Spring is just around the corner, and now is one of the best times of year to spend time outdoors in Charleston. If you’re having trouble getting motivated to get outside, here are 10 tips you can try.
While spring hasn’t yet officially sprung, it’s warming up outside in Charleston. It’s starting to stay light later in the evenings, and the next few months will have some of the best weather of the year.
Even so, for many people who have spent most of the winter months indoors, it can be hard to get motivated to get outdoors. You’ve gotten used to your winter routine; and, while you’d like to spend more time outdoors, you aren’t quite feeling the motivation to break your routine and get outside.
Fortunately, here in Charleston, there are plenty of places to find motivation. You just need to know where to look.
Our 10 Tips for Getting Motivated to Get Outdoors This Spring
What can you do to get out of your winter spell and make the most of what springtime in Charleston has to offer? Here are 10 tips for getting motivated to get outdoors:
1. Start Small
If you’ve gotten used to spending your evenings or weekends on the couch with your phone or the TV remote, even convincing yourself to get out the door can be tough. As a result, our first tip is to start small. While you can have a grand plan to seize the day, you can also just focus on putting on your shoes (or flip-flops) and crossing the threshold.
Feeling the warmth of the sun or the brush of an evening breeze can remind you of how nice it is to spend time outdoors. Plus, once you’ve taken the first step, the second step is only one step away. Once you’re outside, maybe you’ll feel like taking a walk, getting your bike out of the garage, or simply enjoying the natural world around you.
2. Set a Goal
Another way to get motivated to get outdoors is to set a goal. Setting a goal creates intrinsic motivation, and this increases the likelihood that you will follow through. Telling friends or family members about your goal creates extrinsic motivation—and this can be powerful as well.
Your goal can be as modest or grand as you want it to be. It is just important that your goal is reasonable. If you don’t have a reasonable chance of attaining your goal, it won’t be motivating—and it can potentially even have the opposite effect.
What are some goals you can set to get motivated to get outside this spring? Here are just a handful of potential ideas:
- Go for a walk, bike ride, or swim every evening after dinner.
- Run your first 5k (or your first 5k in a while) this spring.
- Set a personal record (PR) in your favorite race distance.
- Visit a different public park or try a new place to walk or run every weekend.
- Spruce up your garden or take care of an outdoor project that has been on your to-do list for too long.
Again, these are just ideas. If you are setting a goal, it should truly be something that you want to achieve, and it should reflect your personal interests and hobbies. Setting a group goal with friends can be a good idea as well—as long as everyone is equally motivated to see it through.
3. Try Something New
Another goal you might set for yourself is to try something new. There are so many things to do outdoors in Charleston, and it’s safe to say that few—if any—people have done them all. Some things you might try to get motivated to get outdoors this spring include:
- Boating or sailing
- Cycling or trail bike riding
- Hiking or trail running
- Kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding (SUP)
- Landscape or nature photography
- Windsurfing, wingsurfing, foiling, or kiteboarding
These are all activities you can do on your own or with a group; and, for many of these activities, you can rent what you need and/or take a class or private lesson. There are local groups devoted to many of these activities as well. Of course, you should only try a new activity if it is safe to do so given your health, and it is best to consult with a doctor before beginning any new type of strenuous activity.
4. Buy Something Used
Buying what you need to try something new can be expensive, and it can be hard to commit to a high-dollar purchase if you aren’t sure that you will use your new purchase for a long time. Renting is a good option in many cases (for example, you can rent a boat, kayak, SUP, or surfboard at various locations around Charleston), but rental costs can also begin to add up after a few sessions.
With this in mind, a good option when trying something new is often to buy something used. You can usually find used kayaks, for example, on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for a few hundred dollars. You can also typically find used boats, bikes, SUPs, surfboards, windsurfing equipment, and camera gear for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Along with checking online marketplaces, you can check out local dealers and outfitters as well. Several local outfitters sell their rental fleets at the end of the season to make room for new equipment, and these items are often little-worn and well-maintained.
5. Be a Tourist in Your Own City
As a local Charleston resident, it can be easy to forget that you live in a vacation destination. Another great way to get motivated to get outdoors is to be a tourist in your own city. For example, places you can plan to visit to get outdoors this spring include:
- Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens
- Charles Towne Landing
- Drayton Hall
- King Street (go on Second Sunday, when the street is closed to vehicle traffic for much of the day)
- Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
- Middleton Place
- Shem Creek Park and Public Day Dock
- The Battery
- The Ravenel Bridge
- Waterfront Park
Many (but not all) of these are free to visit, and spring is the perfect time to do so. Not only is the weather just about perfect, but you won’t have to deal with the crowds that descend upon Charleston’s tourist destinations during the summer months.
