Did you know that most American adults spend 22 hours each day surrounded by four walls and a ceiling? What’s more alarming is that we’ve grown accustomed to a totally indoor and largely sedentary lifestyle.
If you want to find out how to get outside more in 2023, we’ve got 32 simple ideas that anyone can do. Get ready for more fresh air, more adventures, and more exercise.
Let’s commit to making the coming year more balanced. For me, that means spending more time outdoors and less time in front of a screen.
Join me as I pledge to close my laptop and get outside for at least an hour every day, with bigger adventures on the weekend. I’m not looking for a big workout – just some more fresh air and movement. I’m seeking more sunshine. More mountains. More mud. More adventures.
Spending time outside contributes to a healthier mind, body, and spirit, and if you’re going to make a New Year’s Resolution for 2023, this is one that offers big returns!
Here are some of the best ways to get off the couch and out the door — 32 simple activities that are great for everyone wondering how to get outside more in 2023.
Table of Contents
How to Get Outside More in the Winter
1. Go Snowshoeing on Local Trails
If you live in a place with snowy winters, snowshoeing is an awesome way to get some exercise while exploring local trails. Of all the winter sports you could learn this year, snowshoeing is the easiest and most affordable. You can score snowshoes for under $100 if you wait for deals to come along, and it’s basically putting one foot in front of the other. Yes, you’ll expend more energy than a walk in the park, but you’ll also get your heart pumping.
Start snowshoeing on flat trails and move on to more hilly terrain as you start to feel more comfortable. Here’s a guide to snowshoeing with kids and a guide to snowshoeing with dogs to help you get started.
2. Walk your Dog (or Get a Dog)
Dogs are awesome motivators. They embrace the outdoors rain or shine, and they will never say no to an adventure, even if it’s a walk around the block. I think finding a dog to walk with is my number one tip for getting outside, so if you’re a dog lover, get out there and explore together.
If you don’t have a dog of your own, I’m sure you have friends who would love a day off from walking their own dogs (I can give you my number if you’re local to VT). You can also volunteer to walk dogs at your local animal shelter.
3. Use an Activity Tracker to Monitor Your Steps
My Fitbit and I are pretty close, and while I know that activity trackers aren’t for everyone, they do a great job of encouraging you to up your exercise game. You can purchase a fancy-schmancy GPS smartwatch that measures everything from your sleep patterns to your oxygen levels, or you can opt for a more affordable version that tracks your steps and a few extras to help you keep moving.
4. Get to Know Your Local Birds
Birds are so accessible. They don’t seem to mind people, they lead interesting lives, and you can find them just about everywhere. If you live in a northern climate, you’ll find that winter is a great time to get started with bird watching. That’s because very few species stick around once the snow starts flying, and the ones that do stay are easy to identify.
Need some tips for getting started with birdwatching? We’ve got a great guide for birding with children, but it’s ideal for beginners too!
5. Try Winter Glamping
If your outdoor adventures tend to end in the winter, I urge you to give glamping a try. What started out as a way for campers to sleep in a real bed while camping has evolved into all types of outdoor-based lodging opportunities. Sleep in a treehouse, a yurt, a log cabin — whatever your heart desires!
I was bitten hard by the glamping bug a few years ago, and now I aim for a glamping weekend to get me through each month of winter. We use VRBO and Hipcamp to find glamping properties all over the United States. Check out our glamping resource guide to help you get started.
6. Have a Winter Fire Outdoors
Campfires are fun all through the year, but they’re especially alluring in the winter when it gets dark early and the warmth and light draw you close to one another. Tempt your friends and family to join you outdoors by offering to make some inspiring hot beverages that are perfect for hanging out by the fire. Play games. Tell stories. Sing songs. And pretend the internet doesn’t exist.
7. Soak in Some Hot Springs
If you live within 100 miles of some natural hot springs, I already envy you. Please take advantage of them! Here are some of our favorite hot springs in the USA. Since we don’t live anywhere near hot springs here in Vermont, we just have to find friends with hot tubs, but hot springs are so much more enticing.
8. Build a Snowman
Or a snow dog, a snow mermaid, or a snow fort. Snow play isn’t just for kids! Building and creating in the snow is sort of like meditating. Breathe in the fresh air, focus on your creation, and relax into the cold. Even without children, it’s an adventure!
9. Go Ice Skating
If you live in the northern half of the country, I bet there’s an outdoor ice skating rink near you. Ice skating is a great winter activity and will keep you warm on the chilliest of days, especially if you’ve got your hand warmers inside your mittens.
