Get Started Outdoors

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Starting an outdoor lifestyle can be a bit intimidating for a newcomer. There are a lot of things to learn, and "learning the hard way" isn't always fun when it comes to nature. Not knowing how to dress for a long day in the cold, or having the improper gear, can turn a fun day to a rather miserable one.

Here are a few ways to get started outdoors:

  • Connect your home with the outdoors
  • Find your local park or public land
  • Find an experienced friend
  • Take an outdoors vacation (big trip, easy camping trip, hiring charter, etc.)
  • Pick up a new hobby (run, hike, paddle, kayak, fish)

Connect Your Home with the Outdoors

If you live in a busy city, it may feel difficult to adopt an outdoor lifestyle. But there are parks all over the country, even in the country's busiest cities. Another way to connect with the outdoors is to bring it inside your home. Research shows that bringing plants into your living space, or simply hanging images of nature, improves your mood and cognitive function.

Adding plants to your space can bring some of the outdoors in, while providing you with a host of other benefits. NASA research found that plants help clean and purify the air, and other studies have suggested that plants reduce stress and make you feel happier. 

If you have a backyard with a little space, you can make it your own outdoor oasis. By simply adding a patio, some furniture, a grill or smoker, a fire pit and some outdoor lighting, you make your backyard an outdoor place where you can eat and entertain. Add some comfortable seating and it's a place where you can read and relax, too.

Find Your Local Park or Public Land

Across the 100 largest cities in the US, there are more than 2 million acres of parkland. According to the Trust for Public Land, 70 percent of people in these cities live within a 10-minute walk to a park.

Public parks provide us with some green space, which is especially important for those who live in busy cities. Being immersed in outdoor greenery is important for emotional and cognitive reasons, according to research. You can utilize a park as a place to play with your kids or dog, read a book, or go for a run or bike ride. We all pay taxes on public parks and land, and we all own a part of them, which is something we should take advantage of.

Public parks are usually pretty easy to find, but if you're not sure what's nearby the National Park Service can point you in the right direction.

Find an Experienced Friend

If you have a friend, even a distant one, who enjoys the outdoors and has some knowledge and experience in things you're looking to try, reach out to them. The outdoor community is generally very open to helping newbies. Those of us who value and treasure the outdoors want to share our passion with others. We also know that creating a passion for the outdoors in someone else helps grow our conservation community.

Certain outdoor hobbies - like mountain biking, hiking, climbing or fishing - take some time to get proficient at. There's a lot of nuance to these hobbies, and a lot of things you learn along the way. If you can find a friend who already knows what they're doing, it will give you a huge head start.

Take an Outdoors Vacation

Taking a trip is a great way to experience a new outdoor setting, even in the cold. A trip allows you to see things you don't usually see, try new hobbies, and find what you enjoy the most. An outdoors trip doesn't need to cost a fortune, either. You can go camp somewhere within your state or a neighboring state for extremely cheap once you have the equipment you need.

Just within the US, there is endless variety in the type of outdoor settings you can experience. Here's a handful of outdoor trips that should be on every traveler's bucket list:

  • Hike the Grand Canyon
  • Explore Yellowstone National Park
  • Paddle the lakes of Jackson Hole
  • Kayak around Lake Tahoe
  • Check out the volcanoes in Hawaii
  • Go rock climbing at Arcadia
  • Visit waterfalls at Yosemite National Park
  • Cruise the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible
  • Go white water rafting on the Rio Grande
  • Bike the trails of Moab's parks
  • Book a fishing charter in the Florida Keys

Pick Up a New Hobby

The outdoors provides us access to beautiful scenery and experience, and it can be even more fun and rewarding when you have an outdoor hobby that you love. Some hobbies are easier to jump into than others, but things like hiking or camping are affordable to start and locations are within driving distance of most areas of the country. Just remember to bring a few basics.

We enjoy almost anything outside, but here are a few of our favorite outdoor hobbies:

Camping

Out of all outdoor hobbies, camping is probably one of the easiest to get into. It requires some initial gear and equipment, but it's a very inexpensive hobby once you have what you need. Camping sites are available all over the country and provide you with some of the best outdoor experiences because you're outdoors the entire time. Nothing slows you down and resets the mind and body like sitting under the stars for a couple nights.

Hiking

Another outdoor hobby that's easy to jump into is hiking. One of the most attractive things to us about hiking is its simplicity. It's just you, the wilderness and the gear on your back. You can start out small with hikes that last a few hours and require very little gear. Hiking can take you to some of the most beautiful mountainsides, waterfalls, rivers and untamed forest that the outdoors has to offer.

Kayaking

If you're looking to explore inland lakes or coastline, a kayak is a great way to do it. Kayaking is very easy to learn on calm waterways - just paddle and go. There's obviously some technique involved, and you can take the sport very seriously, but it can be simple too. Many popular lakes and rivers have kayak rental shops nearby, so you can try it out before you invest in a kayak of your own.

Paddleboard

Stand-up paddleboards have skyrocketed in popularity over the last several years. And for good reason - they're a blast to ride on, and paddling offers a cool view of the water when you're standing. Paddling is also a great full body workout. Balancing on a paddle board can be a little tricky and intimidating, but with a little practice it's fairly effortless. When you're starting, try paddling from your knees until you get comfortable enough to stand.

Skiing and Snowboarding

There's no better way to enjoy winter than on a ski or snowboard. Cruising down a mountainside with just a thin pair of skis or board between you and the snow is exhilarating and gives a whole new meaning to the winter cold. Those of us who enjoy skiing and snowboaring look forward to winter, rather than dreading it like many do.

Climbing

One of the more intimidating sports to enter, climbing offers a great workout and a healthy dose of adrenaline. Scaling a mountain may seem distant and unapproachable, but it's not as tough to get into as you may think. Indoor climbing centers are popping up all over the country, and while this option won't get you outdoors, it will let you learn the skills of the sport in a safe environment. Once you've had some time to refine your skills, you can work with a guide to start climbing outdoors.

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