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Last-minute Labor Day ideas for the whole family

Picnic on Georges Island.
Picnic on Georges Island.Boston Harbor Islands

The end of summer 2019 feels painfully imminent. While summer doesn’t technically end until Sept. 23, the cooler air and kids heading back to school means fall is upon us, like it or not. Also suddenly here? Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer. And maybe you’ve been too busy making runs for supplies and those crucial first-day-of-school sneakers to plan a getaway this weekend, the family or crew are burned out from a busy summer, and you just want to keep it local. If that’s the case, here are some ideas for a fun weekend.

Go look at some art

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICAboston.org) in the Seaport is offering free admission all day on Labor Day, including first come, first served water taxi trips over to East Boston for their summer installation, the ICA Watershed. Experience the whimsy of artist Nick Cave at the Cyclorama in the South End (bcaonline.org), where an installation of giant, exuberant balloons is open free to the public through the holiday weekend.

Also open all weekend, including Monday, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum with adult admission only $15 and children under 18 free, is still one of the best deals in town. Get tickets in advance at GardnerMuseum.org. Head 20 minutes out of the city to Lincoln, and experience the outsize installations at DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (DeCordova.org for tickets), currently hosting the New England Biennial 2019, is $14 for adults, and kids under 12 are free.

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Keep little hands and minds busy

Kings Dining & Entertainment is offering Disney trivia for families on Labor Day from 4 to 6 p.m., and for older kids and adults from 7 to 9 p.m. at their suburban locations. Reserve a spot at Kings-de.com. And, on Labor Day, kids who bring in a receipt for school supplies can bowl for only $2. Joe’s American Bar & Grill on Newbury Street and Commercial Wharf is hosting a Back to School Book Swap starting this weekend. Just bring in a children’s book from home to add to Joe’s pop-up library, and your child can swap for a new-to-them book, and they’ll get a free kids meal. The Boston Children’s Museum and the New England Aquarium are both open regular hours.

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Eat and drink your way through the city

Kids of all ages and parents can usually agree on one thing – playing with food is fun. And so is making your own. The Trustees, along with the Boston Public Market, offers family friendly pasta making classes led by Chef Avery of Law of Pasta. Tickets are available at TheTrustees.org, and classes take place at the Market. Or take the gang on an educational eating tour of the North End, Back Bay, and Beacon Hill with a local tour guide like Boston Foodie Tours (buy tickets at BostonFoodieTours.com).

Trillium’s locations in Fort Point and Canton will be open regular hours all weekend, with Fort Point planning to open the roof all day for Labor Day. Kiss summer goodbye with a frozen beer (called a Foamy Freeze) and the latest release of Party Pump (a corn lager). Fort Point’s Lawn on D is open and hosting a Labor Day weekend party on Saturday and Sunday with food, drinks, and lawn games.

Head to the islands

Just because you missed the last Cape Air flight doesn’t mean you can’t hit an island this weekend. Boston Harbor Islands are open all weekend, take a ferry out for a beach day, or tour a historic fort. You’ll find the ferry schedule at BostonHarborIslands.org. One can’t miss — on Sunday, find your chill at Jazz on the Porch on Spectacle Island, which features up and coming musicians from Berklee College of Music from 2 to 5 p.m.

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Free parking in Boston! Free parking in Boston!

A reminder that parking on Monday, Sept. 2, follows Sunday parking rules, which means free parking in every neighborhood in Boston, which makes jaunting around town a little easier and cheaper.


Tanya Edwards can be reached at edwardstanyalynn@gmail.com.