If you’re like us, you’ve probably been a little preoccupied in the last few weeks, and March 19—the first official day of spring in North America—may have passed you by, overlooked and unappreciated. Perhaps you, too, have since noticed that the days are getting longer, sunnier, and warmer. We think that’s worth celebrating—even if you can’t take a spring break trip or go for overpriced drinks at a local favorite patio bar. For your consideration:
1. Get a flower vase to bring a pop of color inside the house
Welcome spring to your home with the help of a vase—everyone has at least one collecting dust under the sink or in a cabinet. If your yard is lush with springtime flowers, such as crocuses, tulips, and azaleas, clip them and arrange them inside said vase with some water.
You don’t have to do much arranging—or clip many blooms—with a pretty mini vase, like this one from Uncommon Goods, or even a glass bottle plucked from your recycling bin. To make the arrangement feel extra luxurious (or if you don’t have any access to flowers of your own), splurge with a flower delivery from your local florist (if they’re delivering) or 1-800-flowers.
2. Display a paper bouquet for an unexpected—and long-lasting—arrangement
Flowers in spring are not groundbreaking. But you know what is? Paper flowers. Get or give a paper bouquet from Paper Source that you can show off for months without the sad reality of wilting—or of causing sneezing attacks in those who love the idea of a spring arrangement, but suffer from seasonal allergies.
If you’re looking for a new pastime as well as something to look at, consider folding your own origami flowers. All you need is some origami paper—or some construction or wrapping paper, cut to square—and a DIY tutorial.
3. Chef up some eats on the grill
If you don’t yet own an outdoor cooker (or yours needs to be replaced), consider our favorite gas grill, the well-built Weber Spirit II E-310, which expertly cooks meat and veggies alike. Among charcoal grills, the Napoleon NK22K-LEG-2 won us over with its ability to evenly distribute heat and its large surface area that can hold a dozen or more burgers at a time.
4. Break out your favorite sunscreen and hat
You should be wearing SPF even in the winter, but if you haven’t been, dig it out of the medicine cabinet now (and check the expiration date), or buy a sunscreen you’ll like enough to remember to wear everyday. One of our fave brands to consider: Supergoop.
For added (or alternative) protection, dust off your favorite baseball cap or sun hat—or pick up a new one—to cast a shadow on your face and protect it from harmful UVA and UVB rays.
5. Get outside and hit the trails
There’s no better time than the present to escape into nature. Spending time outdoors, especially in green space, is good for your health. It can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, among other things. Some National Parks, including Arches and Great Smoky Mountains, are on hiatus, but there are numerous digital resources to help you discover other great trails nearby.
AllTrails (which also has an app) is easy to use, and provides detailed information on trails in your area, from current conditions to overviews of the difficulty, distance, and even topographic maps. Hike it Baby is a resource tailored to the needs of families looking to find kid friendly hikes and trails. Their trail guides break down everything, including surface type, if trails are stroller friendly and ADA accessible, and even if there are water fountains and bathrooms along the way. Double-check with local sources, like your state government’s website, to ensure trails are open before heading out.
And when you hit the road, don’t forget the essentials, including water and a snack. (And remember to remain at least six feet away from other people on your chosen route.)
6. Read some books to get you through social distancing
There’s no time like the present to get back to reading. If you want to take in some fresh air at the same time, take your book, or e-reader to your patio, balcony, backyard, or a park (barring local regulations).
Need some reading suggestions? You can find your newest read on the USA Today spring reading guide, with books ranging from escapist fiction to biographies and even essay collections.
7. Get an umbrella to keep April showers from dampening outdoor strolls
There’s no need to let a drizzle get in the way of those outdoor walks you’ve been enjoying. Just have an umbrella handy so you can venture outside, even with rain in the forecast—which, if you think about it, should make it easier to stay at least six feet away from anyone else who’s out there.
We’ve tested a bunch of umbrellas and have two favorites: The first is the splurge-but-it’s-worth-it Davek Solo, which holds its own against rain and wind and always opens without a hitch. For a value pick, we love the Totes Neverwet Umbrella, which does the job and comes in fun, springy colors and patterns, like multicolored stripes and polka dots.
8. Gear up to become the runner you’ve always thought you could be
Fitness studios and gyms are closed—which makes home workouts and outdoor jogs your main exercise options. If the warmer weather has you feeling inspired to go for a run, all you really need is a good pair of sneakers, your favorite exercise clothes, and a willingness to get sweaty. But you can enhance your run with a few key accessories.
First, download a free running app like Strava, which tracks your miles in real time when you bring your phone along or syncs with data from smartwatches, fitness trackers, and running watches. You can also get a visor to keep the sun’s rays off your face, or a pair of Goodr sunglasses, which don’t slip or bounce on the face, no matter how sweaty you are or how fast you’re running. Don’t forget to add on your SPF to protect exposed skin from the ever-strengthening spring sun.
