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If you're bored then you're boring.
March 21, 2012 10:49 AM   Subscribe

My friend groups feel bored with "life as usual." As do I. Any ideas on non-drinking activities in Brooklyn?

Every one of my friends has expressed boredom with the routine of work-happyhour-sleep-work-happyhour-sleep.

However, we're all having trouble coming up with things in Brooklyn that are as easy/low-maintenance and are more fun than just meeting up for happy hour.

Most things that sound fun require some form of advance planning, and/or a larger group than, say, two or three people. For example:

*Hiking! Super fun for a Saturday day trip! Oh, wait - I need a week in advance to plan, and at least a few other people with varying availabilities. Long email thread, inevitably gets canceled.

*Trapeze class! Awesome because it would fit nicely into the happy hour slot, and doesn't need a group. Except, you can't just drop in on a class with a friend. Again with the planning and the "Can you do Thursday? No? Oh, well that's the only open class. Shit."

*Early concert/show! That's what we do in Brooklyn! Good for two or three people! But oh, we'll probably drink. And besides that, we're all generally sick of bars.

*Kickball in the park! Outdoorsy fun! Oh, but wait - we need a decent group for that. Here we go with the complicated planning.


The conversation generally looks like this:

Me: Hey, Jane! What you doing tonight?
Jane: Don't know! Could do something though. What you had in mind?
Me: Hm. Something different maybe?
Jane: Like what?
Me: I have no idea. I'll google around.
Me, 30 minutes later: No luck. Just the usual. Sigh.
Jane: Sigh. I know, right? Ugh, how about just a quick beer? I gotta get to bed by 10:30.
Me: Haha, ok.

///

To make things even more complicated for you, my friends are all varied in their interests, so the following ideas are pretty much out:

*Museums - Been so many times

*Board games - Most friends not that into it

*Movies - I hate sitting still for three hours, would rather be chatting with friends

*Any activity in which we would ordinarily be drinking, but minus the drinking (Like shows, hanging out on the patio, karaoke, or going to a party)

///

We're looking for fun things to do instead of grabbing a beer. What can we do on weeknights to have fun with approximately 2 or 3 people, with a few hours notice?
posted by hubble to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (42 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tennis? Bocce ball? Handball? Batting cages? Shuffleboard?
posted by pickypicky at 10:53 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Frisbee or tossing a football is good for two or three.
posted by sweetkid at 10:54 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Go to a free Crossfit class as a group. A bunch of Googlers showed up for our free class at my box one time and they had a blast together. None of them ended up joining but it was free and they had fun.

Go rock climbing. There are a couple of indoor spots in NYC. Perfect for 2 people (and even 3, you can rotate on who belays or go bouldering).

Bike rides together is a ton of fun too.
posted by carmel at 10:54 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Potluck picnic in the park. Alliterative -- bonus!

Or, cook together.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 10:55 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Me: Hey, Jane! What you doing tonight?
Jane: Don't know! Could do something though. What you had in mind?


Me: How about you come over to my house and we'll bake chocolate-chip cookies?

Or any other strange and tasty cooking project. Cooking is best when it's a team sport.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:56 AM on March 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Board games. Poker.

Just picking one of y'all's apartments and hanging out there. (If you wanna get all "make an event out of it" with the hanging out at your houses, though, try to find a copy of a book called Instant Parties, which is a collection of theme party ideas that can often be pulled off with literally just an hours' worth of prep time.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, Brooklyn Boulders! It's a great rock gym.

Bowling?
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:01 AM on March 21, 2012


Volunteer together once a week at a soup kitchen, a library, a youth program. Go bowling. Walk on the beach. Birdwatching in Prospect Park? Community gardening?
posted by mareli at 11:03 AM on March 21, 2012


Then there's summer-specific stuff:

There are about eight separate outdoor venues in brooklyn alone that do free movies once a week. And you've also got the Celebrate Brooklyn thing at the bandshell in Prospect Park, and a couple other free concert series elsewhere in Brooklyn. Also, on Thursday evenings, they have free kayaking at Valentino Pier in Red Hook.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:03 AM on March 21, 2012


I've never actually tried it, but now that it's warm, perhaps geocaching? It's basically just an excuse to wander around outside, but still. I also second the cooking thing, or really any sort of easy craft-related activity.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:09 AM on March 21, 2012


Instead of going out for drinks, go out for dessert. That's what I suggest when I feel like hanging out but not drinking.
posted by silverstatue at 11:11 AM on March 21, 2012


Sorry to threadsit! Birdwatching sounds really fun, if we can make it to the park by nightfall. Picnic is a-go! Dessert's a great idea too.

