Ideas for making the last weekend before school starts memorable

rcopley@herald-leader.comAugust 9, 2012 

Well, that was quick.

Barely two months ago, we were celebrating Memorial Day weekend and a summer vacation that parents of school-age children could, thanks to a mild winter, start on Memorial Day weekend.

The 11 weeks since then seem mercilessly short now. Summer vacation is quickly coming to an end, if it hasn't already.

Fayette County Public Schools start back Wednesday. Several area school districts already are in session.

This is the last weekend of freedom for many, so we, with the help of friends on Facebook and Twitter, offer some suggestions for things to do before school, homework, extracurricular activities and all that other stuff claim your calendar.

Go jump in a lake: Our landlocked state does not have seaside beaches, but a lake getaway is not far away.

Patti Edmon of Lexington suggested this idea after a recent excursion to Lake Cumberland.

"The lake is huge, not that crowded, and the water is fabulous — my version of heaven," she wrote.

Located in six counties in southern Kentucky, Lake Cumberland offers fishing, water sports or simply relaxation. Check out information at Cumberlandlake.com, and check out some of Kentucky's other lakes, which include Cave Run in the Daniel Boone National Forest near Morehead (Caverun.org); Green River in south-central Kentucky near Campbellsville (Greenriverlake.com); or Herrington, 30 minutes south of Lexington, between Nicholasville and Danville (Herringtonmarina.com).

... or climb a mountain: This weekend's forecast sounds downright September-like, with highs in the 70s and 80s and plenty of sunshine. Maybe a hike would be in order.

Lisa Caswell Johnson of Versailles recommends a day of hiking or rappelling at Red River Gorge (Redrivergorge.com) followed by lunch or dinner at Miguel's Pizza and Rock Climbing Shop in Slade (Miguelspizza.com, (606) 663-1975).

Visit (more than) the State Capitol: The Kentucky State Capitol and grounds in Frankfort are among the most beautiful statehouses in the country, unmarred by the urban settings of many capitols. If you've never been to it, check it out.

A visit to Frankfort does not have to stop there. Josephine Sculpture Park (Josephinesculpturepark.org) is quickly raising its profile as an area attraction. The Capital City Blues Festival is 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Ward Oates Amphitheatre (Capitalcitybluesfestival.eventbrite.com); or you could troll and learn about the Kentucky River (Frankfortparksandrec.com/html/events.html). For more on Frankfort, go to Visitfrankfort.com.

Are you not amused? You mean you did not make a pilgrimage to an amusement park this summer? We're not sure that's legal, so to be safe, you might want to get yourself up to Kings Island, north of Cincinnati, for another trip on Diamondback or The Beast. If you want to just spend an evening, admission is $19.72 after 5 p.m. (Visitkingsisland.com).

For something different, try Holiday World Theme Park and Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Ind. It's a two- to three-hour drive from Lexington and features Mammoth, billed as the world's largest water coaster (Holidayworld.com). The park also has free soft drinks and free sunscreen.

See your super friends: You might have heard that a bunch of comic-book superhero movies came out this summer. If you didn't, you must have been training for the Olympics. Movies about Batman, Spider-Man and the one-two-three- ... -seven punch of The Avengers came out this summer, and if you have not seen them, you might not know what everyone is talking about when you get back to school.

The Dark Night Rises, the Batman flick, is playing in first-run theaters. If you missed The Amazing Spider-Man, you will need to plan around Peter Parker's schedule; there are now only a handful of daily showings at Central Kentucky theaters. Among them are 11:30 p.m. weekend shows at Winchester's Sky-Vue Drive In, a cool end-of-summer outing.

If you missed The Avengers, you'll probably have to fake it until the movie hits the dollar theaters or comes out on home video Sept. 25. It's not showing anywhere this weekend.

Speaking of home video: Since the introduction of Betamax, a great way to celebrate school holidays has been marathon viewing of movie or TV series. Spend a day in Middle-earth watching Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings series to psyche up for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of Jackson's three Hobbit movies, expected in theaters Dec. 14, during the holiday break.

Maybe you're more into TV. If you missed History's Hatfields & McCoys, which started the summer by setting basic cable ratings records, it is newly out on DVD and Blu-ray.

Older kids and parents might want to catch up on Breaking Bad, because its fifth and final season just started and it's widely considered the best show on TV right now (and it might make you look at science teachers differently). True Blood is barely into its latest season. With those two, you could have a binge of viewing so you can join the watercooler chats this season. If you're going for multiple days, throw in American Horror Story, which just earned a coffin-full of Emmy nominations.

For something light, how about catching up on Modern Family before it returns this fall?

Retail therapy: If you have any money left after buying all the books, binders, backpacks, clothes and other stuff students need, maybe you'd like to buy yourself something nice.

Study up on two retailers that have announced they're coming to Lexington soon, Anthropologie and Costco, by checking out their regional locations. The Cincinnati area has both.

The hip boutique chain Anthropologie, which has said it will open in The Mall at Lexington Green, is at Kenwood Towne Center, and Costco, which says it will open in Hamburg, has warehouses in Springdale and Deerfield Township.

While at Kenwood, stop at H&M, Nordstrom and The Container Store for lots of cool storage and design ideas, from hampers to desk chairs.

While you're in the Queen City, head north to West Chester for the only Ikea in the region; the Clifton/University of Cincinnati area for the hipster mecca Urban Outfitters, a corporate cousin to Anthropologie; to Monroe for the Cincinnati Premium Outlets (including Coach, The North Face and J. Crew); or Jeffersonville for Tanger Outlets (including Pottery Barn, Banana Republic and White House Black Market).

On the way north from Lexington, stop at The Gap Outlet in Hebron for bargain prices on jeans and basics.

There, now do you feel better about school starting?

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @copiousnotes. Blog: Copiousnotes.bloginky.com.

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