With summer quickly heating up, what better way to celebrate the sun than by spending a day exploring the urban forest? Studies show that even as little as five minutes spent outside have the power to “boost mood and self-esteem.” I know a quick walk outside, especially when it’s sunny, always makes me smile. Check out these quick tips if you want to find out how to discover nature without leaving the city.
Before your urban adventure
- Do some research on urban forests or parks near you. Use this helpful online tool from Discover the Forest to find all the places close to home that you could visit. When I’m researching places to visit, I love looking up outdoor areas close to water, but there are many different options depending on what you’re in the mood for!
- Find out what you can do in the forest or park you choose. Are there trails nearby? Does the particular forest or park offer certain activities? This will help you figure out what you need to pack for your fun day outside.
- Check the weather–you wouldn’t want to get caught in a storm without a raincoat!
Even though everything you need is a subway ride away, bring these things to have the best day possible in the urban forest:
- Lots of water.
- Clothing layers in case the weather changes.
- A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (these are a must if you burn as quickly as I do).
- Some snacks–it’s always fun to have a picnic!
- Don’t forget a camera so you can take pictures of the beautiful landscape around you. I could spend hours exploring outside with my camera.
Fun things to do
- For all of you creative people out there: you only need paper, a pencil or crayon, leaves and a hard surface to make a beautiful leaf or bark rubbing.
- Make your own scavenger hunt: look for items such as a pretty flower, a pinecone, a spider web, a caterpillar, etc. I personally love journaling, so whenever I spend time in an urban forest, I like to bring my journal and make a little nature scrapbook entry with drawings of whatever I find.
- If you want to make a difference in the community, bring your friends and clean up an urban park or forest–this will make it an even nicer place for everyone to visit!
- Relax with a good book.
- Sometimes the most fun thing to do is to venture into an urban forest with friends and family and simply spend time together. My favorite low-key way to spend a day outside is to start the morning with a trip to the farmers’ market, pick up some fruit, sweets, and whatever catches my eye, and then bring the food to a nearby park to have a picnic with my friends.
- Last, but certainly not least, have fun!
For more great ideas, visit DiscovertheForest.org.