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15 cool new hobbies for the hot summer months

Renaissance Summer

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DMITRY KALINOVSKY / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock.com
Realistically speaking, you have the same number of hours to get things done in the summer as you do in the winter. But there’s just something about the warmer days and copious amounts of sunshine that awaken one’s inner drive to grow and learn, to create and thrive. If you’re up for an awakening this summer, we’ve got 15 ways for you to try a new-to-you activity or hobby this year.

1. Become a drone hobbyist

While anyone can pick up a drone at the store and start flying, mastering the art of drone flight can be a bit more tricky, especially if you’re hoping to capture video, race, or even just keep your craft from becoming the permanent possession of a tall tree. Drone Nerds is staffed with experts who will outfit you and give you great tips for getting started, knowing where to fly and obeying the law. For ideas on where to fly in the city, you can check out Colorado FPV, which offers a map of launch locations.

2. Travel on two wheels

Remember the thrill of riding your bike as a child? The freedom and fun that came from zipping about the city on two wheels is still available to you, even as an adult. UpaDowna hosts a free Pedal Party every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Oskar Blues (118 N. Tejon St.) and they’ll even lend you a bike if you register ahead of time. Plus, PikeRide (downtowncs.com) launches in June, with 208 bikes at 28 hubs downtown that you can use for a small fee, to create your own tour. (Here's an interactive map of the city’s bike infrastructure.)

3. Expand your artistic talents

Want to learn to paint, draw, sculpt or craft? Summer affords you extra time to nurture your inner artist and ample beauty to inspire. Bemis School of Art (818 Pelham Place) offers a variety of courses for beginners and advanced artists ranging from $10 to $300. Or, if you want a little less commitment, you can take advantage of drop-in weekly life drawing classes for $7 at the Manitou Art Center (513 Manitou Ave.).

4. Join a running club

Don’t let the word “run” deter you; you can also stroll, skip or mosey, because a running club is really more of a social excursion with some exercise thrown in. Jack Quinn’s (21 S. Tejon St.) hosts its free run downtown on Tuesdays, and the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center hosts Gallop in the Garden, a fun run with multiple unique routes you can take through the park on Thursdays with rewards from its partner, Fossil Craft Beer Company. Those are just two options among many.

5. Feed the acting bug

Don’t save the drama for your mama, take it to the stage with acting or improv classes. This is your time to shine! Local improv troupe Stick Horses in Pants offers a five-week summer workshop on Monday evenings that will run you $150. If you have a younger thespian, check out the Millibo Art Theatre (1626 S. Tejon St.), which runs short acting camps for kids all summer long.

6. Learn to knit

Banish the perception that knitting is reserved solely for sweet grannies — it’s a hobby that’s surprisingly badass, addicting and easily transportable. After all, who wouldn’t want to harness the power to make his or her own cozy, handmade treasures like scarves, hats and blankets? Ewe and Me (1045-K Garden of the Gods Road) offers a four-week beginner session for just $80, and weekly open help sessions for just $10.

7. Unleash your inner Spider-Man

PATRICK BETTS, FRONT RANGE CLIMBING COMPANY
  • Patrick Betts, Front Range Climbing Company
If you’ve ever looked up in awe and envy at the climbers scaling the towering rocks of Garden of the Gods or Red Rock Canyon Open Space, maybe it’s time for you to try your hand at rock climbing. Front Range Climbing Company offers four- and six-hour outdoor excursions in both of the above parks that include equipment and instruction starting at $170 — which is a hell of a lot cheaper than the $500-plus fine you’ll get for un-permitted climbing or requiring a rescue operation.

8. Make music

If you already play an instrument with reasonable proficiency, you don’t have to stay in the shadows. Check out the city’s numerous open mic nights, where you can jam to a live audience. Benny’s (517 W. Colorado Ave.) hosts open mic nights on Thursdays at 8 p.m. If your enthusiasm eclipses your talent, grab a drum or a bucket and join up with the summer drum circle at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs (503 Manitou Ave.). Just play in time with the rest of the folks and you should be fine.

9. Become a tabletop gamer

Controllers and screens are cool, but board games, role-playing and card games have survived the tech boom for a reason. Try out advanced board games like 7 Wonders and Lords of Waterdeep, join up with a weekly Dungeons and Dragons role-playing group or try your hand at card games like Warhammer 40K or the enduring favorite, Magic: The Gathering. The Yellow King (1834 E. Platte Ave.) and Enchanted Realms Games and Gifts (1050 S. Academy Blvd.), among others, offer games for purchase, plus weekly game nights, tournaments and other opportunities to become a true player this summer.

10. Become an urban explorer

Maybe you want to spend more time outdoors this summer, but not necessarily too far from the comforts of civilization. We get it and we’re not judging you. If close proximity to lattes and air conditioning is more your speed than mountain trails and bouldering, explore the city on foot instead. There are miles and miles of trails that crisscross the suburbs, downtown and the open spaces throughout Colorado Springs. Download these free maps.

11. Conquer a 14er

Conveniently located right in our backyard is a reasonably accessible and navigable 14er — Pikes Peak. The 13-mile hike to the summit is not an easy one, but the route via Barr Trail is clearly marked and offers an opportunity to stop and camp overnight at Barr Camp midway through your hike. Like any high-altitude activity, you’ll want to train and be properly prepared before going full force. With the closure of the Cog Railway, you’ll also want to make arrangements to get back, because 13 miles downhill is easy on the heart rate, but hell on the knees.

12. Take a cooking class

COURTESY THE FRENCH KITCHEN
  • Courtesy The French Kitchen
You’re probably avoiding using the oven as much as possible in the hotter months, but brushing up your culinary skills over the summer will pay off big time in the sedentary winter season, where carbs and warm kitchens offer the best kind of cold weather comfort. The French Kitchen Culinary Center (4771 N. Academy Blvd.) offers cooking and baking courses for different age groups, flash classes and cool options like street eats, appetizers and salads starting at $60 for three hours of instruction, recipes, food and (hopefully) leftovers.

13. Give back to the community

With more free time and daylight hours during the summer months, why not give back to others by becoming a volunteer? There are lots of nonprofits in the Pikes Peak region that would love it if you lent a hand, like the Trails and Open Space Coalition, which is always seeking volunteers for trail repair and cleanup, or the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, where you can help out by cleaning kennels, walking dogs and assisting with adoptions.

14. BYOB: Build your own booze

Creating your own beer or wine is something everyone should try at least once. If you start right away, you’ll probably get to sling back your unique, home-brewed beer by the end of the summer and have a couple of cases of wine ready by mid-winter. You can get a kit from Old West Homebrew starting at $150 and they offer lots of support when you ask for advice.

15. Try stand-up paddle boarding

COURTESY SUP COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy SUP Colorado Springs
The sport of stand-up paddle boarding may look like a daunting blend of balance and coordination, but it’s surprisingly simple to learn and highly accessible to most abilities. SUP Colorado Springs works in tandem with the city and community organizations for events, but also offers rentals at both Prospect Lake and Quail Lake, for $15/hour or $25/two hours. They also offer SUP yoga classes for $25 a class if you require a board, or $10 a class if you bring your own. And, if you want to be on the water, but not working on your standing balance, Pikes Peak Outfitters rents canoes and kayaks alongside the SUP folks.

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