How to Enjoy Summer 2021

Venturing Out Into a Post-Pandemic Summer

Remember last summer? Because of COVID-19, we were mostly stuck inside. Some of us were still sheltering in place, while others were dealing with mask mandates and social distancing, so the games, concerts, movies, family reunions, weddings, vacations, and most of the other fun summer break activities were canceled, or at least extremely watered down. This year, though, we’re looking at a return to many of our old activities! While some places will still be requiring masks and social distancing for safety, and we should still be careful in order to avoid a resurgence of the virus, the vaccine has made it possible for us to do something a little crazy in summer 2021: leave our houses!

Finding Fun Things to Do This Summer

If you’re struggling to remember what it was like to have a busy social calendar, I’m right there with you. We got so used to NOT traveling or being invited to things or having events to attend because it simply wasn’t an option. Now that it’s back on the table, it’s going to take some getting used to. We checked out where most of our readers hail from and researched a few ideas for fun ways to get out of the house this summer and put that pandemic boredom behind us! Before you read that, though, here are a few things I’m doing this summer to reconnect with the outside world:

  • Travel! After more than a year of staying put in Chicago to do my part to flatten the curve, I’m finally vaccinated and hitting the road. I’ve got trips lined up every month from May to September so far! We’re hitting up Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Connecticut, Montana, Wyoming, and Washington in the next few months. It’s a little exhausting to think about being away from my peaceful little apartment that much, but my Prius, my puppy, and I have places to be and people to see.
  • Family! Several of these trips are to see family, people I’ve been far away from and dearly missed during the isolation of COVID-19. There’s nothing like a pandemic to make you truly grateful for every second you’re able to spend with loved ones, and I’m soaking up all the time I can this summer to make up for last year.
  • Friends! The rest of my trips are reunions with sweet friends! I’ve missed the birth of a new friend-niece, a wedding or two, and approximately four million hugs since March 2020. Since we’re all vaccinated, my pals and I have decided it’s time to get back to the business of friendships. Hobbies! I love houseplants and gardening. During the pandemic I had to make myself happy with ordering new plants and supplies online, but now that stores are open, it’s BACK to the garden center, y’all! You better believe I’m writing this blurb from the delicious sanctuary of my back porch “garden,” ignoring the sounds of dump trucks and sirens.
  • Trying New Things! Yes, I am among the thousands of you who also acquired a pandemic puppy. I love her! But we’ve been confined to the safety of home, which is perfect for those first few weeks and months of training a new little one. Now that she’s older and more confident on her leash, we’re going to spend the summer checking out new dog parks, dog beaches, play dates with new pup friends, and more!

Enough about me! If my summer plans didn’t give you any ideas, here are some options going on in the areas where most of our readers call home. As always, be safe and have fun.

The Golden State

For our California readers, if you didn’t already hit up as many of your one-of-a-kind national parks as you could during the pandemic, visiting any of them would be a great way to get out of the house this summer. The outdoor factor provides an extra sense of COVID-19 safety, in addition to providing plenty of fresh air for those who have been feeling claustrophobic since March 2020. If you’re brave enough to face the crowds, many of California’s theme parks have reopened. Be sure to check their capacity and mask requirements before you buy a ticket, but if you feel safe, go for it!

The Lone Star State

If you’re in Texas, there are also plenty of outdoor events and activities you could try. How about a rodeo? A musical or two? A fiesta? This is more of a late summer, early fall suggestion, but… how about the state fair? There’s nothing like a proud, concentrated gathering of all things Texan to remind you how full life can be outside of your home office. Wear a mask if that makes you more comfortable! But don’t be afraid to participate in the world as it finally reopens.

The Sunshine State

Of course, Florida has the incredible perk of (arguably) the best beaches in the US. So if you’re almost anywhere in Florida (and you haven’t already), get to the beach! Feeling the sun, salt, and wind on your face will do wonders for your poor pandemic-weary body, mind, and soul. If you’re not into sand, what about paddleboarding? Manatees? Ziplines? Spelunking? There are plenty of things to do that aren’t in your living room.

The Empire State

New York has plenty to offer this summer as well. From some of the best museums in the world to some of the best entertainment, look up events near you to see what’s available in your area. While there may not be as many outdoor opportunities in the big city, the state has options for folks who don’t yet feel comfortable hanging out with crowds indoors. If you are okay with venturing indoors, like the aforementioned museums, comedy shows, and, of course, movie theaters!

The Peach State

Down in Georgia, the first two things that come to mind after a long pandemic are music and film. From film festivals and tours to concerts and music history, you can finally get out of the house and learn about all those shows and movies you watched and albums you listened to during lockdown. If that Georgia heat and humidity are a little too much for you, head indoors for a trip to the movie theater and watch one of those homegrown blockbusters on the big screen the way God intended! Head to the bowling alley or check out this ax-throwing trend people are posting all over Instagram and TikTok. Whether you’re inside or out, there are plenty of ways to get back into the swing of living outside the 4 walls of your home.

Across the Pond

If you’re among our readers who have the distinct privilege of living in the UK, a great pandemic-friendly way to get back out into the real world this summer is to visit one of the many famous gardens, many of which are hundreds of years old. Many are open for visitors so venture out of your COVID cave to enjoy fresh air and reacquaint yourself with the sky. This writer is not ashamed to admit to being a HUGE Gardeners World fan… if anyone happens to show Monty Don my article, I just want to say, “Hi Monty!” If I were able to cross the Atlantic this summer, I would surely be checking out the many beautiful and historic gardens. Of course, there are also beaches to visit, museums to reacquaint with, and friends to catch up with. 

Google Is Your Friend

Wherever you are, do a quick internet search for outdoor events in the next few weeks! At the very least, there are sure to be a few coffee shops and restaurants with outdoor seating in your area. You can also ask friends to come to your backyard or a nearby park. Outdoor concerts and some outdoor sporting events may also be safe and easy ways to get used to crowds and public spaces after a long break. Take as much advantage of the summer weather as you can, but it gets so hot that you need a little AC, that’s okay. By this point, it’s probably safe to attend a few indoor events as well. Start by inviting a few folks over to your home, or visit a friend’s house.

If, however, you’re still nervous about COVID-19, that’s okay. Take it slow, play it safe, and go at your own pace when it comes to transitioning out of lockdown panic mode. It was an extremely difficult process to get used to the major life changes that occurred when the pandemic hit, so it’s natural for this to feel like a big change too. If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression as a result of this shift, don’t hesitate to reach out to TheHopeLine. You deserve peace, and that’s what God wants you to have, so be still for a moment and know that you are loved.
-Cara Beth

Cara Beth Graebner
Cara Beth Graebner is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, Illinois. With a degree in creative writing from the College of Charleston and a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting from Western Michigan University, she's been living by her pen for many years. She loves the way words come together to bring light into dark places, which is the goal of every piece she writes for TheHopeLine and other clients. When she's not writing, she's probably snuggling her 2-year-old pup, reading a book, or gardening.
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