Volunteering: It's a weekly commitment and a lot of orgs in NYC have a fairly lengthy vetting/training process, and we're seriously just trying to find better/more fun things to do on the fly. Instead of defaulting to happy hour.

Bowling/bocce/shuffleboard: Those are all in bars here.

Outdoor summer concerts/movies: Do them every year! This year won't be an exception, but we're looking for fun and easy things to do during the week, for about 2 - 3 hours a night.

Batting cages/tennis: you actually have to book these in advance, generally, from what I understand. Everything in NYC is booked forever, it feels like.
posted by hubble at 11:16 AM on March 21, 2012


Single-type-of-food taste test? Congregate at someone's house and everyone has to bring two different types of [cheese, chocolate, doughnuts, etc], or rotate who hosts and the host buys the supplies. It gives everyone something to talk about, so it's not just aimless, and everyone has opinions about food. But conversation can easily divert into other topics if it happens organically.
posted by marginaliana at 11:17 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would suggest that instead of polling your friends about events, you announce events. "I'm going to Trapeeze class next Thursday / planning a hike next Saturday / doing a neighbourhood geocache on Saunday / and you are all invited." If you are not the sort of person who would do these things alone if nobody came, make direct plans with one friend and try "Jim and I are both doing a trap class / hike / whatever and you guys are all totally invited."
posted by DarlingBri at 11:17 AM on March 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


I know you said no museums, but nighttime museum events are seriously awesome. The Brooklyn Museum does a lot, as does the Whitney, MOMA, the Rubin, etc. Events where they have bands play, screen weird cult movies, etc. And for some reason, running around a museum in the dark is tons more fun than running around in the day. I forget which one I was at recently that had a mummy exhibit and wandering around THAT in the near dark was super creepy and fun.
posted by silverstatue at 11:18 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I use Facebook to "like" places and special interest clubs that I might be interested in. I don't really go to most events, but it's good to have a list of possible things to do if the time/energy came up.

Maybe have your freinds sign up for these things too. Then you can invite yourself and then invite your friends.

Or use Google Calendar.

You might have to get used to doing things by yoursefl if no one else shows up, though.
posted by eq21 at 11:31 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Photo scavenger hunt- you can pick the level of difficulty and time limits.
posted by kamikazegopher at 11:32 AM on March 21, 2012


I don't know what it's like in Brooklyn, but just about every city I've been to seems to have storytelling/slam poetry/improv/standup nights going on. The big ones might be in bars, but at least where I'm from the smaller shows are usually in holes in the wall.

I like trivia too, but that's usually in bars.
posted by vasi at 11:36 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Galleries and art schools often have evening shows.

Van Leeuwen ice cream is good and they have a spot in Brooklyn.

Used to go for Bubble Tea when I was closer to a chinatown.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:41 AM on March 21, 2012


*Hiking! Super fun for a Saturday day trip! Oh, wait - I need a week in advance to plan, and at least a few other people with varying availabilities. Long email thread, inevitably gets canceled.

I'm big into hiking. I never go with more than one or two other people. It's actually more fun that way, because it's a chance to relax and talk and you don't have to worry about stragglers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:52 AM on March 21, 2012


Have you checked out old fashioned bowling alleys? There are a few in B'klyn. Yes, you can get beer at some or all of them, but they are not primarily bars. I wonder if there are also any old fashioned indoor skating rinks.
posted by mareli at 11:54 AM on March 21, 2012


Bowling at Melody Lanes in Sunset Park (5th ave and 37th st): it's cheap, needs no reservations, and while it *has* a bar, it is not primarily a bar.

It's warm out! Go to Coney Island! Have a picnic in Prospect Park! Walk along the waterfront in Dumbo!

Find interesting cheap eats in different places. Jackson Heights, Chinatown, Bensonhurst, Red Hook. There are lots of nice hole-in-the-wall places with no liquor license that are fun to sit down and hang out and comment about food you've never heard of.

If you're into cooking, there's a two-day schedule you can do. Day 1 is playing the "what the fuck is that?" game: go to an ethnic grocery store, and any time you see something that makes you say "what the fuck is that?", you buy it, then go home and look up what it is and what you can do ith it. Day 2, you cook it and then eat it.

Make up people-watching games, and sit on a stoop playing them. My favorite is the Park Slope game, which is one point for every stroller, two points if it's a double stroller, three if it's a double stroller with only one kid and the other seat full of the kid's stuff, etc.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:56 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would suggest that instead of polling your friends about events, you announce events.
...
If you are not the sort of person who would do these things alone if nobody came, make direct plans with one friend


Yes! While you don't have the power to make a large ground of people Do Things, you do have the power to not be personally bored!

