Tuesday could have been like any other summer day at Golf N' Stuff in Ventura, as kids of all ages bounded from miniature golf to bumper boats to Indy cars.
But for many of the youngsters, the day marked the last hours of freedom before the dawn of the school year.
School resumes today for the majority of students in the county, including those in Ventura, Camarillo, Simi Valley, Moorpark and Oak Park.
While many children cringed at the thought of alarm clocks and homework, others expressed some eagerness.
"I'm sort of looking forward to going back to school," said 11-year-old Elizabeth Abate of Oak Park. "I've had a lot of fun this summer, but I'm really excited about seeing all of my friends again."
Elizabeth's twin sister, Emily, was a little less enthusiastic about starting seventh grade at Medea Creek Middle School.
"I guess I want to go back, but I really want to keep sleeping in, too," said Emily as she played miniature golf with her sister, father and younger brother, who is starting kindergarten at Brookside Elementary School.
Six-year-old John Abate could only vigorously shake his head "No!" when asked if he was excited about starting school.
"He may not be excited, but their mother sure is," the children's father, Paul Abate, said with a laugh.
Across the course, the girls in the Farzaneh family chatted excitedly about starting school today.
With parents in tow, 6-year-old Kayla, 5-year-old Megan and 2-year-old Taylor were spending their last day of summer with a first-time crack at miniature golf.
"I get to go to school!" exclaimed Megan, who will be at Brookside in Oak Park.
Kayla said she also was excited about starting first grade at Brookside, but expressed some concern over the school's vacation policy.
"One thing I'm not going to like about school is that they won't let you get out of school for vacation, so I'm going to miss my cousin's birthday party in Las Vegas," she said. "But we've done all kinds of fun things this summer, like going to Disneyland."
Westlake High School freshmen Adam Hickman and Max Wellman were among the older youths at the popular Ventura hangout Tuesday.
After spending their summers vacationing in Hawaii, Palm Springs, Chicago and San Diego, the best friends chose to spend their second-to-last day of freedom a bit closer to home, which is Westlake for Adam and Newbury Park for Max.
"We've done everything there is to do in Westlake--and there isn't much to do except go to the movies," said 14-year-old Adam, an aspiring golfer who wanted to hone his putting skills.
While Max has to be on the football field for practice at 7 a.m. today, Adam said he planned on sleeping in and doing nothing all day in preparation for Thursday's start at Westlake High School.
"I've had a fun summer, but I guess it's time to go back," Adam said with a shrug.
While Golf N' Stuff was packed with people enjoying the sun and games, it was a little less crowded at Marina Park in Ventura.
That suited JoAnn Callahan of Ventura just fine as she watched granddaughters Lexie and Nikki Sather and Amy Harris playing in the sand.
"My friend was visiting, so I thought we'd bring the girls out for some fun before they started school," Callahan said. "It's nice that it's not too crowded."
For 6-year-old Lexie, 5-year-old Nikki and 8-year-old Amy, it was all business as they studiously built sand castles by the water.
After talking about a summer filled with trips to a science museum in Berkeley, the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas and Lazerstar in Oxnard, all three girls said they were ready to go back to school.
"I really like school," said Lexie, a second-grader at Poinsettia Elementary in Ventura. "Math is my favorite. Plus I like seeing my friends."
East county kids were doing their best to enjoy summer's waning days as well.
Eleven-year-olds Ben Wilson of Simi Valley and Blake Warnick of Carlsbad spent Ben's last day of freedom skateboarding on the sidewalks of an outdoor shopping center on Tapo Canyon Road--and thinking about how much they would miss hanging out.
Peering into the deserted box office of a theater Tuesday morning, they thought they might catch a movie, perhaps the surfing flick "Blue Crush." Or maybe they would just skate around. All they knew for sure was the clock was ticking toward the start of school today.
"Summer should be longer," said Ben, who starts sixth grade at Sinaloa Middle School in Simi Valley.
His friend Blake, who has another week to go before school starts, tried to offer some words of encouragement.
"They don't give you homework on the first day of school," he told Ben, who nodded in agreement.
If anyone welcomes the start of school, it is parents, who will be liberated from the burden of keeping their easily bored children occupied on long summer days.
"I'm glad for them to go back," said Sue Ives, whose 15-year-old daughter, Kelly, starts 10th grade today at Simi Valley High School. "I've been driving kids back and forth from activities all summer."
Ives sat on the bleachers at Rancho Santa Susana Community Park in Simi Valley as Kelly, a starting pitcher on the school's junior varsity softball team, took a private pitching lesson from a softball coach.
But Ives knew her driving services were not quite exhausted: "She wants to go to the beach. Of course I'm going to take her--it's her last day of summer."
Staff writer Amanda Covarrubias contributed to this report.