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Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick, Maine
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The 10 Best Last-Minute Labor Day Weekend Getaways

SmarterTravel

Make the most of summer before it ends with a memorable Labor Day Weekend escape. To help you make the most of the fleeting warm weather, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite vacation spots for the long weekend.

1. Sea Island, Georgia

Sea Island

This five-mile-long barrier island is situated off the coast of Georgia. It’s most famous for its namesake luxury resort. With an abundance of on-site activities—such as golfing, biking, boating, kayaking, boating, birding, hunting, and horseback riding—it’s nearly impossible to be bored here. Kids of all ages will appreciate the resort’s childrens’ and teens’ programming, while the grown-ups can lounge on the beach with a cocktail in hand. Although Sea Island may feel secluded, it’s only an hour away from Jacksonville International Airport and a 20-minute drive from Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.

Where to Stay: The Cloister, which is set on its own 50 acres of land, is surrounded by marshes and water views. The elegant accommodations (which are complete with private patios and deep soaking tubs) are within close proximity to the fun, sun, and sand. 

2. Cape Neddick, Maine

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Cape Neddick is a (somewhat) sleepy town—but that’s what makes it all the more charming. Its postcard-worthy ocean views and laid-back vibe are synonymous with New England coastal living. After you visit Cape Neddick Beach (best known for its shallow waters, tide pools, and rocky coastline), take a tour of the historic Nubble Lighthouse, which dates back to 1884. Wrap up your final trip of summer 2021 by embarking on your own food crawl through town. Feast on lobster at Cape Neddick Lobster Pound Harborside Restaurant or Fox’s Lobster House, order Maine Blueberry Pancakes at Nancy’s Cafe & Catering, and splurge on farm-to-fork (or boat-to-table) staples at Walker’s Maine, where the menu encompasses everything from wood-fired foie gras to fresh-caught haddock. 

Where to Stay: The 70-plus acre Cliff House is stretched across Bald Head Cliff: offering prime water views from every angle. There are 226 nautical-inspired rooms and suites—plus an incredible spa, four restaurants, and an array of on-site activities (think: cornhole, water aerobics, movie screenings, live music, and more). 

3. Monterey, California 

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This coastal California city is dotted with cute shops, restaurants, and activities. Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is home to about 7,000 animals and a living kelp forest, is among the city’s most notable attractions. The destination is also famous for its incredible whale-watching (peak season runs from March through November), and many companies offer private tours and excursions. Monterey Bay also boasts several stunning beaches, including Del Monte Beach, Window on the Bay Beach, Houghton M. Roberts Beach, and McAbee Beach. If you prefer to get out on the water, you’re in luck: Kayaking, paddle boarding, and sailing are all popular here. Be sure to also carve out some time to stroll down Cannery Row, where you’ll find dozens of shops, bars, and restaurants housed in former sardine factories (yes, you read that right). Fisherman’s Wharf and the tree-lined Alvarado Street are also worth exploring.

Where to Stay: Listen to the sound of crashing waves and take in the beautiful bay views right from your room at the waterfront Monterey Plaza Hotel. The 290-room hotel also has a tranquil spa and two on-site eateries. 

4. Amelia Island, Florida

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With its white-sand beaches and clear-blue waters, Amelia Island—which is located off of Florida’s northeastern coast—is not to be missed. The 13-mile barrier island is an easy half-hour from Jacksonville. Here, you’ll find Little Talbot State Park, which features over five miles of virtually untouched beaches: plus towering sand dunes and peaceful saltmarsh surroundings. Wildlife spotting is also popular, as rabbits, bobcats, otters, and birds all call the park home. Feeling more adventurous? Head to the sprawling Amelia Island State Park, where you can go horseback riding on the beach. Alternatively, embark on a guided kayaking tour of the island.  Lastly, spend a day or two exploring Fernandina Beach, which is one of the destination’s most popular attractions amongst locals and travelers. Its bustling downtown offers a slew of shops, galleries, and restaurants—all of which are well worth exploring. 

Where to Stay: Craving a luxurious escape? Look no further than The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, where oceanfront accommodations and luxury amenities like a spa, golf course, and private cabanas await. 

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5. Nantucket, Massachusetts 

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Nantucket is a popular summertime destination thanks to its sandy beaches and classic New England charm. Steps Beach is small and secluded, while Jetties Beach—one of Nantucket’s most popular—offers a larger stretch of sand to enjoy. Meanwhile, Dionis Beach is great for swimming thanks to its calm waters. The Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge Gatehouse spans more than 200 acres of beaches, dunes, and woodland. It’s also a popular spot for bird-watching. Additionally, visit the Whaling Museum to learn more about Nantucket’s fascinating history as a former whaling hotspot. Afterward, visit some of the island’s centuries-old lighthouses, including Brant Point Lighthouse, Great Point Lighthouse, and Sankaty Head Light. The Nantucket Downtown Historic District is chock-full of boutiques and shops (including Milly & Grace, Nantucket Looms, and The Lovely) as well as excellent restaurants like Lemon Press, Cru, and Straight Wharf.

Where to Stay: Life House, Nantucket is a design-forward boutique hotel housed in a 19th century-era mansion. In addition to the sun-drenched guest rooms, the property also boasts a garden terrace, a fire pit, and a bustling restaurant. 

