The Last Hurrah: Great ideas for family fun before the summer ends!


This article was originally published in the Back to School supplement of the Portsmouth Herald on August 14, 2015.

School may be starting soon, but that doesn’t mean summer is over! Make the most of what remains of our warm seasonal bliss and plan one more big sha-bang before the bell rings. Need ideas? We got ideas.

Backyard Camp-Out
Let’s be honest. Camping, although super fun, requires a Herculean effort to pull off. But not this way! Buck the system and spend a night under the stars…in your backyard. Pitch the tent, grab some sleeping bags, flashlights, s’more fixings and now you’re camping. The kids will think this is so ridiculously cool and it’s FREE!

White Mountain Adventures
If you’ve ever been, you know the Flume in Franconia Notch is both stunning and super fun. It’s a moderate walk up through the cavernous gorge and then back down through the woody trails. A bit of nature, a bit of exercise and a whole lotta family adventure. Want to get crazy? Hit up the Polar Caves while you’re in the area, but parents, don’t try the Lemon Squeeze like you did when you were 9 years old. It’s not the same now. It may have gotten smaller or something.

Take me out to the Ball Game
No need to break the bank at a Red Sox game– the minor leagues are the way to go for both your wallet and experience. The Portland Sea Dogs ($7-$9 a ticket, hello!) or the Manchester Fisher Cats (tickets are $8.50-$12) make a day at the park inexpensive and easy. It’s perfect for a family outing, particularly if you have young ones. Now if the kids want to leave early, you’re not eating a $60+ ticket. You will, of course, still be on the hook for hot dogs, cotton candy, pretzels, ice cream bars and gallons of lemonade. Play ball!

Ocean Adventures
Because our summer is so short, it’s great to take advantage of our beautiful seacoast while we can. Eastman’s Fishing Fleet out of Seabrook has a family-friendly two-hour fishing tour from 6:30pm-8:30pm every night of the week through mid-September. It’s a ton of fun, not too long, and practically everyone catches something. Island Cruises located in the Rye Harbor marina offers (amongst many other tours) a one-hour lobster tour led by Captain Sue for only $13. As the catch of the day is hauled aboard, learn about the ecosystem of our near coastal waters, the art of lobster fishing and the strange life of a lobster. Great for all ages!

Portland Road Trip
About an hour away from Portsmouth, Portland, ME has a ton to offer in the way of activities and diversions. Take a Downeast Duck Tour around the Portland Harbor and then enjoy the requisite lunch of chowder and lobster rolls overlooking the water. The downtown has a bunch of cute shops and candy stores. Be sure to check your local library before you go– they may offer free or discounted tickets to the Children’s Museum & Theater of Maine or other local museums. Don’t forget to consult the always helpful which has directories and an events calendar for all things Portland!

Saddle up, we ride!
Now here’s an adventure your kids will never forget—sign up for a family trail ride where you can enjoy nature atop your own equine host! Charmingfare Farm in Candia offers anyone ages 10+ for trail rides along old logging roads into the forest. Lucky 7 Stables in Londonderry has both a scenic 5-mile guided ride or sunset rides for anyone ages 8+. Riding in the Clouds, located at Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, takes you on a one-hour guided tour with amazing views of Lake Winnipesaukee and along Shannon Brook with small waterfalls (ages 8+). These are a bit of a splurge but it’ll be a great memory for sure.

Adrenaline Rushes
Are you the type of family that likes to swing from the tree tops? There are several zip line and outdoor climbing parks in the area including Monkey Trunks located in Saco, ME and Weirs Beach, NH that has over 48 high-flying challenges. Kittery, ME is home to Take Flight Aerial Adventure Course & Zip Line that offers over 65 activities like burma bridges, cat walks and swinging platforms and more. If you’re looking for a real adventure, try out the guided zip line canopy tours at Gunstock or Bretton Woods. You’ll pay a pretty penny, but if you’re saving up for a big summer finish, this is a good choice.

Old Fashioned Beach Fun
Want to go back in time? Short Sands at York Beach is a great place feel young again! Hit up the Fun-O-Rama arcade for some .25 skeeball and vintage video games. Not only will you find penny candy at many of the local stores, but the landmark restaurant and candy shop, The Goldenrod, is where you need to go for sweets. You can watch the taffy being made while you saddle up to the Fountain Soda bar—plenty to choose from, but you may skip straight to the hot fudge sundae. With many beachy shops to check out downtown, York’s Wild Kingdom is also just steps away. Don’t miss the Butterfly Kingdom!

Life’s a Peach
Although peach season tends to peak when most of us are focusing on back-to-school, don’t miss it this year! Peaches are ripe for the picking from early/mid-August through mid-September. Find a local pick-your-own like Applecrest in Hampton Falls or buy home-grown peaches in the farm store at DeMerritt Hill Farm in Lee. Then go home and make a gigantic peach pie, tubs of peach sorbet, tarts, muffins, pancakes and then go get more peaches and do it all over again. Yum.

Before the kids head off for another long school year, make some summer memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoy!


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