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Epic List of 179 Activities and Hobbies for Empty Nesters!

Updated: 4 days ago

Activities and Hobbies for Empty Nesters

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12 Weird Hobbies for Empty Nesters

About the Author - Dr. Angela Caveney


The kids are gone! Now what? 

If you’re like most Empty Nesters, you’ve suddenly found yourself with a ton of free time and are wondering what the heck to do with it. 

As a Clinical Psychologist, I’ve noticed that parents who embrace the empty nest phase of life with an open mind by discovering new activities and hobbies struggle less with symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome.

So, to help them - and to help you - I’ve created the below list of 179 activities for empty nesters to explore. 

Let’s go!

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

Empty nest syndrome refers to feelings of sadness, loss, and emptiness that most parents experience when a child leaves home for the first time. At this time, the parental role we've played for so many years suddenly changes, and we may feel a profound sense of loss and uncertainty about our purpose moving forward.

To learn more about Empty Nest Syndrome, including the signs and symptoms, its impact on our adult children and ways to cope, check out our article entitled Empty Nest Syndrome: From Surviving to Thriving in a Quiet House.

For our empty nesting friends in need of some great laughs, inspiration and a bit of comfort, our Quotes For Empty Nesters article is also worth a peek. 

Arts and crafts are common empty nest hobbies and good for mental health

10 Most Common Activities and Hobbies for Empty Nesters

As humdrum as it may be, no list of things for empty nesters to do would be complete without the usual top 10. These are the hobbies that come immediately to our minds when we think about hobbies for midlife. They are the most common for good reasons. They are highly enjoyable, affordable and accessible...fantastic hobbies for “everyday life”. 

The 10 most common activities and hobbies for empty nesters include:

#1. Arts and Crafts

#2. Cooking or Baking

#3. Gardening

#4. Learning/Playing a Musical Instrument

#5. Meditation

#7. Reading

#8. Volunteering

#9. Walking or Hiking

#10. Yoga or Pilates

Ok, now that we’ve gotten those out of the way, let’s dig a little deeper.

soap making is one of the most common empty nest hobbies for moms

20 Activities and Hobbies for Empty Nest Moms

This list of activity and hobby ideas for moms is neither exhaustive nor exclusive to women. Plenty of men enjoy these activities just as much as women. These hobbies are listed here simply because they, very generally speaking, tend to be more popular with women.

My list of the top 20 activities and hobbies for empty nest moms:

#1. Aqua Aerobics

#2. Astrology

#3. Basket Weaving

#4. Belly Dancing

#5. Book Clubs

#6. Calligraphy

#7. Cooking Classes

#8. Cross Stitch

#9. Floral Arranging

#10. Genealogy

#11. Group Fitness Classes

#12. Herbalism

#13. Journaling/Writing

#14. Knitting/Crocheting

#15. Natural, Handmade Products

#16. Pottery

#17. Quilting

#18. Soap Making

#19. Tea Blending

#20. Upholstery

woodworking and carpentry are favorite empty nest hobbies for dads

20 Activities and Hobbies for Empty Nest Dads

Just as was true for the list of activities and hobbies for empty nest moms, our list of activities and hobbies for empty nest dads simply includes hobbies that are more generally favored by men.

My list of the top 20 activities and hobbies for empty nest dads:

#1. Archery

#2. Billiards

#3. Car restoration

#4. Drone flying

#5. Fantasy sports

#7. Go karting

#8. Golfing

#9. Homebrewing beer

#10. Hunting

#11. Leatherworking

#12. Metal Detecting

#13. Metalworking

#14. Model building

#15. Motorcycle riding

#17. Radio-controlled models

#18. Stamp Collecting

#19. Stock trading

#20. Woodworking

There are many mental health benefits when empty nest couples make future plans for travel

30 Activities and Hobbies for Empty Nester Couples to Enjoy Together

Next, we explore some great hobby options for empty nester couples. Many of the above mentioned hobbies are, of course, also fantastic when done with people you enjoy spending time with. Here are a few more that are particularly great ways to spend time with your favorite person.

My list of the top 30 activities and hobbies for empty nester couples.

#1. Antiquing

#2. Astronomy/Stargazing

#3. Badminton

#4. Birding

#5. Board Games

#6. Bocce Ball and Lawn Bowling

#7. Bowling

#8. Canoeing

#9. Chess

#11. Craft Cocktails

#12. Crossword Puzzles

#13. Dancing (salsa, ballroom, so many options!)

#14. DIY Home Projects

#15. Geocaching

#16. Hosting Dinner Parties

#17. Jigsaw Puzzles

#18. Kayaking

#19. Learning Magic Tricks

#20. Miniature Golf

#21. Playing Cards

#22. Qi Gong

#23. Sailing

#24. Sculpting

#25. Snorkeling

#26. Story Telling

#27. Table Tennis

#28. Tai Chi

#30. Wine Tasting

when children leave home is the perfect time to travel

25 Empty Nester Travel Hobbies and Activities

Once the kids fly the coop (and before grandkids and older age arrive), many empty nesters take advantage of this unique time in their lives to explore the World. Some empty nesters love to follow their favorite music artist or visit beaches all over the world and collect the amazing colors and textures of sand. My husband, being the cultured guy that he is, likes to try out McDonalds in every country we visit to see what's different. 🤦🏼

My list of 25 things for empty nesters to do and types of places to visit around the world:

#1. Ancient Ruins

#2. Art Exhibitions

#3. Beach Walking

#4. Botanical Gardens

#5. Camping

#6. Cave Exploring

#7. Culinary Tourism

#8. Cultural Festivals

#9. Film Festivals

#10. Food Tastings

#11. Ghost Town Exploration

#12. Historical Sites

#13. Hot Air Ballooning

#14. Learning a New Language

#15. Music Festivals/Concerts

#16. National Parks

#17. Scuba Diving

#18. Spelunking

#19. Sporting Events

#20. Theaters

#21. Train Journeys

#22. Wildlife Photography

#23. Wine Tasting Tours

#24. World Heritage Sites

#25. Yoga Retreats

the world of food provides many opportunities to learn new skills and a new hobby or 6

15 Cooking and Baking Hobbies for Empty Nesters

Food related hobbies deserve their own section simply due to their popularity and the sheer number of things for empty nesters to do that fall into this category. Loved by women, men and people of all ages, food hobbies can be enjoyed alone or with others, making them perfect solo or social hobbies.

My list of the top 15 cooking and baking hobbies for empty nesters:

#1. Bread Baking

#2. Cake Decorating

#3. Canning and Preserving

#4. Cheese Making

#5. Chocolate Making

#6. Ethnic Cuisine Exploration

#7. Food Photography and Styling

#8. Food Writing and Blogging

#9. Grilling Pizza

#10. Handmade Pasta

#11. Latte Art

#12. Mixology

#13. Smoking Meat/BBQ

#14. Sous Vide Cooking

#15. Wine Making

Beekeeping is a new hobby with many benefits, but takes a few months to learn and you have to be willing to get your hands dirty.

30 Unusual Hobbies and Things for Empty Nesters To Do

The hobbies in this list range from simply uncommon to truly unusual. Here, we dive into the unexpected, celebrating the unconventional passions that make us all unique individuals

My list of the top 30 unusual hobbies and things for empty nesters to do:

#1. Beekeeping

#2. Blacksmithing

#3. Bonsai tree cultivation

#4. Bookbinding

#5. Cheese making

#6. Cosplaying

#7. Cow tipping

#8. Dumpster Diving

#9. Extreme Ironing

#10. Falconry

#11. Fencing

#13. Ghost hunting

#14. Glassblowing

#15. Heli-Skiing

#16. Ice sculpting

#17. Insect collecting

#18. Jar terrarium crafting

#19. Lawn Mower Racing

#20. Lock picking

#21. Miniature cooking

#22. Mushroom foraging

#23. Origami

#24. Sand art

#25. Sandcastle building

#26. Snail racing

#27. Soap carving

#28. Stone skipping

#29. Toy Voyaging

#30. Yodeling

Ostrich riding is a funny hobby you could try when the children leave home and you have more free time

17 Funny Hobbies and Things for Empty Nesters To Do

Putting this list together was easily the most fun I've ever had researching for a section of a blog article. (Look some of these up on YouTube!) These gems range from quirky to ridiculous to flat out unbelievable, but they ARE all real...and each has its own special subculture of followers. Perhaps you'll be the next to join in the fun.

My list of the top 17 unusual hobbies and things for empty nesters to do:

#1. Beetle Fighting

#2. Cheese Rolling

#3. Collecting Navel Fluff

#4. Collecting Potato Chips that Look Like Famous People

#5. Competitive Air Guitar

#6. Competitive Banana Peeling

#7. Competitive Dog Grooming

#8. Competitive Duck Herding

#9. Competitive Endurance Tickling

#10. Competitive Puddle Jumping

#11. Competitive Worm Charming

#12. Ferret legging

#13. Hobby Horsing

#14. News-Raiding

#15. Ostrich Racing

#16. Pea Shooting

#17. Toe Wrestling

Bee wearing. An empty nester's perfect creative outlet?
Photograph: China Daily/Reuters

12 Weird Hobbies for Empty Nesters

Alright, buckle up! We're about to dive into the wild world of offbeat, and just plain WEIRD hobbies. Some are just a bit out of the ordinary, while others are flat-out wacky. But hey, we're all about celebrating what makes us unique, right? So, let's roll with it and jump right in!

My list of the top 12 weird hobbies for empty nesters:

#1. Bagel head body modification

#2. Bee wearing

#3. Bog Snorkeling

#4. Chess Boxing

#5. Cow Impersonating/Mooing

#6. Eggshell Carving

#7. Fork Bending

#8. Growing Giant Vegetables

#9. Knitting Tiny Hats For eggs

#10. Paint drying observation

#11. Underwater Hockey

#12. Volcano sledding/surfing

Final Thoughts

As I bring this exploration of a whopping 179 hobbies and things for empty nesters to do to a close, I cannot stress enough the importance of embracing this new chapter of your life with an open mind and adventurous spirit.

The empty nest phase might initially seem daunting or even lonely, but, with a proactive approach, and keeping your core personal values in mind, it CAN be a period ripe with opportunities for personal growth and exploration.

Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new activities not only combats the empty nest syndrome but also enriches life in unexpected ways. So, whether it's painting or rolling a giant ball of cheese down a hill, just remember - it's never too late to explore new hobbies and reignite your zest for life!

About the Author

Angela Caveney, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist and Founder of The Trybe Women's Social Club. Her absolute favorite things to do are to help women find their people, rediscover themselves and thrive throughout midlife. She can be reached directly at

(*Note. If The Trybe Women's Social Club is not in your location, reach out to Dr. Caveney to start a conversation about creating a club where you live. Even if you don't know a single person in your new city, don't worry!  This is a great way to start to meet new people fast. We'll provide the framework to get you started.)

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