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6. Aspen, Colorado

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While Aspen is best known for its incredible skiing, the city is teeming with outdoor activities and stunning scenery all year long. In the warmer months (AKA the destination’s off-season), hiking and biking are especially popular. There are more than 25 miles of trails to explore, and Smuggler Mountain Trailhead, Sunnyside Trailhead, and Hunter Creek Trail Head are just a few of our favorites. For the best views—sans the strenuous trek—hop aboard the Silver Queen Gondola, which takes you 12,000 feet up in the air. Or, if you prefer to explore the destination on the water, consider padding or floating down the nearby Roaring Fork River (more info here). Thrillseekers and adrenaline enthusiasts can go whitewater rafting, too. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, with a bite at one (or more!) of Aspen’s most eclectic eateries. These include Pyramid Bistro (which is located above an indie bookstore); French Alpine Bistro (a chic hangout serving fondue, crepes, and other French staples); White House Tavern (which serves up elevated American eats in a 19th-century-era cottage); and Matsuhisa (helmed by the acclaimed celeb-loved chef Nobu Matsuhisa). 

Where to Stay: Hotel Jerome dates back to 1889. Today, it’s been transformed into a hip hotspot complete with luxe accommodations, several bars and restaurants, and a swanky spa. 

Check Prices for Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection in Aspen

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7. Long Beach, New York

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The vibrant town of Long Beach is a quick train ride (about an hour) from NYC’s Penn Station—making it an ideal choice for city slickers in search of an easy and convenient getaway. Stroll or bike along the boardwalk, which is studded with food and drink options (think: soft-serve ice cream, a waffle bar, and burgers). At “Shoregasboard,” you’ll find a variety of food and vendor carts selling everything from iced coffee to tacos. The town is also incredibly walkable, so you can, quite literally, go from the beach to the bar in less than 15 minutes. Be sure to explore the town’s vibrant nightlife scene, too. Local-loved watering holes include Speakeasy, Minnesota’s, and The Beach House

Where to Stay: The Allegria Hotel is conveniently located along the boardwalk, offering easy access to the beach. The upscale hotel offers 156 guest rooms, a stylish on-site eatery, and, of course, gorgeous sea views.

8. Tuscon, Arizona

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If you can stand the scorching heat, head to Tucson for Labor Day Weekend. The desert city is rich in culture, natural beauty, and lush vegetation. Downtown Tuscon has bars, breweries, and shops aplenty. For the best views of the city, take a hike! Tumamoc Hill Hiking Trail, Explorer Trailhead, and Sarasota Trailhead are amongst the most popular. The destination is also home to several lush parks, such as Tucson Mountain Park, Gene C. Reid Park, and Armory Park. Other must-see sights include the Tuscon Botanical Gardens, the Tucson Museum Of Art, and the Arizona History Museum.

Where to Stay: Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa isn’t your typical all-inclusive resort. The wellness-centric, adults-only property spans 400 acres across the desert. There are 146 casita-style accommodations, two labyrinths, and a rejuvenating sp—plus on-site activities like hiking, yoga, beekeeping, ziplining, equine therapy, and pilates. 

9. Manchester, Vermont

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The charming town of Manchester’s most famous attractions include Equinox Mountain, Hildene (the former home of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln), and the American Museum of Fly Fishing. Main Street in Manchester Village, the city’s bustling downtown district, is filled with colorful, colonial-style buildings. Here, you’ll find all sorts of mom-and-pop shops and restaurants, including Northshire Bookstore, Up for Breakfast, Orvis, Above All Vermont, and Mother Myrick’s Confectionery. Of course, you can’t leave town without sampling a maple creemee (think: maple-flavored soft serve), a beloved Vermont staple that’ll help you beat the heat. Grab some at Dutton’s Farm Stand. 

Where to Stay: The historic Equinox Golf Resort & Spa dates back to the 1850s. It’s hosted a handful of famous guests, including former US presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt. Today, visitors can expect elegant accommodations, several on-site activities (think: lawn games, disc golf, golf, movie screenings), a spa, and five bars and restaurants. 

Check Prices for The Equinox, A Luxury Collection Golf Resort & Spa, Vermont in Manchester, VT

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10. Moab, Utah 

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Nature enthusiasts and history buffs of all ages will appreciate a trip to Moab. The city is almost otherworldy thanks to its majestic red rocks and buttes. Millions of years ago, dinos roamed the city. Today, you can retrace their tracks at several places, including Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trails, Bull Canyon Overlook and Dinosaur Track Site, and Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackways. Alternatively, visit the Moab Museum to view real-life dino skeletons up-close and personal. The Moab Giants, which features 130 full-size reconstructions spread across a half-mile trail, is another fun attraction. Don’t miss the virtual underwater aquarium, where you can learn more about some of the world’s scariest sea creatures. Plus, Moab is less than 10 minutes from Arches National Park, where you’ll find more than 2,000 sandstone arches, awe-inspiring hiking trails, and, come the evening, incredible stargazing. Other popular outdoor activities include mountain biking, rock climbing, and fishing.

Where to Stay: The 240-acre Sorrel River Ranch Resort offers rustic-chic cabins and rooms, each complete with private outdoor decks and porch swings. Hotel highlights include a petting zoo, a spa, and activities such as hiking, horseback riding, and s’mores roasting.

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