When I think of warm, summer days, the first memory that comes to mind is an easy one: my youth soccer team. It’s no surprise that I recall my short-lived days of being an 8-year-old recreational soccer non-star so vividly. I remember the yellow grass stains on my sock-covered shin guards that signaled a hard practice, the overwhelming joy then embarrassment that ensued when I scored on my own team, the mouth-watering goodness of halftime oranges, and the smell of freshly cut grass that I inhaled as I hit a lanky runners lunge before a game.
Pay no mind to the fact that I was so bad at soccer that my parents basically begged me to quit. I loved being outside, so rec soccer was my perfect excuse to get out there. If I wasn’t wandering aimlessly between drills to admire the flowers, I was following butterflies instead of the ball.
Unlike my soccer career, my love for the outdoors has stuck with me, and I’m always looking for an excuse to bask in the sun and get some fresh air. I’ve been self-isolating in my not-so-spacious studio apartment, so going outside for a walk or spreading out on a large beach blanket in the park has been my social distancing silver lining (mask on, of course!). As warmer weather approaches in Chicago (please don’t hit us with a mid-May snowstorm, Mother Nature), take advantage and treat yourself to a perfect day in the park with these outdoor social distancing essentials:
An oversized throw
When it comes to beach blankets, size matters. The bigger, the better! Oversized outdoor throws are the perfect solution for lounging amongst the grass while keeping things semi-clean, and they serve as a perfect canvas for all of your outdoor social distancing activities.
In 2020, stepping outdoors without sunscreen is simply not the move. No day in the park is complete without sunblock to protect you from harmful UV rays, and these ones are my favorites for keeping my skin and dermatologist happy:
Sunglasses are my favorite functional accessory, hands down, and I never leave my apartment without them. They serve the dual purpose of protecting your eyeballs and allow you to shamelessly people watch in the park without looking like the total creep that you are. Frown lines from squinting in the sun? Never heard of them.
If you think I won’t be jamming out to Harry Styles’s latest album while chilling in the park, then honey, you don’t know me. Typically, I’ll pop in my Airpods to spare bystanders from my mismatched go-to playlist that jumps from Outcast to Mumford & Sons to Eminem, but if I’m socially distancing with others, I spread the love with my favorite waterproof Bluetooth speaker.
A good read
Name a better duo than a sunny day and your favorite book… I’ll wait. Getting lost in a good read while feeling a warm breeze on my back is my idea of a good time, and no day in the park is complete without it. When I head out, I usually grab my Kindle which allows me the option of plenty of reading material without sacrificing space in my backpack. The Kindle Paperwhite boasts a perfect matte finish that allows me to get deep into a good story sans glare, even on bright, sunny days.
I had an ENO hammock in college and it truly elevated all of my outdoor hangs with friends. Find two trees, hoist that bad boy up, and you’re set for outdoor naps galore. The best part about it is that it packs up into a tiny, baseball-sized ball, so it’s perfectly portable. Also, laying in one feels like a nice, welcoming hug and, let’s be real, I could use one of those right about now.
Snacks and drinks
My second favorite activity to hanging outside? Snacking outside. My favorite snack assortment of choice includes brie, fresh strawberries, and white cheddar Cheez-Its, but if you’re feeling fancy, you can go full picnic and pack whatever you’d like! Reusable Stasher bags are the perfect solution for transporting all of your favorite foods and these super chic coolers are great for keeping food chill AF: