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Weekend Fun Guide

My perfect summer day by Ken Burns, Skip Gates, and more

Howard Dean, Ken Burns, Wally Lamb, and other natives or adopted New Englanders on their favorite summertime pursuits.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

HOWARD DEAN’S VERMONT

  • I live in Vermont because of the outdoors. It’s all about camping, state parks, canoeing, sailing Lake Champlain, and the occasional old-time county fair.

  • The best hike in the state is up Camel’s Hump. It’s totally unspoiled — like being in the wilderness when you get to the top. Mount Abraham is another terrific hike. It’s near Bristol, a lovely little town that has the biggest swimming hole in Vermont and a great restaurant called Mary’s. You can go to Mary’s Restaurant for Sunday brunch, go hiking, then, on a hot day, stop for a swim in the ice-cold water.

  • Another favorite is to rent a day sailer at Lake Champlain and stop on some of the islands — though a few of them are protected bird preserves — or bike a path on Grand Isle and stop and get a creemee at Allenholm Farm in South Hero. They have the best maple creemee in the state.

  • Howard Dean is the founder of Democracy for America, which recently launched YouPower, an online platform for grass-roots organizing.


Cable Risdon

KEN BURNS’S NEW HAMPSHIRE

  • There’s no contest for my favorite summer day in New Hampshire. I have a house on Lake Sunapee, and the Fourth of July has become a really important ritual of being with family and friends. We collect a lot of people there on the front porch, and I stand on a picnic table and read the Declaration of Independence every single year. Then at night we line the dock with flares and float out in the boat to bob like water bugs and watch the fireworks. Whether you’re from a red or blue state, black or white, gay or straight, male or female, rich or poor, or from the North, South, East, or West, on July Fourth we’re all connected. That’s why I torture my children every year by making them listen to the Declaration, which has the second greatest sentence in the English language: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

  • The first is “I love you.”

  • Ken Burns’s The Roosevelts: An Intimate History will air on PBS in 2014; he’s at work on a multi-episode series about the Vietnam War.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images

HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.’S MASSACHUSETTS

  • I love Martha’s Vineyard in summer. My family and I started going out there in 1981 and I fell in love with it immediately. We lease a house on the outskirts of Oak Bluffs. Every July 1 my car’s on the ferry, and on Labor Day I come back. It marks the end of the academic year and the beginning of a time of reunion and reflection and recreation.

  • I’ve set up the dining room as my study, which looks down a long driveway to the ocean and a little private beach across the road. Every day I get up, have coffee, and write there till noon, then go to the gym, run errands, maybe go to the beach. Then, in August, my dear friend and colleague Larry Bobo shows up with his bicycle at 3 o’clock. I have a tricycle and we ride 16 miles every day. I do it alone in July, though sometimes my daughters will humor me and go along. Then we go out in the evening for dinner. This is my ritual, and it’s heaven for me. I totally relax on Martha’s Vineyard. I just can’t imagine my life without it.

  • Henry Louis Gates Jr. is executive producer and host of Finding Your Roots on PBS. His new series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, will premiere in October.

Janet Knott/Globe Staff

WALLY LAMB’S CONNECTICUT

  • With every summer comes rainy days, and on those I often go to a really wonderful undiscovered jewel of art and history and culture in my hometown of Norwich. I’m a graduate of Norwich Free Academy, a public high school whose Slater Museum is one of only two museums in the country on a high school campus.

  • It has a stunning cast gallery of Greek, Roman, and Renaissance statues, which nurtured my early interest in mythology.

  • I love both the solitude and the community of the museum. Both as a teacher and as a student I would go over with classes, but I also spent a fair amount of time there on my own. My family was lower middle class and not worldly at all, so it was a ticket into the world for a very local kid. It made me long to understand not only other places in the world but also other eras, other times.

  • Wally Lamb’s newest book, We Are Water, will be released in October. He’s currently working on his first stage play.

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

OLIVIA CULPO’S RHODE ISLAND

  • Like many other New Englanders, my favorite day in the summer is a beach day. My favorite beach is Narragansett, where I go a few times a year with my two sisters, two brothers, and mom and dad.

  • We pack snacks and stop for wraps and sandwiches at the Picnic Basket in Narragansett, then get a Del’s lemonade from a truck at the beach. Then around 5 o’clock or so, we pack up to go to Iggy’s Doughboys & Chowderhouse for clam cakes and chowder. Iggy’s is the best. We sit in our beach clothes — a little sandy but it’s always worth it.

  • Sometimes we’ll stop at Brickley’s for a homemade ice cream. This story is all about food, but people who come to Rhode Island need to know about these places. And any time we can set aside to be with each other as a family and do our favorite things from childhood is always a special time.

  • Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo will appear at the Miss USA competition, to be held June 16 in Las Vegas and broadcast on NBC.

ABC

JOAN LUNDEN’S MAINE

  • Connecticut is our residence for nine months out of the year, but when summer rolls around, my husband, Jeff Konigsberg, and I pack up and go to Maine, where he runs summer camps for boys and girls.

  • We live on Long Lake next to Camp Takajo. It’s a magical place where we can truly escape the hustle and bustle of real life and escape technology. The whole place inspires physical activity and a more healthy lifestyle.

  • Every August I host Camp Reveille for women at Takajo. It’s just been more than I could have dreamed, to bring these women up to Maine and share the beauty of the lake sparkling like a mirror and the smell of the pines. Something happens to you when you’re up there; you just take that extra breath. At the end of every summer I’m my happiest, healthiest, most emotionally centered calm self.

  • Joan Lunden is the founding director of Camp Reveille for women.

  • Send comments to magazine@globe.com.

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