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Epic List of 179 Activities and Hobbies for Empty Nesters!

Updated: Apr 28

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

6. Fishing/Fly Fishing

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

10. Community Theater

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 Sites25. 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

12. Fire Poi

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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