Summer days are too hot to spend much time outside, so planning some outdoor evening activities is a great way to get all of the benefits from being in nature. When you spend time outside, you’re getting vitamin D for immune health (yes, even in the shade!) as well as fresh air. Your mental and emotional state also benefit from being outdoors since our bodies seem to regulate better out in nature. If you’re looking for ways to spend your summer evenings outside, here are four activities to try solo or with friends.

Start and tend a garden

While a garden definitely needs plenty of daytime sunlight to thrive, one of the best times to actually tend a garden is in the cool evening hours. When the sun dips low in the sky, it’s the perfect time to pull weeds, check for pests, water your plants and cut blossoms.

You’ll also find that local wildlife tends to be more active in the evening, so you may see garden visitors like lizards, birds, and even deer! If you don’t already have a garden, here’s a great guide that will help you think about the most important parts of getting started — what do you want to grow, where should you grow it, and how do you tend to it properly? If you don’t have a yard or area for permanent garden plants, a container garden is a wonderful alternative; you can plant flowers as well as vegetables and have them all easily accessible on your back porch.

Visit local botanical gardens and parks

Even if you have your own garden to tend (and especially if you don’t), touring local botanical gardens and parks is a wonderful evening activity in the summer. These gardens tend to have paved and/or well-maintained pathways, making them easy to navigate in the dimmer light. Many venues have specific evening hours and events in the summer and display festive lights to brighten up the surroundings. Take a small picnic snack and some portable chairs so that you can sit and enjoy the view partway through your tour. An outing to the botanical garden is also a great way to spend time with friends and family away from home in a lovely setting, and the grandkids will love being able to run around in the open spaces. If you aren’t familiar with venues in your area, check this comprehensive list.

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Host a backyard game night

If you’re looking for an evening activity a little closer to home, host a backyard game night with friends and family. You can offer a full spread of traditional barbecue food or opt for a theme night and have a classic ice cream social.

When everyone is finished eating, the games can begin. Depending on your guest list, backyard games can be calm and low-key or more boisterous. Classic games like cornhole are great for guests of all ages, and you can even play while seated; some cornhole sets have built-in lights, so an evening game doesn’t have to end early. Other games to include are giant yard-sized versions of popular tabletop games like Checkers, Yahtzee and a backyard version of Bingo.

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Join an evening walking club

It can be almost impossible to find a comfortable time for outdoor walks during the hot summer months. To get in your much-needed exercise and time in nature, join an evening walking club in your area (or start one if you can’t find an established group). A walking club is a great way to have fun and accountability while incorporating physical fitness into your routine.

For an evening walk, make sure that you scope out the route ahead of time in bright daylight hours. Look for any unstable sidewalk stretches or blind corners, and try to plan your route around them. Walking with headlamps and reflective vests is a good safety practice, even if you’re in a big group. As you become comfortable walking in the evening, you’ll start to notice that the sights and sounds of your neighborhood at dusk are unique.

Whether you’d like to venture away from home or spend some time on your back porch, soaking up the summer nights with friends and family is a great way to enjoy the season!

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