("be the change you want to see in the world")

My friends were in the same boat as y'all, so I kept my eyes open for Awesome Things To DoTM. The "plan with a friend" thing ended up not working out very often for me, so out of necessity I've become the sort of person who does things alone...and I have an incredible time of it.

While my friends were lollygaging around wishing they had something to do, I've
  1. ran up and down a ski hill, through a field of burning hay, through high voltage wires (which then shocked me and made me tumble down a huge hill of mud)
  2. chatted with nationally known artists about their work at special one-time exhibits
  3. discovered weird, hole-in-the-wall restaurants (did you know there are bars where people cheer for bowling like it was the superbowl?)
  4. ran up a 95-floor skyscraper without any training and almost passed out
  5. learned how to safely recover from an upside-down kayak. (It's terrifying the first time)
  6. become a pretty good cook
  7. etc, etc.
All I had to do was start keeping a calendar so I knew what days to keep open. My friends can't seem to manage that, so I'll keep them informed but often they "don't have time".

Suckers.

I'm introverted, but I'd sure rather be off doing a half-marathon with a ton of strangers than sitting around at home fielding texts asking why we never do anything. Every now and then I can get people together for 50mph go kart racing, but in the meantime I'm off having a blast anyway.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:08 PM on March 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Volunteering: It's a weekly commitment

No, that's not necessarily true. Once you become a NYCares volunteer (when I became one, I had to do a one-time trainig), you can sign up for one-time volunteering events.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:18 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cooking or baking together could be fun. Also some kind of artsy craftsy thing. There's tons of ideas on the internet for crafts and DIY projects. It could be fun to sit around together working on something and chatting and laughing.
posted by daydreamer at 12:27 PM on March 21, 2012


International eating Tuesdays, everyone cooks or brings a different country's cuisine, say show up at my house at 7PM with a dish from a different Caribbean, European, South American ... nation.
posted by kanemano at 12:52 PM on March 21, 2012


Or, cook together.

I was about to say this, too. This was a great source of entertainment for my grad school group back in the day. Don't stress out on the planning - just get someone to take a week, and whoever comes, comes. Repeat next week at someone else's house.

(It sounds like a lot of your group's activities bog down in the complicated planning stage; maybe it's time to be more casual, or just let the people who require special snowflake treatment or massive accommodation to their schedule to just not come to things?)

If I were in NYC, I'd be going into Manhattan for poetry readings as well, but that might not be you and your friends' thing.
posted by aught at 12:57 PM on March 21, 2012


Here's the thing....what is it that you imagine that people who don't live in a big city do in this situation that you're not thinking of or is impossible in the city? Like, imagine you lived out on Long Island and the quoted sample conversation happened. What would be different in terms of the answer?

I live in Brooklyn and I struggle with this too, but then, I remember when I lived upstate and it was always like 'ugh, I don't feel like driving all the way over there'. If you gave us some examples of what you think y'all would be doing if you didn't have to deal with Brooklyn, maybe we can focus our answers better.
posted by spicynuts at 1:02 PM on March 21, 2012


* Play kazoos.
* Ice or roller skating.
* Geocaching.
* Walking tour.
* Ride bikes.
* Dog park, even if you don't have your own dogs.
posted by maurreen at 1:15 PM on March 21, 2012


* Water pistols.
* Laser tag.
* Dance lessons (where I live, there are some drop-in classes.)
* Finger painting.
* Dessert.
* Fondue.
posted by maurreen at 1:19 PM on March 21, 2012


Here's the thing....what is it that you imagine that people who don't live in a big city do in this situation that you're not thinking of or is impossible in the city? Like, imagine you lived out on Long Island and the quoted sample conversation happened. What would be different in terms of the answer?

I live in Brooklyn and I struggle with this too, but then, I remember when I lived upstate and it was always like 'ugh, I don't feel like driving all the way over there'. If you gave us some examples of what you think y'all would be doing if you didn't have to deal with Brooklyn, maybe we can focus our answers better.


Yeah, seconding this. What made me think of it is your group's reluctance to play boardgames and the fact that you guys think hiking needs to be a big social outing. I live upstate, and the things my friends and I do are pretty chill--barbecue and hiking and going to historical parks as the weather gets nice, boardgames and watching bad movies together and going out to restaurants when it's not. We go to events at bookstores and shop in little downtowns. Usually in groups no bigger than three or four. I sometimes think that the pace of life in NYC can raise the bar in this way that suggests that more low key events, or more sparsely populated events, are boring. But really when you're doing them they're pretty nice.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:22 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


What made me think of it is your group's reluctance to play boardgames and the fact that you guys think hiking needs to be a big social outing. I live upstate, and the things my friends and I do are pretty chill--barbecue and hiking and going to historical parks as the weather gets nice, boardgames and watching bad movies together and going out to restaurants when it's not.

