Saying goodbye to summer is always hard—it's the season of barbecues, beach days, bonfires, and sparklers. Thankfully, the season doesn't officially end until September 22, and if you embrace all the best things to do on Labor Day weekend, you'll feel like you did summer right this year. This is your last chance to fit in all your favorite activities… so you'd better make it a good one.
And while we're brainstorming, it's also a good time to learn about what we're celebrating (if you don't already). Labor Day was instituted as a federal holiday in 1894 to honor the contributions and dedication of American workers—it's always the first Monday in September, and it marks the unofficial end of the season (sniff, sniff). So make sure to soak up the last days of summer with our list of the 17 best things to do on Labor Day weekend. It's time to make every minute count.
Have lunch at an outdoor food festival
The trick to having a good time is to go to a festival hungry. Eat everything you can get your hands on—from grilled corn to skewered meat to your more traditional hot dogs.
Plan a staycation at a hotel
While the rest of the pack flees town, stay behind, and check into a cute hotel nearby. You'll get to explore your area from a different point of view. Plus, two words: Room. Service.
Go on a mini road trip
Speaking of driving, this is the perfect weekend to take a car ride. Pre-plan your destination, or just pack your bags, and see where the road leads you.
Take a hike
Embrace the beautiful weather, grab some friends, and go on a trek through nature. Life can seem all "go, go, go" sometimes, so it's important to stop and smell the roses (or whatever wildflowers you encounter along the way).
Step outside of your comfort zone. This water activity can be so relaxing… plus, it's a killer workout, so you can skip the gym that day (bonus).
Explore a new museum or exhibit
Break up your outdoor excursions with a visit to see a new exhibit. (Or just bask in the air conditioning while you revisit some of your favorite pieces.)
Have cocktails at a rooftop bar
Cheers to the almost-end of an awesome summer. Head to the rooftop at night for killer views (and Instagram photo ops). And hey, if you have your own rooftop, you can play bartender there.
Head out on a dinner boat cruise
It should be a requirement that you get on a boat for summer holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day (Fourth of July, too). A dinner boat cruise is so chill… and it can be romantic if you're with someone special.
Catch a food-eating contest
Yes, the major hot dog–eating competition is over until next year, but see what other contests are around. If you're up for traveling, head to Pennsylvania to see the garlic-eating contest at the Pocono Garlic Festival.
Try out glamping
Explore nature and the outdoors the pampered way. Rent a luxury tent, or visit a location with permanent accommodations (by the way, don't forget to make some s'mores).
Go on a brewery tour
Indulge in frothy tastes galore (come on, they're complimentary!). Then, pick up some of your favorite brews to crack open at home, and grab some for sharing, too.
Watch a parade
Labor Day parades are pretty popular—check out where the nearest one will be to you. Deck yourself out in some red, white, and blue, and expect to get thrown some candy.
Shop your heart out
This is the time to take advantage of all the Labor Day sales going on. Whether you've been eyeing something or just want to treat yourself, we're giving you permission to go for it.
Unwind on a pool float
All the adorable pool floats are making us want to chill out with an umbrella drink in hand. Just be sure to take a dip when the rays become too much.
Eat ice cream at a creamery
Once you have fresh ice cream, it's hard to go back to the store-bought kind. Try out all the top flavors at the most popular creamery near you (some are even worth a longer drive).
Have a bonfire
There's something about gathering around a fire pit that brings out great conversation. Invite old and new friends over for some appetizers, drinks, and a trip (or two) down memory lane.
Host an alfresco dinner party
If you love to entertain, then this is a perfect weekend to do so. Everyone will be looking for some good plans, so host a nice sit-down meal with your favorite summer foods. Might we suggest these three mouth-watering seasonal seafood recipes?
Have you started planning your Labor Day weekend? Let us know what you have penciled in below. Up next: inexpensive ways to enjoy summer.