Celebrated the first Monday in September, Labor Day recognizes workers for all the contributions they have made and continue to make to the economy and greater country. Many workers are not required to report on Labor Day, making the extended weekend an opportune time to take a last-minute summer getaway.
Traveling on holiday weekends can be expensive, but it’s not impossible to find great travel deals. With help from Skyscanner, a leading global travel search site, GOBankingRates found more than a dozen travel destinations that are perfect for the Labor Day weekend.
Read on to discover some of the best affordable, off-the-beaten-path Labor Day travel destinations that are fun for the whole family.
A hidden gem in upstate New York, Syracuse is home to a number of attractions that make it a great Labor Day weekend getaway for city lovers and nature fiends alike.
In Syracuse, you’ll find the world’s largest indoor suspended ropes course, plenty of live music, delicious BBQ and Onondaga Lake Park for your family picnic. If you want to mark the weekend with patriotic activities, you can look for bald eagles or trek the same path enslaved people took to freedom. Labor Day is also the closing weekend of the New York State Fair, which means entertainment will abound.
The 90-minute flight from JFK to Syracuse costs $137, and hotels start at $89 per night.
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The gateway to the Fingers Lakes, Rochester was shaped by glaciers during the Ice Age. Today, it is one of the East Coast’s premier — yet often overlooked — wine-growing regions.
Enjoy the long weekend by following one of the five major wine trails in the region and sampling to your heart’s content before retreating to a cozy lakefront abode. The city is where Susan B. Anthony was famously arrested for voting but is also a picturesque watery wonderland with rivers, gorges and waterfalls dotting the area.
The quick flight from JFK starts at $167. You can find motels starting at $72 per night, but Airbnb also has some picturesque properties for less than $100.
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Consistently ranked one of the best places in the U.S. to live, work and retire, it’s time to give this underrated vacation destination a real look.
Essentially two worlds in one, Durham offers an urban city feel with the charm and relaxation of a rural escape, perfect for letting your hair down on a holiday weekend. Durham has everything you could want in a Labor Day getaway: good food, beautiful views and plenty of culture at an affordable price point. One of the South’s tastiest towns? Check. Plantation homes and civil war sites to explore? You bet. Miles of trails and green spaces? Yes, Durham has these, too.
Flights from JFK to Durham start at $198, and hotels will set you back just $53 per night.
If you’re looking for a Labor Day getaway by the sea, you can’t do much better than Portland, Maine. The Portland harbor is dotted with lighthouses and hideaways, black coves and fishing boats, making it the quintessential East Coast long weekend. Take a ferry to explore the 19th-century architecture, or walk the waterfront to find the lively bay bustling with restaurants and bars.
The flight from New York will run you $244, and motels start at $111 per night. The Meadowmere Resort in Ogunquit, Maine, is also offering a “Stay and Play” package, which includes a resort room for $269, plus dinner at your choice of three restaurants.
Daytona Beach, Fla.
While many travelers hightail it to Orlando or Miami for a Florida vacation, Daytona Beach has a few draws of its own.
Known as the “Festival Capital of Florida” and a mecca of motorsports, there is always something going on in this action-packed part of the state. The Daytona International Speedway offers daily tours, and there seems to be live music just about everywhere you turn. Specifically on Labor Day weekend, there is a Bruce Springsteen tribute concert and fireworks, as well as a farmer’s market, classic car show and craft beer walk. Beyond that, you have golf, water sports, and amusements dotting the boardwalk to keep you busy.
Direct flights from New York cost $290, but modest accommodations less than two miles from Daytona Beach will set you back just $55 per night.
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Another ideal lake getaway in a generally overlooked state, Burlington resides on the shores of Lake Champlain. The city offers the perfect mix of water and mountains for a weekend escape. The beaches are primed for paddle boarding and kayaking, while the peaks offer miles of hiking, hidden waterfalls and mountain biking trails. The farm-to-table eats will have foodies salivating, while the brewery scene has no shortage of places to tip one back. An abundance of food and green space are the formula for an ideal Labor Day getaway.
Flights to Burlington cost $277 from JFK, and motels start at $121 per night.
Salt Lake City
Many people think of Salt Lake City as a winter destination, but it can be just as incredible in the summer. The Great Salt Lake is a must-see geological wonder, while the nearby canyons offer cyclists plenty of room to explore.
This Is The Place Heritage Park, a state park located near the mouth of Emigration Canyon, offers an interactive look back through Utah’s settlement days, making it a fun, educational destination for an unforgettable family vacation. For a different kind of culture, you can also get an early start on fall with Snowbird Ski Resort’s Grand Oktoberfest celebration.
