Even though fall won’t start for a few weeks after it, Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer for most. Celebrate an awesome summer of fun by closing out the season with a worthy getaway. Schedule an extra vacation day now and make the most of the long weekend by booking a trip to one of these best Labor Day destinations for 2017.
Oregon’s often-overlooked capital makes for one of the best Labor Day destinations for its outdoor offerings and family activities. Salem is less than an hour’s drive from Portland, and you can rent a car or take a train or bus between the two cities. Don’t miss the Enchanted Forest Theme Park for kids of all ages, or explore Riverfront Park along the Willamette River. Labor Day weekend also brings the Oregon State Fair to town, featuring a full music line-up, carnival and friendly competitions.
Pro tip: Salem is an affordable Labor Day destination this year for East Coasters as well, with round-trip flights from New York City to Portland just over $400 round-trip for the long weekend.
Spend your Labor Day weekend outdoors with a Northeast escape to Stowe. Typically known for its fall foliage and winter sports, Stowe is one of the best Labor Day destinations because you’ll beat the crowds and enjoy ideal weather. Whether it’s for a hike to a swimming hole or a mountain biking and brewery tour, you’re going to want an extra day in the Green Mountains.
Pro tip: Book a stay with Topnotch Resort at the foot of Mount Mansfield, and enjoy the property’s onsite restaurants, outdoor pools, spa and tennis courts. If you want to leave the resort, there’s a complimentary shuttle that can take you the five minutes into town. Or, ask the staff to suggest hiking trails or to help you rent bikes at the rental shop across the street.
SANTA BARBARA, CALIF.
Hit the West Coast this Labor Day for the perfect mix of city and beach. From State Street’s shops, cafes and galleries to beach volleyball on East Beach, Santa Barbara is one of the best places to go for Labor Day for a mini-vacation. Whether you’re traveling from the East or West Coast, you’ll appreciate the extra day for more beach time. Book a surf lesson if you’re feeling adventurous.
Pro tip: Stay in the trendy downtown Funk Zone neighborhood at The Wayfarer, a boutique hostel. You’ll save some money for all the shopping and beer-drinking you’ll do, and maybe meet some other friendly travelers along the way.
Cape Cod is one of the most popular summer spots on the East Coast, so if you’re wondering where to go for Labor Day to close out summer, P-Town is for you. Located at the very tip of Cape Cod, you can take a 90-minute commuter ferry from downtown Boston. From seafood to the town’s famous White Party — held annually on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend — P-Town is one giant party for the summer’s final long weekend.
Pro tip: Rent a vacation home on the beach for your family and friends to enjoy some peace and quiet outside of the downtown area.
HILTON HEAD, S.C.
With hot weather and most kids back in school, Hilton Head is one of the best places to go for Labor Day for fewer crowds and better beach weather. Close out the summer with a day at Folly Beach or Coligny Beach, and then enjoy some live music at the Hilton Head Distillery‘s Friday Night Flight series. The Second City, the famed Chicagoan comedy troupe, is in town Labor Day weekend this year at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.
Pro tip: Hit the road and check out up-and-coming Savannah. Just a 45-minute drive from Hilton Head, the Georgian city has restaurants worth the drive, like B’s Cracklin’ BBQ and Atlantic.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.
For one of the best Labor Day destinations from New York City, head to Saratoga Springs. About a 3.5-hour drive or one-hour flight into Albany, you can watch the last horse races of the season at Saratoga Racecourse and round out the weekend at the nearby Polo Club for a polo match. If horseracing isn’t for you, spend some time outdoors at Saratoga Spa State Park or relax in the historic bathhouse, Roosevelt Baths and Spa. Labor Day weekend also brings Final Stretch Music Festival, featuring free, live music downtown.
Pro tip: Stay at one of the historic inns downtown for a more authentic experience, or the Saratoga Casino Hotel if you’re planning on hitting the track (and the slots).
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA
For an international getaway this Labor Day, head to Prince Edward Island in Canada. A 75-minute mini cruise from Caribou, Nova Scotia, will bring you to this remote island for a relaxing long weekend. Or, you can fly directly into Charlottetown on the island — but no matter how you get there, the views, hikes and beaches are well worth the trip. Labor Day weekend kicks off the Fall Flavours Festival — events include a deep-sea fishing expedition, mussel and lobster shore boil, and a Charlottetown food tour.
Pro tip: Flights are around $400 round-trip into Charlottetown for the weekend from East Coast cities like Boston and New York. To make it a longer trip, stay overnight in Montreal, which has direct flights under two hours.
KELLEYS ISLAND, OHIO
For some Midwestern lake fun, book a trip to Kelleys Island this Labor Day weekend. The ferry dock serving Kelleys Island is only a 1.5-hour drive from Cleveland, and then you’re just a 20-minute ride away from relaxation on Lake Erie. Rent bikes, kayaks or a boat to enjoy some time on the water. Or, hike through the island’s state park, located on the northwestern side of the island.
Pro tip: Kelleys Island is one of the best Labor Day destinations if you’re on a budget this year. Flights into Cleveland are under $250 round-trip from New York City, and the ferry dock is driving distance from major Midwestern cities like Ann Arbor and Detroit.
If you want to hit a national park this Labor Day weekend, the timing is perfect for Arches National Park in Moab. Use the extra day of the weekend to explore the quirky town of Moab’s brew pubs and swimming holes. The closest airport — Grand Junction, Colo. — is about a 90-minute drive away, so you’ll want to rent a car. You can also rent mountain bikes or four-wheelers to explore the park on your own. Don’t be afraid to stay past sunset for stargazing that’s out of this world.
Pro tip: Drive to the farthest part of the park as early as possible to avoid the crowds that start at the park’s entrance.
Note: The campground inside the park (Devil’s Garden) is closed for construction through November.
For an urban destination, visit the nation’s capital and enjoy an extra day of museums and monuments. City events for the weekend include the free Labor Day Capitol Concert, which kicks off the Kennedy Center’s performing arts season. Enjoy the still-warm weather on the Potomac River by renting a boat or kayak from one of the many rental centers in Georgetown.
Pro tip: The Kimpton Mason & Rook hotel, located downtown and close to Logan Circle, boasts a rooftop pool, bar and lounge to soak up the last of your summer days. Book the “Summer Weekends in the Capital” package for extra savings.