There is no feeling like that enjoyed by nine-to-fivers walking out of the office ahead of awesome Labor Day trips.
The promise of all that can be accomplished with an extra day off is uplifting and energizing, so much so that the excitement can offset the sometimes heartbreaking end of summer.
Here are some options for Labor Day trips, whether you live in big cities like New York or Boston, or nearby cities or towns.
Labor Day trips from Boston
The Berkshires: If the Massachusetts Turnpike were a rainbow (yeah, it’s a stretch, but stay with me), the Berkshires would be a pot of gold for Bostonians in search of a rural respite from the city. The scenic beauty of western Massachusetts has inspired artists through the ages, from writer Nathaniel Hawthorne to singer-songwriter James Taylor, among others. A long weekend is a perfect opportunity to experience the region’s mix of cultural institutions and natural attractions.
Mount Greylock is the tallest mountain in Massachusetts, at 3,491 feet. From its peak, in the town of Adams, visitors can see into parts of Vermont and New York. You can hike or drive to the summit. The auto road starts at a visitor center, in Lanesborough. Access is free though there is a parking fee ($5 for Massachusetts vehicles, $6 for others) through Columbus Day.
In nearby Williamstown, the Clark combines a collection of European and American paintings, prints and other art with 140 acres of lawns, meadows and walking trails. Different though equally interesting, the sprawling Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) features an ever-changing lineup of dance, film, music and sculpture spread among 250,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Click here for more fun things to do in the Berkshires.
Boothbay Harbor: Boothbay Harbor is as Maine as Maine gets. About an hour and a half northeast of Portland, the quaint community is overflowing with coastal New England charm. Expect to see an abundance of life preservers and fish nets used equally for function and decoration, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that doesn’t have lobster on the menu. The crustaceans are routinely hauled in off local docks. Take a harbor cruise if you can. You might get jealous of the people who own awesome homes around the harbor – and on Squirrel Island – but the scenery is worth more than a twinge of envy. You can also sign up for whale, seal or puffin watching trips, or get a wicked authentic Maine experience on a lobster boat tour. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, about a 20-minute ride from the harbor, is worth seeing, too. It features more than 1,400 species of plant on 270 beautiful acres.
Franconia Notch: Foliage isn’t the only reason to visit the White Mountains. Franconia Notch – the gap between the Kinsman and Franconia mountain ranges – has something for any time of year, and plenty for enjoyable Labor Day trips. Cannon Mountain is a great way to spend a few hours. Head to the 4,080-foot summit with an awe-inspiring cable car ride, then enjoy walking paths and views that, on a clear day, stretch into Canada. The summit has restrooms and a snack bar, too. Franconia Notch is also home to Flume Gorge, at the base of Mount Liberty. A boardwalk leads guests through granite walls that top out at 90 feet tall. Finish out your day or take a break with a quick dip at Echo Lake State Park. Franconia Notch is a good addition for trips to family friendly amusement parks like Storyland, about an hour away in Glen, N.H., or Santa’s Village, about 40 minutes away in Jefferson, N.H.
Montreal: Say oui to a trip to Montreal if you’re looking for a couple of unforgettable days. There are multiple cultural attractions to explore – like the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the breathtaking Notre-Dame Basilica – and plenty for families. The Montreal Biodome recreates North American ecosystems with more than 4,500 animals representing upward of 220 species. Visitors can also check out a botanical garden, a planetarium and an insectarium. Explore everything from the human body to hydroelectricity at the Montreal Science Centre, then get a unique look at the city by cruising the 9-mile Lachine Canal Bike Path (for the more laid back tourists) or a soaking, heart-pumping jetboat ride on the Lachine Rapids (for the thrill-seekers).
New York City: New York City isn’t a good idea for a day trip from Boston. There’s too much to see. You need at least a couple of days. Of all the destinations on this list, New York City is probably best equipped for tailoring Labor Day trips to specific interests. Art enthusiasts can chart a course for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Frick Collection or the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, while families can choose among everything from the sprawling Bronx Zoo to the captivating Ripley’s Believe it or Not! – Times Square. Selfie seekers can head for sky-high attractions like the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, at Rockefeller Center, where theater buffs can check out a show at Radio City Music Hall if they don’t already have tickets for performances at Carnegie Hall or at theaters on Broadway. No one where else on this list affords offers luxury like NYC, either. It’s 10 AAA Five Diamond hotels are the most of any city in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, and it was the only city to add a new Five Diamond restaurant in 2017 – The Modern.
