With the arrival of spring and warmer weather, I find that we are spending more time outdoors. I love this season of the year when the temperatures aren’t too cool anymore and not blazing hot like it will be in a couple of months. Most of us will probably never be able to live at our own Walden Pond, but we can make time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors where we are.
Since my switch to a simple life, I have found that I value the outdoors and enjoying our natural surroundings more than ever before. With little to no cost, and lots of opportunities for learning, exercise and quiet enjoyment, spending time outdoors is an activity for everyone. I am trying to help my children find this same appreciation by exposing them to more outdoor activities.
I have chosen to make spending time outside a priority in our lives.
This list of activities contains a few ideas that I have found compliment our slower pace and simpler lifestyle and are enjoyable to do by yourself or with others. They are little to no-cost activities, which make them even better!
-Take a walk. Whether in your neighborhood or a local park, taking regular walks has wonderful benefits and is a great way to experience the outdoors and your natural surroundings.
-2 Hour Trips. I like to plan day or weekend trips to various destinations within a 120 mile radius of our home. It’s fun to use a compass and pinpoint your home, draw the circle and choose a destination to explore. Most towns and cities will have something that makes them unique, make it an adventure to find out what it is.
-Geocaching. I haven’t tried this myself yet, but I’ve done a lot of research on it. Basically, you have a stamp book, and through outdoor ‘treasure hunts’, you locate boxes with stamps people have hidden in public areas all over the U.S. When you find them, you stamp your book and replace the box for the next person. I am waiting for my kiddos to get just a little older, but it sounds like so much fun and a wonderful way to explore the outdoors!
-Visit local beaches, lakes, botanical gardens and nature trails. Most cities have public gardens or park trails available, most of them are free, or have specific days when they are free to the public. Take along a picnic lunch and spend an hour or two just walking. If you live near a beach, lake or river, take some fishing gear and spend the afternoon.
-Take a bike ride. There are few things as fulfilling as a slow, leisurely bike ride outdoors in beautiful weather. Aside from being a great form of exercise, it gives you a chance to explore a few more miles than you would walking.
-Explore a mysterious road. When I was a kid and we first moved out to our desert home, there were lots of dirt roads that looked to me like they just led to nowhere in particular. I would always ask my mom if we could go down the ‘mysterious road’. As an adult, I’m still drawn to explore out of the way, winding roads. Take a walk down one of these roads, or roll down your car windows for some fresh air and see where it leads you.
-Go camping. Whether you are camping in your backyard with the kids, or go trekking into a national park for some off grid time, camping is one of the best ways I’ve found to get back in touch with Mother Nature. We alternate between tent and cabin camping, but we make sure to get at least 3-4 campouts in each year.
-Take a nature road trip. If you’ve got a bit more time and money to spend, consider taking a nature focused road trip. Plan your route, mapping out national parks, gardens and natural landmarks that you can stop at and enjoy. Stopping and getting out of the car in the outdoors will break the driving time up and is a great way to enjoy different scenery and climates.
-Work out in the yard. This may not seem like a lot of fun, but working in the yard is actually one of my favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors. There is a sense of contentment that settles over me while I’m raking the grass, watering the garden or pulling some weeds. Give it a try, maybe you’ll love it too.
Living a simple life seems to draw people naturally to the great outdoors, providing deep contentment, ample room and environment for quiet contemplation of what is important in life. In addition to the mental benefits, most outdoor activities naturally provide opportunity for exercise and a big dose of fresh air and Vitamin D.
Cultivating an appreciation for our natural surroundings and finding enjoyment in it also teaches us to find happiness in the simplest things in life, things that don’t cost money, are available to all and espouse the ideals of simple living.
Thank you to Laura Fox, the wonderful photographer who provided the beautiful photo of Zion’s Falls above.