As a fellow writer friend of mine recently said, “City = landscape. Treat it that way.” Sometimes we’re so caught up in doing the right things to get away from city life that we forget how rich the urban landscape itself can be. We all know that we should be making an effort to spend more time outdoors, but if you’re not lucky enough to live with acres of, say, a protected wildlife refuge in your backyard, it can be difficult to find the time to invest in driving a few hours just to take a quick hike. Which is why I love the concept of urban hiking.
Yes, I am fully aware that the words “urban hiking” can easily be equated to “walking,” but somewhere along the line we lost respect for this simple, yet energizing and fun, activity. Urban hiking is taking the simple human function of walking and turning it into a vehicle to slowing down and truly exploring the nooks and crannies of new cities, and even our own neighborhoods that we think we know like the back of our hands.
Sometimes the best adventures are right down the street, and we’ve got a list of tips and suggestions to make sure you find them, and enjoy yourself while you’re at it.
1. Plan a fruit hunt.
Spring and summer are quickly approaching, and you know what that means? Fruit picking season. Finding fresh fruit isn’t limited to rural environments, there are plenty of cities filled to the brims with fig trees, apple trees, plum trees and beyond. Urban fruit harvesting groups have popped up around the country with one simple goal: making use of fruit that would otherwise go to waste.
Many cities have fruit groups that even provide maps. Two such projects are Forage Oakland and the Philadelphia Orchard Project. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, check out Fallen Fruit. And if you can’t find a local organization that maps out fruit hot spots, take an afternoon to explore a neighborhood and make your own.
2. Pack a picnic.
There’s no point in going hungry on your urban hike, and packing a picnic allows you to do two things: prepare a tasty, organic meal and explore a local park. Figure out ahead of time where you want to spend your lunch hour and plan accordingly. Then fill your backpack with a gourmet picnic. How about a Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds partnered with a fresh baguette and some goat cheese? Just make sure to pack reusable utensils and drinking vessels.
3. Keep a detailed urban hiker’s travel journal.
Take time to truly appreciate your local urban surroundings and start documenting them. You don’t have to be a Picasso or Proust, just willing to take a couple of notes and sketches now and then of what you’ve seen and done. Journaling lets you explore your creative side and also gives you a reference point for places you might want to remember later.
4. Don’t dress to kill.
Nobody said urban hiking adventures meant dressing in dowdy sweat pants and muddy trainers, but you should still probably keep the heels at home. That being said, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be looking good while staying comfortable, and there are some great eco-picks out there if you’re looking to inject a breath of fresh air into your urban hiking wardrobe. Check out our From Yoga to Yardwork picks for starters.
5. Take friends!
Make your urban hike a girl’s day out. Plan a shorter itinerary to allow for a slower pace – more talking equals less walking – but that hits a few key hot spots: cute cafe for lunch, a local bakery for afternoon coffee and a corner bar for evening cocktails. If you’re having trouble thinking about where to go, pick a theme for the day: Boutique Shopping, Urban Parks, Undiscovered Food Carts, etc.
Each week here at EcoSalon, the editors choose a post from the archives that we think you’ll love. The original post can be found here.