It’s time to start shopping for backpacks and choosing first-day-of-school outfits. Local pools are starting to close, and you’re probably starting to search for the best area pumpkin patches. But before you break out the sweaters and boots, there are still plenty of great ways to see the summer out. Here are some of the best end-of-the-season shindigs in the region.

renaissance-fair-mdPhoto: Maryland Renaissance Festival via Facebook

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Experience 16th-century England in living color at this annual event that seeps into fall. The story line this year takes you back to 1525, when King Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon visit as part of their summer travels. Expect to see archery demonstrations, acrobatics, comedians, magicians and staged duels. Kids can enjoy children’s activities, free pony rides and a maze. Food and shopping are available, too.

When: Aug. 29-Oct.25
: $8/kids ages 7-15; $19/adults (before Sept. 13, $10 and $24, respectively, after that)

Library of Congress National Book Festival
The 15th annual event features pavilions for children and teens and the Pavilion of the States honoring America, D.C., and U.S. territories. Kids receive a brochure upon arrival, which suggests 52 books for kids to find at the various tents and booths–they get a stamp or sticker when they do. Other activities include arts and crafts and story times with authors.

When: Sept. 5, 10 am
Cost: Free

If you like pop…The Great Zucchini The Great Zucchini Photo: The Great Zucchini 

The Great Zucchini
Say goodbye to the magic of summer with, well, magic. The Great Zucchini, whose simple tricks and silly antics delight kids ages 2 to 6 is the final act of Fairfax County’s Arts in the Park summer series at Mason District Park Amphitheater.

When: Aug. 22, 10 am-11 am
Cost: Free

Star-Spangled Nights Fireworks at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
After a day of riding gravity-defying roller coasters or less scary, “KIDsiderate” options such as the Sesame Street Forest of Fun, including a water playground, visitors can enjoy patriotic pyrotechnics from land or sea–well, waterway, at least, aboard the Rhine River Fireworks Cruise.

Date: Fireworks are Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Sept.6
Cost: $65/kids ages 3-9, $75/person ages 10 and up

beach1-nbmPhoto: Noah Kalina via National Building Museum

The BEACH at the National Building Museum
This architectural simulation of a beach is all the fun with none of the mess–or drive time from this D.C. area. The “water” is made from 1 million recyclable plastic balls, making the ocean into a giant ball pit, complete with shallow and deep ends. Get summertime snacks like s’more pops from Union Kitchen, a food incubator, on the “shore.” No bathing suits required.

When: Through Sept. 7, 10 am-5 pm, Monday-Saturday; 11 am-5 pm, Sunday
Cost: $13/kids 3 through 17; $16/adults

Disney in Concert at Wolf Trap
Let it go, let it go, don’t hold summer back anymore. OK, maybe those aren’t quite the lyrics, but you can make up your own as the Wolf Trap Orchestra plays instrumental versions of your–er, your kids’–fave Disney earworms. Synchronized videos from “Frozen,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King” and more play on huge screens during the performance.

When: Aug. 21, 8 pm
Cost: $25-60


Photo: Washington Nationals via Facebook

Washington Nationals Baseball Game
Take ’em out to the ballgame… See the Nationals play the Phillies at the last home game of the major league season. Hang out afterward to let kids 4 to 12 run the bases. Bonus: First time to Nationals Park? Stop by Guest Services for a First Game Certificate signed by the team’s general manager.

When: Sept. 27, 1:35 pm
Cost: Starting at $15; $15 or $32 for Harris Teeter Family Fun Packs, which include a hot dog, chips and drink

“I’ve Been Readin’ on the Railroad”
Prevent brain drain with trains! Kids who read 10 railroad-related books as part of the Summer Reading Program at the B&O Railroad Museum and the Ellicott City Station will get a free book and a chance to win an engineer’s outfit. To do it, pick up a journal at either location and bring it back completed.

Date: Aug. 24, 10 am-4 pm, Monday-Saturday; 11 am-4 pm, Sunday
Cost: Free

How do you plan on ending the summer with a bang? Tell us in the comments section. 

—Stephanie Kanowitz