Making plans? Short on ideas? No worries. See June Wulff and and Milva DiDomizio's picks for the top things to do around the Hub this weekend. Now get out and go to it!
Happy trails: If you don’t already know that Essex County has a lot to offer, now is a good time to find out. Trails & Sails: Two Weekends of Walks and Water features more than a hundred events including the Coastsweep Carnival, a waterfront festival in Lynn, a Spirit of ‘76 walking tour, a ride on an 1812 schooner replica, and Civil War-era baseball. Get an Essex Heritage passport to stamp as you hike, bike, paddle, stroll, and sail your way through the offerings. Sept. 16-18 and 23-25. Free. Full schedule of events, times, and locations on website. 978-740-0444, www.trailsandsails.org
Can you canoe? Sailboat? Kayak? Yacht? Find your new water toy at the Newport International Boat Show, featuring little boats (eight feet) all the way up to very big boats (82 feet). The event includes more than 750 exhibitors, 600 plus boats, equipment, demonstrations, and workshops. Sept. 15-17, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 18, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $18-$27 per day, $3 second day, under 12 free. Along America’s Cup Avenue, Newport, RI. 401-846-1115, www.newportboatshow.com
Open for business: Once upon a time there was a South End without gentrification, lofts, and renovated warehouses. The neighborhood had artists, for sure, and this weekend is the 25th anniversary of South End Open Studios. Sept. 17 and 18 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Maps at Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St. and at the corner of Wareham and Harrison streets, Boston. www.useaboston.com
A Cinderella story: How much would you bid for a firefighter, a member of the Coast Guard, police officer, or other eligible man or woman? At the Project Smile Charity Date Auction, ladies with the winning bids receive a pair of high heels from their bachelors. (Do the winning guys get anything?) 6:30-9 p.m. $17 (includes gift bag). 21+. Gypsy Bar, 116 Boylston St., Boston. 508-634-0203. www.projectsmile.org/events.htm
Homeland pride: Celebrate Serbia with a brass band, folk dancing, a video about the country, children’s activities, and lots of Serbian fare at Serbfest 2011. Sept. 17, noon-10 p.m. Sept. 18, noon-6 p.m. Free admission. Rain or shine. St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church of Boston, 41 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge. 617-674-4035, www.stsavaboston.org
Putting on the squeeze: We never met an accordion joke we didn’t hate, so we’re glad to see the Somerville Arts Council get behind the oft-maligned instrument with the first Boston area Squeezebox Slam. Six performers bring their accordions to bear on klezmer (Michael McLaughlin), Cape Verdean music (Joao Cerilo), Bulgarian music (Plamen Karadonev), Mariachi (Mariachi Estampa de America), tango (Roberto Cassan), and circus music (Peter Bufano and Cirkestra). Best of all may be the Big Stroll, a gathering of squeezable instrument players appearing flash mob style around the city. Sept. 17, 3-6 p.m. concert in Union Square Plaza, Somerville. Squeezebox slams noon-3 p.m., all with accordions /concertinas are welcome, locations available on their Facebook page. Free. www.somervilleartscouncil.org
Clowning around: On YouTube, we watched Avner the Eccentric balance a peacock feather on his nose, make a glass of wine appear out of a napkin, and carry a ladder on his chin. The recent inductee into the International Clown Hall of Fame brings his new show, “Exceptions to Gravity,” to the area. Sept. 17, 8 p.m. $22-$25. Amazing Things Arts Center, 160 Hollis St., Framingham. 508-405-2787, www.amazingthings.org
Water works: What’s new under the sea? Find out at Pioneering New Ocean Science Frontiers, a day devoted to cutting-edge ocean technologies. Scientists and engineers will be on hand with the latest in marine science. Sept. 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford. 508-289-2252, www.oceanobservatories.org
Grow your own mushrooms: We love mushrooms, but picking them ourselves is scary, and the best kinds are expensive. Here’s a DIY solution -- a workshop that covers gourmet and medicinal mushrooms including shiitake, oyster, reishi, and lion’s mane, and teaches how to cultivate them. Mushroom spawn to take home and get started is provided. Sept. 18, 4-6 p.m. $35. Southwest Corridor Community Garden, corner of Lamartine and Hoffman St., Jamaica Plain. 617-913-0538, www.nofamass.org
Simply the hits: A musical history of Texas-bred country and pop/rock band Lonestar is on its latest release, “Simply the Hits." Tracks include “Amazed," “Come Cryin’ to Me," and "No News." Lonestar follows opener Ayla Brown. Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. $30-$42.50. Indian Ranch, 200 Gore Road, Webster. 800-745-3000. www.ticketmaster.com
Stephanie Callahan is a native Bostonian who loves cooking, traveling, spa treatments, and being on the ocean.
Meghan Colloton is a Bostonian who loves traveling, channeling her inner Julia Child, and trying weird things -- from food to bungee jumping.
Milva DiDomizio is a New England native who's fond of cooking, singing, and Boston's arts and culture scene.
Rachel Raczka is a Bostonian who enjoys buttercream frosting, gin cocktails, and conquering cobblestone streets in high heels.
Emily Sweeney is a Boston native who goes out all over, from Irish pubs in Southie to the roller rink in Dorchester.
Emily Wright is a native Cape Codder who enjoys exercising, baking, and the occasional guilty pleasure action movie.