Ideas on how to spend evening’s extra hour of sun that daylight saving time gives

From visiting gardens and parks to dining alfresco, the extra light will brighten your mood
The Atlanta Botanical Garden stays open later after Daylight Savings Time starts to allow guests to enjoy the gardens when it’s cooler at night. Courtesy of Erica George Dines

Credit: Erica George Dines

Credit: Erica George Dines

The Atlanta Botanical Garden stays open later after Daylight Savings Time starts to allow guests to enjoy the gardens when it’s cooler at night. Courtesy of Erica George Dines

Daylight saving time with its extra hour of sunlight in the evening was always welcomed by generations of youngsters whose signal to stop playing and go home was when the streetlights came on.

Ironically, many parents celebrated daylight saving time, as well, since it gave them an extra hour with no kids in the house. Funny how a little extra sunlight put things in a different perspective.

Extra sunlight, it turns out, does put things more in perspective. “Sunlight is important for the human condition,” said Dr. Cecil Bennett, medical director for Newnan Family Medicine Associates. “It stimulates a certain production of serotonin, a hormone that puts us in a better mood. We get more excited about our day and ready for the world. We want to stay up longer and are motivated to get tasks done in that extra hour.”

The onset of daylight saving time brings out those who enjoy socializing and enjoying special events such as General Green Eggs and Kegs that takes place at the Village Dunwoody. Courtesy of the Village Dunwoody

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Village Dunwoody

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Credit: Photo courtesy of the Village Dunwoody

For those who complain that there’s never enough hours in the day, daylight saving time, which starts Sunday, is the perfect opportunity to stop whining and get going.

What to do with that sudden bonanza of extra time? Here are some suggestions.

Spring cleaning

Diane Quintana, owner of DNQ Solutions, an Atlanta company that helps individuals with organization and productivity, believes that the bonus hour is perfect for getting your life and house in order. It’s a way to “see where all the dust bunnies are hiding. It’s a great time to move furniture away, dust window sills, wash screens and put them on the windows,” she said.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed, so she suggests taking one room and seeing what can be accomplished in an hour rather than trying to tackle the whole house. “What can you put away? It doesn’t have to take up the whole hour. There’s a lot you can accomplish in 10 minutes. One task at a time as the spirit moves you.”

Like New Year’s resolutions, an extra hour of daylight can lead to a list of good intentions that will peter out — and then you’re back on the couch Netflix binging, albeit with more sunshine peeking through the windows. Diane Hilleary, a licensed clinical social worker and head of the Atlanta Center for Self-Compassion, cautions about stuffing too much into that extra hour.

“I encourage my clients to do what feels good and is self-reinforcing,” she said. “Maybe not try to walk 30 minutes a day, instead maybe do five minutes or sit outside for five minutes and notice the sun on your face. Life is small steps, and that’s how change happens.”

In the nature of things

Similar to children extending their playing outdoors, the extra hour allows people to put activities on their calendars. Some outdoorsy places such as the Atlanta Botanical Garden alter their hours so people can stay later. Starting Monday, March 11, the garden will stay open an hour later, until 7 p.m. Later during the summer, another hour is tacked on.

“We always adjust our hours in the spring as we head into the warmer months because guests love to stroll the Garden at the end of the day once it cools down, knowing they can enjoy our exhibits until nearly dark,” said spokesman Danny Flanders.

There’s another advantage of the Garden staying open late. “Once we open our summer art exhibit in early May,” Flanders added about “Alice’s Wonderland Returns,” “guests get to enjoy the topiary-like sculptures dramatically lit at night.” (“Alice” will run May 11-Sept. 15.)

Some, but not all, local and state parks change their hours once daylight saving time kicks in, so it’s best to check each park’s website. Parks including the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and Gwinnett County Parks have operating hours listed as from “sunrise to sunset” or “dusk to dawn.” Those, obviously, open later and are operational deeper into the day. With the start of daylight saving time, some activities in these parks are affected as well. For instance, boat ramps open later, and many parks begin offering options such as sunset paddles and hikes.

