Go for a hike
It doesn’t matter if you live near the mountains — going for a hike, or a long walk through nature, is a great way to get outdoors and get away close to home. Find a state or national park, pack a picnic, bring your friends, and have a great day trip. The best part? The only thing you’ll pay for is gas.
Go on a bike tour
If you live near the shore, this is an especially great idea. Bike paths and easy-to-manage terrain make beach biking relaxing and fun, with beautiful views and cool ocean breezes. Make a few pit stops for ice cream or cold drinks along the way.
Whatever body of water you live near — lake, river, ocean, bay — take advantage of the aquatic opportunities! Go kayaking, tubing or canoeing down a placid stream with some friends, take a sightseeing cruise, or just rent a rowboat to take out for a few hours. Who knows — maybe you’ll find a hidden island to explore!
Picnic in the park
Take a stroll in your local park and enjoy the performers and street vendor fare. People watching is always fun, too.
Take a trip to the zoo
Who doesn’t love cute, fuzzy animals? Chances are, there’s a zoo near you and, chances are, it has all sorts of cuddly (and not so cuddly) creatures to see.
Have a game night
Invite your friends over for a potluck party of all the games you had fun playing as a kid. Everyone brings a game and a dish to share, so you can enjoy some Twister (and hope it doesn’t get too awkward), Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit over mini-quiche and cocktail wieners.
Visit your local science museum
Remember learning about atoms and molecules from awesome exhibits with hands-on fun? Pretend you’re a kid again and revisit the thrill of discovering some cool facts about science that you might have forgotten. And don’t forget to use your student ID (if you have one) for a discount.
Paint some pottery
There are plate-painting places in pretty much every part of the country. Take advantage of them with your friends and make some customized kitchenware. Paint a picture of your puppy on a mug or decorate a serving dish with a festive pattern. You can even make things to exchange with your friends when you’re finished.
Go to a drive-in movie
There are only about 700 left in the country, but hopefully one is near you. Experience the American Graffiti-esque nostalgia of the 50s and 60s as you and your friends (or maybe a date!) park the car, recline your seats, grab some popcorn, and have a movie-going event you won’t forget.
Make your own film festival
Why pay for three-day passes to a film festival with only two movies you want to see? Instead, get your friends together for a movie night (or day!). Have a marathon viewing of Lord of the Rings, invite all the girls for a night of rom-coms and Ben & Jerry’s, or get the guys together for some beers to help you through all the movies in the Rocky series.
Be a tourist in your own city
There’s nothing more fun for me than going with my friends on vacation in the Big Apple for a day — visiting the Empire State Building, Times Square and Rockefeller Center, and snapping goofy photos of each other in front of all the best tourist attractions. But even if you don’t live in a city, hop in the car (or on public transportation) and get to the nearest city for a day. If the nearest urban center is too much of a trek, visit some of the best off-the-beaten path attractions or cheesy side-of-the-road tourist traps in a town near you.
Look at some art
Even if it’s not super-renowned, there’s probably a museum or gallery near where you live. Get out for the day and be inspired by some beautiful artwork and have something to talk about with your friends later over dinner.