Making time to connect with each other is one of the keys to being well and feeling nourished (in every sense of the word!). As adults, it can be easy for us to stick with what we know and do the same activities over and over again, especially in the summertime.

I love hanging out poolside as much as the next person, but if you’re looking for fun and nourishing things to do in the summer to change up the typical routine, I have some great ideas for you, your friends and your family.

Spending the past weekend with my friend, Jessica Yeager, a fellow culinary nutrition alum and blogger, inspired me to write this post. We don’t see each other that often, so I planned some healthy and fun activities for us to do when she came to visit me in my hometown of Baltimore.

If you live in or near Baltimore or plan to visit at some point, these are places and things I highly recommend checking out and trying. If you live elsewhere, use these ideas as inspiration and the links I provide within each tip as resources for fun things to do where you live!

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#1 Visit a Local Restaurant that Serves Nourishing Food

Where We Went: One of my favorite places to have lunch, dinner or brunch just outside of Baltimore is Great Sage restaurant. They specialize in plant-powered vegan dishes and offer lots of gluten-free options, so I know I can go there and eat a delicious meal without any concern that my body will feel unwell afterwards. I had just been the week before to celebrate my birthday but knew we had to go back when Jessica came to town.

We met up with our friend and fellow culinary nutrition alum, Katie Hussong, for dinner and were greeted by the friendliest and most hospitable restaurant manager I’ve ever met, Scott Carberry. My husband, Bill, had taken me there the week before for my birthday dinner, a tradition we started last year.

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We started our meal with refreshing ginger-ades and a rich and creamy spinach artichoke dip that you’d forget didn’t contain cream or dairy. The Avocado Pink Peppercorn salad with roasted beets and sliced watermelon radishes on a bed of Bibb lettuce was the highlight of my meal and one of their most popular summer salads. The bean and lentil burger and hearts of palm crabcake rounded out our meals, and we had to order dessert. Great Sage’s carrot cake is to die for and is gluten-free and dairy-free.

You Can Do It, Too! If you’re looking for healthy places to eat in and around Baltimore, check out this post on the subject. If you’re not local to the area, use these tips to find healthy places to eat near you. The Happy Cow website/app are my go to resources for finding healthy eateries and the app Food Tripping is worth checking out, too.

#2 Pick Your Own Fruits or Veggies at a Nearby Farm

Where We Went: Just outside of Baltimore lies one of the best kept secrets where you can pick your own organic berries – Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm. I found out about a few years ago from friends at church, who love to take their kids there, and it is worth the trip every time!

From blueberries to black raspberries and blackberries, this beautiful farm is the place to come for Baltimore’s best berries. They also harvest bunches of lavender, which you can purchase as well.

Grab a bucket and get picking! You pay by the pound and may end up with more than you intended. If that is the case, I just lay them out on a baking sheet in the freezer WITHOUT washing them, wait until they freeze and then put them in a freezer-safe bag or container to use for smoothies, fruit crisps, pancakes and other goodies later.

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You Can Do It, Too! Want to learn more about Hybridoma? Click here to visit their website. To find a pick-your-own farm near you, check out LocalHarvet.org and search by zip code.

#3 Grab a Quick & Healthy Lunch {& Try Something New!}

Where We Went: There are so many places to find a healthy lunch in Baltimore, but one of my favorite places is the Naked Lunch cafe inside of MOMs Organic Market (my favorite grocery store) in Hampden. MOMs and Whole Foods Market both have great options for a quick, affordable and nourishing lunch when you’re on the go, but the Naked Lunch wins out for me.

Jessica tried the jackfruit BBQ (one of the trendiest foods on the scene these days!) with a side of the cauliflower steak. I had the cauliflower steak bowl, which was served on a bed of brown rice, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach tossed in a chimichurri sauce. Talk about flavor!

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You Can Do It, Too! The MOMs in Hampden, DC, Rockville and Bryn Mawr (PA) all have Naked Lunch cafes, so if you are near any of those areas, check one out. If you’re outside of those areas, use Happy Cow, Food Tripping or Yelp! to find a healthy lunch near you.

#4 Hit Up a Local Festival or Event

What We Did: Each year in the summer, Baltimore hosts Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival that attracts over 350,000 people over three days. There are dozens of artists, musicians and food vendors to visit, including quite a few that are health promoting. Rhythm Superfoods was there giving away free bags of kale chips and considering how hot it was, we knew we had to grab one of the frozen fruit pops made with local and organic ingredients from Pop Couture. Jessica tried the Banana Coconut and I had the Mint Lemonade. So refreshing and delicious!

