Labor Day may be less than three weeks away, but there’s still plenty of time to pack in the fun before the season ends. In fact, the hazy days of August offer the best of classic summer fun. Consider this your must-do end-of-summer check list.
Catch a movie under the stars at the drive-in
Before you hit the Saco Drive-In, grab a lobster roll at Ken’s around the corner, then catch a double feature at this beachside, locals-only spot just outside Portland, Maine. Further down east, the Wellfleet Drive-In is the only outdoor theater still standing on the Cape and a must-visit—while Michigan’s Capri Drive-In Theater, a few hours west of Detroit, is about as retro as it gets.
Hit up a classic state fair
The Great New York State Fair, August 23–September 4
Spanning 375 acres in Syracuse, this upstate oldie began back in the 1830s. Nowadays, go for the classic cars; all things equestrian; and Taste NY, a killer outdoor festival full of James Beard–winning chefs.
The Minnesota State Fair, August 24–September 4
Dating back to 1859, this 12-day Twin Cities get-together draws the country’s biggest crowd with its famous mid-century SkyGlider aerial tramway, butter-sculpting competitions, and deep-fried delicacies that include more than 70 different foods on a stick.
The Oregon State Fair, August 25–September 4
Salem’s summer bonanza brings a variety of attractions—painting parties, monster trucks, local microbrews, and barbecue. Check out the carnival of 44 old-school rides, too.
Take a ride on a wooden roller coaster
A summertime rite of passage since 1884, “woodies”—like the Cyclone at Coney Island, the Leap-the-Dips at Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania, the Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells, and the Giant Dipper on Santa Cruz’s boardwalk—guarantee a rattling thrill.
Add a weird and wacky quick-hit wonder to your road trip
The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz is a quirky, gravity-defying attraction that will blow your mind (and puzzle your Instagram followers). Or you can head to the Carousel of Happiness, a restored merry-go-round from 1910, to ride the magical menagerie of 56 hand-carved animals in Nederland, Colorado.