One might think the extra hour — especially in the early weeks — gives a head start on planting. Wrong! Rena Sartain, landscape consultant for Pike Nurseries, advises it’s too soon to plant but a good time to get your garden ready by composting, putting in regenerative fertilizer and pruning trees and bushes. Planting should wait until the last freeze, generally around April 15, she said.

The patios fill up quickly at Hobnob Tavern at its five locations, including here at Halcyon in Alpharetta. Courtesy of Hobnob/Melissa Libby Public Relations

Credit: Hobnob/Melissa Libby Public Relations

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Credit: Hobnob/Melissa Libby Public Relations

Toasting the sunshine

The extra rays do get people outdoors and socializing. Although the Georgia Restaurant Association doesn’t compile statistics on this, CEO Stephanie Fischer said that “empirically” she knows that sales go up once daylight saving time begins. “The weather is better and the patios start opening up,” she said. “And, with that extra hour, it gives you more time to kick back, visit your favorite restaurant or find a new one.”

Jay Bandy, chief operating officer of Big Table Restaurants, which includes five metro Hobnob Neighborhood Taverns and the Alpharetta wine and steak bar Cattle Shed, said daylight saving time is the “start of party time. I can’t wait until it comes.”

Before the time changes, restaurants “roll up as soon as it’s dark. Being light later means staying out on the patio and, even if the weather is cooler, we’ll have heaters out,” he said.

David Abes, owner of Dash Hospitality Group, developed the Village Dunwoody (aka Funwoody), which features restaurants and retail built around a courtyard.

“What’s nice is that with daylight saving time, we notice that people come for happy hour or they may go and work out and come later but they stay later,” he said. “We see people having a girls’ night out and then going into the shops. There’s a nice synergy.”

It also brings back “missing” customers, he noted. “We’re seeing people we haven’t seen in a while. They’ve been hibernating!”

Sometimes it’s good to use the extra hour for pampering, such as a Massage at the Now Massage. Courtesy of Now Massage

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Now Massage

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Credit: Photo courtesy of the Now Massage

Seeing things in a new light

The extra hour of sunshine benefits others, such as painters, who profit from a new palette of light. “Natural light shows you what the true colors of the pigments are. You get the full spectrum of light, and the beauty of the colors is amazing to capture,” said Jan Lewin, a painter whose studio is in Chamblee’s Urban Art Collective.

Regardless of whether it’s painting, exercising or socializing, Jaclyne Roe, a wellness and spa consultant and managing director of the Now Massage massage studios in Buckhead and West Midtown, said it’s “important to escape for an hour to disconnect and reconnect with yourself. Take care of yourself. Create a space for yourself and withdraw, maybe a bath with candles or a corner in the yard where you can meditate.”

Still, she admits an occasional professional pampering never hurts. “We’re always taking care of other people. Sometimes we need to allow someone to care of us. Use the extra hour in the day to take care of yourself and get a fresh perspective.”

Places, services to help spend that extra hour

Atlanta Botanical Garden. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Hours starting March 11: 10 a.m-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Weekday admission: $26.95, adults; $23.95, children 3-12; under 3, free. Weekend admission: $29.95, adults; $26.95, 3-12. 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-876-5859,

Atlanta Center for Self-Compassion. 2801 Buford Highway NE, Suite T-60, Atlanta. 678-701-7246,

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Open dawn to dusk. 1978 Island Ford Parkway, Sandy Springs. 678-538-1200,

DNQ Solutions. 678-537-1160,

Gwinnet County Parks and Recreation. Open dawn to dusk. 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville. 770-822-8000,

Hobnob Neighborhood Tavern. Five metro Atlanta locations.

The Now Massage. Tuxedo Festival, 3655 Roswell Road NW, Atlanta; 1055 Howell Mill Road NW, Suite 160, Atlanta; 601 Houze Way, Suite 400, Roswell.

Pike Nurseries. Several locations.

Urban Art Collective. Open 11 a.m-4 p.m. Tuesdays. Spring Art Walk: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, April 20; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, April 21. 5655 Peachtree Road, Chamblee. 706-316-6081,

The Village Dunwoody. 5521 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. 770-338-6992,