Flights to Salt Lake City are $435, and hotels start at $78 per night.
Often overshadowed by the current capital city of Nashville, Knoxville is Tennessee’s original state capital and still offers plenty of history, green spaces and free attractions to make for an enjoyable Labor Day weekend getaway. Civil War battle sites are some of the must-see highlights, but there’s also a free trolley tour of downtown to show you the sights.
Flights from New York to Knoxville are $367, and motel rooms start at just $43 per night.
Not many people think about venturing southwest during the summer, but Albuquerque’s charm might convince you to brave the heat. With 310 days of sunshine per year, there’s no excuse not to play in Albuquerque. Memorable experiences include riding in hot air balloons, traveling the iconic Route 66 and just plain enjoying the culture of one of the country’s most diverse cities. There are tons of events going on in Albuquerque over Labor Day weekend, from the New Mexico True Fest to the Mountain West Brew Fest.
Round-trip airfare from JFK costs $342, and hotels start at just $38. There are also hostels dotted along Route 66 to help you save even more.
A trip to Savannah is a trip back in time to experience early Americana. A charming Southern escape where history meets hospitality, Savannah was recently named one of the World’s 30 Friendliest Cities by Condé Nast Traveler, which makes it an easy choice for stress-free travel. Stroll the period mansions, take a ghost tour or snap a selfie at the famous bench from the movie “Forrest Gump.” Tantalize your taste buds at the Savannah Craft Brew Fest or Savannah Bacon Fest during the holiday weekend — or go crazy and stop at both.
Flights are just $312 from JFK, and hotels start at $55 per night.
There’s nothing quite like summer in the Blue Ridge Mountains, home of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic drive perfect for a summer road trip.
Asheville has a distinctly bohemian vibe that contrasts with impressive architectural structures like the Biltmore Estate. Here, you can look for wildlife or waterfalls and stand atop Mt. Mitchell, one of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi River. When you’re ready for sustenance, the food and beer scene is second to none. You can easily make your own culinary tour, eat your way around the farmer’s markets or visit a local farm.
Flights start at $406, and motels start at $90. If it’s just you and your spouse, you can up the romance by opting for the Couple’s Summer Romantic Asheville Getaway Package, which is a top Labor Day vacation deal. The getaway includes a cabin rental, flowers, chocolate truffles and a massage for two and starts at just $250 per couple in addition to cabin rental cost.
Few people think to go to the Great White North for an American holiday, but what you’ll find on the other side of the border just might surprise you.
Dubbed “Manhattan with Mountains” by The New York Times, Vancouver is a bustling city with easy access to more rural attractions like the famed Seawall and old-growth forests. Labor Day is the closing weekend of the Fair at the PNE, so don’t miss out on nostalgic entertainment and attractions. Travelers will also want to visit one of the three night markets for endless food trucks, live music and lighting shows.
Flights from JFK are $399, and guesthouses start at just $56. Save money on lodging by staying in a hostel for as little as $24 per night.
Mexico City, Mexico
If you feel like having a fiesta-filled Labor Day weekend, head south of the border to Mexico City. Located in the heart of Mexico, the city is overflowing with culture and attractions. The main city square — called Zócalo — boasts Aztec remains, the Palacio Nacional with murals by Diego Riviera and the largest and oldest cathedral in Mexico.
Flights will set you back $351, but hotels start at just $14 a night. Hostels cost even less.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Located in the Caribbean, U.S. travelers can visit San Juan without their passports, as Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. There are more than 400 weekly flights from American cities to Puerto Rico, which means booking your Labor Day weekend getaway should be simple. Old San Juan’s blue cobblestone streets are mesmerizing, and many of the buildings have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After you get your fill of colonial architecture on land, get your sea legs by sailing, kayaking or snorkeling the bay.
A nonstop flight from JFK costs $417, and hotels can be found for just $60 per night.
The largest city in Colombia, Bogotá is a melting pot of people, architecture and culture. Bogotá is the perfect unexpected paradise that’ll get you a new passport stamp without wasting an entire day traveling. There’s ample city life with more than 50 museums to explore and outdoor adventure aplenty.
Flights cost $446, and you can find rooms for $30 per night.
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All airfares and hotel prices are from Skyscanner, a leading global travel search site. Lodging is based on the most inexpensive option. All flights originate from New York City (JFK) for the departure dates of September 1, 2017, and September 4, 2017. Flight and lodging prices were found on July 6, 2017, and are accurate as of that date.