The municipal mechanics are tuning up the engines on the big yellow school buses; the Pats are almost finished with their preseason schedule; and many B&Bs in Vermont are already booked for foliage season. But don’t let summer go without a fight. There are still a handful of precious weekends to squeeze in some New England rites of summer before the autumnal equinox. Here are 10 suggestions.
EAT LOBSTER AT THE WATER’S EDGE
Do you have any idea how many millions of tourists flock to New England to eat lobster? And you haven’t had our signature New England crustacean all summer? Grab a nutcracker and a set of picks (or a heavy rock and a fork) and get cracking. The picnic tables at the Lobster Pool in Rockport (329 Granite St., Folly Cove, Rockport, 978-546-7808, lobsterpoolrestaurant.com; market price) face west. You can bring your own libation, order a lobster and melted butter, and crack and dip away while watching the sun go down.
CRUISE IN A CONVERTIBLE
At least once, everyone should have the chance to roll down the top on a convertible, rest an elbow nonchalantly on the open window, and cruise slowly down the strip at the beach to see and be seen. It’s easier than you think. The downtown Hertz office (30 Park Plaza, 617-338-1500, hertz.com; convertibles from $113 per day) rents Chrysler 200 convertibles — perfect for cruising the strip at Revere Beach and continuing along the coastal route to make a circuit of the twisting roads of Cape Ann. Ladies can add sunglasses and headscarf for the Audrey Hepburn look.
JUMP IN A SWIMMING HOLE
Even with all the great ocean beaches around New England, there is nothing more refreshing than a dip in a river bend, a pond, or a lake. That’s especially true in the clear, cool water of the glacial kettle ponds of Cape Cod. Alas, some of these hidden ponds are open only to town residents. Good bets for everyone are Flax Pond and Cliff Pond in Nickerson State Park (Route 6A, Brewster, 508-896-3491, www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/south east/nick.htm). They are the only swimming beaches in the park, but neither has lifeguards. BYOT (bring your own towel).
PLAY A ROUND OF MINI-GOLF
Mini-golf is not just for children. Last time we were at Skull Island Adventure Golf at Bass River Sports World (934 Route 28, South Yarmouth, 978-398-6070, www.bassriversportsworld.com; mini-golf $8 per player) we found ourselves backed up behind an adult Mensa threesome that took great delight in calculating the angle and timing of each shot as they sought to evade the hazards and minimize their strokes. For a game with fewer bells and whistles but accompanied by an ice cream stand (including soft serve), it’s hard to beat the 18-hole retro course at Route 1 Miniature Golf & Batting Cages (1575 Broadway, Saugus, 781-233-2811, www.theorangedinosaur.com, mini-golf adults $6.75, seniors $5.50, under 13 $5.75). Just look for the orange T. Rex out front.
BUILD A CAMPFIRE ON THE BEACH
Building an evening fire on the beach can be a summer three-fer. You can gather friends and family around the flames, sharpen the end of a stick to toast marshmallows for s’mores, and end the night with scary ghost stories. Many public beaches have banned fires, but the Cape Cod National Seashore issues free permits for the park’s six swimming beaches. Apply up to three days in advance at the Province Lands Visitor Center (Race Point Road, Provincetown, 508-487-1256, www.nps.gov/caco) for National Seashore beaches in Truro and Provincetown, or at the Salt Pond Visitor Center (Route 6, Eastham,
508-225-3421,www.nps.gov/caco) for Eastham and Wellfleet beaches. Apply in person for preference over telephone applicants.
SEE A DRIVE-IN MOVIE
Whether you sit on the hood of your car or snuggle in the covert recesses of the back seat, catching a flick on the big screen is a vanishing summer pleasure. The cheesier the film, the better. The two-screen Mendon Twin Drive-In (35 Milford St., Mendon, 508-473-4958, mendondrivein.com; $25 per auto, $35 for campers and 10-12 passenger vans) and the three-screen Leicester Triple Drive-In (1675 Main St., Leicester, 508-892-4400, www.leicesterdrivein.net; $20 per auto) keep the screens lit through the Monday and Sunday, respectively, of Labor Day weekend. Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre (51 Route 6, Wellfleet, 508-349-7176, www.wellfleetcinemas.com/drive-in-theatre, adults $9, ages 4-11 and 62 and older $5) operates nightly through Labor Day and on weekends through September. All three drive-ins take cash only.
CATCH AN OUTDOOR CONCERT Continued...