6. Go to the Beach
Another option that is always free is to go to the beach. While many people view going to the beach as a summertime activity, spring is in many ways the perfect season for spending a day by the ocean. It’s easier to find parking, you can stay all day without baking in the sun (if you want), and you can take the perfect sunset photo around dinner time.
For most Charleston residents, the beach is no more than a 30-minute drive away, and all of the Charleston area’s beaches have free parking options (with the exception of Kiawah Beachwalker Park, which is free with a Charleston County Parks Gold Pass). There is also plenty to do while you are there. Some ideas for things to do at the beach include:
- Having a picnic
- Hunting for shark teeth or sand dollars
- Journaling or writing
- Painting or drawing
- Playing Spikeball or other games
- Reading a book
- Taking a surfing lesson (at Folly Beach)
- Taking photos
- Walking around the beach town or streets
- Walking on the beach
As with all of the other options on this list, the key is to find something that motivates you. While many of the things to do outdoors involve being active, you don’t need to be active to enjoy spending time outdoors. Use this list to find something that speaks to you, start with the first step, and before you know it you’ll find yourself enjoying the outdoors.
7. Eat at a Waterfront Restaurant
Charleston has lots of waterfront restaurants, including a select few on the ocean. Many of these restaurants have outdoor seating; and, here too, spring is the perfect time of year to dine outdoors.
Plus, many of Charleston’s waterfront restaurants are located in areas where you can take a scenic walk after dinner. These include the restaurants on Shem Creek, at Folly Beach, and at Isle of Palms, among others. Sullivan’s Island is another great option as well—while it doesn’t have any waterfront restaurants, all of its restaurants are within just a few blocks of the beach.
8. Create an Outdoor To-Do List
In a similar vein to setting a goal, creating an outdoor to-do list can also be a strong motivator for getting outside. Your to-do list can involve home maintenance and improvements (like gardening or washing your car), or it can involve trying to check off as many fun outdoor activities as possible. Another type of outdoor to-do list might involve running a certain number of races in Charleston this spring. Again, the key is to create a list that is motivating for you, and that will make you want to get outside.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that everything on your to-do list has to be fun—at least not in the traditional sense. Taking care of long-overdue maintenance items can also be extremely rewarding. Plus, once you’re outside (and perhaps slightly sweaty and dirty), you might feel even more motivated to seize the rest of the day by doing something that is actually fun outdoors.
9. Plan a Day Trip
Planning a day trip is a great way to get yourself—and perhaps your whole family—outdoors this spring as well. This could be a day trip to somewhere like Boone Hall or Middleton Place, a day trip to the beach, or a day trip to one of the many state or county parks in the Charleston area. At James Island County Park, for example, you can walk or bike the trails, have a picnic, rent a pedalboat, look for dolphins at the pier, go rock climbing, and let your children spend some time at the playground all in the same day.
Day trips can be more adventurous as well. For example, if you have a boat (or are a member of a boat club), you could plan a day trip to one of Charleston’s uninhabited islands like Capers Island or Bull Island. If you are an avid kayaker, you could take your kayak down to the ACE Basin and explore some places you’ve never been. If you enjoy walking, running, or nature photography, you could go to an out-of-the-way place like Bear Island or Caw Caw Interpretive Center to reignite your passion for getting outdoors.
Planning a day trip doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to overthink it. It’s a good idea to bring plenty of snacks, water, and sunscreen; and, if you are going on the water you should leave a float plan with someone you trust. But, otherwise, the key here—like with all of our other suggestions—is just to go. Pick a destination, check the weather, pack up the car, and you’ll almost certainly be glad you did.
10. See What Happens
Finally, while you can plan a day trip, create a to-do list, or schedule a rental or lesson to try something new, you can also just go outside and see what happens. All you have to do is take the first step. Whether you end up trimming the bushes, going for a bike ride, or sitting and listening to the birds, you’ll be outdoors—and that is always a great way to spend a spring day in Charleston.
What is your favorite way to spend time outside as a Charleston local? Is it something on this list, or do you have another way that you like to enjoy the outdoors? Take a picture and let us know @life_charleston.
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