Americans spend nearly half their waking hours looking at a screen, so it’s not surprising that more people than ever are searching for ways to cut the cord and spend their free time intentionally.
If you’re among the many who are looking for fun things to do this weekend that don’t involve electronics, give the options below a try. This list of 40 unique activities can help you unplug and unwind — whether you’re by yourself or with your friends and family.
Fun Things To Do With Your Family
One of the main reasons (if not the main reason) to unplug and connect with real humans is to spend time with your family. But without something compelling to do, it’s easy to slip back into the habit of scrolling through social media.
Here are a few screen-free ideas of fun things to do with the kids.
#1. Write and Perform a Play
This one is especially good for large groups of people of varying ages. Grab some props and accessories and get into character. Make a spoof of a well-loved film, or create a silly commercial. Need some inspiration? Have everyone drop some ideas for plot, setting, props or characters into a hat, and then pick a few to use — the zanier the combinations, the better.
#2. Tell Stories
Kids love stories — real stories, pretend stories, ghost stories, and silly stories. Light a fire or some candles, gather around, and have everyone tell a tale. At the end, have everyone vote on the best story and award a prize.
A variation can be to play Pass the Story, in which one person starts a story then stops mid-sentence after a minute or so. Then, the next person picks up where the previous storyteller left off.
#3. Play Board Games
Entertaining families since 3,000 BC, board games are a great option for some screen-free family fun. Whether you’ve got 30 minutes for a quick game of Boggle or Apples to Apples, or three hours for a never-say-die battle of Risk or Settlers of Catan, board games are a great way to bring families together.
And you don’t have to limit yourself to those classic options. There are thousands of board games (not to mention card, dice and other games) available at specialty game retailers that aren’t well-known enough to be carried at Target and Walmart. Chances are your local games store has something fun and different that your family will enjoy.
#4. Prepare a Meal Together
What better way to bring people together than food? Getting the kids involved in preparing a meal is not only great for family bonding, it also creates a great platform for discussions on nutrition, chemistry, fractions, family traditions and more.
The more influence the kids have in what and how to cook, the more they’ll enjoy the process (and the result). So avoid the urge to treat them like elves and instead, let them set the menu and lead the show.
To make the process budget-friendly, consider incorporating some budget meal planning. Our guide on Budget Meal Planning is a great resource to help you prepare delicious and affordable meals.
#5. Be a Tourist in Your Own Town
So often we miss the fascinating bits of history, architecture, art and culture that are right under our noses. So why not take a day to look at your hometown from a tourist’s point of view? Visit that random museum you drive by on the way to work, or check out the famous historical spots and natural wonders right in your own backyard.
Fun Things To Do With Your Partner
Ironically, social media can make us less social. Turning off your phone and tuning into your spouse or partner is a great way to strengthen your relationship.
Here are some ways to connect with your one-and-only — none of which require Wi-Fi.
#1. Visit a Park
Leave the kids at home for this trip to the park. Grab your partner and check out this map to find a state or national park near you — in most places, there are amazing natural resources that even tuned-in residents don’t know about or seldom visit.
Many state and national parks are vastly underutilized and contain interesting geological, biological, and historical treasures. So lace up your hiking boots and explore the gems your region has to offer.
#2. Go to a Zoo or Aquarium
I know what you’re thinking: isn’t this something you’re supposed to do with your kids? Sure, and enjoying these places with them can be a wonderful and deeply memorable experience. But you may also be surprised just how much you enjoy them as an adult, when you can take your time and actually pay attention to the animals and exhibits.
#3. Have a Picnic
What’s more romantic than a picnic for two? You can go cheap and make your own sandwiches, or go spendy and grab takeout. Whatever your budget, pack a lunch and head to a park, mountain trail, beach, prairie, desert or wherever. Just remember to leave your phone behind so that you can actually enjoy each other’s company without distractions.
#4. Relive Your First Date
If the location of your first date was nearby, plan a return trip to that spot and recreate that first magic moment together. If it’s not possible to go to the original spot, find a similar restaurant, theater, park, or club and do the best you can. This can be a surprisingly powerful reminder of how you first fell in love.
#5. Settle in For Some Couple’s Time
Maybe it’s obvious, but sex is a great option for reconnecting with your one-and-only. Apart from being innately fun and pleasurable, sex has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Couples who have sex regularly take fewer sick days, have lower blood pressure, and have greater satisfaction in their relationships. So get busy!
Fun Things To Do By Yourself
It’s great to connect with others, but it’s just as important to unplug and connect with yourself. Here are some suggestions for clearing your head and making the most of your “me time.”
