These destinations are fun, quirky, beautiful and curiousity-inducing retreats outside 10 major cities across the country, perfect for last-minute Labor Day weekend adventures. Load up and head to these spots to make new memories with family and friends.
Catalina Island, California: This respite for Angelenos is known for its wildlife, dive sites and natural beauty. According to Where Los Angeles editor Suzanne Ennis, no trip there would be complete without ziplining, a Catalina Casino tour and a trip to the Descanso Beach Club.
Ojai, California: Take a restorative journey to Ojai and rejuvenate the senses. Take some “me” time at Spa Ojai, visit the captivating outdoor bookstore that is Bart’s Books and discover locally produced treasures at the farmers market.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: The state's rich industrial history takes front-and-center in Bethlehem. It was here that Bethlehem Steel opened what became the nation's second-largest steel factory in 1863, and the city still shows off its pride at the SteelStacks, an arts center that was once the steel company's headquarters. The 10-acre site is home to more than 1,000 concerts and eight festivals each year.
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: History buffs can continue their tour of patriotic sites at Valley Forge, which played a significant role during the Revolutionary War—it was the winter encampment for the Continental Army. Tour the brigade huts that served as temporary barracks, pay homage to local hero General "Mad" Anthony Wayne and walk in Washington's footsteps on a self-guided tour (guided tours are also available).
Saugatuck, Michigan: Another spot for beach-lovers, Saugatuck continually finds itself on the “best-of” lists. The city’s beauty has long-inspired artists and supporters of the arts, garnering it the nickname “the art coast of Michigan.”
Racine, Wisconsin: This Wisconsin town on the banks of Lake Michigan is known for its Certified Blue Wave North Beach, designated as clean and safe by the Clean Beach Coalition. Architecture aficionados will delight that Racine is the starting point for the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture trail, which begins at the SC Johnson Administration Building and Tower.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts: About a two and a half hour drive west leads to a mountain escape in the Berkshires. The tallest waterfall in Massachusetts is here, and so are a few summer camps that date back to the turn of the 19th century. The Mass MOCA is one of the largest centers for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States. Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum or spend the day playing in the great outdoors.
Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire: For water fun, head north to the largest lake in New Hampshire. Outdoors adventures include swimming, boating and hiking. The area is the site of both the oldest motorcycle rally and the largest arcade in the country.
Martha’s Vineyard: This island getaway is a classic. Stroll past gingerbread houses to shop the farmers market and ride the country’s oldest carousel. Enjoy the foodie paradise and spend the afternoon spotting celebrities.
Bremerton, Washington: Every year for Labor day weekend Bremerton celebrates blackberries with a large, family-friendly festival. "The historic Bremerton waterfront is dedicated to all things blackberry," said Lara Hale, Where Seattle editor. "You can sample pies, wines and more." There's also the "Beery Fun Run," sidewalk chalk drawing, live music, magic shows and more. A regular shuttle goes back and forth to Bremerton airport where visitors can see vintage cards and planes.
Colorado Springs: Proximity to the towering Rockies and Pikes Peak are a major draw, but Colorado Springs’ Labor Day celebration is crowned with a sky full of hot air balloons. The annual Labor Day Lift Off weekend event draws crowd that's excited to watch the quirky hot air balloons take off.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia: More than 200,000 acres of protected land mean a quiet escape from the bustle of the U.S. capital. Skyline Drive winds along the mountain tops along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mountains views and roadside wildflowers offer stunning scenery. For more adventure, hike to one of the park’s waterfalls or mountain streams.
Annapolis, Maryland: Stroll through a quaint downtown that has as much history as Boston or D.C., tour the Naval Academy and see the historic city by boat. Main Street boasts an eclectic mix of nightlife, history, shopping, art and restaurants, all with a view of Chesapeake Bay.
Eastern Shore, Maryland: The Eastern Shore stretches for nine counties along the Atlantic. Tour NASA’s Wallops Island facility, stroll the bay’s historic district, or step back in time at Frontier Town Campground—catch a Wild West show and visit the Great White Shark Exhibit while you’re there.
Sedona: The drama of the red sandstone formations in the landscape is reason enough to visit Sedona. As the sun sets, the rocks take on a mesmerizing glow that seem to change by the hour. There’s plenty of outdoor adventure, from climbing those gorgeous rocks to whitewater rafting and fishing. Those inclined to be indoors can see Sedona and the nearby Grand Canyon by scenic train ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad.
Flagstaff: This is Arizona’s mountain getaway. The buildings in downtown Flagstaff date to the 1900s, leaving echoes of the city’s pioneer past. Explore museums, Native American culture and the Old West. There’s plenty of Route 66 nostalgia to look for too. Venture out a short way and see the Petrified Forest and explore the area by hiking, biking, skiing or camping.
New York City
“For Labor Day weekend, there is nothing finer than the long stretch of beaches at Jones Beach, the Hamptons and Montauk on Long Island's East End. Or, as New Jerseyans say ‘down by the shore’ on New Jersey’s southeast coast,” said Lois Levine, Where IN New York editor. “Both areas are easily accessible via Long Island Rail Road or New Jersey Transit out of Penn Station in Midtown.”
Lake Lewisville: Take the boat out at this local lake just 30 to 40 minutes from Dallas. Boating, birding, fishing and golf are just a few of the things to do around the lake with family and friends.
Broken Bow, Oklahoma: According to Jaimie Siegle, Where Texas regional editor, Broken Bow might sound like a surprising Labor Day hideaway but it's well worth the three-hour drive. Largemouth bass fishing and hiking are ways to take in the beautiful surroundings but there's also indoor entertainment at Choctaw Casino.