Live in Vermont? Check out the Skate Trail on Lake Morey in Fairlee. At 4.3 miles, this is the longest skating trail in the United States.
10. Investigate Tracks in Your Yard or Local Park
After a snowfall is a perfect time to find out who’s been visiting your yard or park when nobody else is around. Grab your favorite tracking guide and head out to explore the snowy woods. Here in Southern Vermont, we often see raccoons, deer, turkey, and squirrel tracks, but sometimes we see signs of bobcat, moose, and otter too.
How to Get Outside More in the Spring
11. Go Fishing
I love casting a line into a lake or stream and just chilling out for a bit. Some people fish for dinner, some for fun, others as a form of relaxation. I hardly ever catch anything and it doesn’t much matter. It’s a great way to get outside and really take in your natural surroundings.
If you are new to fishing and don’t have the equipment you need, check with state parks in your area. Vermont State Parks loan fishing equipment out to visitors and sell fishing licenses too.
12. Plant a Garden
A garden is a gift that keeps on giving. Not only will you get to harvest your own fruits and veggies, but if you’re one of those people that needs a task to enjoy the outdoors, caring for the garden is one of the best. There are lots to accomplish out there — planting, weeding, hoeing, harvesting.
I can’t think of many activities that are more enjoyable. You can even make working in the garden an exercise in mindfulness. In fact, one of the reasons I haven’t made the move to travel full-time is that I would miss my garden too much.
If you can’t plant a garden of your own, volunteer to work in your local botanical gardens, or even in your friend’s backyard.
13. Chase Waterfalls
Because snowmelt and spring rains increase the volume of our rivers, it’s definitely the best time to check out your local waterfalls. One of our all-time favorite vacations was a wine and waterfall road trip in the Finger Lakes region of New York, but there are cool waterfalls in every state. Bring your camera, pack a picnic, and be prepared to get wet!
14. Take up Photography
And speaking of cameras, practicing photography is one of the best ways to get creative outdoors, especially since most people carry a smartphone camera around with them anyway.
Aside from my dogs, my camera is my most trusty sidekick. Learning and practicing is a great incentive to get outside, especially during the golden hour near sunrise and sunset.
15. Forage for Spring Edibles
Have you ever harvested your own food from the woods? There are so many interesting goodies to harvest and eat. Here in the northeast, we’ve got fiddleheads, ramps, and morels coming up in the spring, plus all kinds of tasty greens that are full of nutrition. Foraging is one of my favorite ways to spend a spring afternoon.
Check out our guide to easy foraging in the spring to get started!
How to Get Outside More in the Summer
16. Visit Your Local Swimming Hole
Vermont is the only landlocked New England state, so we’ve taken to visiting little swimming holes in the summer. If you live near the ocean or a lake, you can certainly take advantage of more open-water swimming.
Whether you choose to make a day of it or spend a late afternoon after work, swimming holes are one of the best spots to relax, cool off, and spend time outdoors.
17. Have a Picnic
Eating outside is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you keep a picnic basket in the car with some basic necessities, you’ll always be ready for a roadside meal. We love impromptu picnics during the weeks and planned, leisurely affairs on the weekends. You can even picnic in the backyard if you’re strapped for time.
Check out our guide to planning the perfect road trip picnic, which includes all the essential gear, plus some great recipes.
18. Go River Tubing
Have you ever floated down a river in an inner tube? It’s like a wild and natural lazy river ride – the perfect way to enjoy a hot summer day, especially if you have kids. Tube rentals are available in just about every state, and most outfitters that specialize in float trips will shuttle you upstream so you can float back to your car.
Choose a float trip based on your experience and the time you want to commit, but most tubing adventures last at least a few hours, and there are even multi-day tubing trips in some locations. Tubing is absolutely one of the greatest American summertime activities ever.
19. Kayak or Canoe Your Favorite Lake or River
It’s no coincidence that many of my summer suggestions for getting outside involve spending time on the water. Paddling a kayak or a canoe allows you to explore all the nooks and crannies of your favorite lake, pond, or river, and it’s suitable for beginners.
Don’t own your own boat? Check with your local state park — many will have rentals you can use to explore. Be sure to pack the essentials – water for drinking, snacks, sunscreen, and a brimmed hat.
20. Hike a Local Trail
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of hiking; it’s really just putting one foot in front of the other. Start on easy, flat trails, and as you build endurance and strength, you can tackle longer trails with more elevation gain. Whether you live in the city, country, or suburbs, there’s likely a trail worth exploring nearby. Create an account and search for ideas on AllTrails, grab a friend, and hit the trail.