9. Get headphones to keep you company on outdoor excursions
Whether you’re going on a leisurely podcast walk or Dua Lipa-fueled jog, you’ll need a good pair of headphones. We love the Mpow Flame earbuds, which feel comfortable, stay in the ears throughout any kind of workout (or unexpected rain shower), and provide a rich, even sound.
10. Crop your own tops and cutoff jeans for the ultimate spring-cleaning outfit
If you’re doing a closet cleanout, hold onto a few old t-shirts and pairs of jeans before you toss them. With a pair of fabric scissors, you can make them into an uber-trendy crop top or cutoff shorts. Mark a spot on the fabric that’s a little longer than the length you want, cut into it, and try it on. If that works for you, leave it. If you want it shorter, trim carefully—you can’t put back if you take off too much.
These newly cropped duds may not be the exact right choice for calling into a work Zoom meeting, but they’re great to wear when you’re cleaning, gardening, or doing other chores around the house.
11. Zen out with a calming app
When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, consider sitting outside or taking a walk while listening to a meditation app. The Headspace app offers a library of themed courses, daily meditations, sleep sounds, and bedtime exercises to help you practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere. The best part about spring weather is that you can plop down on the grass outside (or on a yoga mat) and zen out(doors).
12. Press fresh flowers and use them to decorate your space or for crafts
To treasure spring’s first blooms always, try your hand at pressing them. The best part: You don’t need any special equipment. Look for flowers that are fresh, unblemished, and clean. To press, find a thick heavy book, like a dictionary, and open to the middle. Line the book’s pages with two pieces of parchment paper or newspaper, and place the flower in the position you’d like it to take. Close the book and weigh it down with an additional book or other heavy object (like an unopened gallon of water) for a few days. When the flower is fully dry, it’s ready to be used.
The simplest project is to laminate your flower to a piece of cardstock using clear packing tape for a DIY bookmark. But pressed flowers can decorate anything from candles to paper lanterns. You can even use them to create DIY bath bombs.
13. Revamp your recipe book with seasonal eats
Certain foods just go with a season. After all, you’d rather serve a hearty soup on a chilly winter day, rather than in 100-degree heat, right? With spring here, search up some new recipes and consider ones that incorporate fruits and vegetables that are in season, such as rhubarb, leeks, and asparagus.
You can even get fresh produce delivered right to your door with “ugly” produce subscription services, Imperfect Produce and Misfits Market, both of which we loved for getting us to step out of our comfort zones when it comes to purchasing and consuming fruits and vegetables.
14. Cultivate your own fresh herbs with Aerogarden
Growing plants inside can be difficult. Finding a room with a window that provides the right amount of sun exposure for the optimal number of hours is often a problem, and sometimes impossible. And who wants a bunch of leaky pots sitting around on the floor, waiting to overflow and practically begging your cat to drink from the saucer? That’s where options like Aerogarden come in. The sleek-looking Aerogarden has built-in LED lights that provide plants with optimal light to mimic the sun. It also reminds you when to water, so plants don’t get too much or too little.
If you prefer not to start completely from scratch, other companies, like The Sill, send you already potted plants in whatever style of planter you like.
15. Get your hands colorfully dirty with some sidewalk chalk
Sidewalk chalk is a classic warm weather activity for kids—and doodle-oriented adults, too. Affordable, easy to use, and fun, you can’t go wrong. In addition, it’s a creative outlet, and multiple studies have found that creative activities, like drawing and painting, can reduce stress.
The cost of sidewalk chalk, if you don’t have some already, isn’t prohibitive. There is a broad range of options, from cheaper chalks, like Crayola’s offerings, to professional grade chalk pastels, leaving something for everyone. Use them to decorate your driveway or the sidewalk leading to your front door.
16. Pull out your wheels and go for a spin
Bikes, scooters, and rollerblades provide a fun way to get out of the house and see your neighborhood at a pace faster than walking.
If you already have a bike or scooter, there are ways to spruce it up for spring. Bike bells are a great way to let people know you’re passing, without having to yell “on your left!” as you cruise by (at a safe distance, of course). The bike bells by Nutcase are well reviewed, and come in a variety of patterns, plus they don’t break the bank.
You can also deck out your bike with the quirky OTOTO hamster, called “Speedy.” It might not make your bike faster, but it sure is fun to watch.
17. Install wind chimes to get some music going
Warm spring breezes are a lovely sign of the season. Put them to extra-good use by installing some wind chimes outside your window or on your porch. Reviewers love this Brierly wind chime, which has colorful geometric shapes and creates a smooth, tinkling sound every time it’s rustled.
Feeling crafty? You can DIY a wind chime with old keys, electrical conduits, or the contents of your junk drawer—though, to be clear, we haven’t tried these projects and can’t confirm how they might turn out.
18. Start composting and feed your garden right
Use your free time to get started with the eco-friendly habit of composting. It has a twofold benefit, by reducing household waste—food scraps and yard debris make up nearly 30 percent of all waste, according to the EPA—and providing a rich, organic fertilizer for your garden or flowerbed.
