5 Outside the Box Ways to Get Outdoors

April 24, 2020

If social distancing is leaving you craving some additional time outdoors, and your daily runs or patio happy hour are starting to feel a little too routine, we can relate. That’s why we created a list to inspire you with 5 new and different outdoor activities to get some fresh spring air and maybe a few more steps toward your move goal.

Outdoor Activity #1: Go Backyard Glamping

When is the last time you spent the night in the great outdoors? As the nights are getting warmer, it’s the ideal time to take advantage of beautiful weather. Create your best glamorous camping adventure with our steps below.

Create a cozy chic campsite

Once your tent is pitched, fill it with soft blankets and fluffy pillows. The more the merrier because is there really a thing as too many pillows? Then, hang some string lights across the inside of your tent and any nearby trees to add a touch of ambiance. To finish your idyllic campsite, add some fresh flowers and lanterns throughout.

Make comforting campfire cuisine

Okay, okay, we know that your HOA probably doesn’t allow for open flames, so an actual campfire may be out of the question. That doesn’t mean you can’t create some of your campground favorites with a couple of slight modifications.

The great part about glamping at home is you probably have a grill handy. If using a charcoal grill, you should be able to get the smoky flavors you’re craving. If using a gas grill, try adding some wood chips to a smoker box to infuse your food. Whether grilling a ribeye or burgers, the chargrilled taste is sure to give you campfire vibes.

There is something about camping that makes you reminisce about childhood favorites like s’mores. If you have an outdoor firepit, you can use it to roast your marshmallows for the perfect gooey treat. If not, don’t worry! You can order a s’mores maker with a disposable light to make s’mores in a snap.

Make it fun

Plan camping activities to keep the fun going even after the sun goes down.

  • Sing campfire songs: Campfire or no campfire, now’s your chance to dust off your guitar and sing some of your favorite tunes.  
  • Stargaze: With life a little slower nowadays, we have a little more time to notice the beauty all around us. Turn off all of the lights and see if you can identify any constellations.  
  • Play flashlight tag: If you’re backyard glamping with your kids, flashlight tag is always a hit.  
  • Tell ghost stories: This classic camping activity is sure to add a bone-chilling thrill to your night.
  • Watch a movie outside: Use a tablet or laptop to watch your favorite movie under the stars.
person retrieving a morel

Outdoor Activity #2: Go Mushroom Hunting

If you are a lover of all things mushroom and love exploring the woods, this unique outdoor activity is for you. Mushroom hunting is a fun way to get outside that will pay dividends. As morel mushrooms are currently in season, we asked our resident morel huntress, Paulette Hawkins, for some tips on hunting the elusive morel. Paulette is the Director of Operations at the Omni Customer Contact Center, but outside of work, she serves as the administrator of the Nebraska Morels community Facebook page, helping fellow mushroom hunters track finds across the state.

A few tips for morel hunting:

Where to find morels

Before you begin your hunt, make sure to research and understand state regulations regarding permissible areas to hunt and any requirements that may be in place. You can start by consulting your local Game and Parks Commission.
Once you’ve confirmed permissible areas to hunt, start your search in wooded areas surrounding rivers or streams. Mushrooms love sun and rain, so early in the season, try staying near the outside perimeter of the woods, where they are likely to get both. Later, when it gets much warmer, look where they may get more shade.

morel mushroom cut in half

How to identify a morel

If you are not an expert in mushroom identification, be sure to consult with one prior to consuming any wild mushrooms, as eating the wrong ones can be deadly. Typically, the outline of the mushroom should be continuous and should not overhang the stem. When cut in half, it should be hollow. If it has any solid parts, or if there is any cotton-like substance inside, throw it out! If you have any doubts, do not consume.

How to use them

Morels are a meaty mushroom that will add an earthy, nutty flavor to both food and drinks. Once you’ve collected your morels, you can use them to spruce up any dinner recipe or try one of these delicious recipesfrom our chefs. A couple of our favorites are the Morel Old Fashioned, a twist on the classic cocktail and delectable Charred Forager’s Toast for a unique brunch dish you won’t soon forget.

To learn more about morel mushroom hunting, read our full interview with Paulette in the How to Hunt Morels blog.

Outdoor Activity - Picnic

Outdoor Activity #3: Have a Picnic

Even if you’re in your own backyard, or apartment balcony, you can change up your everyday meal routine by creating a picnic with some picnic accessories, light foods, and refreshing drinks.

Setting

Set the scene by adding a few fun touches to enhance your surroundings. Bring a brightly colored blanket to sit on– a red-checkered pattern is always a classic. Set out a fresh vase of spring flowers for your centerpiece, and if your picnic is at sunset, bring candles or lanterns to add to the atmosphere.

Food

The perfect picnic foods are easy to carry and eat. For a simple but delicious option, throw together a charcuterie board with any meats, cheeses, olives, crackers, breads, fruits and vegetables you have on hand. Add any dips, spreads, or jams you like and assemble whimsically on a cheese plate or cutting board.

If you’re in the mood to cook up a new recipe, try one of these Omni original recipes featuring avocados, a great warm-weather go-to. Recreate the watermelon and avocado salad, for a light and refreshing dish, or the avocado grilled cheese for a heartier option.

Drinks

For the perfect picnic pairing, you can’t go wrong with a refreshing lemonade. If you’d like an option with a kick, try this honey grapefruit lemonade, using grapefruit vodka. Or, if melon is more your style, this honey melon mojito may be your new spring and summer favorite.

Outdoor Activity - Gardening

Outdoor Activity #4: Create a Garden

Now is the perfect time to start the garden that you’ve contemplated every spring. How amazing would it be to pick fresh vegetables and herbs to use in your summer recipes? Our mouths are watering just thinking about it.

If you weren’t born with a green thumb, there are a few vegetables that many longtime gardeners agree are the easiest to grow. This list includes common summer produce like cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, lettuce and tomatoes. Essentially everything you need for an amazing summer salad or a fresh, green side dish. Once you decide your favorites, make sure they grow well where you live. There are several resources to reference online, or you can contact your state’s local extension service for complimentary guidance.

A few key considerations when determining placement and upkeep of your garden are:

  • How much sunlight will your plants need?  
  • Is the soil suitable?
  • Is there enough space for your plants to thrive?
  • How much water do your plants require?
  • What weeds and pests will you need to address?

Since each plant varies in its optimal environment, it’s important to research the specific requirements of your plants to decide the best placement and care of your garden.

Outdoor Activity - Scavenger Hunt

Outdoor Activity #5: Go on a Scavenger Hunt

If you’re looking for a way to keep kids entertained for hours, a scavenger hunt is a great option. Whether you’re in a city or suburb, there are always new things to discover. You’re also bound to get some steps in toward your daily goal, which is always a bonus! A few options are:

Nature scavenger hunt

This is a great way to get kids exploring outside and learning. You can make a list of animals, insects, plants or a combination of things to identify in your own backyard, or drive to a nearby park or walking trail for a bigger adventure.

City scavenger hunt

If you live in a big city or can easily drive there, create a list of all of the historic buildings and landmarks downtown. This is a fun way for your kids to learn more about the city you live in!

Neighborhood scavenger hunt

Just because we may be social distancing doesn’t mean that we can’t still connect with our neighbors and friends. Take this time to set up a neighborhood scavenger hunt through your neighborhood Facebook group or email chain. You can arrange for each participating house to display something in their window for kids to find and mark off their list.

We hope this list inspired you with some new and interesting outdoor activities. Now layer on the SPF and head outside! If you feel so inclined, post your adventures with #omniathome so we can follow along.