We made sure to stop by the tent with what I think is the most beautiful art on the planet – watercolor food art done by Marcella Kriebel from nearby DC. Her artwork is stunning and is hanging in several areas in my house, including my new kitchen. Check out Marcella’s work on Etsy. I snagged a picture with her at her booth at Artscape, and I’m going to interview her for a future blog post, so stay tuned!

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You Can Do It, Too! Check out websites like Everfest, Eventbrite and Eventful to find local festivals, concerts, and events near you. These websites are great to check out if you’re going on vacation and want to know some fun things to do where you’re staying.

#5 Go Where the Locals Go

What We Did: My #1 favorite place to spend time in Baltimore is Belvedere Square Market. I grew up going there on Saturday mornings with my mom and now go to see “my people” and eat some of my favorite foods. We stopped by Plantbar, a juice and smoothie bar with other grab-and-go meals and treats, that specializes in gluten-free, dairy-free options. My friend, Daniela, opened it a few years ago after the success of her other restaurant with the same vibe, Zia’s Cafe, in Towson. We had a Daily Greens juice with some ginger added. It was refreshing and energizing, perfect for a pick-me-up after walking around in the heat at Artscape.

From there we stopped by Hex Ferments, a fermented food shop that uses local, organic ingredients to make create fermented food combinations, including sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, and kombucha. The Butterfly Lime kombucha was our favorite that day…probably because it was purple! We each grabbed a pickle and sat down to enjoy a snack before our last stop at my absolute favorite chocolate place in the world – Pure Chocolate by Jinji.

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I wrote about her story and her chocolates here, but all you need to know about this place is that you have to try it. She specializes in making incredibly decadent, beautiful and creative combinations of chocolate treats that happen to be raw, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Every person I’ve ever taken there raves about it, and it is a highlight of living in Baltimore. We had the peanut butter stuffed Turkish figs, peanut butter and jelly fudge, and the blueberry tobacco (quite unique!) and lemon cranberry Pucker truffles.

You Can Do It, Too! To learn more about Belvedere Square, visit their website here. They also have a summer concert series on Friday nights that is a lot of fun, too! To find where the locals eat near you, check out the LocalEats website.

#6 Shop Local and Make Dinner At Home

What We Did: It would have been easy to find another place to go out to eat, but we were ready to relax a bit and keep dinner simple. We stopped by MOMs Organic Market again and grabbed some fennel, leeks, and Cappello’s paleo-friendly chocolate chip cookie dough.

We came home and started chopping up our veggies, adding in some garlic and broccoli. We roasted the fennel, broccoli, and onions in the oven at 400F for about 40 minutes total, taking the broccoli out halfway. We sautéed the leeks and garlic on the stovetop, adding in a can of cannellini beans just before we were ready to eat. We tossed the roasted and sautéed veggies and beans together in the pan and topped it with a few squeezes of lemon juice and salt and pepper and had ourselves a locally grown, quick and tasty meal.

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We finished off the night with some of THE best gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly chocolate chip cookies from Cappello’s. You can eat the dough raw (we may have done this) and/or bake it into cookies!

You Can Do It, Too! Hit up the farmer’s market or grocery store near you to grab some foods that are in season. Roast, steam or sauté them and then toss everything together with a plant- or animal-based protein and top with a vinaigrette or simple homemade sauce. Keep it simple 🙂

There were two things we didn’t get to do that we’ll plan to do the next time we hang out, so here are two more ideas for you…

#7 Take a Hike!

What You Can Do: There are so many peaceful and beautiful hiking and walking trails nearby, and you can find some where you live by visiting AllTrails.com. I’m stoked for the hiking I’ll be doing during my upcoming trips to Upstate NY and Portland, Oregon! It’s a great way to move more, talk and enjoy the beauty around you.

#8 Go on a Groupon Date

What You Can Do: My husband and I and our friends have used ideas on Groupon to explore fun activities we might not think of on our own. From cooking lessons and paint nights to yoga classes and sporting events, you can find some fun ideas for things to do on Groupon…and save money at the same time!

So, there you have it! Those are a just a few ideas for how to upgrade your summer plans to include health, community and wellbeing and have fun at the same time.

Now, I’ve got a question for YOU! 🙂

What are some of your favorite healthy activities to do or places to go in the summer? Let me know in the comments below!