I live in a less-than-400-square-feet studio apartment in downtown Chicago. Needless to say, staying at home this summer has been extra tough at times because of being in such a small space by myself. Not to mention that I have total FOMO of people with gorgeous backyards and outdoor spaces where they can happily spend their summer days.
My apartment building has a shared community rooftop, which is amazing, but there are social distancing restrictions in place so I can’t always use it. We recently published a list of activities to do at home this summer, but a lot of the great ideas required having a yard, so I was inspired to share another list for my fellow apartment-dwellers.
Here are 12 fun activities to do at home during this time, no backyard required:
1. Picnic in your local park
When you choose to live in a city, you might be giving up perks like a backyard, but you also get to reap the benefits of huge and beautiful parks and other community outdoor spaces (here in Chicago, we’re lucky enough to have a stunning lakefront to enjoy). It seems like summer 2020 is the summer of picnics, so why not give it a try? Pack up your wine and charcuterie and take it from the couch to a picnic blanket for a change. Check out this list for everything you’ll ever need for optimal outdoor social distancing.
2. Go for extra long walks
I’m not trying to be dramatic here, but I would truly be lost without my quarantine walks. If I’m ever feeling cooped up and like I just need to get out of my apartment, I will put my AirPods in, throw on my walking shoes and fanny pack (yes, I’m being serious), and walk until my heart’s content. It’s an amazing way to get outside and get yourself moving—especially when all of the days start to feel the same.
3. Set up your living room for a cozy movie night
We’ve all seen the super fun idea of setting up a mini outdoor movie theatre in a backyard—and I’m not going to lie, I am extremely jealous of the people who are doing it. But who is to say you can’t do the same thing in your apartment living room? Go all out and channel your inner-child by building a comfy fort on the floor, get all the go-to snacks (and wine) you could ever dream of, and truly enjoy your favorite ’90s rom-com.
4. Make s’mores on the stove
No backyard? No problem. Just because you don’t have space for an actual campfire, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the ultimate summer treat: s’mores. You can make them using a gas stovetop, or with an indoor-safe s’mores maker like this one.
5. Grow an indoor garden
It seems as if everyone is talking about their beautiful vegetable garden that they lovingly grew during these months of isolation. If you’re feeling left out (I know I am), try a mini indoor garden that can thrive on your apartment windowsill. An herb garden is a great place to start for the beginners like me.
6. Take your workout outside
Instead of doing your usual yoga practice or ab circuit in your apartment, try taking it outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery. Grab your yoga mat, water bottle, and headphones, and switch things up by heading to a nearby park, grassy area, or the shared outdoor space in your building (if you’re lucky enough to have one).
7. Bring out the trusty old deck of cards
I debated even including this one because it seems all too simple, however—just trust me on this one—playing cards is extremely underrated. I feel like people either come from card-playing families or they don’t (did anyone else used to have family euchre tournaments?), and that can definitely determine whether you play regularly or not. If you haven’t pulled out your deck of cards in a while, try playing a few rounds with your quarantine crew. Time flies when you’re having fun!
8. Rearrange your space
Not only will rearranging your space take up some time in what seems like endless days spent at home, it will also help you to feel refreshed and better about being there so often. In a recent article I wrote about morning habits, I mentioned the importance of getting some sunshine first thing in the morning. In my own apartment, I rearranged so that my work space was near the window—and it has made my little studio feel a lot more like somewhere I can be productive and energized throughout the workday.
9. Organize the ultimate spa day for yourself
We’ve talked about lots of at-home beauty treatments, but now I’m talking about the spa day to end all spa days. Take the time to plan out a personal schedule of treatments, spend the day in your most luxurious robe and slippers, make a fancy cucumber spritzer, and do everything from face masks to hair masks to mani-pedis and waxing.
10. Play bartender for yourself
Since we’re not going out to bars right now, it’s the perfect time to bring the bar home to you! I recently set myself up with a bar area (cocktail shaker and tools, cute glasses, and more), and I’m excited to get my mixologist on. If you’re missing your favorite margarita, get creative and try perfecting it at home instead. And if you’d rather try out a new cocktail, start with one of these recipes!
11. Bring the backyard BBQ indoors
Again, just because you don’t have a backyard, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do traditional summer activities like the backyard barbecue! Go all out with the theme: burgers and hot dogs, pasta salad, at least three kinds of potato chips, and a delicious dessert. These recipes are just as perfect for your indoor BBQ as they are for a backyard one!
12. Get mini versions of your favorite backyard games
Don’t stop at food for your indoor barbecue. If you feel like you’re missing out on playing bags (or cornhole, for those of you not from the Midwest), giant Jenga, or mini golf, try out a mini version that will fit right inside your apartment instead. I can’t make any promises that you won’t get distracted by your mini bags game while working from home, however.