Notes from the Perimeter

Thursday, May 23, 2013

30 Ways to Enjoy Summer in the City

Ah, summer!  Time to shed those layers, open the windows and head outside.  The season can invoke fantasies of pounding surf and golden sunsets, or tumbling creeks and soft nights garlanded with fireflies, but summer in the city can offer its own unique outdoor attractions.  Here are 30 suggestions for getting out and about in urban environments -- use them to spur your own imagination.
    1.    Explore opportunities to dine at different sidewalk cafes.
    2.    Contact a local animal shelter and offer to walk a dog.
    3.    Identify every small park in your neighborhood and have a picnic in each one.
    4.    Join a softball league.
    5.    Locate every community garden in your neighborhood and check out what's growing.
    6.    Pledge to rediscover your own city -- by walking.  Some cities are eminently walkable, others not so much, but every city has its own unique neighborhoods that are best explored on foot.
    7.    Find a roof garden, deck, porch or fire escape where you can sunbathe (with sunscreen, of course).
    8.    Volunteer some time with a children's outdoor summer program.
    9.    Make a list of farmers' markets in your city and patronize each one.
    10.    Learn about the independent ice cream vendors in your town and sample their wares…. or make your own.
    11.    Walk in the rain, as long as the rain isn't part of an electrical storm -- if it is, find a safe spot to watch the show.
    12.    Take a sunset cruise.
    13.    Look in your local paper for listings of outdoor concerts, plays, and movies -- most cities have several such events every weekend.
    14.    Many cities are becoming increasingly bicycle-friendly so investigate the bike paths and cycling routes in your town.
    15.    Enjoy a cocktail at a rooftop bar.
    16.    Sports are always exciting activities, but in addition to major league games you might look into your city's minor league teams -- they can be fun and far less expensive.
    17.    Buy a few bulbs and become a guerilla gardener: find a neglected city park and, without disturbing any existing landscaping, carefully plant those harbingers of future blossoms.
    18.    Plan a roving al fresco dinner party with neighbors -- every household prepares a course and the guests walk from front porch to front porch.
    19.    Do something in a boat: cities almost always have a water aspect  (ocean, river or lake) so find the boating opportunity -- sailing, kayaking, canoeing, speedboating, etc. -- that most appeals to you and get out on the water.
    20.    Check if your town has ropes courses and/or zipline facilities and get high.
    21.    Does your city host a monthly art walk?  If not, organize one with local shops and galleries.
    22.    Get up before dawn and find a scenic spot to watch the sun rise.
    23.    Fly a kite.
    24.    If your city has outdoor fountains designed for children's play, find one and soak your inner child.  Or run though a sprinkler.
    25.    Plant a garden: on your deck, in your back yard, on a windowsill.
    26.    Take a walk with a pad and pen: write a poem about the summer ambiance in your city, and create a drawing to go along with it.
    27.    Participate in a walk, run or ride for charity.
    28.    Find out if any museums in your city have outdoor cafes: satisfy your hunger for art and good food.
    29.    Discover your local arboretums and cemeteries -- the latter, especially, can be lovely, and peaceful, venues for contemplative strolls.
    30.    Circle August 11 and 12 on your calendar and make plans to watch the Perseid meteor shower.  If you're lucky, the skies will be clear and dark enough to showcase these celestial fireworks in all their grandeur.