21 things to do with your friends besides grabbing dinner and drinks

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Tonight I’m seeing my best friend. We’re both trying not to drink, and with my no-animal-products ~lifestyle~, eating out can be a bit of a let-down. Plus, it’s pricey, and I’ve got a new mortgage to pay.

We’re going skating instead. It costs $1.50 if you bring your own set of wheels. It’s active, productive (for me, anyway) and more fun then eating fries and a side salad for dinner.

Not everybody skates, but there are a lot other wonderful things you could do with a pal. All of these, in my mind, are better than trying to find vegan, macro-friendly options at a bar.

  1. Invite them over to your place for coffee and whatever nibbles you prefer (peanut butter toast, muesli, good ol’ apples and peanut butter). An immersion milk frother costs $7, or about the price of two lattes out. A solid investment, if you ask me. Plus you can talk without shouting over the roar of a blender or the chatter of somebody calling into a work call at the table next to you.
  2. Go for a walk. Skip stones, lie in the grass, say hello to dogs. Dogs are great.
  3. Volunteer together. Help a local organization collect compost, distribute produce at food banks, or care for abandoned animals. If your city or town has a farmer’s market, they could probably use your help manning the info booth or providing assistance for people who want to use their EBT cards.
  4. Go grocery shopping. Me and a friend would freeequently meet at Whole Foods, fill our carts, eat a snack, and then part ways. It’s a breezy way to catch up.
  5. Make an elaborate meal at home. I suggest vegan mozzarella cheese, tempeh reubensenchiladas, apple-fennel seitan sausages, or fried chicken.
  6. If the season’s right, go apple/berry/peach/herbs/pumpkin picking. Bring your haul home and consider making some preserves.
  7. Go to the gym together. This is my favorite! My old roommate had unlimited guest passes, so we would frequently meet up for a workout. Because these were bonus sessions outside my regular routine, I felt comfortable walking on the treadmill and gabbing. Sometimes we would alternate lifts on machines or stretch each other out.
  8. Meet up at a coffee shop to work on your creative or entrepreneurial side projects. For me, that would be this blog, and some editorial consulting I do on the side. For others it could be a novel, a podcast, a non-fiction e-book, or fledgling photography business.
  9. Go to a museum. Many have free days or evenings. Once my boyfriend and I went to the Natural History Museum for an hour because it was free from 5 p.m. until closing (6 p.m.). On our way there we came up with a game plan: no hesitations by the planetarium, no safari display distractions, just bolting to hall of gem stones. We had our priorities.
  10. Try out a trendy or bizarre exercise class. A few years ago my sister and I got a Groupon for a “kangoo” class. Basically it’s like an old-school aerobics class but you’re wearing these absurd boots that let you jump, like, 6 feet in the air. It was so ridiculous and—goodness gracious and blistering barnacles—totally exhausting.
  11. Visit one of those Turkish baths or Korean spas. Sure, the probability of a yeast infection is like 98 percent, but it’ll be relaxing at the time! (Clearly this kind of thing is not for me, but others might enjoy it.)
  12. Escape the Room. This isn’t really a chic thing to do but wowie is it fun.
  13. Hit up a rock climbing gym.
  14. Meet at the library and smell some books.
  15. Here’s something you did all the time as a kid that you absolutely need to start doing again. Do art together. This could include knitting, finger-painting, furniture-making, sketching, collaging, coloring (so hot right now), woke embroidery, or whatever it is you enjoy making with your hands.
  16. I’m a little bit obsessed with talking about goals and plans. The thought of making a vision board—or, more likely, a collage spread in my bullet journal—with my best friend sounds like h e a v e n. All you need is a printer (or a lotta magazines), scissors, and a glue stick. Get down with your bad self.
  17. Compete in an amateur photography contest. Limit the scope to a couple of blocks of your city and share what you’ve captured. Have a stranger judge the finalists. The winner gets to choose the photography spot for next time.
  18. Is geocaching still a thing? If it’s still a thing, we should do it. I just want to be Lara Croft. So badly.
  19. Take a dance class with your friend or boo! It can be partner dance—waltz or swing, maybe?. Or maybe a lyrical class. Or hip-hop. Or bellydancing.
  20. Recently I was living in the suburbs of New Jersey for a week and I saw two things I would love to explore with a friend. The first was indoor skydivingAlso known as the only skydiving ya boi will ever do.
  21. The second was a trampoline gym. Now I don’t know how long I could jump on a trampoline at the ripe old age of 27, but I definitely want to find out.

Any other ideas? What do you do with your friends to avoid an evening of depressing salads?

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