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5 Summer Social Distancing Activities To Enjoy Now

You can still have fun — it just has to be done in a different way.

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Susanna Rumiz
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Most of us are doing our best to follow those pesky social distancing rules, even as the lure of good weather and memories of pool parties tempt us like leftover chocolate cake in the fridge. The idea of staying home and not making plans with friends in the summer is so foreign that most of us don’t know what to do with ourselves. But if you break it down, what is it we really crave? We want to be outdoors, and we want to have fun with friends. It’s still possible — it just has to be done differently, with a little creativity and planning. Here are five suggestions to help make the best (and hopefully only) pandemic summer of your life more enjoyable.

Singles tennis

The ideal social distance sport is one a lot of us already find quite addicting. Lobbing that ball at each other from up to 120 feet away is a pretty safe bet for even the most cautious social distancers. For a while there, people were worried about surface transmission — that is, your opponent touches the ball, you miss the ball, you pick up the ball, you find yourself quarantined for 14 days. Now we’re more concerned with more direct transmission. For example, your partner sneezes directly onto the ball, and you place the ball directly into your mouth. Do NOT do that. (Don’t do that anyway, even if there isn’t a pandemic going on.) Always remember the basic rules: Don’t touch your face, wash your hands — or use hand sanitizer while on the court — and stay at least 6 feet away from others. If you can follow those simple rules, then singles tennis is an ideal way to get a great workout while enjoying fun in the sun with a friend.

Backyard yoga

One of the many industries hit hard by the pandemic has been the fitness industry. In most states, gyms are part of the last phase of reopening, and a lot of people just don’t feel comfortable getting their zen on in a room full of sweaty strangers. (That used to be SO appealing!) All of this has left some pretty amazing and well-qualified yoga instructors out in the cold. Why not invite one to share your sunny backyard with a few trusted friends? Space your mats out 6 feet or more from each other and hit that downward dog over the grass. You’ll be breathing in actual fresh air while enjoying the sunshine and the company of flexible friends.

Online or outdoor book club

Never have we ever read so many books! It’s one of the few really good things to have come out of this pandemic. Being stuck at home long enough to run through our Netflix watch lists has caused many of us to rediscover our love of the written word. Now that we can venture outside, it’s a great time to share the love by creating a book club with a small group of friends. To maintain your 6 feet or more, try sitting on the lawn in a circle. (Maybe ask everyone to bring their own towel to avoid those attractive lawn imprints on the backs of the thighs.) If you find it’s too hard to hear the discussion outside, this activity works really well online. Five or six people is the perfect number for a Zoom book club, and if you’ve mastered the screen share button, you can even point out passages from the online version of your book.

Very fancy! Virtual dinner party

While we’re bringing things indoors and online, have you done a virtual dinner party? This can be done in so many ways, and it can be way more fun than going out to dinner — especially because you don’t have to argue about who’s going to be the designated driver! The idea is that everyone either cooks the same dish or orders from the same restaurant (a great way to support local business). Your dinner party can be paired with a virtual wine tasting or cooking class. Many chefs and wine experts are offering private online classes. They send the ingredient list or bottles of wine in advance and then direct you through a shared evening of gourmet fun. At the end, you can enjoy the meal together via Zoom or FaceTime, all without leaving your kitchen. Pro tip: Leave the cleanup until morning.

Outdoor charades

Best attempted after a glass of wine or two, this classic boredom solution is even better outside, sitting 6 feet or more way from four to six friends. That seems to be the ideal charades number — any more and it becomes too frenzied with too many people calling out. The best part about trying to wordlessly act something out from a social distance is that it forces you to be bigger and broader, both of which equal funnier. Having trouble finding a good list of charade subjects to act out? Try They have over 700 charades ideas, organized by category.