It's the last hoorah, the final farewell to summer before we officially retire our swim gear for sweaters and scarves and trade watermelon daiquiris for pumpkin spice lattes. While relaxation and stress-free fun is ultimately the name of the game for Labor Day weekend, with the onslaught of jetsetters making a mad dash to traditional vacation spots to soak in those last few precious rays, it can easily turn into a weekend filled with kicking yourself for thinking that saving the plan making until the end of August would be a good idea.
Lucky for the procrastinators and general crowd-avoiders out there, we live in a country where the next great underrated Labor Day vacation destination is no more than a hop, skip and a jump away. So before you resign to the idea of an impromptu staycation, shake the dust off your duffel bag, check out this list of eight last-minute escape locales and start packing.
This up-and-coming recreational town in the heart of Texas promises a weekend getaway filled with no end of lakeside activities and honky-tonk Americana. Go rafting or waterskiing in one of the two major rivers, the Comal and Guadalupe, rent a house or condo near the nation's largest water park, the Schlitterbahn, or pull on that favorite summer nightlife outfit you'll be retiring soon and head to town to Texas' oldest dance hall, Gruene Hall. Or, you know, just break out the ol' portable grill and lawn chair and forget time exists on the lake's edge.
If it's the refreshing and rejuvenating experience of the great outdoors you're pining for this Labor Day weekend, there's nowhere like the picturesque landscape of the Midwest to keep you separate from reality for a day or two. Situated among the collection of majestic waterfalls along the Missouri River, the aptly named mountain town is home to more than 40 miles of river, the stunning scenery of Glacier National Park, and all the white water rafting and mountain biking your heart desires.
Heading to the beach for Labor Day may seem like the opposite of a stress-free vacation, but this secluded coastal destination in historic New England is far enough separated from gridlocked southern beaches that you'll wonder why you never thought to venture farther up the eastern coast before. With 17 miles of soft, sandy beaches guarded by coastal bluffs, the horizon's the only limit to the tranquil seaside activities waiting to be taken advantage of. Rent a boat and go sailing, visit the nearby town of New Shoreham, or grill out beachside with a group of friends or family to make this holiday weekend unforgettable.
Forget beaches for a second, and think about holing up in a secluded, furnished log cabin in the middle of the Smoky Mountains, only minutes away from the exciting mountain town Pigeon Point and Dolly Parton's namesake amusement park. Grill out on your back porch overlooking endless miles of trees and sunlight and safely forget that civilization still exists (because we all know that reality will be jarring enough on Tuesday).
While it's quickly replacing the relaxing coastline as a prominent destination for Labor Day jetsetters, the nation's capital is still one of the most affordable and fun-filled options for a long weekend away, especially if you're craving a city adventure rather than hours of sleeping in a hammock. Visitors can enjoy a number of beautiful parks and one-of-a-kind sightseeing, while also enjoying a free concert on Capitol Hill put on by the renowned National Symphony Orchestra.
If you think Laguna Beach is nothing more than an MTV reality show-based party town, you couldn't be more wrong. The 15-foot waves of some of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world are ideal for those of you beach bums looking to ride one last gnarly wave before the cool weather kicks in, while the vibrant artistic community appeals to those looking to experience a little stimulating cultural exposure after a day of lounging around.
Skiing town by winter, amazingly underrated Labor Day destination by summer. Park City, with its stunning mountain scenery, beer gardens and surplus of outdoor activities to take part in, is quickly gaining popularity for its relaxing, vibrant and friendly community. Take part in the annual Miner's Day Parade, a spirit-filled day with no shortage of family-friendly activities that's been occurring in the mountain town for over 130 years.
This historic island near the charming, moss-covered city of Savannah is only inhabited by around 3,000 residents and isn't privy to large crowds. Once inhabited by Native Americans, the vast landscape of white beaches, green grass, blue water and warm temperatures will make you one with nature and away from the hustle and bustle of daily life-and typical Labor Day beach hoards.
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