10 Ways to #OptOutside on Black Friday

Posted by: Molly Herber on Nov 18, 2015

Planning to #OptOutside on Black Friday like our partners at REI, but not sure how? Here are a few ideas to get you started!

1. Go for a walk with your favorite critter

smiling woman with backpack, pink bandana, and baseball cap stands next to pack llama
Photo by Nick Springer.

If you don't have a critter of your own, this might be a fun opportunity to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Of course, friends and family are good walking companions too! 

2. Participate in a Clean-Up (or Organize Your Own)

Park Service ranger and child wearing red vest and glasses hold trash bag togetherPhoto courtesy of the National Park Service.

Say thanks to your local public lands agency and join our partners at REI in opting to act by picking up trash. You can play at the park while you clean up, too! 

3. Try something new

man balances on one foot on a slack line while two friends watch
Photo by Shaun Dunphy.

Try an outdoor activity that you don’t usually do: slacklining, mountain biking, roller skiing, trail running, geocaching… 

4. Join A CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECT

woman teaches schoolchildren outdoors in a red rock canyon
Photo by Lindsay D'Addato.

A lot of projects rely on ordinary people to help collect data on the natural world, and many can be done on your own time. Find a citizen science project you can join.

5. Take a nap in your backyard to recover from your food coma

man naps in a green hammock overlooking forested mountainsPhoto courtesy of Imgur.

Even if the view from your backyard isn't quite this spectacular, lounging in a hammock or on the porch is a great way to spend an afternoon—especially after a big meal. 

6. see who can spend the most consecutive hours outside 

boy stands on a rocky shoreline with mountains reflected in glassy water and a green tent nearby
Photo by Cass Colman.

Make this a friendly competition—or just have fun making it happen! We recommend starting at midnight the day after Thanksgiving and going through the following midnight. That’s a whole 24 hours of adventure...

7. Learn about Local ecology —and observe it in Real Life

people lie under clear plastic tarp while man points at a white bird silhouette on top

Photo by Riley Hopeman. 

Some things you could look for: figuring out where local birds forage for food, or if you can see the dynamics of the local squirrel population.

8. Join a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot (or Start Your Own)

children wearing race bibs in a running race
Photo courtesy of RaceRoster.com.

Sign up for a local race or head out to your favorite trail or park with family and friends before tucking in to your Thanksgiving leftovers.

9. Eat your Thanksgiving leftovers outside 

four smiling students show off their backcountry cooking skills with snowy mountains behind
Photo by Tracy Baynes.


Eating outside is fun, even if you're not camping! Gather some friends and family and take a picnic lunch to the park—or enjoy the comfort of your own backyard.

10. Go stargazing

Red tent in the snow at night with starry sky above
Photo by Reece Robinson.

See how many constellations you can identify or how many deep space objects you can find through binoculars. Your phone can help! There are plenty of apps to help you get the most out of your night sky viewing. Don’t forget the hot chocolate!

The Bottom Line

Have fun getting outside, no matter how you do it! And don't forget: opting outside is something you can do all year, not just on Thanksgiving. 

Opt outside on a NOLS expedition

Editor's note: Post updated 11/7/2017, 11/16/2018, and 11/26/19.

Molly is a NOLS instructor and writer. She loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 am. When she's not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she's running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming. Follow her on Instagram @mgherber