Green Activities to Do in the Spring

By Catherine Bryan
GreenEriePA Writer

flowers

Get Planting

Min Time: 1 hr
Cost: You Decide
Difficulty: Easy
Planting a garden, whether it's a food garden, spices, or simple flowers, is a rewarding experience all season long. With a little hard work in the Spring, you can have a beautiful garden to grow and enjoy all Summer long. Where to do it:
Your own home, or help a friend or family member. Also consider getting involved in a Rain Garden or Community Garden.
Resources:
Ask a representative at your local gardening store when you visit to plan out your new garden, or look online for helpful tips. You can find some great information through local Erie Gardening Clubs and our article on Composting.




kids

Take an Educational Course

Min Time: 1hr
Cost: Often Free
Difficulty: Easy
Reinvent yourself this Spring by learning something new. Learning a new hobby can enrich your life and found new connections with new friends in the community.
Where to do it:
The places to find lessons in the spring is as diverse as the vast variety of interests you can learn! A quick search online, in the phone book, or among friends will reveal a host of opportunities. For green activities, here are a few good places to begin your search:

hike

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Min Time: 1hr
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy

Spring time is the perfect time to get out and explore nature with fresh eyes. Take a walk and collect some of the beauty of nature to decorate your home or make gifts for friends and loved ones! You can press leaves for art on vases, and scrapbooks, do leaf rubbings, make a leaf mobile or a festive fall wreath and much more. This activity is fun for adults and children of all ages. It's a great a way to get out and explore Where to do it: Right in Your Own Backyard Or at a Park or Playground Find one near you through our Parks & Playgrounds article.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources: Website contains a helpful list of all the nearby state parks and what each one offers visitors.
Presque Isle: has many great park sites, trails, and beaches for your search.
Asbury Woods Nature Center: Has many great trails you can take to get out into nature and find your treasures.



volunteering

Get Involved

Min Time: You Decide
Cost: Variable
Difficulty: Easy

Where to do it: You can get involved via any number of local organizations, or simply going out of your way to help out. You don't have to contact and set up to remove trash from an area in need, such as a roadside or park.

Resources: Where to look for information is largely up to you and your interests. A large list of local green volunteer groups can be found at in our Get Involved Section.


kite

Fly a Kite

Min Time: 20 minutes
Cost: $5- $15 for the initial kite and string, with very little upkeep following
Difficulty: Easy

Where to do it: Kites require a decently open space. Areas with power lines and bridges should be avoided. Parks are a good choice, though keep in mind that retrieving a kite from a tree can be a lengthy process.

Resources: Most hobby shops and toy stores will have kites of varying shapes and sizes. Likewise, some crafting stores offer do-it-yourself kite kits. If you're not entirely certain how to fly a kite, the following links give good tutorials.
WikiHow's Kite Flying Guide
Gomberg Kite Productions Tutorial


city-building

Go on a Walking Tour of the City

Min Time: 1-3 hours
Cost: Free – $5.
Difficulty:
Easy

Where to do it: Anywhere in your home town. Two good ways to do it, the first of which being to simply walking in a direction for a longer length of time each time you go that way. If you're already familiar with the area around you, don't worry! You can also get on a local bus and ride it to another part of town for a minimal bus fare. Get off the bus, and make your way back… keep a bit of extra cash on you, if you'd like to make a day of it and enjoy a meal in a new area.
Resources: A map is a good idea to take with you, in case you get lost. Many smartphones have gps systems already, but you're encouraged to save it for an emergency only. Barring a gps app, an old fashioned map will do. And no need to carry around several, as most bus route pamphlets have a general map already within them.

In Erie, the EMTA bus system runs conveniently throughout the city and beyond. If traveling farther out to discover new facets of the city, EMTA is a great green way to get there. You can find out more about EMTA's green initiatives and information on their routes in our EMTA article.



plug

Unplug and Enjoy

Min Time: 10 minutes to an hour
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy--Though in our technological world, it can be surprisingly alien to most.

Whether the power's gone out in a Spring storm or you choose to unplug for yourself, taking a break from technology is a both green and healthy.

Where to do it: Anywhere that has some light. Gather the family together or get together with a community group or friends.



puddle

Play in the Rain

Min Time: Any
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy

This is one of the best activities of all: get outside and get wet! Jump in puddles of water and make splashes all around.

Where to do it: Anywhere you can have a decent change of clothing ready. Just put on an old pair of shoes, as water will get into them, and head on out. Splash in puddles like you were ten years old again, lift your head and twirl about, feel the rain on your face.


rain-drops

Listen to the Rain

Min Time: Five minutes
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy

Where to do it: At home is the best: just sit by a window and listen to the soft pitter-patter. Read a book or complete some other activity at the same time. Many find the sound of rain to be extremely relaxing.

