16-Summer Hobbies You Can Still Do During Quarantine

With the coronavirus pandemic dragging on, this summer is going to be different than the rest. Still, how you spend the next few months is entirely up to you. You can commit to vegging out on the couch or catching rays in the backyard. Or you can take up one of these summer hobbies, which could improve your life exponentially.

And that’s no exaggeration. A 2015 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 of their careers. A hobby is about so much more than passing the time; if you choose carefully, a hobby can change your entire outlook and help you cope with quarantine restrictions.

In the spirit of keeping busy and fulfilled, 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 in the very best case, might change your life. For some fascinating facts that may spark another hidden passion, check out 40 Everyday Items You Didn’t Know Had an Official Name.

1Find a lost relative.
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Thanks to sites like FamilySearch and Ancestry, genealogy has become a hugely popular hobby. The reasons why should be obvious: Tracking down your family tree won’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 the story of your great-great-great-grandfather. For more ideas to help pass the time, check out 50 Fun Things to Do at Home Right Now.

2Play euchre.
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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 to keep the family busy after dinner.

There’s strategy and cunning involved, and you have to learn how to read your partner’s mind. So a game of euchre is more than just a time waster—it may actually help bring you closer.

3Read up on history.
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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 often 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 will turn you into an armchair historian. For more great reads, check out 7 Books We’re Reading While in Quarantine.

4Take up letter writing.
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Thanks to email, writing letters has become a lost art. But it can be immensely satisfying, especially now when we’re being kept from so many loved ones. 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.

5Learn to play the guitar.
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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.” For some musical inspiration, check out The 50 Best Cover Songs of All Time.

6Go camping.
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It’s the perfect excuse to get out of your house and experience the outside world. Whether you set up camp miles away from the nearest Wi-Fi signal or in your backyard, you’ll feel invigorated in ways you never thought possible.

7Learn ballroom dancing.
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You can fake your way through most dance moves, but not ballroom. Queue up a video tutorial, and then either grab your partner or go it alone. The next time you’re at a dancing occasion, be prepared for your friends and family to be stunned and impressed.

8Garden.
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Once you’ve successfully grown your own tomatoes or zucchini, you’ll wonder why you wasted so much money buying flavorless grocery store produce over the years. The dirt under your nails will only make it taste all the sweeter. For more slow, rewarding pastimes, check out 10 Old-Fashioned Hobbies Making a Comeback in Quarantine.

9Collect something.
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It really doesn’t matter what. It could be baseball cards or stamps or antique Coca-Cola signs or anything else you feel passionate about. It’s the thrill of the hunt—which, in most cases, you can do entirely online—that makes this such a satisfying pastime.

10Paint.
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Don’t think you have the artistic talent to be a painter? Who cares! Painting is just about expressing yourself artistically. You can purchase some supplies and go at a canvas freehand or invest in an elaborate paint-by-number kit. Either way, you’ll end up with some one-of-a-kind pieces to hang on your walls. Besides, there’s ample medical evidence that painting everyday dramatically reduces stress.

11Grill all of the meat (and some veggies, too).
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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 form some strong opinions about how long to let your meat “rest,” as well as the gas vs. charcoal debate.

12Master the art of engine repair.
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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, like 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. And for everything you need to know to keep that space safe, read up on How to Clean Your Car to Stop Coronavirus Spread, According to Experts.

13Brew your own beer.
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You can buy a basic home brewing kit for less than $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.”

14Go fish.
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Fishing isn’t a timeless hobby because of the possibility of bringing home something fresh 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?

15Take up non-smartphone photography.
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We’re not talking about the kind of photography you do with your phone. We mean photography done with a quality real camera, for which you have to learn about exposure and color and develop an eye for what might be worth capturing on film. Even if you never fully master it, you’ll start looking at the world a little differently, paying closer attention to the details you never really noticed before.

16Renovate your home.
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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, and you have nowhere else to go. To avoid making a big home improvement mistake, check out 5 Things Homeowners Totally Regret Having in Their Houses.

17Drink scotch.
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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 can lose yourself in this hobby.

18Learn a foreign language.
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It could be the 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.

19Collect vinyl records.
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It’s not just hipsters who love vinyl. The ritual of shopping for vinyl and then listening to the comforting crackle of needle meeting groove can be peaceful and at times downright transcendent. Anybody can download a digital track, but it takes effort to hunt down the perfect vinyl record.

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