Eight great ideas for summer days and nights

pclark@modbee.comJune 20, 2014 

A walker walks his dogs along the Virginia corridor Tuesday afternoon (09-24-13) in downtown Modesto.

ELIAS FUNEZ — The Modesto Bee Buy Photo

You might have thought summer began nearly a month ago with that Memorial Day barbecue you had in your backyard. Or with the first dip you took in the pool. Or with all those Graffiti Summer car shows that have come and gone this month.

Sorry, but no. Summer 2014 didn’t officially begin until today. Seriously. If you don’t believe me, take a look at your calendar.

And, officially, you have until Sept. 23, the first full day of autumn, to enjoy all manner of hot fun in the summertime. But, since a lot of the region’s kids return to school in early August, that pretty much will kill summer’s buzz in what’s really just a few short weeks away. And if that doesn’t do it, Labor Day on Sept. 1 will put an unofficial end to it all.

Don’t waste any more of the season – there are memories to be made. Sure, family vacations will be a big part of that, but plenty of memories, not to mention a lot of fun, can be found right here in the Modesto region, or within a day trip away.

Here are eight things worth considering before summer flies by, some that are date- or time-specific, some that you can do at your own leisure:

•  Beat the heat and listen to some grooves, Sunday-Aug. 24: Take a day trip to the cooler climes of San Francisco for one of this season’s free Stern Grove concerts. Motown legend Smokey Robinson kicks off the concerts Sunday. Other highlights include the Funky Meters on July 13, Rufus Wainwright on July 27 and Brazilian bossa nova star Sergio Mendes on Aug. 17. All shows begin at 2 p.m. at Stern Grove, 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard, San Francisco. See www.sterngrove.org.

•  Get Rad. And red. And blue. And green ... June 29: Color Me Rad is a 5K run that will march through several states and cities across the country throughout the year. It comes to Modesto next weekend. What makes this 5K special? Registered runners show up wearing all white but finish looking like poster children for tie-dye. According to the event Website, there are 3.1 miles of course with stations set up with powder and liquid color just waiting to be tossed and sprayed on runners as they pass. The race starts at John Thurman Field, 601 Neece Drive, with waves beginning at 9 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. Registration is $50 for runners. Others can sign up to be part of the “Color Bomb Squad” that inflicts the rainbows on participants. Or, just show up and watch the colorful fun. For more, see www.colormerad.com.

•  Check out Modesto’s history, Tuesdays-Sundays: It’s going to get hot – no way around it in the Valley. So spend a few hours in a cool place and view some cool old stuff at the McHenry Museum. There are historical displays and exhibits that tell the city’s history, along with photos and paintings. And if you like shopping, there’s a store there, too. Open noon to 4 p.m., 1402 I St., Modesto. See www.mchenrymuseum.org.

•  Walk the (art) walk: July 17, Aug. 21, Sept. 18: Summer evenings can be the perfect setting to enjoy downtown Modesto’s art scene. The Third Thursday Art Walk allows you to check out locally created art while enjoying refreshments and chatting with art lovers and artists. Several businesses and galleries participate in the event, from 5 to 9 p.m. the third Thursday of every month; for a list, see www.modestoartwalk.com. While you’re downtown, check out some of the city’s best dining at the numerous restaurants in the area.

•  Walk the (cruise) walk, anytime you like: The movie “American Graffiti” was inspired by writer/director George Lucas’ boyhood experiences cruising downtown Modesto. The popular cruising loop of the 1950s and 1960s was Ninth and 10th streets between G and K. The Modesto Historic Cruise Route is a walking tour with 25 historic markers set up that tell the story of the people and places that inspired Lucas. For more, see www.modestocruiseroute.com.

•  Walk the (other) walk – or bike it, anytime you want: The paved Virginia Corridor Trailway starts at Bowen Avenue and ends at Stoddard Avenue. According to the city of Modesto Website, there are picnic areas, shade structures, barbecues and gardens along the route. When venturing out on foot or bike, it’s always safest to go in pairs or groups. See www.modestogov.com/prnd/partners/virginia for more.

•  Fly away with antique aircraft, July 23, Aug. 9, Sept. 13: If you have a budding airplane buff in the family, take him or her see some old flying machines at the Modesto Airport. The Commemorative Air Force Central Valley Squadron shows antique aircraft there the second Saturday of every month in Hangar 1, 700 Tioga Drive, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. See www.cafvalleysquadron.org.

•  Get your motor running, Aug. 1-3: The Modesto Grand Prix will bring 350 SuperKart USA racers to Modesto for the Summer Nationals event. The races will be on streets of downtown and plans include big TV screens around the track for spectators, spectator bridges to open viewing areas around the route and a festival built around the race route with live bands and other entertainment, and vendors. Presale tickets are $10 per day; $15 walk-up; free for ages 10 and under. See more at http://modestogp.com.

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