Resources: Love the sound of rain, but it isn't storming? Have no fear! The Rainy Mood website has you covered!


compost-bin

Start a Compost Bin

Min Time: Short
Cost: Just the cost of the bin and the refuse you put into it. A bin costs around $150 if you buy it, about $50 if you build one.
Difficulty: Easy

Where to do it: Have a garden? Put a composter out beside it and compost your organic waste into a great fertilizer for next years planting! Just be aware of any rules and regulations in your community regarding composting bins and their locations relative to the street.

Resources:
You can find an explanation of how composting works as well as resources for buying, building, or receiving your own compost bin in our composting article.


clouds


Watch Clouds

Min Time:10 seconds
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy
Where to do it: Anywhere! Just look it up.
"The Cloud Appreciation Society": A Facebook group especially for those who love to share the clouds they see. "At The Cloud Appreciation Society we love clouds, we're not ashamed to say it and we've had enough of people moaning about them." Their website has helpful how tos for identifying clouds, when and where to find the best clouds, and a photo gallery of beautiful clouds.



walk

Go for a Walk, Run, or Hike

Min Time: Up to You!
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy-Advanced
Where to do it:
Find information on hiking and walking locations in our walking/running article.
The TrailLink website contains information on local trails throughout Erie County, including type of surface, length and difficulty level.
Erie Walks is for you if you work downtown and would love to exercise or just get away during your lunch. It contains many one mile (or 20 minute) walks from different areas located in downtown Erie, PA.
The Let's Move Outside site has everything you need to get moving all in one place! Locate trails, paths, or scenic areas to walk, hike, or run.
Wintergreen Gorge is a beautiful and scenic area for the avid hiker. So, pick your trail and enjoy all of what nature has to offer.
Every Trail lists the most popular trails throughout Erie County based on reviews, votes and mobile downloads.
Asbury Woods offers miles of fields, streams and forests full of breath-taking views and wildlife. Trails are open during daylight hours and Asbury Woods encourages everyone to come out and explore
Map My Run an exciting website that contains detailed maps, distances and elevations for all of trail routes.



picnic

Go on a Picnic

Min Time: 1/2hr
Cost: $5-$200
Difficulty: Easy

The Erie Community has an overabundance of beautiful areas to have a picnic with family and friends, even your own backyard! So, go outside and enjoy good food, good company and the warm sun.

Where to do it:
There are many locations throughout the Presque Isle peninsula to have a picnic such as, the sandy beach shore, pavilions, marina, or a simple picnic table under a shady tree.
Looking for a quiet place to sit your picnic basket down? Try one of the many parks located in Erie County. The City of Erie website will help you find one near you.
In particular, the Erie Bluffs State Park is the largest undeveloped tract of land in Pennsylvania with long history and many scenic views. It's a pristine place to enjoy a picnic!


rocks

Skip Rocks

Min Time: 10min
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy Skipping rocks is an easy and fun thing to do for people of all ages. For children, enjoyment comes from throwing a rock into the water and enjoying the splash. For the adult, it might include counting the number of skips before the rock sinks.

Where to do it:

Any large body of calm water, such as lake erie. Rivers and moving water don't work for rock skipping. Likewise, windy days aren't as good either.
Presque Isle State Park has miles of sandy beaches with many perfectly flat and smooth stones for skipping across the water.
Not only is there Lake Erie to skip rocks across, there are many tributaries leading into Lake Erie that are perfect for skipping rocks. The PA Fish and Boat Commission has a great list to help you find one. How to do it:
Learn tips on how to find the perfect rock and optimal stand for rock skipping.



bird

Go Birding

Min Time: About an hour
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy Take time out from your busy schedule and enjoy the beauty of nature. Relax and enjoy as wildlife passes right in front of you. The Erie area has many different species of wild birds for the community to observe. So, grab a pair of binoculars and enjoy the best nature has to offer.

Where to do it:
The Erie Bluffs Park is a great location to watch birds and other wildlife.
The Visit PA website has all the best locations to watch wildlife and directions on how to get there can be found on this website.

How to do it:
Find information in our birdwatching article.
The Presque Isle website discusses the best times and practices for bird watching on the isle, specifically at Gull Point. It also offers a link to news about recent bird sightings.


