By now, most people know spending time outdoors can help minimize the risk of catching COVID-19. An article for The New York Times, for example, cites several experts like Linsey Marr, an engineering professor and aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech, who says, "There's so much dilution that happens outdoors. As long as you're staying at least six feet apart, I think the risk is very low."
In response, people in Utah and across the country flocked to parks and outdoor recreation areas. But seven months into the pandemic and with temperatures hanging in the triple digits, many folks are ready to spend time indoors.
Whether your goal for staying inside is to beat the heat, avoid the crowds, or save a few dollars, each of the following activities can provide you with quality entertainment within the walls of your own home.
Recreate the magic of a Disney park at home
For some people, summer just isn't summer without a trip to an amusement park. And when the coronavirus pandemic put a wrench in many families' plans to visit Disneyland this year, some decided to take matters into their own hands by getting a little creative.
Websites like AllEars.net offer ideas for how to recreate rides such as the Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, or the Haunted Mansion with simple house props. If you really want to up the ante, you could try out some of Disney's popular theme park recipes at home, including this one for their famous Dole Whip.
The best part? No heat, no crowds, and no pricey tickets.
For official videos and virtual tours of the theme parks, you can follow the Disney Parks YouTube channel.
Develop new talents through YouTube
Have you always wanted to know how to whistle with your fingers? How to change a tire? How to play an instrument? As long as you have an internet connection, YouTube makes it easy to learn just about anything.
For a good starting point, Mental Floss has compiled a list of 50 Amazing Skills You Can Learn on YouTube. Just imagine wowing your friends with your impressive knowledge of how to escape a shark attack.
Make groovy tie-dye shirts
If you're looking for a hands-on crafty that's both fun and fashionable, give tie-dyeing a try. Though tie-dying has been around for a long time, Insider points out that it's quickly making a resurgence by becoming one of the biggest fashion trends of 2020.
For an excellent, low-key, kid-friendly DIY project, check out these tie-dye instructions from Parents.com.
Host a streaming party with family and friends
You can't go wrong with a summer movie night, no matter what age you are -- and thanks to streaming services, movie nights are easier than ever to organize.
For the younger crowds, Disney+ announced a weekly event called "Summer Movie Nights," with new family-friendly films and classics being released on the streaming service every Friday. Collider also compiled a list of the Best Family and Kids Movies and the 85 Best Movies on Netflix as of August 2020.
If you want to get your friends in on the action but don't feel like hosting a crowd, try a virtual Netflix Party. This allows you to synchronize video streaming and includes a group chat feature so you can keep up a virtual commentary while you watch your favorite shows.
Teach your kids the art of fort building
There's something innately thrilling about constructing a DIY fort from blankets, cushions, and other home furniture. It's a good old-fashioned activity the whole family can enjoy together -- particularly if you can turn it into a friendly competition. (You may just need to explain to your teenagers that this fort night has nothing to do with the popular online game.)
As an added bonus, fort building even has a few health benefits. According to Scholastic.com, building forts helps young children develop their creativity and analytic skills while providing an opportunity for unstructured playtime. For older kids, it can be a good way to reduce stress and anxiety.
If you need a little inspiration, Real Simple has a few ideas for how to build your best blanket fort ever.
Enjoy a cozy indoor campout
There's nothing like camping in the great outdoors -- unless you're camping in the great indoors. All you need is a space to set up a tent (or your homemade blanket fort will do).
Don't forget your sleeping bag, flashlight, and ingredients to make s'mores. Include an LED-candle campfire and tell some scary stories if your kids are up for it.
Participate in home Olympics
Your summer plans to watch the 2020 Olympics may have been pushed back to 2021, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some games in your own home. One family invented their own at-home Olympics with a new challenge every day, including a balloon--popping Roomba, a pea race and an airplane flying contest.
You can even take some cues from The Office's "Office Olympics" episode on Netflix if you need some ideas. Don't forget your yogurt lid medals!
Download free eBooks
Summer is the perfect time to crack open a new book and enjoy some leisurely reading. For those who prefer audiobooks to paperbacks, you can download free eBooks to your tablet, computer, or phone. Through websites such as Authorama and Project Gutenberg, you can find hundreds of public domain books, including Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Looking for more options? Here is a list of 10 ways to download and read books online for free.
Take Yale's popular happiness class for free
Everyone could use a little more happiness in their lives, and why not learn it from the best?
Right now, Yale University is offering a free course online course, The Science of Well-Being, which teaches you how to be happier.
The course began in the spring of 2018 in response to concerning levels of student depression, anxiety, and stress. Professor Laurie Santos created a class that would help students engage in a series of challenges designed to increase happiness and build more productive habits. It's since become the most popular class in Yale's history, gaining both national and international attention.
You can enroll in this course and other free courses offered by world-class universities and companies at Coursera.com.
Stay safe and have fun
When it comes to indoor fun, the possibilities are endless. No matter how you choose to entertain the family this summer, be sure to choose activities that will keep everyone safe and healthy.