Trip

 Order carry-out from a restaurant twenty miles away and bike to go pick it up. Meet a friend somewhere interesting halfway between your two houses. No bike? No car? No problem. Pick any spot on the map that’s just a little bit uncomfortable to reach by your mode of transportation. Pack snacks, take pictures, and enjoy the journey.

Enjoy Your Favorite Outdoor Sport In New Ways

While it’s not the same as the flow state achieved from a perfect ride, or the adrenaline rush before dropping into a chute, there are plenty of other fun things you can do. Do you like bikes? Try bike polo. Do you like hiking? Try rucking. Is climbing more your thing? Maybe parkour is the urban sport for you. Cast aside your notions about what outdoor adventure should be and open yourself up to what these pursuits can be. 

Walk Some Shelter Dogs

Many shelters rely on volunteers to help their dogs get exercise and socialization. By walking a shelter dog, you can get your dog fix and one lucky pup will get some exercise and affection. Some shelters welcome walk-ins and some require training, so contact your local shelter for their specific preferences, but dogs make everything better so it’s worth it. 

Volunteer For A Trail Or Community Cleanup 

Beautify the areas near you while learning about other trails and green spaces you might not know about already.  Most organizations that host these events are happy to share information on the best places to get out. Are there no community cleanups going no near you? Organize your own!

Times are tough for a lot of reasons, but lack of outdoor access doesn’t have to be one of them, and it’s safe to say we all feel better when we get outside. Who knows? Maybe you’ll develop a newfound appreciation for your neighborhood or discover a new, perfect place to watch the sunset. Maybe there’s a dog waiting in the shelter that you’re destined to meet, or you’re actually the parkour master the world has been waiting for. Whatever your microadventure may be, go out and get after it.

Claire Schraidt is a freshwater ecologist and outdoor enthusiast currently based in Indiana. Outside of wrestling fish for science, Claire enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and sleeping outside whenever possible. Follow her on Instagram @claribouthecaribou.