After a rough winter, the sun is out, nature is waking up and everyone is getting outside and letting the whole world know about it.
Everyone, that is, except for most of us. Urban office life can be a real drag in the spring and summer, and that Instagram feed with all of the outdoor adventurers and athletes you follow begins to inflict a little more pain with each scroll.
But just because we’re on the nine-to-five grind doesn’t mean there isn’t adventure right outside the spinning glass door. Sure, it may not be a hut trip to Patagonia or a surf excursion in Bali, but the outdoor options are better than ever for metropolitans. You just need to know where to look.
We scoured the country to find five of our favorite urban adventures, just steps from the office and free of charge. Here are a few places to get after it after hours this summer.
Rock climbing Austin’s Barton Creek Greenbelt
Austin may be the go-to destination for foodies and hipster music festivals, but don’t let the trendy façade fool you. Hidden in plain sight, just minutes from downtown, is the Barton Creek Greenbelt, an urban park following the trickle of Barton Creek that offers some of the best urban rock climbing in the U.S.
The park meanders 7.9 miles through city limits and features a series of short sport climbs ranging from beginner to advanced. For beginners, it’s worth checking out the Seismic Wall and Gus Fruh Wall.
Better yet, after a long day of sending, climbers can cool off in the creek before heading out on the town.
Trail running Seattle’s Discovery Park
Many an outdoors aficionado will rank Seattle among his or her top cities, but very few will acknowledge the adventure gems within its actual city limits. Though the Cascade Range is less than an hour away, and Puget Sound and Lake Washington offer numerous water alternatives, Seattle’s Discovery Park is the crème de la crème of urban trail running.
Featuring a handful of trails winding along a cliffy coastline, Discovery Park is the perfect spot to get away from the city bustle. Check out the Loop Trail for a nice long-distance jaunt through Northwest forest or take the more direct South Beach or Hidden Valley trails to get to the coastline.
Mountain biking Richmond’s James River Park
Just minutes from the Virginian capital’s downtown, James River Park serves up over 10 miles of singletrack for every type of mountain biking aficionado. Winding through Belle Island and North Bank Park, the trail system features beginner, intermediate and advanced trails as well as a skills park under the Lee Bridge.
If riding for fun just isn’t cutting the mustard, James River Park hosts a series of mountain bike races and events every year.
Paddle Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park
Didn’t think Tennessee would make it onto an outdoors list? Well, think again. Dubbed the Scenic City, Chattanooga — Tennessee’s fourth largest — is home to one of the best urban river scenes in the country, offering canoeing, kayaking and SUP right from downtown.
For those who already have their SUP situation sorted, launch directly from Coolidge Park in city center and paddle the Tennessee River until your arms scream “Uncle!” For those who are craft-less, L2 Outside and Rock/Creek offer affordable daily rentals.
Make sure to check out McClellan Island, a 19-acre preserve a little upstream from the Walnut Street Bridge.
Surf Boise’s River Park
Being a surfer in a city is tough business, but being a surfer in a city without an ocean closer than eight hours away is downright torture.
Luckily, Boise, Idaho, has harnessed a different body of water to bring surfing to the heart of Spud Country. As of 2012, the Idaho state capital is home to the Boise River Park, a stretch of the Boise River near the Veterans Park neighborhood that boasts two man-made waves ideal for scoring a long river ride.
Not sure about the whole river-wave business? Picture riding the longest wave of your life, then stepping out to a BBQ with your friends. Trust us: It’s one experience you have to try.
Read more about urban adventuring on GrindTV