Summer doesn’t officially end until Sept. 21. But ask any parent or student, and they will tell you the real end of summer comes when that first school bell tolls.
For most of us, the start of the new school year comes next week. That means we in Western New York have just a few precious days to enjoy the glory of summer.
Knowing family budgets are as limited as our summer sun, we’ve come up with a list of 10 free or cheap things to fill your days before the season is through.
1. Hit Delaware Park to catch the last of the “Movies in the Meadow,” presented by the Parkside Community Association.
Pack some snacks and settle in on the grass for a free outdoor screening of the Mel Brooks classic “Young Frankenstein” at 8 p.m., or arrive early for live music starting at 5:30.
Movies are shown in front of Parkside lodge near Parkside and Florence avenues.
2. Take a trip to a pick-your-own “U-Pick” farm. Get the kids outside and in touch with where their food comes from by having them pick bushels of fresh-grown food, such as blackberries, red raspberries and corn.
The adventure is free, just pay for what you pick. You’ll find kids are more likely to eat fresh fruits and veggies that they’ve picked themselves.
Visit www.pickyourown.org/nywest.htm to find a farm. Just be sure to call ahead for hours and to see what’s in season. You may also want to bring cash, since many farms don’t accept credit cards.
3. Old Falls Street’s Kids’ Club, 101 Old Falls St. in Niagara Falls, will hold its last free kids’ workshop events from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Kids will play educational games and do educational activities, projects and crafts.
Return to Old Falls Street at 9 p.m. Thursday to see a free outdoor screening of “E.T.”
Visit the Key Bank at 2407 Pine Ave. in Niagara Falls in advance to pick up a coupon for free popcorn to enjoy during the show. For more information, call 278-2100.
4. The Thursday at the Harbor outdoor concert series may be wrapped up, but M&T Bank’s Plaza Event Series will be serving up free live musical performances today through Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at One M&T Plaza on Main Street at North Division Street.
This week’s bands, in chronological order, are Unity Band, McCarthyizm, Taylor Made Jazz, Rod Nickson Trio and the Lance Diamond Show. For more information, visit BuffaloPlace.com.
5. East Aurora’s Explore & More Children’s Museum will be hosting its last free summer program from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday at Canalside, 1 Marine Drive in Buffalo.
“Transportation to the Nation” will offer a slew of activities focused around movement and transportation.
Kids will create an old-fashioned “spool car,” cars made from old thread spools that can be wound to propel themselves. You can also venture to the museum itself (300 Gleed Ave., East Aurora) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday for WOW Wednesday.
Kids will do educational activities, such as make their own play dough. The workshop is free to members or free with $5 admission to the museum. For more information, call 655-5131.
6. The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, 180 Thompson St. in North Tonawanda, has free admission from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Tour the museum and see elaborately carved carousel animals and a historic collection of Wurlitzer band organ music rolls. Top if off with a carousel ride for just 50 cents. Call 693-1885 for more information.
7. At Forest Lawn Cemetery, 1411 Delaware Ave., you can visit the graves of such diverse and storied historical figures as Seneca Indian chief Red Jacket, President Millard Fillmore and musician Rick James while taking in the stunning sculptures, artful landscaping and peaceful Mirror Lake.
Guided walking and trolley tours run through Friday with prices starting at $10. But you can always grab a map in the office and direct yourself for free. Call 885-1600 for more information.
8. Rent a watercraft. BFLO Harbor Kayak (call 228-9153) rents kayaks at Canalside starting at $15 per hour and paddle boards starting at $30 an hour. Waterbike Adventures at Niagara and Young streets in the City of Tonawanda (call 316-3905) rents pedal-propelled floating bicycles on the Erie Canal starting at $6 for 30 minutes. At Paths, Peaks and Paddles on Ellicott Creek Road in Tonawanda (call 213-0350), you can get a two-day canoe rental for $35 or a two-day kayak rental starting at $45. Or stow away on a sailboat at 6 p.m. Friday for $25 per person at Seven Seas Sailing Center, 284 Fuhrmann Blvd. (call 880-5154).
9. Head to Coca-Cola Field, 275 Washington St., for a Bisons baseball game. There are two home games left in the season: at 7:05 tonight and 6:05 p.m. Tuesday, both against the Rochester Red Wings.
Since today is part of its Markdown Mondays promotion, you can get a ticket for any seat in the stadium at just $7 in advance or $8 at the door. Popcorn and ice cream are also available for just $1 each.
Tuesday’s seats are priced from $8.50 to $10.50. Call 843-4373 for more information.
10. Dive into the science of boogers and burps at the Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, with “Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body.”
The completely interactive exhibit, which lets kids slide down a digestive tract and climb a wall of skin blemishes, ends on Labor Day.
Admission is free to members, $9 for adults, $8 for seniors 62 and older, and $7 for kids age 2 to 17. For more information, call 896-5200.