When searching for sober curious activities and things to do instead of drinking, the options can seem limited. This is especially true if you are trying to escape an existing friend group that was built around alcohol. Recent studies have shown that people who drink, drink heavily. And people that abstain from alcohol are more or less sober. This division to the extremes makes sense because of the research about humans being habit machines.

things to do instead of drinking

This inverted bell curve illustrates the divide that researchers (sources below) are finding when it comes to how Americans consume alcohol. On one end, there is a growing group of sober curious members that tend to abstain from booze altogether. This group is finding ways to enjoy themselves without drinking and trying new things. The other end of the curve is the people who not only drink, but do so in excess.

Sources: 
- Investigating the growing trend of non-drinking among young people
- Alcohol Facts and Statistics | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
- Non-Drinkers’ Experiences of Drinking Occasions: A Population-Based Study of Social Consequences of Abstaining from Alcohol

How to Meet Sober Curious People

The Klubb provides a platform for wellness-focused people to connect and participate in activities that promote a fulfilling lifestyle. The goal is to encourage people to feeling great in the mornings and push themselves throughout the day to reach new heights of high performance. In this article, we highlight some of the best things to do instead of drinking so that you can still connect with friends and have a good time.

Happy Hours Without Drinking

How does a happy hour that is spent catching waves or paddling standup paddle boarding sound to you? This kind of sober curious happy hour is athletically challenging and builds stronger relationships with the friends you do the activity with.

You don’t need to live on a tropical island to start making your happy hours into outdoor activities. Even major cities like New York City offer a wide variety of outdoor sober happy hour experiences. These are also great ways to make new friends as an adult and not fall into the easy habit of after-work drinking happy hours. Keeping a full schedule of outdoor activities is a great way to curb drinking. Plan ahead of time (Sunday is the best day to plan your week) and schedule in some of the things to do instead of drinking recommended below to hold yourself accountable.

21 Things to do Instead of Drinking

The Klubb’s mission is to get people “Outside. Together.” In a recent study by the Yale School of the Environment, researchers found that two hours a week is the minimum time you should spend doing activities outdoors.

“It’s well-known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and well-being, but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough,” White said. “Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people, especially given that it can be spread over an entire week to get the benefit.”

Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter

Doing outdoor activities with friends adds a whole new level of health benefits as well. Studies have shown that developing strong relationships- through sober activities- can lead to more confidence and overall happier life. Here are 31 things to do instead of drinking that get you outside- either with friends or in ways that encourage meeting new people.

Always speak with your doctor before making any dramatic changes in your lifestyle. This article does not diagnose or treat any illness or substance abuse.

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1. Go on a Walk Outside

Recent studies on Forest Bathing show the enormous benefits that being outside can provide. If there isn’t a forest near you, walking in the park or even around city streets can still have positive effects and are a great alternative to drinking. Walking after work rather than going to a bar will make you feel much better afterward. If you live within a reasonable distance of your place of work, try walking home if it is safe to do so.

The free Klubb app lets you post your activity so that others can “join in.” A great option for even the most introverted person to get together with friends or build relationships with new connections.

2. Train for a Running Race

By committing to running in a race, amateur runners are likelier to stick to a training schedule. The mental commitment to an activity you paid for will keep you on track with your training. Another added benefit is that it makes an easy excuse when getting out of going for drinks- “I can’t go for drinks today; I have to run this evening. I have a race coming up”.

Here are a few other tips for how to start running (and actually enjoy it).

3. Foster a dog

The local animal shelters are constantly looking for people to foster dogs for a couple of days at a time. Fostering a dog for a few days gives you all the benefits of pet parenting without a long-term commitment.

Dogs make great running buddies and encourage social interaction with others- a great way to make friends as an adult. Having a dog to care for will make it easy to opt-out of happy hours and get outside.

4. Go to a Museum

Working out your mind is just as important as working out your body. Museums are great places to spend an alcohol-free afternoon with friends. Becoming a museum member will get you access to events where you can meet new people as well.

5. Volunteer

Spending post work hours volunteering will give you a new perspective on life. It may sound like a grueling schedule to end the work day only to go volunteer- read, work more- but the experience is entirely different. Staying busy and donating your time will give you a sense of purpose that cant be found at the local pub.

6. Go out for Tea

Just because your are abstaining from alcohol doesn’t mean you cant still go out. Places like Urth Caffe are great hang outs that offer delicious non alcoholic beverages. Ordering a fancy tea after work can have the same effect as ordering a cocktail, but without the negative health effects that alcohol has (NIAAA) on the mind and body.

urth caffee teas
Photo courtesy of Urth Caffe

7. Take a Painting Class

Most community centers offer art classes at a reasonable cost. Taking a landscape painting class is a great post work activity that gets you outside and doing something new. Art has been shown to promote relaxation– a common goal that most turn to booze to accomplish.

