PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK; DESIGN BY MARISSA DICKSON
It’s the summer of re-socializing and we can’t wait to spend some quality time in person with the friends and colleagues we only spoke to via a screen last year. But after a full day of working from home with our legs crossed on our couches, the last thing we want to do is go sit in a restaurant or awkwardly yell at each other over a drink at the bar. That’s why we’ve come up with some date ideas with active friends to suggest the next time someone wants to “get together after work” this summer, which will keep the conversation flowing. Because after a year of being locked inside, there’s nothing better than having a really good laugh with friends outside… and few things relax you faster than a little competition.
Upgrade your barbecue and host a tournament in your backyard
Beyond IRL conversations and a dedicated workspace, the pandemic has taught us that backyards (even the smallest) are not to be underestimated. And, if you’re lucky enough to have your own little patch of green, you should be spending just as much time soaking up the sun… period. Instead of bringing the group in for just burgers and dogs, invite friends over with the added incentive of drinks and a backyard play tournament. Cornhole is simple enough for complete beginners to always enter, but don’t forget the classics like horseshoes or pétanque. To make it even more fun, set your own house rules, like “You must have a drink in your hand” and offer your guests a homemade drink when they walk through the door. A Cape Codder pitcher is pretty easy to make – all you need is ice cream, Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Cocktail, Vodka and Lemon Juice – and it’s refreshing and perfect for a sunny day outside. Plus after a few it’s easier to laugh on the quality (or, let’s face it, terrible) of your throw.
Track down a local swimming hole
A day at the beach is great… unless you’re sitting in traffic trying to get there, fighting for a spot on the sand, only to find you forgot to bring money for a daily pass. Eliminate all of that by heading to a local swimming hole instead – you may have to swap your flip-flops for hiking boots to get there, but “the adventure” is half the fun. Pro tip: go on a weekday if you can swing it, best places can get crowded on gorgeous summer weekends, and nothing ruins a day faster than not being able to find parking.
Channel your inner child with a bike ride
Can you remember the last time you just rode a bike to have fun? Let me tell you that nothing is more nostalgic than going for a walk with no destination in mind. In addition, with all bike sharing services provided in cities across the country, it’s an affordable way for you to spend QT with a friend. So plan to meet up after work to explore your town or city, just be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring your phone in case you get lost a bit.
But the best part about a leisurely bike ride? It’s a low stress situation that doesn’t require a ton of chatter – AKA the perfect way to get meet with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
Play hookie and go tube
It’s more of a “Summer Friday” activity, but if you have a group of friends looking to get together, avoid working early and suggest tubing down a river. More privileged locations have businesses nearby that make it easy to hire a tube for the day and once launched you can just float down the river until you find a place you want to drop anchor. Veterans know the best way to enjoy this activity is by using a drinks cooler that will float right next to you – store yours with a frozen bottle of Ocean Spray® Cran-Limonade®. While it is thawing, you can pour the slushy liquid in your rambler with gin for refreshing cocktails on the go (no extra ice required). And while drinks are the most important part of this summer activity, SPF is a very close second.
Join (or start) a Spikeball league
On a quest to meet new neighbors (like many others, I moved last year), I discovered that all it takes is a trip to a local park on a summer evening to feel instantly transported. in your university quad. There is always a group of people participating in some type of game, but the one with the largest crowd should be Spikeball. Invest in your own Spikeball kit and have a friend start your own game. You just need to take two other people to play a match. Before you start stressing out, you don’t have to be a real athlete to play a game of Spikeball, (plus socializing with strangers is so much easier when you bond over a missed spike or awesome scythe. ). Don’t forget to bring a mini cooler full of Ocean Spray® Notch-Energy Raz® to reward your new friends after the game.
Go for an easy hike. . . also known as the promenade
If you’re like me (read: not athletic) the word ‘hike’ triggers immediate chills, but there are probably a ton of walking trails. near you which make lovely scenic walks. Bonus: the “Let’s go for a walk” suggestion works at any time of the day. A morning stroll over coffee or a brisk lunch walk is the perfect suggestion for coworkers who just want to make contacts. But if you really like the person, suggest going after work instead. Bring a backpack of snacks and a thermos Summer Ocean Spray ® mocktails to stop and enjoy along the way.