Maybe it's the "Back to School" displays in stores. Maybe it's the one horrifying example of a Halloween display in a grocery store that will remain nameless to protect the guilty. Either way, it's clear that we're at that point where we can't hit the snooze button on summer many more times.
Fortunately, we've still got a few weeks left before Decorative Gourd Season gets started. Here are five ways to make the most of it before the first student moving truck hits the first bridge on Storrow Drive:
Hit the Islands
The Boston Harbor Islands became a National Recreational Area in 1996, and you'll see park rangers in their distinctive hats on Spectacle Island and Georges Island, which is home to Fort Warren. Built to withstand a potential assault by Confederate forces, the military base never saw any action, but it was home for a number of prisoners of the Civil War. Delightfully untouched, trees grow out of the massive earthworks atop the granite fort's walls, and visitors are free to wander through the massive abandoned halls, and even descend some spooky stairs into a lower level. Bring a kite — brisk winds in the harbor make the island a great place to fly one.
Grab A Hot Dog at Sullivan's
Nothing stays the same in Boston. Well, okay, nothing except the fact that we jaywalk and don't use our turn signals. But beyond that, Boston will knock down nearly anything in the name of progress. That makes the survival of Sullivan's — a seaside food shack that opened its doors alongside Castle Island in 1951 — all the more remarkable. Given Boston's sky-high real estate costs, seasonal businesses are few and far between in the city. So are places where you can get two hot dogs for under $5.
Take a Beach Day
Massachusetts is home to many magnificent beaches, and by August, water temperatures have risen to make wading and swimming a pleasure. Our favorite? The hard-to-spell but easy-to-enjoy Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester, whose name comes from early Dutch settlers. The Annisquam River meets the Atlantic at the east end of this beach, and the long, shallow tidal shelf and big sandbars make this beach a good one for even the littlest swimmers. At low tide, you can walk nearly a quarter of a mile with the water still below your knees. Tidepools and fun rocks to climb, along with a modest snack shack and restrooms, make this beach a great end-of-season trip.
Eat A Slice On The Street
Can you do this at any time of year? Yes. Can you do it at a better time of year? We think not. After all, St. Anthony's festival takes over the streets of the North End this weekend. The festival, now in its 100th year, celebrates the local Italian-American community and the patron saint that's said to be the go-to guy if you've lost your keys or someone in your life really needs to buckle down at school.
Go Downtown And Pahk Your Cah (While You Still Can)
Listen. We don't mean to alarm you, but ... the students are coming back. Boston won the dubious distinction of being in the top ten in congestion in the nation in 2019, and it's not going to get any better when Boston's 35 institutions of higher learning get back into high gear in September. Park in that garage under the Common while you still can — and while the Swan Boats are still running.