It’s only Wednesday, but I’m already daydreaming about the weekend. The weekend is a sacred time for many—especially when the weather is beautiful. It represents a chance to forget about the office for a little while and get carried away by May’s warm breeze. Unfortunately, sometimes the pressure to make the most of the coming weekend can prevent us from making meaningful plans. It can also be tricky to get out of a weekend rut—dinner and a movie is great, but we can get more creative than that!
This post offers a few simple, free or low-cost outdoor weekend activities that can be done with your boyfriend/girlfriend, family, friends—or just wonderful old you.
1. Visit your local farmer’s market. The outdoor market is such a refreshing change from the over-air conditioned grocery store—why not make an event out of it? Whether you go by yourself or a with friend, challenge yourself to find a piece of produce you’ve never had before and devise a creative recipe to feature it. (This is how I made friends with cilantro way back when.) Plus, the farmer’s market is your chance to wear that cute sun hat!
2. Walk through a new neighborhood. My fiancé and I go for walks after dinner almost every night (weather permitting). For the past several months, we’d been retracing our steps around the same cul de sacs and parking lots (ugh). One evening we explored past our usual route and discovered more quaint streets—which are especially lovely now that the rhododendrons are exploding in every shade of pink. Varying my route sparks my creativity and overall dreamy feelings.
3. Have a magazine date in the park. Magazines and coffee are high on my list of guilty pleasures. I’ve been poring over Vogue since I was fifteen, but lately I don’t have a whole lot of time to loll about with a mag—all the more reason to have a little magazine date with myself! I can’t imagine a more low stress outing than packing my tote with a thermos of coffee (with coconut creamer, of course!) and the latest glossy and heading to the neighborhood park.
4. Host a Vegan Happy Hour. Invite your friends over Friday evening for a casual, outdoor cocktail party. Encourage guests to bring their own cocktail concoctions if they feel so inspired. You may also consider serving one (or more!) of our 3 Delicious Spring Cocktails. And don’t forget munchies! Check out these mouthwatering vegan appetizers.
5. Drink lemonade on the porch. While we’re on the topics of drinks (I know, does it get any better than coffee and cocktails?!), let’s turn our attention to lemonade. Perhaps it’s growing up in the South, but no hot day seems complete without a few ice cubes clinking in your glass as you sit in a languidly rocking rocker. (Bonus points if it’s white whicker.) My version of lemonade is not a sugary treat however—it’s a tangy, healthy, fresh, cleansing beverage. Staying true to our country theme here, grab a big mason jar, drop in a little stevia, add juice from one lemon, then fill will filtered water. You can also add slices of fruit, frozen berries, or cucumbers. Now you’re ready to plant yourself on the porch and stare into the distance.
6. Pack an all-raw picnic. Of course, any picnic has magical potential, but there’s something extra special about an all-raw meal. Raw food is bursting with healthy-giving enzymes and antioxidants (that haven’t been harmed by even gentle cooking!). Make smoothies, guacomole and salsa with veggie chips, or zoodles (zucchini noodles) with pesto. Enjoy the green life around you as you consume living food.
7. Collect and press wildflowers. This was probably my favorite activity as a girl. I filled an entire mini-notebook with pressed violets and any other flora I could get my hands on. As a teenager, I pressed rose petals from the bouquets of gentlemen callers (okay, there was just one guy but he always brought nice flowers!). Pressed flowers can be used in homemade cards, collages, bookmarks, and artistic instagram photos. To press, place flower between two sheets of computer paper and insert in a large book—encyclopedias work well. Check back in a few weeks. Handle carefully since dried flowers can be brittle.
8. Be spiritual outdoors. Whether you practice zen mediation , earthing, or another form of spiritual mindfulness, allow the outdoors to enrich your spiritual journey. Find a quiet area, preferably not in direct sunlight (we don’t want to burn!) and spend ten or twenty minutes focusing on the feel of the earth underneath you and the fresh air going in and out of your lungs. You can also try running as mediation—go at a steady pace, focus on your posture and your surroundings, and allow thoughts to come and go with ease.
9. Journal outside. In addition to meditating, you can also journal outdoors. Journaling is a beautiful way to define and refine your personal goals, cope with emotions gone awry, and observe your surroundings. In fact, if you want to journal but you’re having trouble getting started, begin by simply detailing what you see. Additionally, free-writing can unlock strange and exciting associations. However you begin the journaling process, remember that there are no limits in personal writing—dwell in this freedom.
10. Tend a garden. Ah, the joys of a green thumb! Whether you’re cultivating your own garden or participating in a community garden, now is a wonderful time to get out there tend to your leafy friends. Watching something grow from a small seed to a strong, fertile plant inspires me with such tenderness and optimism (a feeling I also get when I sprout grains on my kitchen counter!). What’s more, you can also bring the fruits of your labor into your home—whether you arrange flowers in a vase or make pesto from scratch, you’ll feel more connected to the earth and present moment. Much better than any blockbuster, if you want my opinion.
Also see: 5 Benefits of Hiking
Joys of Joining a Community Garden
I Tried It: Zen Meditation Sangha
Photo: Mary Hood, Ineedcoffee via Flicker (latte photo), Samantha Lester (cocktail photo).