To get started, you’ll need a small, lidded container for the kitchen counter into which you can place things like coffee grounds, eggshells, and fruit and vegetable scraps (just not raw meat or dairy products). You can buy one specifically for composting, or use an old flour canister or stainless steel mixing bowl with a lid. Once the indoor bin is full, bring it to an outdoor compost bin or pile, which should be placed in a dry, shady location and filled with 50 percent “brown” material (like cardboard, dead leaves, and tree and shrubbery debris) layered over 50 percent “green” material (like food scraps and fresh plant clippings). When the material looks like dark, rich soil, it’s ready to integrate into your garden.
19. Experiment with new makeup trends
Beauty fads come and go with the seasons, and this spring is no different. Right now, we’re seeing white eyeliner, and not just on the lash line. To go bold, trace the liner in the crease of your eye from inner to outer corner, or create a fierce wing by extending the liner along your lashes and past your eye’s outer corner.
After testing liquid eyeliners, The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner won us over for its super-pigmented, smudge-proof formula, and you can snag it in white.
20. Unpack and spruce up your patio furniture
Turn your deck or yard into your new favorite work-from-home spot or dinner location. Whether you have a full patio set or just a lounge chair or two, pluck them from the garage or shed and give them a bath with a garden hose and a bucket of sudsy water.
Don’t have anything yet? You can score chairs and plush cushions without breaking the bank.
21. Use a cooler and a blanket for picnics in your own backyard
One way to get the spring break staycation vibes going is with a backyard picnic. On a nice day or evening, bring your meal outside and eat it al fresco. You don’t need anything fancy, other than food that travels well, some paper plates and cups (if you don’t want to deal with lugging your own plates in and out), and a blanket, table cloth, or some beach towels to sit on if you don’t have patio furniture.
To add a little more je ne sais quios to the situation, put your cold food and beverages in a cooler and sit on a waterproof picnic blanket, which is easy to wipe clean.
22. Break out the s’mores ingredients by a fire pit (or grill)
Cap off a relaxing weekend with your household by toasting marshmallows around your backyard fire pit. The Endless Summer Wood Burning Fire Pit, an online favorite with its 4.2 stars and more than 400 reviews, has a deep bowl to fit plenty of kindling, is easily transportable, and features a spark guard for safe burning.
No pit? No problem: Plenty of gooey deliciousness can be had over your grill or hibachi, in your oven (by assembling all the ingredients on a cookie sheet), or even in your microwave.
23. Lounge in style with a hammock
Another way to spend more time outdoors? Set up a hammock in your yard. It’ll enhance ordinary experiences like lying down with a book, taking a nap, or phoning a friend. We love the Vivere Double Hammock, which fits more than one person and is comfy enough to sleep in. If you have trees well-positioned for putting up a hammock, you can also invest in a simple net and let nature do the rest of the work.
24. Set up a birdhouse to invite more nature to your backyard
Enjoy a visit from a feathered friend (and possibly their friends) with a birdhouse. You can buy a new one, like this fairytale-inspired birdhouse, or build your own with a DIY kit. The simple, inexpensive one from Houseworks has great reviews from happy Home Depot shoppers.
If you don’t feel like setting up a birdhouse, scatter some birdseed in your yard to attract passing flocks without much effort—just don’t be surprised if other critters, like opportunistic squirrels, stop by as well.
25. Pick up a new hobby and observe birds as they’re migrating
Spring is a great time to take up bird watching, due to bird’s migratory patterns. The Sibley Guide to Birds is a top pick for discovering what type of birds frequent your yard or neighborhood. The book has detailed information from accurate renderings of wild birds, to feather patterns based on season and life stage. And get a closer look with a solid pair of binoculars, like the Nikon Trailblazer ATB Waterproof 8 x 25 Binoculars, well liked by REI customers. They have a wide field of view with 8x magnification, all in a compact size.
26. Lighten your layers with a versatile jacket
In that space of time around the perfect date—April 25! Not too hot, not too cold!—all you need for forays outside is a light jacket. If you already have a favored light, springy wrap, use this as a reminder to switch from your winter coat to that one.
If you need a new spring jacket, try a classic denim one, like the Levi trucker jacket or American Eagle’s classic denim jacket. It adds some effortless style to your look—even if you’re just wearing leggings and a tee—and wards off chills without weighing you down.
27. Make your backyard the greatest campsite ever
Some camping sites across the country may be temporarily closed, but your backyard is always open! Bust out the tent, and some sleeping bags, and spend a night beneath the stars. It’s a great way to get out of the house without breaking quarantine, plus you still have access to all the food in your kitchen—and your own (indoor) bathroom. What could be better?
28. Prep for pool time with a funky floatie
Depending on where you live, the weather might not lend itself to cannon balls and skinny dipping just yet, but you can start the preparation process in anticipation for it. Yes, this means cleaning the pool, but it also means shopping for Instagrammable pool floats and water games.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.