You can’t always jetset across the world on your every whim for an epic adventure, but that doesn’t mean your adventurous spirit has to lay dormant like your passport in its safe-spot. With the right eye, you’ll find plenty of adventures just under your nose. While not always grandiose, these activities — dubbed micro-adventures — can still leave you with a slick sense of satisfaction and a good story too.
Take me, for instance. Last week, I scooted around the east coast between New York City and Boston. Since I can’t afford a daily matinee and evening show on Broadway (though trust me, I would if I could!), I had to find other pockets of fun between all of those skyscrapers and bridges; and find them I did.
The best part? This can be done in any city — your hometown, a neighboring one, or one you’re popping by for a few days. Here’s my list of go-to urban micro-adventure ideas, regardless of where you find yourself on the map.
Take Train to the End of the Line
Instead of accidentally ending up at an unfamiliar train stop because you dozed on the ride, go there on purpose. Wandering around a personally-undiscovered part of your city is basically modern exploration, with you (and only you!) at the helm. You might even find a delicious hole-in-the-wall taco shop or an eclectic bookstore on this mini adventure.
Climb to the Highest Point
Scour topographical maps to find the apex of your city limits (give or take 10 miles) and then hoof it to the top. Your heavy-breathing will be greeted with some new vistas, hopefully beautiful ones.
Walk a Route You Normally Drive
Urban hikes — yes, they’re a thing! While walking into the wilderness has its perks, it can also be fun when it’s punctuated by traffic lights and yellow taxis. Pack a daypack with the essentials and take the long way somewhere new. Pause at that beautifully colored house and muse over the new blossoms en route. Trust me, urban hikes are bound to be your new favorite pastime.
Learn More About Your City’s Ecology
Can you name and identify your state bird or the flowering trees that line your regular walk to work? Do you know where your garbage and recycling are regularly taken? How about your water source? Now’s the time to learn with this urban micro-adventure for the mind. Plop in the library (maybe the one across town, you adventurer!) and teach yourself the plants and animals that are endemic to the area and which are invasive.
Buy a Kite, Find a Park
This micro-adventure is a childhood classic. Find the most awesome green space in your city du jour. Nothing pairs better with all of that grassy-goodness than a kite to catch the wind. Bonus points if yours only nosedives on the first few tries.
Better Appreciate the Full Moon
When does a full moon look the largest? Google the answer and then seek your very own a view of it on a rooftop, an empty park, or that high point. Take a blanket and intergalactic beer (Blue Moon? Too easy…) to make your mini adventure truly out of this world. As you wonder at her perfect roundness and undeniable cheese-like qualities, consider all of her mysteries.
Pro tip: Arm yourself with some Wikipedia articles or podcasts on cultures that worship the moon, that first landing, and other related lunar topics.
Sign Up for a Class
There are classes available on about a zillion different topics — from painting, to piano, to palettes (and other hobbies that don’t start with “p”). Pick something that tickles your fancy and invest in it, whether for a one-off class or a shorter-student-stint. Your freshly-minted skills set never looked so sexy! (Belly dancing, anyone?)
Honestly, rollerblades never lost their cool. As the perfect middle ground between walking and bicycling, zipping around corners and traffic cones will be the first glide into your latest love affair.
Ladies, you could lace up your old school roller skates and join a roller derby team for an ultimate adventure, or just turn up to cheer the local team. There’s bound to be a league in your city; Google it.
Embrace the Weather
Rainy days get you down? Not anymore. Put on those wellies and get puddle-jumping. Stand outside in the snow, stick your tongue out like that silly old song, and really taste the flakes. If you like to hole up for fear of sunburn, now’s the time to slather on the sunscreen and find a sand volleyball court. Whatever Mother Nature dishes up, don’t avoid it — embrace it. Especially if “it” includes mud sliding.
Take Someone on Their First Micro-Adventure
Spread the love and brush the dust off that long road between epic adventures with a pal. Having a friend tag along to share in the joys of exploring your surroundings adds to the joy.
Picnic with an Old Friend
You don’t need an adorable basket and checkered tablecloth to make a worthwhile picnic happen. Picnics are an awesome micro-adventure idea, giving you the chance to eat on the floor, do some good old fashioned people watching, or catch up with someone you’ve lost touch with. Everything you need, from cloth to your little soft sided lunch cooler, will fit discretely in the duffle without screaming “Sunday picnic,” to everyone on the subway.
Sing Karaoke in Front of Strangers
You don’t have to have your best mates in tow for your karaoke debut. Indulge in your favorite power-ballads or musical renditions — go ahead, the crowd will be clapping for you in no time! Or maybe laughing. Go on, you know you want to.
Giving back to the city you love is one tremendous way to let it know you care. Find some projects or neighbors in need of extra hands and do your part to alleviate another’s burden. You never know who this micro-adventure will connect you with or what insights you’ll gather.
Toss a Frisbee at the Dog Park
Find new four-legged friends by bringing their favorite toy along to your local Bark Park. Now remember, this micro-adventure idea doesn’t work if you’re not committed to getting some good ol’ teeth marks into your disc.
Allergic to dogs? Check out the disc golf courses and associations in your town and make some new friends.
Dress Up in Old-Timey Outfits & Ride the Trolley
Bonus points if you can find a monocle at the thrift store.
Try Exotic Foods
The urge to sample Indonesian cuisine in Brooklyn was too strong to resist, and I’m always willing to go the extra mile for a foray into foreign food. Never have I (or my taste buds) regretted having a plate-based mini adventure. I challenge you to seek out unusual food types like Scottish, Swedish, Uruguayan, Burundian, or anything else you haven’t tried yet and feast your way around the world without ever leaving your city.
Google “Quirky Adventures in [CITY NAME]”
You’re bound to find some hilarious off-the-beaten-path experiences; the kind that will shed new light on the city you find yourself in. From anatomical museums to unexplained giant tea kettles and more, feel free to get weird when it comes to urban micro-adventures.
Micro-adventures are the best way to explore — easy, attainable and done in a weekend or less. After all, not all adventures have to be wrapped up in cross-continental flights, tourist sites, and language barriers. Sometimes, the best ones are hidden in the most unlikely places — including your own zip code. Keep your experience-loving self fulfilled with adventure-dabbles on a more micro scale; they only take a little (time, money, & effort), but you’ll end up with a lot!