Sometimes I get home from work or running errands and realize the whole day has gone by and I haven’t done anything outside the routine. But I also haven’t planned anything out in advance either. The solution? A unique, last-minute mini-adventure that I can have easily and almost immediately!
Living in NYC, mini-adventures are as simple to find as tourists in Times Square. But I haven’t always lived here. I spent my college years in Williamsburg, Virginia, the beloved colonial reenactment town of the United States. To give you an idea of what my university life was like, the population of the town is approximately 1/3 students, 1/3 retirement community, and 1/3 colonial reenactors. (And may I say, spotting a woman dressed in traditional colonial garb picking out peanut butter at the grocery store or driving a car was quite the shock the first million times it happened.) Needless to say, us college kids often had to make our own fun.
So I’ve gathered quite the list of easy mini-adventures to have for free or very cheap over the years, and I’d like to share them with you!
1. Attend a poetry slam or open mic in your area.
Poetry slams and open mics are often free and occur nearly every night of the week, especially in cities. All you have to do is purchase a drink or an appetizer with your group and you can hear some local talent on a few bucks. And if you’re wondering where to find them (slams can be especially elusive if you’re not part of the spoken word community), I’ve used poetry.openmics.org to locate the ones going on in my area! You can search by what state or city you live in.
2. Test your brain at a free trivia night in your city or a nearby town.
Trivia nights are one of my favorite things to do with my friends. In fact, we often try to attend a trivia night at our most beloved bar at least once a month. If you Google for trivia nights in your state or city, you’ll often find something happening on any given night of the week. If you win, you’ll likely receive prizes like free shots on the house or a t-shirt! (For my NYC folks, The Abbey Pub and Amity Hall are some of my tried and true spots!)
3. Build a giant blanket fort and host a movie marathon with your friends.
I don’t know why, but I’m a huge fan of the classic blanket fort. When Kemp and I first started dating I used to make him construct blanket forts with me all the time and he couldn’t understand why, until he realized how BOMB they are! All you need are blankets, pillows, some high furniture and a laptop or TV where you can pop in a few of your favorite flicks.
4. Go for a night drive with your partner, best friend, or yourself.
In college I used to do this a lot along the Colonial Parkway, a long stretch of road right by the water. I’d bring a friend or two and we’d drive the parkway all the way out to a local ferry, take the ferry to the next town, and then turn around and go back. It sounds silly, but it was actually really fun to blast music with my friends and reflect on life. It was peaceful and felt adventurous all at the same time.
5. Laugh the evening away at an amateur comedy show.
Comedy shows can be pretty cheap, especially if you’re hearing amateurs. The most expensive amateur comedy show I’ve attended cost $10, but I’ve often been to shows that cost $5 or were even free.
6. Grab a daring pal and street perform for the evening, just to see how much you make in tips (or how many “boo’s” you accrue).
I recently did this, and it was such a blast! While I went alone, I think it would be far less intimidating if I went with a friend next time. 🙂 You might be surprised who you meet and how much money you make in your tip jar!
7. Go kayaking, paddle boarding, or row boating on the cheap.
Everywhere I’ve lived, the local parks offer free or very cheap water sports. In NYC there are tons of places to kayak for free on the Hudson River, for example. Check out the parks near you and see what deals they’re offering.
8. Round up a few friends after dark and skinny dip in a nearby lake.
This was another one I did in college with two of my best girlfriends. It was silly but so fun – it’s something you’ve got to do at least once!
9. Have a sunset picnic at the prettiest spot in your neighborhood or city.
My roommates and I sometimes go to Riverside Park in NYC and catch the last bit of light in the evenings, and a picnic would be the cherry on top.
10. Try your hand at geocaching.
I have NEVER been geocaching. Can you believe it? I hear the geocaching app is pretty useful and fun to play with. (I have used Pokemon Go though, and I feel like that’s almost the same thing.)
11. Rent bikes and explore the nearby area while getting your sweat on.
Just like with water sports, many larger community parks will offer bikes by the hour for cheap. In NYC for example, you can rent bikes for $10 a pop (and it’s even less for students!).
12. Scope out the live music scene at a bar you’ve never been to.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out bar hopping with friends before we stumble upon some live music and stay there for hours, soaking in the talent. Check out which places near you are offering free music, grab a drink or an appetizer, and relax the night away.
13. Hit up an outdoor movie screening or a drive-in theater.
Summertime is an especially good time for this, as there are often many public showings of free or cheap movies. For local drive-ins, check out drive-ins.com to search what’s offered in your area.
14. Set up camp in your own backyard.
Also known as a form of “glamping,” camping in your own backyard can be such a fun mini-adventure that requires minimal prep work. All you need is a tent (or even just a few blankets and sticks, if you’re handy), some snacks, and a few pals to make the night magical.
Anything you’d add to this list? I’m always looking for new ideas!