20 Summer Hobbies That Will Change Your Life

Dedicate your off-time to something more than loafing around.

20 Summer Hobbies That Will Change Your Life

Dedicate your off-time to something more than loafing around.

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The summer is going to be over faster than you think. How you spend the next few months is entirely up to you. You can just veg out on the couch or stare at the shoreline. Or you can find a new hobby that doesn’t just get you out of the house but might actually improve your life exponentially.

It’s true. A study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, found that people with hobbies were significantly happier and healthier than those who didn’t look for interests outside their careers. And it’s not just about having lower stress levels. A hobby is about so much more than passing the time; if you pick carefully, a hobby can be hugely impactful and change your entire outlook. A career is how you make a living, but a hobby can be where you discover your passion.

Here are 20 hobby ideas that, worst-case scenario, will make you feel like you did more with your summer than just get a tan, and best case, might very well change your life. And for more ways to make the most of your summer, check out the 100 Motivational Weight-Loss Tips for Summer.

1
Find a lost relative.

By some accounts, genealogy has become the second most popular hobby in America, behind only gardening. The reasons should be obvious. Tracking down your family tree doesn’t just make you feel like a private detective cracking a case, it’ll also help you better understand yourself. Curious where your quirky personality comes from? The answer might lie in your great-great-great-grandfather.

playing cards, improve memory

2
Euchre.

If you’re not familiar with this card game, which involves four players in teams of two, it’s time to get initiated. The rules can be tricky for beginners, but once you get the hang of it, it’s the perfect game for couples who want to hang out but not necessarily just eat and drink.

There’s strategy and cunning involved, and you have to learn how to read your partner’s mind. Start a euchre competition as strangers, and by the end you’ll be the best of friends. And if you love friendly competition, you’ll love this list of 30 Hilariously Bad Board Games. 

Man Reading Poems to Woman

3
Read up on history.

Instead of picking up another cookie-cutter “beach read” that you’ll forget the moment it’s over, consider exploring a part of history that you know nothing about. Truth can be stranger than fiction, and it certainly makes for better reading. Whether it’s tall tales of the boat that inspired Moby Dick or the strange saga of Henry VIII’s six wives, there are so many books out there that let you become an armchair historian. For more reading recs, here are the 5 Books Bill Gates Wants You to Read This Summer.

writing letter cursive penmanship

4
Letter writing.

Thanks to email, writing letters has become a lost art. But it can be immensely satisfying, especially if you’re the type of person who enjoys the feel of a pen or pencil in your hand. Just imagine the amazement from your friends when they receive a bona fide letter from you, written by hand, in their mailbox. Who even does that anymore?! You, that’s who.

hobbies for your 40s

5
Learn to play the guitar.

Remember when you were younger and had fantasies about being the lead guitarist in a super hip rock band? Those fantasies never completely go away, and they don’t have to. You might not become the next Keith Richards, but with a little practice and some patience, you can at least learn the chord changes to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

father son camping trips

6
Camping.

It’s the perfect excuse to get out of your office (and all that artificial lighting) and experience the outside world. When you set up camp miles away from the nearest Wi-Fi signal, and there are no distractions aside from chirping birds and the rustling of leaves, you’ll feel invigorated in ways you never thought possible. And if you’re interested in sending your kid off to camp, consider one of the 20 Crazy Summer Camps That Actually Exist.

7
Learn ballroom dancing.

You can fake your way through most dance moves, but not ballroom. Take your partner or go it alone, and the next time you’re at a dancing occasion, be prepared for the stunned expressions from your friends and family.

women gardening outside

8
Gardening

Once you’ve successfully grown your own tomatoes or zucchini, you’ll wonder why you wasted so much money buying grocery store produce over the years. The dirt under your nails just makes it taste all the sweeter.

cds compact discs

9
Collect something.

It really doesn’t matter what. It could be baseball cards or stamps or antique Coca-Cola signs or anything else. It’s the thrill of the hunt that makes this such a satisfying pastime. And for more on great pastimes, check out the 40 Best Hobbies to Take up in Your 40s.

