Summertime Fun for Procrastinators

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We tried to warn you. Summer is coming, and you've got to get ready, we said. Save up some money and make some travel plans and get a pitcher of iced coffee going, we said. But did you listen? Well, maybe. If not, though, we understand. It can happen so easily: suddenly the weather warms up, the days get longer, and you find you've got no real game plan or resources to take advantage of it.

Have no fear! Even if you don't have to take a big trip or have a magically choreographed romance or a plan for the perfect Fourth of July party to make summer special, you can still have a great time. Here are a few suggestions for small things you can do to take advantage of the coming balmy months.

Read a Whole Book Outside. If you live by the beach, maybe you can make it a goal to read a whole book at the beach, or at a lake or in a park, or your yard, or wherever. Bonus points if you can do at least part of that reading in a hammock, but just taking some time outside with a solid summer read will do you a world of good. Where to find a solid summer read? Right here.

Trade in beer for summer cocktails. We would never ask you to give up beer entirely, but maybe make a point to drink a Pimm's cup instead of Miller on your summer Fridays (should you be so lucky as to have them) or have a party dedicated to French garden drinks. Right now is the time of year every newspaper on earth, especially The New York Times, is running summer drink recipes, so there are a million ideas out there.

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Take weekends away from your smartphone. Maybe you don't have any time off at work, and maybe you can't afford to travel anywhere for vacation, but you can still make regular life feel a bit more vacation-like by simply separating yourself from your phone. No email to check, no stream of information to process -- ditchiing the Internet box can make even a trip to the park seem a bit like a getaway. We were going to suggest going completely phone-free on the weekends, but since many of us don't have landlines anymore and pay phones are disappearing all over the place, that's not realistic. So pick up a cheap dumbphone and either drop your SIM card in or hook up a little prepaid plan, and enjoy one less tether for a while.

Spend a whole day at the movies. Ok, so this is not really a summer-specific thing, but it's hot out and the theater should have some good air conditioning. And of course they're putting out enough material for you to fill up a couple days like this. We're not advising going for a sneaky double feature, but they do make an app for that kind of thing. So you know. Just saying. 

Hang out on your stoop. Or your porch, or whatever space you have out front. Perhaps this is where you can get your outdoor reading done. You'll also meet your neighbors, and maybe find some new people to invite to that French garden drinks party you've been putting off.

Borrow a dog from a friend or volunteer to walk one for a shelter. Having a dog makes every walk feel like a surreal adventure. Just you and fido making your way in the world! It also helps you meet people because your dog will want to play (or fight) with their dogs Lady and the Tramp-style.

Go for a bike ride, even if you're not a bike person. You can rent one or borrow one, probably. Even if you don't ride very far, the beer (or summer cocktail!) and lunch you're going to get when you arrive at your destination will taste so much better for the couple miles you put in beforehand.

Grill something besides burgers and dogs. This is so easy, and it will make any meal feel a bit like Fourth of July or Labor Day. Basically any vegetable can be slathered in olive oil, dashed with salt and pepper, and is good to go. Meats can be a little trickier, especially chicken, but we would point you to Real Simple's grill guide as a first stop for some very basic pointers. Just wait: By the end of the summer, you'll be grilling pizza!

Go for a boat ride. Ideally, you have a friend with a tricked out boat (lucky you), but if not, take a ferry, a booze cruise. or a paddle boat in the park. Nothing feels better than a breeze on water, and being in a boat is really going to make you feel like you're doing something other than your usual day-to-day routine. Unless you live on a houseboat or something, in which case maybe try hiking?

[Photos: Beach read via Anne Adrian / Flickr, Pimm's cup via Patrick / Flickr, dog via Carsten Tolkmit / Flickr]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.