8. Find a new Park

Block off time after work to drive or walk to a new park that you haven’t been to. Often there is more history than first meets the eye so do your research and learn something new about the City you are in. The conversations that come from facts about local parks are much more interesting than the tall-tails told at bars.

9. Go for a bike ride

Biking is one of the best post work activities. You can cover much more ground than walking or running which opens up a much wider radius which you can cover. There are bikes that work great in the snow as well so you can keep your routine going year round.

Winter Bike Ride on Fat Tire Bikes
Winter Bike Ride on Fat Tire Bikes

Planning out a bike ride to a close by town for dinner is the perfect way to get exercise and encourage sobriety at dinner- do not ride your bike after drinking.

10. Have a Movie Night

Splurge on a movie rental and take-out from your favorite restaurant to make Movie Night a special day of the week. Skip the wine and try Sunwink, Kombucha, or St. Agrestis Non-Alcoholic Phony Negroni.

11. Get an Adult Coloring Book

Coloring is a great way to calm a busy mind and makes for a pleasant weeknight activity.

12. Join a Boxing Gym

Frustrated after a long day at work? Take it out on a punching bag. You will be surprised how great you feel after a guided, hour-long workout at a boxing gym. Most boxing gyms are based around high-intensity interval training (H.I.I.T) workouts and don’t involve hitting other people- some do, of course. Schedule a drop in class and see if boxing gives you a better emotional release than booze.

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13. Start Pilates

For a full-body workout that maximizes muscle strength and flexibility, there is nothing better than pilates. The close-quarters environment of pilates studios encourages conversation and is a great way to make new friends. Many postures are held for an extended period- the perfect workout to share stories while also getting great exercise.

14. Try Bikram Hot Yoga

Taking a Bikram hot yoga class is one of the best ways to unwind after a long day. The hour-and-half flow session gets your heart pumping. After a Bikram class all you will want to do is drink a gallon of water and sleep.

15. Take an Online Course

Ongoing education is a great way to stay busy and ease booze out of your life. Learning a new skill or expanding your expertise in your current industry all start with curiosity and education.

16. Study for the LSAT

One of the most common things people say when they stop drinking is that they have much more time during the day. Fill your schedule with something challenging and productive, like studying for The Law School Admissions Test (“LSAT”). You may find a new direction in life that you had never thought possible before.

17. Study for the GMAT

The Graduate Management Admission Test (“GMAT”) is the exam you take to get into a graduate MBA program. With the additional time you have from not drinking, why not progress your career? Getting an MBA is extremely rewarding, and you can look forward to a higher salary post-graduation.

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18. Join a Yoga Studio

Yoga is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. The practice of Yoga enhances self-awareness and has many other health benefits. Start with a single class at a different studio a few nights a week. Once you find a studio that aligns with your goals, consider joining to keep the positive vibes flowing. Joining a studio is a great way to stay consistent with your practice and meet other like-minded people.

19. Keep a Journal

In an article by Kaiser Permanente, 7 Benefits of Keeping a Journal, journaling can help gain self-confidence and reduce stress/anxiety. When you first cut out drinking, your anxiety might be much higher than usual, according to WebMD. By keeping a journal, you can focus your attention on writing to help you get through the period of withdrawal.

20. Adopt a pet

If your schedule allows for it, adopting a pet is a great way to focus your energy on something more meaningful than drinking. The responsibility of pet ownership can help curb your drinking if you prioritize your four-legged friend. This isn’t something to do on a whim, but take time and analyze if adopting a pet is something that will be beneficial for you.

21. Run with Friends

There are so many health benefits to running, and even more when you are running with a friend. If your Wednesday routine has been “Wine-down Wednesday,” make the change to “Wednesday run-day.” Rally your friends to give it a shot and plan a fun post-run outing to a juice bar or healthy cafe. Plan the run to be challenging so that everyone craves a healthy smoothie after. Running at a pace that doesn’t get your heart pumping will leave the group anxious for something more.

Permission Granted

Just because the American culture encourages around alcohol consumption doesn’t mean you have to participate. It is hard to be the one who orders a Heineken 0.0 or soda water rather than an IPA or vodka soda. However, you have control and march to your own drum. Be the leader by trying new activities outside of drinking. Need to find friends to get “Outside. Together.” with? Download The Klubb app.

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