Last-Minute Labor Day Getaways From 10 U.S. Cities

No plans for the long weekend yet? You don't have to go far to get away from it all. Soak up the last days of summer in one of these dreamy destinations, each less than a three-hour drive from a major city. Some are even close enough for a day trip!

By: Shannon Petrie

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From New York City: Cape May, New Jersey

Approximate Driving Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Cape May boasts one of the country’s largest collections of 19th-century framed buildings — in fact, the entire city was named a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Step back in time this Labor Day weekend and admire charming Victorian-era homes while lounging on pristine beaches.

From Washington, D.C.: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Approximate Driving Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

If an outdoor adventure is your idea of Labor Day weekend fun, head to Harpers Ferry, where you can go whitewater rafting on the beautiful Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. The town is also home to hiking trails (the Appalachian Trail passes directly through it), an aerial adventure park and many fascinating historical sites. Don’t feel like driving? You can take Amtrak from D.C. to Harpers Ferry instead.

From Miami: Key Largo, Florida

Approximate Driving Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

The northernmost of the Florida Keys, Key Largo is the perfect place to spend some time on the water before summer ends. Known as the Diving Capital of the World, it’s home to the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef. Kayaking, sport fishing and swimming with dolphins are a few of the other activities you can enjoy here.

From Atlanta: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Approximate Driving Time: 2 hours

Hop on a river cruise or stroll the 13-mile Riverwalk to take in the sights of this charming city. If you’re traveling with kids, Chattanooga is also packed with fun activities for the little ones: Don’t miss the Tennessee Aquarium, the Creative Discovery Museum and the beautifully restored 100-year-old carousel in Coolidge Park.

From Chicago: Saugatuck, Michigan

Approximate Driving Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Saugatuck’s Oval Beach — located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan — has been hailed by Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Travel and other publications as one of the best beaches in the country. Spend some time sun-bathing, then take in the town’s unique collection of shops, restaurants and art galleries. If you need more time on the water, don’t miss the Saugatuck Chain Ferry. Built in 1838, it’s the only hand-cranked chain ferry left in the country, and you can ride it across the Kalamazoo River for just $1.

From Denver: Estes Park, Colorado

Approximate Driving Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

A gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a prime destination for outdoor activities of all kinds, from wildlife watching to fly fishing to horseback riding. If you’re into horror films and books (or even if you aren’t), you’ll definitely want to take a tour of the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King’s bestselling novel, The Shining.

From Phoenix: Sedona, Arizona

Approximate Driving Time: 2 hours

Sedona is known for its stunning red sandstone formations, which you can discover by hiking, biking, horseback riding and many other means. Beyond the outdoor activities, many people also visit Sedona to get in touch with their spiritual sides. Healing massages, yoga and psychic readings are a few ways to do this.

From Los Angeles: Ojai, California

Approximate Driving Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

A longtime haven for artists and healers, Ojai is the ideal place to relax and rejuvenate over a long weekend. Book a massage or other treatment at one of the area’s many spas. Spend the rest of your stay biking down orchard-lined streets, eating locally grown cuisine and shopping at one-of-a-kind boutiques.

From San Francisco: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Approximate Driving Time: 2 hours

Carmel is known for its European feel — but you don’t have to fly across an ocean to enjoy it. Spend some time exploring the nooks and crannies of the village, where you’ll find shops, art galleries and wine tasting rooms. If you like to travel with your pup, you’re in luck: Carmel is one of the most dog-friendly places in the country, allowing pooches at many hotels, restaurants, walking trails and even the famous Carmel Beach.

From Seattle: Whidbey Island, Washington

Approximate Driving Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Amazing scenery abounds on this island just north of Seattle. Whidbey is home to Washington’s most-visited state park: Deception Pass, known for its rugged cliffs and iconic bridge. Fort Casey State Park is another great place to connect with nature; take in the views from the top of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse or stroll around the hiking trails.

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