If you haven’t yet planned a trip for Labor Day, don’t despair. You still have plenty of options. Whether you’re craving a quiet day on a pink-sand beach or a hypnotizing zip down a mountain, you’re only a flight, car, or train ride away from an excellent Labor Day weekend getaway.
To lessen the hassle of planning, Kristiana Choquet, a luxury travel advisor with Ovation Vacations in New York, suggests deciding what to do from the outset. Would you prefer to fly or stay closer to home? Paraglide or scarf down lobster rolls? “That helps narrow down options,” she said, and will make your life infinitely easier.
Also helpful? Keeping your budget in mind. A weekend of spa treatments may sound sweet, but not if your wallet can’t take it. To that end, keep a lookout for last-minute getaway deals and stay local to help cut down on travel time.
Here are 10 last-minute Labor Day weekend ideas you’re sure to love.
This pink-sand destination is “fantastic for families,” said Choquet, and super accessible for those on the East (flights from New York City clock in at about two and a half hours). Explore the charming island by bike — ask for a non-motorized “pedal bike,” which is safer than a moped — and hit the Bermuda Railway, which follows an old 22-mile-long railway.
South Carolina Lowcountry
This coastal stretch of South Carolina is teeming with natural beauty and mouthwatering food, says Choquet. Suck down a raspberry milkshake at Husk, then pay a visit to Angel Oak, a 65-foot live oak tree that’s around 300 years old. For accommodation, Choquet likes Montage Palmetto Bluff, an “amazing getaway” set on 20,000 acres with tons of family-friendly activities like lawn games, scavenger hunts and nature trails.
Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
The famous estuary is the ultimate New England escape, says Choquet. Wander around historic Chestertown or catch a passenger-only ferry to Smith Island, where you can hear old-timey Elizabethan accents and devour Smith Island Cake (the state dessert). Choquet suggests staying at the pet-friendly Hyatt Regency, equipped with an indoor pool and River Marsh Marina.
Newport, Rhode Island
On the Classic Coast, families can choose their own beach adventure, from the rocky shoreline of Cliff Walk to peaceful Gooseberry Beach. Outdoorsy types can head to Surfer’s End on Sachuest Beach for kayaking and kite flying, while Third Beach is set in a sleepy cove, making it perfect for curling up with a book.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Tucked on the northeastern side of Mount Desert Island, this tiny seaside resort packs an adventurous punch, says Jetset World Travel advisor Julia Davis. Pick out the “Mainer” accents, revel in the coastal beauty — the rocky shores of the Schoodic Region in Acadia National Park are perfect for wandering — and feast on the best lobster rolls in North America.
Park the family at the picture-esque Brush Creek Ranch, just 20 miles southeast of historic Saratoga. Beyond the stunning views of the Sierra Madre and Snowy Mountain ranges, you’ll find plenty to do, says Davis, from horseback riding to fly fishing to shooting sports and hiking. Be sure to carve out time for yoga overlooking the Platte River Valley.
Santa Barbara, California
The perfect jump-off point for a day trip to Ojai or Solvang, Santa Barbara “feels worlds away from it all but is easily accessible,” said Davis. Here you can happily plop yourself at the beach or check out attractions like Casa del Herrero, a stunning example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. Hungry? Eat (and drink) your way through downtown on a Taste Santa Barbara Food Tour.
If the mountains are calling your name, head to Aspen for live music (Jazz Aspen Snowmass happens Labor Day weekend), and a tour of the colorful Maroon Bells mountains. For the truly adventurous, there’s Aspen Paragliding, which can help you tick tandem jumping off your bucket list.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
This classic getaway offers plenty of natural wonders for kids and parents alike, says Davis: The Original Butterfly House and Insect World, whose tropical garden is home to hundreds of specimens from four continents and Fort Mackinac, where the past comes to life with the clang of an anvil. Watch for a rare glimpse of a beaver family on Loop 3 of the Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park.
Montauk, New York
New York’s most eastern point isn’t just about the beach, although you can blissfully spend the day building sandcastles at nearby Hither Hills State Park. Other must-dos on Davis’ list include renting boats by the hour at Uihlein’s Marina and hitting Lake Montauk for water skiing; burning off energy at the playground at Hank Zebrowski Park and sampling the retro frozen treats at John’s Drive-In.