Labor Day isn’t just the unofficial farewell to summer vacation. For many families, the long holiday weekend in September also represents one last chance for a warm-weather getaway before the busy school year (and fall vacation season’s cooler temperatures) arrive.
If you’re on the lookout for family vacation ideas this Labor Day weekend, consider one of these classic getaways from coast to coast. From New England’s cozy lakes to the wide open skies of the American West, these are the best places to go with kids for one last summer hurrah.
1. Take a Classic New England Lake Vacation
Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire
Surrounded by covered bridges and Norman Rockwell villages, idyllic Lake Sunapee is one of New England’s prettiest lakes. Its spotless beach, a shady grove of picnic tables, and a playground are a hit with families at Mt. Sunapee State Park, where you can also rent kayaks or SUPs at the concession stand for a reasonable fee. The water is at its warmest in late summer, making a Labor Day getaway to this corner of New Hampshire a fine time to splash in the lake.
If you prefer your fun on dry land, nearby Mount Sunapee has mountain biking, mini golf, and a treetop aerial adventure course to keep everyone in the family entertained on your late-summer New England weekend getaway.
Where to Stay with Kids Near Lake Sunapee for Labor Day Weekend
A nostalgic roadside lodge with upscale touches that defy its modest price point, Bluebird Sunapee has an indoor saltwater pool and a game room that add to the Labor Day weekend fun no matter the weather. From the property, it’s a five-minute walk to Mt. Sunapee State Park.
2. Experience the Wild West
Say goodbye to summer at the doorstep to Yellowstone National Park with a visit to Cody. From riverside hiking trails in the Shoshone National Forest to cycling at Beck Lake Bike Park, this Wyoming town suits outdoor enthusiasts to a tee.
Take a deep dive into the history and culture of the Wild West at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Old Town Trail and Museum of the West preserves the frontier lifestyle with authentic buildings and furnishings that allow you to explore a centuries-old lifestyle.
This year marks Yellowstone National Park’s 150th anniversary and Cody is an excellent basecamp for park explorations. June floods caused park closures that prompted a rash of premature cancellations. Now that most park roads and entrances have re-opened, Labor Day visitors can benefit from lighter than usual crowds.
Where to Stay with Kids in Cody for Labor Day Weekend
Best Western Premier Ivy Inn and Suites has comfortable rooms and an indoor pool near Cody’s family-friendly attractions.
3. Surf’s Up on the California Coast
San Diego, California
San Diego’s beaches and family-friendly activities pack a Labor Day weekend getaway punch. Balboa Park is home to the San Diego Zoo, one of the best and biggest in the world, as well as the San Diego Natural History Museum. Gaslamp Quarter is a walkable neighborhood where you’ll find shops, casual eateries, and Petco Park, home of baseball’s Padres.
When it comes to sand and sea, you’ll have your pick of dozens of beaches. Try your luck at fishing or learn to catch a wave in one of the best family vacation spots in the U.S. any time of year.
Where to Stay with Kids in San Diego for Labor Day Weekend
Close to everything the city has to offer, the freshly renovated San Diego Mission Bay Resort will keep the family busy with a pool, tennis courts, and waterfront dining.
4. Immerse Yourself in Interactive History
Boston is so historic you can practically hear Paul Revere’s midnight cry bouncing off the cobblestone. It’s a compact city that’s a delight to explore on foot when the weather is fine, as it often is around Labor Day weekend. And it’s not just a useful launching point for other New England fall getaways—Boston is a worthy Labor Day weekend getaway destination in and of itself.
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A walk along the Freedom Trail sheds light on the city’s pivotal position during the American Revolution as it traverses 16 sites and monuments. Boston’s Black Heritage Trail underlines the history of its thriving 19th century African-American population and the leadership role the community played in the Abolitionist Movement. At the engaging Boston Tea Party Ships and Museums, visitors have the chance to throw tea into the very same body of water where the 1773 Boston Tea Party took place.
Where to Stay with Kids in Boston for Labor Day Weekend
Across the street from the Public Garden, the Four Seasons Hotel Boston treats kids like royalty. They’ll select a gift from the toy wagon and explore secret doorways that lead to a selection of complimentary snacks and beverages.
5. Experience Nature’s Power and Beauty
Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls should impress even jaded teens. For a thrill ride that’s better than a roller coaster, ride the Maid of the Mist, a 30-minute boat tour that right alongside the rushing and spraying water of the impressive falls. Expect to get wet despite the complimentary rain poncho. Later, let the kids stay up late and watch the nightly firework display over the falls, weather permitting.
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For something a little different on your Labor Day weekend getaway, drop by Old Fort Niagara and watch re-enactors recreate battles as you learn about life on the Niagara Frontier during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Where to Stay with Kids Near Niagara Falls for Labor Day Weekend
An eight-minute walk to the falls, Sheraton Niagara Falls has Niagara’s largest indoor pool, a throwback arcade, and the always-popular-with-kids Rainforest Café.
6. Relax and Recharge in Serenity
Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
Lake Tahoe is one of the largest alpine lakes in the world, and while the water is never really warm, late summer is a good time for a refreshing dip. If the water proves too bracing, the lake is a perfect spot to paddle a kayak or SUP.
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This Labor Day weekend getaway spot straddles Nevada and California. The Nevada side has casinos, but it’s easy to avoid the sound of slot machines and focus on the sound of birds chirping as you hike one of the lake’s many peaceful trails.
Where to Stay with Kids Near Lake Tahoe for Labor Day Weekend
Camp Richardson is a historic lakefront resort nestled in nature. It offers an array lodging options, including simple cabins and a campsite.
7. Explore Music City
Nashville’s nickname is Music City for a reason. The new National Museum of African American Music is a don’t-miss attraction. It’s a highly interactive celebration of genres including gospel, hip hop, and blues. You can produce your own original beats or sing with a choir as you explore the power of music.
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The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum takes an immersive dive into what it takes to make a hit record, from songwriting to sound engineering. And along the city’s famed Honky Tonk Highway, kids are welcome to listen to live music before 6:00 p.m. on most nights free of charge.
Where to Stay with Kids in Nashville for Labor Day Weekend
The Westin Nashville‘s downtown location is a short walk to many attractions.
8. Hit the Beach (and Beyond)
With sand as soft as a feather and Gulf waters that are a Crayola shade of blue, Clearwater Beach fits the bill for a Labor Day weekend seaside getaway. An old-fashioned pier and promenade are just right for a breezy stroll.
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When you need a break from the beach, head to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which isn’t just one of the most kid-friendly aquariums in Florida but also one of the best aquariums in the U.S., period. This marine hospital rehabilitates rescued animals from sickness or injury with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat when they are healthy.