#1. Go for a Walk in the Woods
There’s no better way to detach from the rat race and get lost in your own thoughts than to go for a stroll in the woods. You’ll be surprised how quickly your mind attunes to nature — the sounds, the smells and the vistas — and how much clearer your head feels.
This can also be a fun screen-free activity with your family or partner, but it takes on a different character when done solo, as it provides a sense of separation from the hustle and bustle that’s hard to find elsewhere.
#2. Get Lost in a Classic Book
Pull that iconic book you’ve always meant to read down from the shelf. Dust it off and settle into your favorite chair for a good read. It’s hard to focus on something challenging (like classic, thought-provoking literature) with kids or others demanding your attention, so reading Tolstoy or Shakespeare can be a perfect activity for alone time.
#3. Call an Old Friend out of the Blue
Social media can give us the illusion that we’re connecting with friends, but how often do you actually talk to your old buddies from high school, your former coworkers, or out-of-state relatives? Pick up the phone and call an old friend — you can even use Facebook’s calling app if you no longer have the right number.
#4. Go to a Play or Concert
Most people take a date or friend to plays or concerts, and some people even think it would be weird to go alone. But just like going to the zoo with your spouse is different than going with your family, attending a play or concert by yourself will yield a completely different experience.
Many community theaters and orchestras are almost as good as professionals, and they can be surprisingly affordable (especially if you’re only paying for one ticket).
#5. Play Sports With Strangers
Local recreation centers, gyms, and parks are prime locations for pickup games. While it can be awkward at first to ask to join a volleyball game or soccer match, many people are happy to let a newcomer join in — especially if it evens up the teams. Pickup games can be a great way to meet new people, and they’re surprisingly easy to find.
Fun Things To Do With Your Teenagers
Prying teens away from their phones can be a challenge, but it’s well worth the struggle. Teens who spend quality time with their families are less likely to drink, smoke or use drugs than those who don’t.
Your child may protest at first, but with some love, persistence and a fun activity, you can create memories and forge lasting bonds with your teens.
#1. Go Camping
Include your teens in the plans from the get-go, and this activity is a lot more likely to go well. Let them help with choosing a location, forming a packing list, and planning the menu. Even if your teens aren’t the outdoorsy type, they’ll come to appreciate the time together.
#2. Go Geocaching
Geocaching is like a modern-day, technology-assisted Easter egg hunt. Over 3 million caches are hidden in nooks and crannies around the world. Sign up for a geocaching account and then navigate to hidden treasures in your town or area. Don’t forget to bring a pen with you so you and your teen can sign the log book.
This is technically not a screen-free activity because you typically need to use a GPS to find the caches. However, your phone’s GPS works even when you’re not connected to the internet, so toggle your data connection off and just use your phone as a wayfinder.
#3. Teach Them How to Play Poker
Nothing makes a kid’s day more than feeling grown up and getting to do “adult” things — like playing poker. Teach your teen the different varieties of poker games, like Texas Hold ‘Em and Five-Card Stud, and don’t be afraid to let them actually play for a little bit of money, as having something on the line will help hold their attention.
#4. Have a Listening Party
Show some genuine interest in your teen’s music, and play them some of the music you grew up with. Have a real conversation about your favorite tunes without being judgmental or dismissive. Another way to start that conversation is to have a “Who sang it best?” contest. Play your teen an original classic song, then listen to several modern covers of it to decide which artist did it best.
#5. Get Out the Vote
Teens can be some of the most passionate advocates for issues they care about. Why not spend a weekend day getting involved in our democracy? There are many campaigns desperate for volunteers for things like phone banking or door knocking. Participating in this can be a great lesson for your teenagers in becoming an active citizen.
Fun Things To Do With Your Friends
With our busy lives as adults, it can be easy to neglect our relationships with friends. Carve out some time to develop or rekindle your friendships with some of these activities. The investment is well worth making.
#1. Host a Chili Cook-Off With a Blind Ballot
Have your friends come over and compete in a chili cook-off (or bake-off). Have everyone vote on his or her favorite dish, and award a prize or cheap trophy for the winner. This twist makes having friends over for dinner a little more fun and interesting, and can become an annual tradition that gives your social group a reason to reconvene.
#2. Take an Improv Class
Check your local theater or library for free or cheap improv classes. This is a great friend activity because you can give each other the support needed to go outside your comfort zone without having to worry about embarrassing yourself in front of your partner. You’ll make some great memories, and probably some great inside jokes as a bonus!
