It might seem like all the fun has packed up and left town in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. No concerts, no sports, no bars, no movie theaters.
Are we all just condemned to sit in our living rooms forlornly tossing a tennis ball against the wall?
Well, not quite! Once you start looking, there are quite a few fun things that you can do without violating social distancing rules.
You might enjoy the curves of a twisted mountain road with your friends while chattering through your motorcycle helmet communication system, or you might laugh late into the night with your buddies over a digital board game.
These eight activities will help inject a fun dose of the new and unexpected into your pandemic lifestyle.
And with a little dedication, most of them can become lifelong hobbies that will provide you with years of enjoyment even after the pandemic ends.
1. Go for a hike
Hiking has been among the most popular activities of the pandemic era, and for a good reason.
It’s a great exercise and allows you to appreciate the beauty of our planet.
That’s especially important when many people spend long days cooped up indoors and secluded from the natural world.
Use common sense in regard to social distancing, and remember that some parks may be crowded enough that you’ll need to wear a mask on more crowded trails.
It’s better to do day hikes close to home when possible, and it’s also better to hike with a buddy who’s in your quarantine circle, as hiking is safer when done in groups.
2. Start an online book club
All the fun of a book club—the interesting discussions, the great reads, the many glasses of wine—can be had online.
A great book is a perfect way to break out of your comfort zone, and a discussion with friends can make it come alive.
Just make sure that everyone’s on the same page regarding what kind of books are fair game so that you don’t have your friends from work who were expecting a David Sedaris book end up with The Brothers Karamazov instead.
3. Explore home fitness
Experts have been stressing the importance of staying active during the pandemic.
If you haven’t quite gotten your home fitness routine down yet, now is the perfect time to start working it out (pun intended).
There are many possibilities for home fitness routines out there, from yoga to kettlebells to bodyweight fitness.
Try a few different ones and discover which one your body seems to like best.
And go slowly. The last thing you want is to injure yourself and have to spend time recuperating.
4. Cook something new
With many restaurants still shut down or only offering take-out, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to hone your kitchen skills.
Pick out a few recipes that you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook, watch some YouTube videos of people cooking them, and then try the recipe out yourself.
Not only will you make delicious meals, but you’ll improve your proficiency with a crucial life skill.
5. Go for a motorcycle ride
Whether you’ve always wanted to learn or you’re an experienced rider, the quarantine might offer the perfect opportunity to get in some time on two wheels.
And with one of today’s motorcycle communication systems, a motorcycle excursion is an ideal way to get in a socially distant chat with your friends who ride.
The best place to start is with the Basic RiderCourse from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
Then, talk to your friends who ride and ask them about bikes, riding techniques, and what they wish they’d known when they started riding.
When you’re ready, take the test and get your motorcycle license—then get ready to rev up on the open road.
6. Draw, paint, or use digital art tools
This one is for art school graduates and total novices alike.
Art is for everyone, so don’t let a lack of formal training dissuade you from picking up a pencil and doodling or throwing some paint on a canvas.
Be gentle with yourself and allow your creativity to guide you in unexpected directions, and you might just surprise yourself.
It’s also a great time to explore all of the remarkable digital art tools available today.
Getting a basic drawing tablet places a considerable range of tools in your hands instantly, and playing with a program like Photoshop or Illustrator can help you develop useful professional skills in addition to being a lot of fun.
7. Play board games or role-playing games online
Board games and tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons have been a staple of rainy-day entertainment for decades.
It’s now possible to play D&D, Catan, Trivial Pursuit, or just about any of your other favorite tabletop games online through virtual interfaces.
Need a group to play with? Try social networking sites like Meetup and Facebook groups that can help arrange virtual game nights.
8. Participate in local government
There’s a lot more to the government than what you see on the national news.
There’s some important stuff that’s going on in your local City Council chamber, mayor’s office, and state legislature.
Educate yourself about issues that you’ve heard about recently and devote some time to getting involved.
Now that many government functions have moved online, it’s easier than ever to take civic actions, like commenting on a city council meeting.
You can also research local candidates and make voter guides to show their position on the issues.
Join a local political organization to get plugged in with a group with activist and organizing expertise.
If you know where to look, there are almost as many activities as ever to occupy your free time while waiting out the pandemic.
And they can mostly be done without violating social distancing. So, what are you waiting for?
This story was brought to you in partnership with Cardo Systems.