As spring approaches, a plethora of activities present themselves in all shapes and forms. Since most people are eager to escape their homes and get out in the open air, here are some options to make the best of the season.
Go to the Tulip Festival
One of the most underrated spring activities is the Tulip Festival in Pella, Iowa. The festival is scheduled to be from May 6-8 this year, but the flowers will be blooming before and after those dates. Although the drive is around an hour and 30 minutes from Iowa City, it is completely worth it. The streets are decorated with bright, vivid tulips and are (usually) brimming with people indulging in the beauty of spring. While in town, you can stop at one of the many Dutch bakeries or tour Central College for an added experience.
Find a new book
Reading is a great way to unwind and submerge yourself into another world or educate yourself about someone’s life. Birds, rain and wind chimes provide the perfect background noise to fully engross yourself in any story. Take a look at this list for some new book recommendations.
Relax in a hammock
Spring is the perfect season to hammock as it’s not too hot and there aren’t as many bugs. Find a place with two trees; some of the most common areas are parks, forests and the Pentacrest in downtown Iowa City. This is a great way to hang out with friends while still being socially distanced. If you prefer to relax alone, bring along a great new book, drawing supplies or some music. For a nontraditional approach, go at night; this way you can view the stars and feel truly serene.
Take a hike
Though we are mostly surrounded by city landscapes, there are a few great areas to hike if you like to be outdoors. Lake MacBride, Kent Park and the Coralville Reservoir have great scenery and are full of beautiful paths around the water and forest. You could even “hike” around town to look at architecture on homes or the stores and river located around the river landing. If you are willing to drive further to hike, visit the Maquoketa caves. This state park has many great areas to hike and even has caves you can travel through depending on the season. To fully experience the beauty and uniqueness of Maquoketa, take a whole day to explore the surrounding caves and trails.
Go mushroom hunting
While buying wild mushrooms, specifically morels, at the farmers market is a fun addition to a meal, take it a step further by searching for the mushrooms yourself. Though it may be difficult, it makes a fun adventure with a tasty pay off if you find a good amount. Most mushrooms can be found near decomposing plant material, specifically rotting trees. Before scavenging, make sure to educate yourself about mushrooms since many are poisonous and can cause terrible side effects.
Visit the farmers market
The farmers market is filled with basically anything you could imagine. Both Iowa City and Coralville host their own markets, but Iowa City tends to have more vendors. For more information about each market visit these websites. Find a new recipe, perhaps a TikTok trend you’ve been eager to try, and go support the local farmers.
Pamper your pet
If you have a pet, take a day to treat it. If you have a dog or cat, visit Lucky Pawz; they have adorable gourmet treats that will leave your pet extremely excited and satisfied. After your pet finishes their tasty treat, go outside and visit some pet friends. If you have a fish or reptile, upgrade its tank with some new items to hide under or even a new tank mate, if they are compatible.
Plant a garden
Planting your own garden is a great way to practice sustainability and is very rewarding once you begin harvesting your produce. If you don’t really care for a fruit/vegetable garden, you could plant flowers instead. To downsize your garden, you could choose to plant the seeds in small pots instead. This offers less commitment and reduces pest issues if they are left in a screened in area. If you’d like a more traditional garden, I recommend purchasing some garden boxes and soil; this provides a quick set up since all you need to do is assemble the boxes, fill with soil and then plant your seeds or pre-grown plants. Take a look at this guide for more specific instruction about planting a garden right now.
Create a chalk masterpiece
Chalk is a great way to spend time outside while also decorating the space around you. Since many of us have been focused on homework, athletics or extracurriculars, this is a great way to unwind and release all pent up creativity. Check out this Facebook page for some great chalk artwork by local artists during Chalk The Walk.