Summer will be over before we know it.
Never mind the start of school (Aug. 8 in Hamilton County) or Labor Day (Sept. 3). Those may feel like the end of summer, but those are unofficial dates. Summer's not officially over until fall starts at 9:54 p.m. on Sept. 22. Until then, let's make as many memorable moments as possible.
Here's a list of five things to do before the end of summer. Most are free. All can be fun.
Need more ideas?
Some of the activities featured in “Summer Fun on the Cheap,” a story that ran in early June, are still available, including Kids Bowl Free, G-rated movie matinees, reading adventures and Chattanooga Lookouts baseball games.
1. Go jump in the lake.
The beach at Chester Frost Park in Hixson is perfect for family outings. There's a playground nearby, along with picnic pavilions and fishing piers, as well as restrooms, for a full day of fun. Or spend the weekend at one of the campsites for rent.
If you want something a little less civilized, check out the network of blue holes around the area. The closest and most accessible of these natural swimming spots can be found along North Chickamauga Creek, in the Big Soddy Creek Gulf and at Rainbow Lake on Signal Mountain.
2. Take a canoe ride.
Park ranger Robert Thomas says you can get a free guided tour and canoe ride at Booker T. Washington State Park if you get about 18 people to participate. The park provides the canoes. To reserve a park tour in a canoe, call 423-894-4955.
3. Have a picnic in the park
Check out some of the area parks and have a picnic. The Imagination Station in Collegedale is a sure hit with most kids. They play for hours and it's near a library, so you can make a day of it. Have a picnic, play on the playground and visit the Collegedale Public Library. The website Foursquare Labs Inc. listed Coolidge Park as No. 1 in a list of the 15 Best Places for Picnics in Chattanooga. The list also includes the Riverwalk, East Brainerd Heritage Park, the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza and the Tennessee Welcome Center at I-24 eastbound in Tiftonia.
4. Grow a garden.
Gardening isn't just a summer activity. The Barn Nursery has plants already started for fall produce like carrots, potatoes, corn and pumpkins. Plants 4 or 5 inches tall are about $4.99, says Heath Carder, front store operator.
The veggies will be ready for harvest in late October and November, he says.
It's too late to plant pumpkin seeds that produce pumpkins for carving by October, but you can plant Jack Be Little pumpkin seeds now. The seeds produce miniature pumpkins, just 3 inches across and 2 inches high. They're perfect for decorating and eating. And if planted before August, they should be mature by Halloween.
5. Take an evening walk.
Chattanooga summertime nightlife has lots to offer.
Like fireflies. Not every state has beetles that light in the night, but Tennessee does and the state is listed first on the Drive the Nation website (www.drivethenation.com) for being among the best states to see fireflies.
The Walnut Street Bridge, Tennessee's oldest non-military highway bridge still in use, is a centerpiece of the city. It connects the riverfront with the North Shore and it's one of the world's longest pedestrian bridges.
And strolling through the Coolidge Park fountains at night can be a fun way to cool off and relieve stress. The fountains operate from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. throughout the summer. By evening, the daytime crowd has usually thinned out. It can be refreshing and freeing to cast all cares aside and take a stroll right through the middle of the fountain.
Contact Yolanda Putman at email@example.com or 423-757-6431.