Self-care Sunday: Outdoor Fun in My Favorite States

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Welcome to Spring friends, thank you for stopping by my Self-care Sundays B.R.E.A.T.H.S. blog where I share a variety of self-care strategies that bring me joy. The first week, I shared some Spring-time self-care strategies. The second week, Sunday fell on Easter, so I shared some Family fun. Last week, I was a bit down in the dumps and wrote about ways I can pick myself back up. This fourth week I am celebrating Earth Day and thought I would share some of my most enjoyable outdoor activities from some of my favorite states. 


After visiting 49 of the 50 United States (Alaska is the only state left to see), I am often asked what state surprised me the most, and my answer is always, Arkansas. I would have never thought of Arkansas as it was probably the furthest off my radar of outdoor fun when traveling across the country until my visit during February of 2021. My first day there, I stopped at Crater of Diamonds State Park just outside Murfreesboro, AR. On average, one diamond a day is found there! I trekked all day long in the mud looking for diamonds but had no luck, however, it was really fun. 

The second day I was in Arkansas, I visited Hot Springs National Park and hiked around the thermal hill along the bathhouse row. Then I spent the afternoon soaking my sore legs in the thermal baths. Two very different outdoor Arkansas experiences that were exceptionally memorable!


A couple of my friends live in the land of many lakes, Minnesota. On the two trips I took to Minnesota, my friends and I visited every corner of the state, even crossing a few borders for some outdoor fun. We would end up on epic outdoor adventures like tubing down a river (actually it was in Apple River, WI), paddle boarding at Lake Calhoun (aka BDE Maka Ska) in Minneapolis, hiking in the National Parks, and walking around a town with my last name, Brainerd. It was also my first time seeing the Mississippi River, definitely not my last. 

My favorite memory was when we were visiting Grand Portage, we hiked up to the Canadian/USA border along the Pigeon River. I thought it would be fun to toss rocks across the river to hit the other side. Just as one rock hit, I saw two people walking near the area and I called over to them to throw a rock back. They both threw rocks that landed in the river, I threw one more rock and it hit land right between the two guys. This was especially hilarious because both countries were restricted from visiting one another due to Covid, but we managed to have a memorable encounter at healthy distances. (2-0 USA, lol see video above  at 3:18). 

National Parks Visited while in the Midwest:


Hands-down, Hawaii is my most favorite state for outdoor excursions, let’s see if I can remember them all. I will break it down to each of the three islands I have visited: Oahu, Kauai, and The Big Island. 

Oahu (x3)

2017 Summer – My first time visiting Hawaii was Oahu:

  • I learned to snorkel 
  • Become PADI certified and did scuba diving
  • Wading at white sand beaches in Kaneohe
  • Hiking lighthouses
  • Danced the hula at an evening luau dinner
  • Walking tours through pineapple, macadamia nut, and coffee plantations

2018 Winter – My second trip to Oahu:

  • I experienced several outdoor activities at Kualoa Ranch, such as: 
    • A jungle jeep tour of Jurassic Park
    • Boat rides at the Secret Island
    • Beach activities: kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming
    • Beach sports: soccer, volleyball, horseshoes, table tennis
    • Just lounging on hammocks, towels, or beach chairs. 
  • Waimea Valley at North Shore:
    • Surfing the coast
    • Walking through botanical gardens 
    • Hiking the trails
    • Kayaking the river
    • Swimming in Waimea Falls 
  • Touring the Byodo-In Temple gardens
  • Visiting the Polynesian Culture Center to learn about culture and history
  • My friend and I took a catamaran sunset dinner cruise in Waikiki Bay
  • I also went to SkyDive Hawaii for tandem jump with a photographer to record the experience. 

2021 Summer – My third trip to Oahu:

  • My friend and I did arts and crafts on the beach at North Shore making:
    • Leis
    • Seashell pendants
    • Palm weaved baskets
  • I hiked to pill boxes to watch the sunset
  • Rode an eBike around Waikiki
  • Hiked to the top of Diamond Head
  • Visited a nude beach
  • Rafted and waded at the Kaneohe Sandbar
  • Went back to the Secret Beach at Kualoa Ranch
  • Did another catamaran sunset cruise in Waikiki Bay

Kauai Spring 2018

  • Tubing down old irrigation tunnels 
  • Guided kayaking tour of the Waimea River
  • Guided hiking tour to a secret waterfall
  • Waterfall chasing in the Waimea Canyon
  • Swimming at the Salt Pond State Beach with friends
  • Helicopter tour of the NaPali Coast and Jurassic Waterfall

The Big Island Summer of 2021

Visiting the National Parks

Pohoiki Bay and Hot Spring

  • Soaking in the hot springs
  • Cooling off in the ocean on black sand beaches

The Southernmost Point

  • Seeing the Southernmost Point in the USA
  • Walking along the volcanic coastline
  • ATV ride or hike to green sand beach
  • Wave surfing at Papakōlea Green Sand Beach

Westside Kona 

  • Recreational sandy beaches
  • Most of the National and State Parks
  • The Peace Garden

Eastside Hilo 

  • Rocky, cliffside beaches
  • Hilo Bay boating
  • Rainforests
  • Wildlife Reserves

Northside Hawi

  • Sunrise hike to Kohala Lighthouse
  • Farmers markets
  • Historical landmarks
  • Swimming holes

Conclusion on Joyous Outdoor Activities

While there are plenty of exciting outdoor activities in every state, I narrowed down my choices to three states that had some interesting and memorable outdoor excursions: Arkansas, Minnesota, and Hawaiian Islands. The states offered everything from mining, hiking, tubing, boating, biking, walking, swimming, and lounging. I was able to find the best outdoor activities each state had to offer. Looking forward to finding even more outdoor adventures for every place I visit. 


Thank you for reading and viewing,

Dr. Jaime Brainerd, E.d.D.

About the Author

Dr. Brainerd

Hello, I am Dr. Jaime Brainerd Ed.D., a lifelong learner, beauty consultant, author, financial specialist, artist, traveler, health enthusiast, and self care advocate. Please follow my website for my B.R.E.A.T.H.S. blogs.

3 thoughts on “Self-care Sunday: Outdoor Fun in My Favorite States

  1. I love touring the states through your blogs! I know I will never get to many but seeing the sites you post make me want to make a bucket list of states I may make it too! Thank you for sharing your love for touring giving others some great ideas! Hugs and love!!

  2. Great post with a lot of wonderful ideas. My husband and I have been to Maui and Oahu, but not to Kauai yet. It is definitely on our list. I love waterfalls and would love to see the ones featured in Jurassic Park. One day we will make it, but probably visit the Big Island first. Either way, thanks for the great lists. BTW, AR also surprised me. Thanks for the post.

  3. Great tours, You will enjoy Alaska if you go in the late Spring/Early summer. Ketchikan about 40 years ago before it became a major town. Back in those days you could see a deer or a bear walking down the road in early morning just as easy as seeing a lumber jack headed for Carol Creek Lumber camp.

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