Somehow I missed that you "weren't into" board games. I'm kind of wondering now if maybe the reason you're stuck in a rut isn't because there are options that your group may be voting down before having even tried them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:35 PM on March 21, 2012


Roulette is a jazz/free-form venue that just relocated from Manhattan, if you are into avant-garde performance thingies.
posted by obscurator at 1:47 PM on March 21, 2012


Another thought: sign up to a "Weird NYC" or "free NYC events" email list. I get something in my inbox for Boston every week with stuff to do, and there's bound to be more options for NY. Since it's a weekly list, it gives you enough time to plan but also events that are happening in the next few days.

Just in a quick google, I found this one: Nonsense NYC
posted by marginaliana at 1:47 PM on March 21, 2012


Volunteer to walk the dogs at the BARC shelter. Go in and sign up before 6 in their shop/office. They have two shifts a day during which you grab a dog and take a walk, and one on the weekends. I like going to McCarren Park and back.
posted by devymetal at 1:53 PM on March 21, 2012


And there's no minimum commitment, just grab a dog whenever you want.
posted by devymetal at 1:54 PM on March 21, 2012


WORD bookstore in Greenpoint has a really full calendar of events each evening. You mostly don't need to plan this in advance - just be aware what's going on for the day that you are asking about.

The monthly series called LargeHeartedLit combines music with literature in some way each time. (full disclosure: I'm related to the host of this)
posted by CathyG at 3:43 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't been drinking this month, but I'm still enjoying $5 comedy nights at Union Hall and Littlefield; cheap or free NPR, story-telling, and science club events at Bell House; classes and lectures at Brooklyn Brainery and the Observatory. There are weird shows at Issue Project Room and Public Assembly, constant gallery openings in East Williamsburg and Bushwick. You don't need much notice, and you don't have to drink. Just subscribe to the newsletters and add stuff to your calendar.

I'm working my way through cookbooks. You can start something to work on incrementally, like a stop-motion film. Take Situationist-inspired long walks; build a corn hole game in your living room. I have friends who got supplies and started making terrariums regularly and give them out as gifts. Drawing clubs. Book clubs.

What else? Brooklyn restaurant week has started.
posted by lunalaguna at 4:25 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I always joke with people who say they don't like board games is saying you don't like doughnuts: there's a billion different types out there across every culture. You're going to find a couple that you enjoy. There is a barrage of new games out that are quite cooperative, instead of compeditive. I would check out Pandemic. Or if you're feeling more traditional, host a Mancala night.

BUT with summer coming up, if you're at all into riding bikes, I would have races places, and I would turn it into a club. We did this in Portland a couple summers ago, and it was the most fantastic summer/fall/winter ever.

Compile a list of everyone who would ever want to have a race. Decide where the endpoint is (park at sunset, docks, top of a building or parking garage, or a cheap-ass-restaurant/food-cart...admittedly, we would mostly choose bars) and text everyone where the endpoint is at 4:30 in the afternoon (or when most of your friends get off work). Everyone races to get there.

First person there, gets to choose the location next time.

Everyone hangs out, has some snacks or a beer, and then you slowly head on towards home together, taking a round about way.

We ended up doing this throughout a full year before it started to fall apart, with only about a dozen people total: on average, only 5-6 would show, but that's the great part! Low commitment, unless you REALLY want to choose next week's zone to visit.
posted by furnace.heart at 4:30 PM on March 21, 2012


Brooklyn has a Barcade, a combination bar and arcade. It has *80's arcade games* and *craft beer on tap*. Maybe you'll like it, I did.
posted by hellojed at 6:10 PM on March 21, 2012


UCB Theater
Pot Luck Dinner Parties - can be made into an Iron Chef style, eg. This Potluck's ingredient is X and everyone votes on the best.
Group Baking Parties
Making Collages together
Midnight Chinatown Dim Sum
Author talks at The Strand
Finding and attending hobbyist meetings of the unlikely sort
posted by wcfields at 10:40 AM on March 22, 2012


I do a ton of urban hiking -- Greenwich Village-Coney Island and the like -- and Brooklyn is great for just getting out and discovering new neighborhoods. I grew up in Gravesend and there are still Brooklyn areas I still need to explore. And you can plot your courses and see how far you've gone on the gmap pedometer (I don't remember the url, but you can find it at www.sueandpaul.com)
posted by AJaffe at 6:10 PM on April 1, 2012


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