Although you don’t have to wait until the new year to try something new, the summer break is a great opportunity to finally get around to doing something you’ve been putting off.

Maybe it’s finishing that literary classic you haven’t managed to polish off, visiting a new part of the city or checking out an exhibition you haven’t managed to see. Here are some ideas to help you start your 2014 on the right foot.

If it ever gets too hot in the city, galleries are great places to cool down and enjoy some great local and international art at the same time. Melbourne Now at the NGV is on until March, so don’t miss the workshops, demonstrations and other special events happening throughout the summer, alongside the main exhibition. Meanwhile, the recently launched artist-run space Slopes in Collingwood will reopen in February with a new group exhibition featuring artists Virginia Overell, Hannah Lees and Marlie Mul. Alternatively, pop into Perimeter and take home one of their beautiful independent art books for your shelf.

After the office Christmas drinks and New Years Eve parties, your body might start feeling little less than perfect come January, so a little TLC will be called for. Stock up on organic veggies, healthy pantry goods and amazing freshly ground peanut butter from Aunt Maggie’s and visit Clay’s recently expanded store for a fresh, tangy cup of their kombucha tea served on tap. Meanwhile, Pressed Juices makes getting your daily fruit and veg intake practically effortless with their range of cold pressed fruit and vegetable juices. Otherwise you can just make your own – we got stuck into this green power smoothie recipe last year.

Turn off the screen and pick up a book this summer, preferably one on real paper. Since the slow demise of big bookstore chains, smaller independent bookshops have been quietly taking over corners across Melbourne. So whether you’re after some light poolside reading, that glossy new art journal you haven’t picked up yet, or if you’re finally going to dive into Crime and Punishment, head into one of the city’s great bookstores like The Paperback Bookshop, Embiggen, Berkelouw and newcomer Happy Valley, and you might learn something new this month. We’ve also been enjoying the second issue of The Blackmail Offline, Dissect and online magazine journal The Planthunter.

Last year we saw a number of creative and design-minded gyms and yoga studios that made exercising interesting. No need to worry about working out around grunting gym nuts or overly loud club hits on the speaker; Yoga 213 prefers a mix of hip-hop to guide you through your savasanas, while The Art of Cycling and Power Living offers healthy, fresh snacks other than protein shakes to help you refuel.

It’s easy to get caught up in overseas travel fantasies and forget how much there is to explore in our own backyard. Weekends are for skipping town, whether you’re tackling The Pinnacle in The Grampians, checking out the new wave of cafes in Torquay or eating truffles in Apollo Bay.

We’ve seen plenty of exciting new cinemas pop up around Melbourne of late – there’s the revived George Cinema in St Kilda, Deja-View (with an affinity for the ‘80s, ‘90s and Bill Murray), Rooftop Cinema, The Shadow Electric, horror fanatics Valhalla and Speakeasy Cinema. You don’t need to see the latest cringe-worthy Hollywood rom-com – just pick up a program from any of these guys.

It’s not only a good way to save up a bit of money, but it’s relaxing, social and a lifelong skill. Remember – you have to crawl before you can julienne, so start small. Check out some of our recipes that cover the basics – the rules of baking with Beatrix, how to cook a perfect steak with Bertie’s Butcher and how to poach an egg with Top Paddock.