Build-a-Bird-Feeder

Build a Bird Feeder

Min Time: 1-3 Hours
Cost: $5 – $25
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate - Depending on style

Enjoy birding? Take your hobby to a new level, and share it with those around you by building a bird feeder to attract beautiful birds to your home, or give the gift of beautiful birds to a friend or loved one.

Where to do it: Many craft stores offer classes, including building structures like bird feeders. You can also check our Events page, the events at TREC PI or Asbury Woods for similar classes. Finally, you can build these simple, but beautiful structures in your own home, with a kit or just the right tools.

Resources:
Earth 911: features a helpful article on building a recycled bird feeder. This practice is a beautiful way of giving back to the environment and enjoying its benefits as well.


Ride-a-Bike

Ride a Bike

Min Time: Up to You!
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy-Advanced

Bicycling is an activity everyone can enjoy. This is something fun for the whole family or for an individual to get outside and breathe some fresh air. Bicycling has become more popular as a means of transportation for people going to work. It is healthier for the person and the environment. So, jump on a bike and get peddling.

Where to do it:
Find more information about biking and biking groups in our biking article.
Bike Erie promotes bicycling for a healthier you and environment. The Bike Erie Website keeps a packed events calendar and information any bicyclist would need.
Competitive Gear is a locally owned store with a wide range of bicycling equipment needed for an outing and a website containing a bicycling events calendar.
Presque Isle has a beautiful multipurpose trail for the public to enjoy. Bicycles are available to rent on the peninsula and can be used on the multipurpose trail.


Go-Rollerblading

Go Rollerblading

Min Time: 20 min-1hr
Cost: The cost of purchasing or renting roller skates can be between $10-$15 for a rental, and $30-50 for purchase.
Difficulty: Medium

Strap on a pair of roller blades and enjoy all the sights and sounds Erie has to offer. Rollerblading is fun! With the perfect scenery all around, you won't even feel like you're exercising.

Where to do it:

Just about anywhere. You can go for a skate right outside your house or make an outing of it to a scenic park or trail.
Presque Isle has a beautiful multipurpose trail for the public to enjoy.

Resources:
Here are some great tips on learning how to roller blade.


Collect-Beach-Glass

Collect Beach Glass

Min Time: A few hours
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy to look, but sometimes difficult to find

Beach glass is formed when bottles, plates, etc are broken in/near the water, and shards fall in. over time, they become rounded and weathered, becoming not too unlike normal stones, save made from their original material.

Where to do it:
Anywhere the water meets the shoreline! Spend part of your day walking along the shoreline of one of the Presque Isle's beaches, Elk Creek or Walnut creek access points at Erie Bluffs State Park, North East or Avonia beaches, just to name a few. Maybe, if you're lucky, you'll find a piece of red glass which is considered the rarest.

How to do it:
Find tips on the best times of day and conditions to go beach glass collecting.


Watch-a-Sunset

Watch a Sunset

Min Time: 1 hr
Cost: Free
Difficulty: None

Presque Isle is reported to have some of the best sunsets in the world. What better way to spend an evening but on the beach watching the sun disappear into the water's edge.

Where to do it:
Anywhere, even in your own backyard!
To make a trip of it, visit any of Erie's scenic views.
Presque Isle's website has maps of all the beaches so anyone can find the perfect location to watch a beautiful sunset.

Resources:
World Clock and Star Date Online: Use these handy online tools to find out when the exact moment of sunset will be here in Erie on any day.


sandcastle

Build a Sand Castle

Min Time: 1hr
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy-Advanced

Pick a beach and bring some buckets and a shovel to create your personal masterpiece. If you're really creative, think outside the box and build a sand animal or dig a giant hole. Whatever you choose-make it your own.

Where to do it:
All of the beaches at Presque Isle State Park would make prime sandcastle real estate.

How to do it
Find additional tips from Redbook Magazine about how to create a stable sand castle here.

park

Enjoy a Park or Playground

Min Time: 1hr
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Easy

Whether you are having a picnic or looking for a jungle gym and swings for the kids, there is a park/playground for you. It is very easy to locate a park within a couple of miles of your neighborhood so, grab a lunch and take the kids for a fun afternoon.

Where to do it:
Find information on our local parks in our parks and playgrounds article.
This Summer Recreation Guide, from the City of Erie's website, includes list of all city parks as well as summertime programming.
Fairview parks: Fairview Township's website lists Fairview parks, summertime programming, and information on how to reserve a pavilion.
Erie Bluffs State Park: Erie Bluffs is the largest undeveloped tract of land in Pennsylvania. Explore the remote hiking opportunities, boating and fishing and archeological sites.


plants

Identify Plants & Wildlife

Min Time: 1/2 hour
Cost: Free
Difficulty: Minimal

Erie county has a large variety of plants and animals that live in our woods. Take a stroll, find some leaves or animal tracks and see if you can identify them. If you need help, stop by the library and borrow a book on animal tracks to help with your tracking adventures.

