We are well into July, and I have been hearing people complain about how fast the summer is cruising by already. If you are feeling like the season is passing you by, rest assured you have more than two months left (unless you're a student, that is!). In my world, summer continues well into September, so don't freak out yet.
Now is the ideal time to think about what it is you want to accomplish, enjoy, or get around to this season and this year. Here's what's on my bucket list for 2012. Hope it inspires you! You'll see that I've included some hard-core "must-dos" but also activities that make summer great that can be done anywhere and don't take much — or any — time or money. So pack those picnics and head to the creek, river, lake or shore — but don't just leave it at that, there's plenty more to enjoy.
One of my favorite things to do in the summer is laze around on some grass. From Central and Hudson River parks in NYC where my boyfriend lives, to my own backyard and the shoreline areas in Connecticut, I'll take even five minutes after a run along the river to just enjoy being outside, wearing not-much and being able to enjoy the balmy air. I spent my summers as a kid outdoors, and when I wasn't at sleepaway camp, I was off in the woods reading a book. If I can, I sneak in a half-hour or so of reading on my way to or from errands, or in lieu of hanging at a coffee shop, since reading al fresco reminds me of being a kid again.
If you're not a big reader, or forget your book, taking even 10 minutes to lie back on some grass to stare at the clouds, watch birds fly around in the trees, or stargaze at night can be incredibly relaxing and is the essence of summer. I've noticed that people who don't have kids to do this with often forget how enjoyable it can be!
Trying a new watersport is something that many of us don't get to do very often, especially as adults. Recently, I tried stand-up paddleboarding and was reminded how fun it is to do something totally new to you. And it doesn't have to be stressful! Learning to canoe or sea-kayak on quiet water is a pretty easy, mellow experience, and if you aren't super-comfortable in the water, you can always wear a life jacket.
For people who are familiar with watersports and are strong swimmers, trying an intro to surfing class, stand-up paddleboarding or river kayaking can be a fun way to build on what you already know and challenge muscles that haven't been used in years.
Doing things outside that you normally wouldn't do may be the most fun thing about summer. Two of my must-dos this year are al fresco Shakespeare and outdoor dance parties. In the town next to mine, we have Shakespeare on the Sound, which I attend each year, but I grew up with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare festival, and most cities have performances in parks and other spaces in the summer months. Take a look around now to see what's going on near you.
As far as dancing, I love PS1's "Warm Up" which features great DJ's at an outdoor art installation at the Museum of Modern Art's second location in Long Island City, Queens. It goes all afternoon, so you can get your dance on without having to be out all night, and it's fun to actually be able to see everyone in the daylight getting their groove on.
Outdoor movies are another fun outdoor activity that seems to be becoming more popular, and this can be great for families especially; if kids get bored, they can play and run around.