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Last-Minute Summer Fun: One Day Escapes

Check out our ideas for great close-to-home escapes before the kids head back to school.

Okay...so the first day of school is less than a month away. But who's counting? So what are your plans for these last few weeks before it's time to head back to school? Will you hang out by the public pool or head far away on vacation? If you want to stick close to home, here are three ideas for great one-day getaways. Tell us what you think and what you're planning to do!

1) New York City's High Line has been around for a while now but it remains, quite simply, a fabulous play place above the city. Once an active train line built above the streets of the meatpacking district, the High Line has now been converted for use as a public recreational area. Summer hours took effect on June 1, with the park being open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Relax on the 23rd Street Lawn, enjoy a snack from one of the High Line's food partners, or just take an evening stroll to celebrate the beginning of the summer season. For a full list of walks, tours, stargazing events, and kids' activities, go here. The High Line is located on Manhattan's West Side, from Gansevoort Street in the meatpacking district to West 34th Street between 10th and 11th avenues. For High Line information call 212-500-6035.

2) If you're looking to get wet in the hot weather, one of the best escapes is to go white water rafting—at locations less than two hours away. If you’re going with a big group, book as far in advance as possible. Not only will you get the trip you want, but also substantial discounts apply depending on how many rafters you bring to the party. “Rapids” are classified by grades of difficulty from 1-6. The vast majority of Eastern rivers do not go above Grade 4, and usually commercial trips top out at 3. Anything up to and including class 3 is generally suitable for families with children. Of course, depending on the individuals involved, use your best judgment and speak with the outfitter. Whitewater Challengers (www.whitewaterchallengers.com or 1-800-443-RAFT) offers a wide variety of beautiful trips on the Lehigh River Gorge. No matter which trip you book, plan to be away from home for the entire day. The place is big, and there can be long lines for registration. Also, the boarding site can be a 30-minute bus ride from the registration site. But Whitewater Challengers is a popular option for many people because they offer professional service, fun guides and top-notch equipment. Pocono Whitewater (www.poconowhitewater.com or 1-800-WHITEWATER) offers similar trips, and is located in Jim Thorpe, PA. If you’re a first-timer, Pocono Whitewater offers a very thorough orientation talk, which will put novices at ease. Both operations offer entry-level family-friendly trips (Class 1-2 rapids) as well as slightly more adventurous trips on Dam Release Days when rapids can occasionally run into Class 3.

3) Another great outing is a trip to Mountain Creek Waterpark in Vernon, N.J., which is open daily. As the area's largest waterpark, Mountain Creek offers two dozen different rides, slides and attractions, all nestled into a lovely mountain setting. From the 99-foot drop of the H2-Oh-No speed slide to the whirlwind ride down the Colorado River, Mountain Creek Waterpark is a lot of fun for the entire family.

For other ideas for great family outings, go  Let us know your own ideas in the comments section below or email Teresa.Akersten@patch.com.

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