Back to Nature!

Family relaxes in a hammockSure, going camping is a blast, but camping requires time and equipment, both of which might be in short supply. Fortunately, relaxing in the great outdoors can be as easy as stretching out on a beach towel in the backyard or heading for the nearest park. Or, if you’d like to add a dash of learning to your back-to-nature fun, try exploring some of these options:

  • U-pick/pick-your-own orchards and farms are a great way to learn about fruits and veggies, plus you can’t get fresher produce for dinner! No matter where you live, odds are there’s a u-pick farm in your area. Check http://www.pickyourown.org/ to see what luscious produce is ripe for picking!
  • Into mushrooms? Try joining a mushroom hunt! Mushrooms are prolific in nearly every area of the country. Just do a search online for “mushroom hunting groups + your state/region” to find hunts near you. Most are open to the public.
  • Metropolitan areas usually feature several nature centers scattered throughout the region—often, each large city has its own. Nature centers host lots of educations events, ranging from tapping maples for syrup in spring to guided walks in the winter. Centers usually host programs for kids in the summer, too.
  • Botanical gardens are cultivated, not wild, but they’re great places to go if you want to see a wide variety of non-native flora. Lots of gardens have different biodomes that allow you to see what nature looks like in deserts, rainforests, and wetlands. Talk about a lot of fun learning in one place! And most are open year-round.
  • If you want to experience what life is like on a real farm, book a room at a farmstay. You’ll get to live and work alongside the farmers and see how food is grown, produced, and enjoyed. Browse through farmstayus.com to find farms for guest who want an authentic farm experience.
  • Looking to add a soundtrack to the great outdoors? Check your city’s community events calendar to find concerts in the parks. From local folk performers to multi-stage jazz festivals, the list of summer outdoor concerts is never ending! Often, the most relaxing events to attend are right around the corner in a neighborhood park.
  • Metro parks and state parks offer a wide range of activities, from lounging on beaches and picnicking under pavilions to renting kayaks and riding through the parks on bike trails. Parks are a great place to host parties, too, whether you’re planning a family reunion or just want an excuse to be outside. Renting a pavilion doesn’t cost much, and then you’ll know you have a guaranteed party pad.
  • Last but not least, don’t forget about the backyard! No patio or deck needed—just string a hammock between two trees, set a wrought-iron bistro table and chairs right onto the lawn, get a portable firepit, or do whatever else you like. The most important thing is to enjoy your green space!

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