Hot Fun in the Summertime?
June 24, 2014 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, we will need to spend the summer sticking close to home. We are trying to embrace our homebound summer and are having a bit of trouble finding things to do. What are your quintessential summer activities?

Mr Jane is a teacher and I have a lot of vacation time. We usually spend 2-4 weeks in Northern Wisconsin - we live in the Chicago 'burbs. We can't really go overnight anywhere this year due to an elderly, incontinent dog and some other factors.

We have tackled most of the pressing home improvement projects, we don't especially like crowds, we like art, theatre and music. Mr jane bikes and kayaks - I'm not very outdoorsy. What should we do this summer?
posted by sarajane to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
In the UK, and I plan to spend the summer hitting English Heritage sites... they offer yearly membership with free entry to all their locations. Have you got an equivalent? Maybe your local theatres or art galleries offer membership joint plans?

Go for a picnic? Wicker basket and melamine plates are mandatory. Go fishing? Do you guys have pick-your-own farms? The Perseids will be visible in early August. Chicago must have an amusement park, right? Learn a skill? Like, I don't know, sew your own summer dress? Kiteflying?

Sorry about the dog.
posted by Leon at 11:12 AM on June 24, 2014

Are you interested in places to visit? As in day trips?

We usually try to hunt down places within an hour, hour and a half tops, and take a day trip. Last weekend we went to the tourmaline sifting place, bought a sub, and ate a picnic lunch near a waterfall.

You could do Galena, the Bristol Ren Faire, easy biking on the trail next to the Fox River, Governor Dodge State Park, day trip to Madison and the Dane County farmer's market, many art fairs and festivals, the Art Institute in Chicago, find out some small quirky museums nearby, pick a town and explore it, grill in the backyard, go to a day spa together (my husband and I like to go get pedicures together once in a while), pick different cuisines and take turns cooking, walk around the neighborhood and see how many trees, flowers, and animals you can identify, start collecting something (Illinois has fluorite and trilobites and geodes from near the Mississippi), or find some volunteer opportunities.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 11:13 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get a Kubb set for the back yard. Great w beer & backyard picnics. Great for 2 players, or more. Teams of 3 are common.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:13 AM on June 24, 2014

We're kind of in the same boat. Staycation ahoy!

We have a pool at our complex, so we'll spend time there. We may up our gym participation. Another thing we're doing is planning on trying some of the ethnic joints on the drag near our house that has all sorts of different foods. Malaysian, Mexican, Peruvian, Vietnamese, etc.

The local library may have some interesting events to attend, or perhaps you can read to the little kids at storytime.

Run through sprinklers. Check out lightening bugs. Drink lemonade. Watch Price is Right. Read lots of books. Pet your dog and take him for lots of short walks. Eat plums.

Slow down. Savor. Relax.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:13 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you have any minor league baseball teams nearby, go to their games. The crowds are smaller and very sweet, and it really is a quintessential summer activity to see a baseball game, even if you know nothing about the teams themselves.
posted by janey47 at 11:14 AM on June 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh man, I love summer. This is what I'm doing with my time (I can't go anywhere either), maybe you could:

-Explore pools/swimming holes in your area
-Bike around (maybe you can rent a bike if you don't have one?)
-Barbecues--have people over, or head to a park to BBQ
-Lawn games (beanbags/cornhole, bocce, etc.)
-Learn cribbage/chess over summer drinks on the patio
-Look for 'Shakespeare in the Park' or other equivalent summer theatre options
-Along the same lines--free concerts in the park?
-Driving range/golf. Often cheaper in the afternoon during the week, so fun!
-Farmer's Markets--just eat nothing but sweet corn, tomato sandwiches, and fresh berries
-Small day trips to surrounding neighborhoods/towns to explore
-Boating/kayaking on the lake--maybe a tour, rent a powerboat, kayak?
-Hit up your library for trashy beach reads
posted by stellaluna at 11:14 AM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Chicago is a vacation destination for me! Do you regularly explore your own city, or do you tend to see that stuff only when out-of-towners visit? When was the last time you, say, took an architecture boat tour? Or visited the Navy Pier, or watched a Cubs game just for the ambiance, or taken a Weird Chicago tour?

Yes, the crowds are annoying, but it's always much quieter on the weekdays than weekends. You have the advantage of going on whatever day you want!

Look around at Trip Advisor and Yelp for stuff in your own city. There are 41 museums listed on Trip Advisor- have you been to more than a couple of them? You could pick out some of the lesser-known ones, the ones that your out-of-town visitors would probably skip over, and make a plan to see a few of them.

Sometimes you forget how much your own city has to offer, and it can be quite eye-opening to see things as a tourist does.
posted by aabbbiee at 11:24 AM on June 24, 2014

Go sailing! Chicago is a great place for it. There are a number of places you can take lessons, or you can buy a dinghy for pretty cheap or crew on bigger boats for free. Being out on the water you get a little bit of that "away from the city" feeling without actually having to go very far.
posted by enn at 11:29 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Eat outside as much as possible.
posted by dawkins_7 at 11:55 AM on June 24, 2014

In Chicago:
Architecture Boat Tour on the Chicago River
Biking around the waterfront/Millennium park/down LSD
Sailing lessons on the lake

More broadly:
Backyard barbecue with friends
bocce ball, frisbee
farmer's markets and cooking
propagating succulents
make homemade ice cream

Read books of poetry to each other outside over a glass of sangria in the fading evening light.

Buy a record player and spend the afternoon browsing dusty shops, then lounge around or dance in your living room while you play through them.

Find a friend with a projector, hang up a white sheet on the side of your house, and have an outdoor movie night.
posted by amaire at 12:26 PM on June 24, 2014

Create some art together.
Enjoy the abundance of fruit and make some jams and jellies.
And bread and butter pickles.
Sleep outdoors (camp in your own yard).
Cuddle your dog any chance you get and take a lot pictures of her/him.
Take a class together.
posted by travelwithcats at 1:00 PM on June 24, 2014

If you like to cook, make one day a week to explore a different cuisine. Pick a country, look up recipes, buy weird vegetables and have fun with it.
posted by CathyG at 8:20 PM on June 24, 2014

How about geocaching? It's a great way to get everyone out of the house and it's cheap. Also, you may find some out-of-the-way places you would have never discovered otherwise.
posted by Otis at 9:06 AM on June 25, 2014

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