The calendar says summer officially lasts until September 21 and I’m eking out every last second. Maybe a day or two after, if it’s nice. We’ll see.

There are some great family activities that are perfect for late summer weather. Here are some of my favorites. You can steal them.


#1 Isles of Shoals Cruise

That beautiful cluster of islands just 6 miles off our coastline is rich in history and adventure. There are a couple local companies that offer day cruises out to the islands after Labor Day including the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company and Island Cruises of Rye. Some cruises include walking tours (guided or self-guided) or self-exploration on Star Island and some are more of a drive-by with an audio tour from the ship’s captain and a view of the islands from the boat. A great way to spend a sunny late summer day with your family.

#2 Canobie Lake

If you prefer the sweltering heat of summer for long lines at an amusement park, maybe this one isn’t for you, but Canobie Lake in late summer is the perfect time for me. Canobie Lake has changed a lot since we were kids—for the better. It still has all the same classic rides and small park feel, but they’ve added many new rides, games and restaurants. It’s updated, clean and honestly a lot of fun. Canobie Lake is open weekends through Halloween and Friday nights from 6-11pm starting September 30. Rollercoaster riding in the dark? That might be fun!


#3 York Short Sands

I love visiting Short Sands at York Beach because it feels like a trip back in time. After some time at the beach (parking is super easy with the adjacent parking lot), hit up the Fun-O-Rama arcade for some .25 skeeball and vintage video games. Ready for your sugar fix? 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 or saddle up to the old fashioned Fountain Soda bar and go straight to the hot fudge sundae. Short Sands is the full-service date of old time beach outings.

#4 Mini-Golf

Similar to amusement parks, mini-golfing in the extreme heat is a real crap sandwich. With September’s milder and less humid temps, it’s time to check out the Seacoast’s putt putt courses. One of my favorite gems is Sagamore Mini-Golf in North Hampton. The impeccably clean course is really well done and perfect for all ages. Don’t forget to grab an ice-cream-truck-esque treat from their frozen cooler indoors. You can print out a 2-for-1 coupon. Captain’s Cove in Hampton is another great course offering fun obstacles and a shady back nine.  If you’re in the Somersworth area, the course at Hilltop Fun Center is incredible with all the beautiful landscaping, water features and challenging holes. Good times.

#5 Flume/Polar Caves

If you’re in for a day trip adventure, this is one of my kids’ favorites. The Flume Gorge, in Lincoln NH, is a stunning walk/hike (I’m talking sneakers, here) through one of nature’s most beautiful creations. The entire hike can be done in about 2 hours if you don’t have a lot of dawdlers. Once you’ve scorched your quads at the Flume, head on over to the Polar Caves in Rumney NH (about 30 minutes from the Flume) and explore the passageways through granite boulders that formed during the Ice Age. PSA to 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.

If nothing else, come on over to my pool. I have the heater on 90 and I’m not closing that sucker until October.

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