Labor Day is also when the U.S. Open tennis tournament is held at Arthur Ashe Stadium, in Flushing, Queens.
Labor Day trips from New York City
Block Island: In the eyes of many, Labor Day weekend is the last weekend of summer. Labor Day trips to Block Island are a way of squeezing as much out of the season as possible. About 13 miles south of mainland Rhode Island and 14 miles northeast of Montauk Point, in New York, Block Island has been the setting for countless summer memories, especially for those who love sandy shores. The island has 17 miles of publicly accessible beaches. Mopeds and bicycles are among the most popular ways of touring the island. If the latter makes you hungry, there are numerous options for lunch and dinner, and you can expect to have the option of ordering from a menu of delicious seafood dishes. The trip to and from the island is part of your getaway, too. Ferries run from Montauk, N.Y., and New London, Conn.
Chatham, Mass.: Chatham is the elbow of Cape Cod. The quaint seaside community offers everything you’d want in a coastal Cape getaway, including a mix of beaches. Those on Nantucket Sound tend to have calmer waves than those on the Atlantic Ocean. Chatham Lighthouse Beach is probably the town’s most popular stretch of coast. Chatham Light – a lighthouse on the grounds of an active U.S. Coast Guard station – overlooks the beach. It’s open for tours select Wednesdays from early May through mid-October, and, if you’re up for a climb to the top, it provides nifty coastal views. Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge is another place for awesome scenery. A short nature trail, on Morris Island, offers looks at North and South Monomoy islands. If you start your Labor Day getaway a bit early, check out the Chatham Band. The group is a local tradition, performing Friday nights in the summer at Kate Gould Park. Their final performance of the regular 2017 season is planned for Sept. 1. No matter when you visit, budget some time for a stroll down Main Street. The charming town center is loaded with interesting shops.
Newport: There’s a reason they call Rhode Island the Ocean State. Though small, Lil’ Rhody is blessed with beautiful, publicly accessible shoreline, including a few great stretches in Newport. Easton’s Beach, also known as First Beach, is probably the most popular. If you visit, put aside a few hours to see the city’s famed Gilded Era mansions, like the Breakers, Marble House and Rosecliff. Plan on enjoying the Cliff Walk, too. It’s a 3.5-mile path providing unforgettable views of the Newport’s coastline. Other attractions include the International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum and the Audrain Automobile Museum. For shopping, head to Thames Street, and for picturesque harbor tours stop by Bowen’s Wharf.
Click here for more of our favorite things to see and do in Newport, R.I.
Virginia Beach: New York City to Virginia Beach among the longest drive on this list of Labor Day trips, but if you’re looking to get the most out of the expiring summer season it’s time well spent. The central attraction in Virginia Beach is, well, the beach. Several hotels line the city’s coast providing ample options for a two- or three-night stay. A 3-mile boardwalk (with a dedicated bike path) is an easy way to explore the shoreline. There are a few stages along the way, and, on Labor Day weekend, some of them will be used for the American Music Festival with headlining acts 3 Doors Down and 311. Budget at least a couple of minutes for a selfie with a 34-foot-tall bronze Neptune statue. If you’re looking to get out on the water, consider a kayak or stand-up paddle boarding outing. Either might bring you up close with dolphins. The military is a big part of Virginia Beach’s history and you can get acclimated to this legacy by visiting the Military Aviation Museum, home to a massive collection of World War I and II era aircraft.
Washington, D.C.: The nation’s capital is must-see for anyone with an interest in U.S. history, especially those in the Northeast. The District of Columbia is about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Manhattan, but you can shave an hour off that trip by taking the Acela. One of the best ways to figure out how much a destination has to offer is by reviewing its lineup of AAA GEM attractions, which designate Great Experiences for Members. DC has more than three dozen of these spots ranging from the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson memorials to a variety of museums. The National Symphony Orchestra will perform a free concert on Sunday, Sept. 3, at U.S. Capitol. You can check it out before or after visiting National Harbor, with restaurants, shops, a Ferris wheel and a carousel all about 20 minutes south of DC, in Maryland.
For more nearby trip ideas, visit AAA.com/Weekender.