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Getting Outside in DeKalb

Wondering how to explore nature locally? DeKalb friends, look no further! Check out these 5 easy ideas to get outside.

There are many benefits to spending time outdoors. It improves sleep, increases life expectancy, and decreases your risk of illness. Cortisol levels, tension, and heart rate are reduced when you're outside.

Focus and attention can also be improved by nature! Going for a walk during a study break can help you stay concentrated for longer.

Listening to the sounds of nature brings awareness to your senses and reminds you to be present. This mindfulness practice can improve our health and mental well-being.

Another reason to get outside is the benefit of social interaction. The pandemic and increase in virtual jobs leave many people feeling isolated. Ask a friend to meet up for a walk, or say hello to a neighbor while passing them!

5 Ways to Get Outside in DeKalb

1. Go for a peaceful bike ride! Don't own one? Rent one from us at the Adventure Center located on the West side of the NIU Recreation Center.

  • We're even here to tune up your bike for your next ride. Download the All Trails app to plan your adventure.

  • Strava app is another app way to share rides with fellow cyclists! You can hop on the Great Western Bike Trail at the Sycamore Forest Preserve.

2. Check out the group called "Trash Squirrels: Cleaning up DeKalb" on Facebook!

  • Its mission is to take care of the environment by cleaning up litter.

  • Join this awesome group and rent a Garbo Grabber from us at the Adventure Center to make cleanups easy & fun!

3. Try disc golf by renting a set from us for just $2 per day for students.

  • There are several local parks to play at!

  • It's a great way to stay active while learning a new skill.

    • Looking for a relaxing day? Rent an ENO hammock from us and bring your favorite book to cozy up with.

4. Explore Shabbona Lake State Park, about 30 minutes southwest of DeKalb!

  • There is picnicking, camping, hiking, winter sports, & boating.

  • There are kayaks, canoes, paddleboats, & rowboats available to rent at Shabbona Lake.

  • Or, stop by the Adventure Center to rent your boats & water gear!

  • We are happy to answer your questions and prepare you for your trip.

5. Afton Forest Preserve is another great place to visit if you're looking to stay in DeKalb!

  • You'll be pleased to see over 300 acres of native plants, streams, ponds, grasslands, prairies, wetlands, and woodlands.

    • The open space will surely clear your mind and ground you as you hike the trails.

Do What Feels Right

Whatever you choose to do, take a moment to appreciate all that this planet has to offer. Some final tips for outdoor activities are to check the weather ahead of time and dress accordingly, plan your activities prior to sunset, bring sunscreen and a first aid kit, and stay hydrated.

At Outdoor Adventures, we are happy to help you connect with nature through a variety of experiences. There is something here for everyone. Chat with us during our business hours from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday. You can also send us an email at or call us at 815–753–9423.

Our mission is connection. Through the channel of outdoor recreation, we hope to connect people with themselves, with nature, and with each other.

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