21. Plan a Trip to a National Park
While there are just 62 designated national parks in the United States (mostly in the west), there are more than 423 national historic parks, sites, military sites, battlefields, lakeshores, memorials, and monuments.
These are our iconic American treasures, and every single one is worth exploring. Not only will you get outside, but you’ll also learn about our nation’s natural, geological, and cultural history. Before setting out, read our guide to hiking and camping in our national parks.
22. Visit Your Local Farmers’ Market
Outdoor farmers’ markets are popular across the country, and they are a festive way to meet your neighbors, buy some local produce, and even listen to music outdoors. Stock up on your produce for the week, enjoy a cup of tea, and thank the farmers that make it all possible.
23. Go Fly a Kite
How long has it been since you’ve flown a kite? This is a fun activity to do with the kids in your life, but just as relaxing if you’re alone. If you’ve always found kite flying to be rather boring, try flying a stunt kite — it’s way more adventurous. This is the one we have, and flying it is far from boring. We even get some exercise!
24. Set up a Hammock and Relax
Getting outside isn’t always about adventuring, or even getting some exercise. Sometimes relaxing in the sunshine can be just as beneficial as a good workout. Strap a hammock between two trees and enjoy the day! We reviewed the Kammok all-in-one camping hammock this summer — it was one of our favorite products of the year.
25. Take Advantage of Festival Season
Summer is definitely festival season, whether you’re into music, theater, film, or good food. Visit your local tourism board to find the best festivals in your area, and head out for the weekend or just an afternoon.
Get Outside in the Fall
26. Check out the Fall Foliage
Fall is a beautiful season just about everywhere. In Vermont, we are lucky to be blessed with fabulous colors throughout the whole month of October. It’s the perfect time to meander back roads, hike a trail, or practice photography. If ever there was a time to get out and explore with your camera, autumn is it!
27. Rake up Your Leaves
So, raking leaves used to rank about as high as washing dishes and mopping floors on my list of chores. But once I changed my mindset, and started looking at it as a great workout in the crisp fall air, I really started to enjoy it. Raking is the only way to go for me — leaf blowers drive me insane.
28. Go Mushroom Hunting
Even if you aren’t into eating wild mushrooms, you can still enjoy finding them in the woods and trying to figure out what they are. In the northern reaches of the USA, you’ll find mushrooms from spring until fall, but there’s often a huge variety popping up in the autumn. We love to collect them and make spore prints to hang on the wall.
29. Go Apple Picking
Fall is the best time to stock up on crisp apples from your local orchard. Apple picking is a quintessential autumn activity throughout much of the US. Make a day of it and plan a picnic, followed by an evening in the kitchen, where you can cook your harvest into pies, crisps, and sauce.
30. Try Geocaching or Letterboxing
When my kids were little, they really needed a boost to get out the door. Letterboxing was our answer. Both letterboxing and geocaching are like outdoor treasure hunts. With letterboxing, you follow written instructions to find a little box with a rubber stamp, journal, and ink pad in it. You stamp your own journal with the letterbox stamp and stamp the letterbox journal with your homemade stamp. Finally, you add a note to the journal, and you’re done.
Geocaching involves using a GPS device. You hunt down a treasure box that usually contains trinkets, money, or toys. You take a treasure and leave one of your own.
31. Go Hot-Air Ballooning (or Just go to a Balloon Festival)
I’ll admit that I’ve never flown in a hot-air balloon, but I’m desperate to give it a shot (I have to overcome my fear of heights first). I have been to lots of balloon festivals though, and they’re such a fun experience, especially if you’re into photography. Festivals take place around the USA all through the year. Here are some of the top hot air balloon festivals to help you get started.
32. Head to a Fall Festival Near You
Harvest festivals celebrate the abundance of the season, and they’re great family-friendly events. In Vermont, we have fall foliage festivals, an apple pie festival, and a traditional Oktoberfest. Across the country, there are pumpkin festivals, pecan festivals, cranberry festivals, sheep festivals, and more. You could visit a fall festival every weekend through September and October, and find something new and intriguing everywhere you go.
Ready to make this year the most adventurous year ever? Forget the binge-watching, the couch-potatoing, and the Facebooking. Let’s make this the year to get outside!
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Tara is a freelance writer and travel blogger with a passion for outdoor adventures. She is the co-author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont and currently blogs at Back Road Ramblers and Vermont Explored, where she shares travel tips, adventure destinations, and vacation ideas for the wanderer in everyone.