Spring is a time of rebirth. The flowers are starting to bloom here in Chicago, the ice is slowly beginning to melt away and people are finally starting to leave their homes again. With all this flux, spring can be the perfect season to start a new hobby, but rather than trying one of those conventional hobbies (photography, fishing, hiking – all nice, but a little overdone), try something a bit different. Here are four out-of-the-ordinary hobbies to try this spring.

Beer Brewing

Cooking is one of the most popular hobbies, and it’s because, aside from the Zen-like process of chopping, stirring and sautéing, you get to enjoy the end product. This is so true for beer making as well. Not only is it fun selecting a grain profile, mashing those grains to make a wort, adding your yeast and waiting as the whole mixture slowly bubbles and transforms into Chicago’s favourite amber beverage – not only is that a joy in and of itself, but at the end of it all, you get to crack open a bottle of your hard work and enjoy it in the spring sunshine.

Axe Throwing

A lot of people choose their hobbies for exercise, which is great. But jogging, weight lifting, etc. isn’t all that interesting, even if it doesn’t leave you with rock hard abs. If you want something that is good exercise and a lot of fun, join an axe throwing league this spring, which, in addition to looking cool and relieving some residual winter stress, is an awesome core workout. What other sport or hobby lets you essentially a hurl a blade through the air and watch as it digs into a wooden target? And once you get good at it, you can start competing with people across Chicago and even across America.

Foraging

This has become a popular trend in fine dining, but you don’t have to be precious about your plating designs to enjoy foraging. Ramps and blackberries, mushrooms and wild herbs, foraging around Chicago takes some knowhow and persistence, but you’re rewarded with a bounty of natural offerings. Nature knows how to make something delicious – it’s just a matter of grabbing a basket, joining a foraging group and getting out there to enjoy it. Spring is, as you might’ve guessed, a great time for foraging, as the various Illinois flora are beginning to blossom.

Rock Climbing

File this under the “good exercise category”. There’s a terrific sense of accomplishment when you tackle a particularly difficult climbing wall, and the toned muscles you get in the meantime are an added bonus. It’s a supportive community of people (usually), who will be more than happy to help an amateur rock climber get their start, so check out the climbing centres around Chicagoland for an unconventional hobby this spring. Who knows – if you get good enough, maybe you can graduate to the real thing.

Whether you want to brew beer, toss some axes, pick some blackberries or climb a couple walls, try something a little different this spring. You’ll probably even be able to do all four!