#3. Go Bowling
Back in the 1970s, bowling was the sport of the future. Well, that didn’t exactly work out the way people expected — but it is still a great way to connect with friends. After all, who better to celebrate strikes and laugh at gutter balls with? Most bowling alleys offer hourly lane rentals that are fairly cheap when split between four or six people (which leaves more room in the budget for the main attraction — the snacks and drinks).
#4. Do a Service Project
You don’t have to look very far to find a need in your community. Do you and your friends have the skills to help fill it? Grab your buddies and put your heads and hands together to help a neighbor fix a roof, mow and weed an elderly person’s lawn, or cook up some freezer meals for a new mom.
#5. Dinner and a Show
Talent shows aren’t just for high schoolers. Invite some friends over — you provide dinner, and everyone provides the entertainment. Just make sure all the invitees know they’ll be expected to give a performance — whether it’s reciting a poem, singing a song, juggling or whatever.
It can be hard to convince people to play along, but this activity is a blast when it comes together. (Wine helps…)
Fun Things To Do With Your Parents
Our parents and grandparents spent time with us without the distraction of screens and social media while we grew up. It’s time for us to return the favor. Here are a few fun ideas for socializing with your parents/grandparents.
#1. Tag Along to Their Activities or Hobbies
We sometimes forget to think of our parents as complete people. Why not tag along to one of their hobbies and get to know their interests? You’ll learn about their talents and passions, and maybe pick up a new skill in the process. At a minimum, it will give you common experiences to share and discuss together.
#2. Go With Them to Visit Their Friends
Parents and grandparents love to brag about their kids and grandkids. Tag along on a visit to a friend or relative and give your mom or dad something to talk about. You’ll probably learn a few stories about your parents from their friends as well.
#3. Interview them for StoryCorps
Creating a personal history for your parents or grandparents is an investment of time that will pay dividends for generations. What better way to spend time with your relatives than to preserve their stories for years to come?
A great venue for recording this personal history is StoryCorps. You can download the StoryCorps app and record the conversation between you and your loved one. StoryCorps will archive the recording in the Library of Congress.
#4. Go Through Old Photo Albums Together
Want to get to know your mom and dad’s past? A picture is worth a thousand words, and it triggers a thousand memories. Going through old photo albums provides great insight into what life was like in the past, as well as the funny and poignant stories that are unique to your family. Ask a lot of questions and, when you can, help your parents label the dates and people in the photos for future generations.
#5. Have a Drink Together
Take an afternoon or evening to just sit down and chat. If you and your parents enjoy socializing over a glass of beer or wine, pick out a few of your favorites — think craft brews or unique blends they might not have tried — and spend an afternoon or evening talking as adults.
10 Simple Pleasures You May Have Overlooked
- Watch the sunset: Whether it’s from an apartment window or a mountain peak, watching the sun rising and setting is one of nature’s purest and most consistent pleasures.
- Go to the beach: Listening to the rhythmic lapping of waves against the shore is a surefire antidote to chaos and stress.
- Go fishing: Every fisherman will tell you that fishing has very little to do with fish. Cast a line and listen to the sounds, songs, and smells of the environment around you.
- Go for a bike ride: Biking is a fantastic solo, group or family activity. Feel the wind in your face and enjoy beautiful scenery — all while getting your exercise in.
- Take a long, hot bath: Bathtubs are seriously underutilized. With bubbles or without, a soak in the tub at the end of the day relieves tense muscles and washes away stress.
- Take a few moments to focus on your breathing: Headspace and other meditation/guided imagery apps can help you clear the clutter from your mind and reconnect to yourself.
- Visit a pet store or animal shelter: Snuggling puppies, kittens or guinea pigs is always a joyous experience, even if you have pets of your own.
- Order a coffee or cocoa to go, drive out of the city, and look at the stars: Escape the light pollution and bask in the wonder of the Milky Way. It’s cheap and romantic.
- Write some real letters: Your friends and family will be surprised and delighted to receive hand-written letters delivered via snail mail. Kids (think nieces and nephews) go wild over these.
- Go out of your way to treat yourself to a small extravagance: Many boutique shops have one-of-a-kind treats that are worth spending a little extra on, like a unique flavor of soda, hard-to-find cheeses, or really good chocolate. Extravagance doesn’t have to bust your budget, but little gems like these are often worth the extra money.
Screens are a big part of our lives and are here to stay, but they’re hardly a requirement for having fun. Taking the time to tune in to the world around you is healthy and rewarding — and it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Stepping away from your phone or laptop can be difficult, but with a little creativity, there is plenty of good, old-fashioned, analog fun to be had.
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