Where to do it:

Presque Isle has many trails through the woods and a plethora of plants andd animals that leave their print on them for you to discover.
Erie Bluffs State Park hosts some very scenic trails and a host of plants and wildlife, including the state's largest population of bank swallows.
At Asbury Woods, stroll the boardwalk or take a trail but keep your eyes on the ground.


Build-a-Bonfire

Build a Bonfire

Min Time: 1 hour
Cost: Free or the cost of firewood
Difficulty: Medium

Gather together friends and family to enjoy the soothing light of the fire, pleasant company, and maybe even some marshmallows. You can find places to enjoy a bonfire almost anywhere, even in your own backyard

Where to do it:
Your Backyard
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources: Website contains a helpful list of all the nearby state parks and what each one offers visitors.
Presque Isle: has many great park sites, pavilions, and beaches where you can get together with family and friends.
Port Farms: in Waterford offers campfire sites for open use. This can be especially fun during their Harvest Festival.
The Yellow Pages: list of campgrounds can be a great starting place for finding and contacting a campsite near you. Find out more about offerings and make reservations for you and your loved ones.

Resources:
Having trouble? Here are some tips for building a great, strong bonfire.


sports

Go to a Local Sports Game

Min Time: 2-4 hours
Cost: Free or for a Small Admission Fee
Difficulty: Easy

If you're a sports fan, have kids, or just want to find a way to get out into and support your community, local school games is a great night out! Why stay home watching games on television when you can be out in the action?

Where to do it:
Erie's Public Schools: Check their listing to find the school nearest you, or choose a school that family or friends and their children attend. Then, take a look at their athletic department home page to find out what games are going on and when.
GoErie.com's Varsity Cover and Sports Section list a variety of sports events for local fans to enjoy.


Stargaze

Stargaze

Min Time: as little as five minutes
Cost:
Free
Difficulty: Easy

Where to do it: as with cloud watching, anywhere with a clear view of the sky. You can just enjoy the sight, or look for the constellations. If you like, you can also buy a telescope to see things more clearly. Personal telescopes are still quite strong, and can greatly enhance the experience.

Resources:
Star Date Online: contains a host of information and tips for stargazers from beginners to advanced. The information includes lunar phases, constellation locations, planetary bodies, and beginner's guides.


Go-on-a-Photo-Expedition

Go on a Photo Expedition

Min Time: An evening to a few days
Cost: Relatively Inexpensive to a Long Term Investment
Difficulty: Easy

Erie is a cornucopia of beautiful and interesting sights waiting for the avid explorer's camera to capture. All it takes to find them is some time and an observant eye.

Where to do it: Anywhere that sounds interesting to you. Just take a camera and off you go to capture the scenery and attractions to retrace your route later through the photos.

Resources:
Looking for inspiration? Try going to a local event, looking up thehistory of some of the places you enjoy, or getting out into nature at a park or playground.


Go-Golfing-Mini-Golfing

Go Golfing/Mini Golfing

Min Time: A couple hours
Cost: $5-10
Difficulty: While winning may be hard for some, making an enjoyable afternoon is easy for anyone!

Where to do it: A number oif miniature golf courses exist in the area with variable difficulties.

Resources:

GolfLink: provides a list of golf and miniature golf courses in the area for all ages and skill levels.



Join-or-Start-a-Neighborhood-Cleanup

Join or Start a Neighborhood Cleanup

Min Time: Anywhere from an hour to a day
Cost: None
Difficulty: Easy

Where to do it: Anywhere you feel like volunteering, be it by yourself or with friends and family.

Resources:
In Erie, there is an annual spring cleanup where community members can dispose of bulky items just as if it was the weekly trash. To find out more about neighborhood cleanups, visit our articles on Neighborhood Cleanups and The Erie County Recycling Convenience Center for collection information.



Photos courtesy of Amber Wellington, Chiot's Run, Jessica Hubert, Jodie Wilson, Sergey IT, Penn State News, Urban Sea Star, Carolyn McIntyre, Joseph Dsilva, Allan Chatto, Jerome Rothermund, Pat Lupo, Karen Blaha, Doug Kerr, Amanda Slater, Quinn Dombrowski, Doug Wheller, Bob Tarkowski Jessica W, and VisitErie.com