paint brush canvas office

10
Paint.

Don’t think you have the artistic talent to be a painter? We’ve got two words for you: Jim Carrey. You think anyone told the Hollywood A-lister that he should focus on painting instead of movies? But he’s so clearly made the right choice. Besides, there’s ample medical evidence that painting everyday dramatically reduces stress. Oh, and speaking of Jim Carrey: here are 30 Celebs Who Are Amazing Artists on the Side.

man grilling

11
Grilling.

If you think grilling is just about throwing some burger patties on a flame, then you’ve never met any serious grilling hobbyists. When you start paying closer attention to the craft, you’ll start having strong opinions about how long to let your meat “rest”, and the gas vs. charcoal debate.

car mechanic holding wrench

12
Engine repair.

We’re not saying give up your trusted auto mechanic completely. But when you know enough about how your car works that you don’t have to take it to the shop for every little thing, you’ll get a taste of what true independence feels like. Start small, learning how to replace the valve cover gaskets and change your own oil. There’s a wealth of information online, especially on YouTube, that will take some of the mystery out of opening the hood of your car.

paintball

13
Paintball.

Listen, we live in stressful times, and sometimes the only way to get rid of all that pent-up aggression is with a little Rambo roleplaying. You get out there with a paint gun, where it feels like real war but the stakes aren’t nearly as high, and you can burn off a lot of otherwise useless hostility. It’s got all the benefits of real exercise, combined with the endorphin ruse of shooting people with paint pellets.

Craft beer, Tennessee, Smoky Mountain Brewery

14
Beer brewing.

You can buy a basic home brewing kit for around $100, with an extra $25 for an ingredient kit. Not only will you be able to make beer for half of what it cost you at the store, you can impress your friends with a limited edition “[Insert Your Name Here] Brew”.

15
Fishing.

What makes fishing such a great hobby isn’t learning how to cast a reel or the possibility of bringing home a big yummy fish for dinner. It’s so addictive because it reminds us how to be patient. Where else are you rewarded for just sitting and waiting and staring off into space and never checking you email for hours and hours at a time?

Digital camera obsolete

16
Photography.

We’re not talking about the kind of photography you do with your phone, which is usually just an excuse to take a few dozen selfies. We mean photography done with a quality camera, where you have to learn about exposure and color and develop an eye for what might be worth capturing on film. Even if you never master it, you start looking at the world a little differently, paying closer attention to the details you never really noticed before.

avoiding renovations is a stress free travel secret

17
Home renovation.

If you own a home, you’ve made grand proclamations about rooms you planned to renovate and walls you intended to tear down to make the space more user-friendly. There was always an excuse for why you couldn’t do it right now, and you promised to get to it “next summer.” Well, guess what? It’s officially next summer.

bartenders

18
Scotch.

Scotch isn’t just a golden brown liquor that makes some people cringe when they drink it. There’s so much history and culture to whiskey that you could spend a lifetime learning about it all. From the differences between bourbon and rye to how to identify the subtle flavor notes in dozens of different classic scotches, you could lose yourself in the minutiae. And if straight liquor isn’t your thing, well, consider mastering the 15 Two-Ingredient Cocktails You Can Make in 15 Seconds.

money

19
Learn a foreign language.

It could be the spoken tongue native to a country you hope to visit someday, or a language you’ve always wanted to learn just because you find it so beautiful. Learning the basics of a new language makes the world feel a little smaller, and numerous studies have indicated that being bilingual can give your brain a boost.

Vinyl, secondhand

20
Collecting vinyl records.

It’s not just hipsters who love vinyl. Records remind you what it felt like to have to leave your house to find music. The ritual of shopping for vinyl at record stores, and then listening to the comforting crackle of a needle on vinyl grooves, can be peaceful and at times downright transcendent. Anybody can download an mp3, but it takes effort to hunt down the perfect vinyl record. And for more great hobby ideas, don’t miss the 40 Best Hobbies to Take Up in Your 40s.

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