Don’t beat yourself up because you forgot to book ahead for a Labor Day Weekend vacation. It’s never too late—especially for these can’t-miss weekend trips.
For those in buzzing cities like New York and L.A., it can be decidedly daunting to think about packing up and joining the throngs of people heading to LAX or JFK. Fear not: there are plenty of breathtaking and relaxing destinations just around the corner from your local bodega, and they won’t require any air travel whatsoever (sadly, we can’t promise no traffic, so queue up some podcasts!).
Go ahead—find your best weekend bag, stock up on a trustworthy sunscreen, and get ready to hit the road for the final hurrah of the season. Whether you’re looking to unplug and restore or socialize out on the town, we’ve got a trip worthy of that last summer OOO email.
Around the Corner from New York City
An art and antique lovers paradise, Hudson is nestled along the banks of the Hudson River, just a two-hour drive or Amtrak ride upstate from the city. Think quaint suburban Brooklyn counterpart. It’s hard to not fall in love with the romance of the Hudson River Valley, and the aptly-named town is the epitome of a sweet weekend getaway, chock full of creatives and connoisseurs. Quiet and calm in comparison to the big city, visitors can look forward to antique shops, art galleries, farm-to-table restaurants, and locally-roasted coffee. Depending on when you book, you can keep a round-trip Amtrak ticket from Penn Station to Hudson under $100, and there are some stellar Airbnbs in town, as well as a handful of boutique hotels (Rivertown Lodge). Grab a bite at Fish & Game, Half Moon, or Moto Coffee/Machine, for some of the best dishes and drinks in town.
Lake George, NY
You may not be the only ones heading to the Adirondacks this Labor Day Weekend, but Lake George is worth the trip. From camping to woodsy cabins, hotels (The Sagamore Resort) to waterfront rental homes with sweeping vistas of the sparkling water, Lake George is an idyllic summertime vacation destination, and the perfect time to soak up the sun from the cool waters of the “Queen of American Lakes.” White sand beaches, boat cruises, fresh brews, local ice cream—the list of classic summer weekend indulgences is endless in this picturesque pocket of the Adirondacks. You can expect a three-and-a-half-hour shot up I-87 north, or you can hop on the Montreal-bound Amtrak from Penn Station and get off at Fort Edward, just 20 minutes from Lake George. For an experience unlike any other, book a steamboat cruise with Lake George Steamboat Company for a relaxing excursion. The Boathouse Restaurant and The Algonquin are local favorites for a delicious meal.
Situated along the coast of eastern Connecticut, Mystic is the epitome of a quaint, yet bustling New England seaport. Dine on fresh catch (The Oyster Club; Grass & Bone), wander in and out of cute boutiques, browse titles at the local bookstore (Bank Square Books), and enjoy a drink at any number of local spots (B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill). You can check out the largest marine museum in New England, or spend a few hours at the mystic aquarium. The best part? You’re just a hop, skip, and jump away from surrounding coastal towns like historic Stonington and scenic Old Saybrook. Just a two-hour drive or Amtrak ride from Manhattan, you can expect beautiful views of coastline on the trip up.
There’s plenty of room to roam and relax on the North Fork—especially in Greenport, which boasts killer views of the Long Island Sound, restorative salt air adventures, and esteemed farms and vineyards galore. Snuggle up on the beach with a good book or go for a local wine tasting (Kontokosta Winery); eat seafood fresh from the docks at award-winning restaurants (Noah’s: Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market) or spend an afternoon at the farmers market. For those looking to wind down and experience one of Long Island’s most breathtaking pockets of coast, Greenport is just a quick two-hour drive from Manhattan, or an easy ride on the LIRR.
Around the Corner From Los Angeles
Sophisticated establishments meet a laidback California vibe in the stunning stretch of central Cali coastline that is Santa Barbara—just a quick hour-and-a-half zip up the 101 from Los Angeles. Visitors can expect to stroll along wide, sandy (often dog-friendly!) beaches, catch some stellar surf, and dive into a local food and drink scene that is definitely worth writing home about. Check out California’s oldest working pier, bike your way toward a melting sunset, and kick back in one of the many tasting rooms that feature hundreds of local California pours. Culinary hotspots include The Good Lion, Angel Oak at Bacara Resort, Wine Cask, Stearns Wharf, and Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trails.
Known for attracting crowds from all over the country, particularly interested in the creme de la creme of luxury vacations, Palm Springs is the perfect place to unplug, unwind, and soak up some seriously reviving rays. Just under a two-hours drive from Los Angeles, you can bop from hotel cabana to hotel pool, from top-tier restaurant to luxury bar, from manicured golf courses to indulgent spas to mineral-rich natural hot springs—the options are seemingly endless. For a top-tier stay, consider Korakia Pensione, Arrive Hotel, or Ace Hotel & Swim Club, and don't forget to check out Farm for an unforgettable dining experience.
While it may be a solid six-plus-hour drive from Los Angeles, cruising up that stretch of the One toward Big Sur will be just as memorable as exploring the area once you arrive. Jaw-dropping vistas of rugged coastline and the cerulean waters of the Pacific are just the beginning of what makes this remote central-Cal gem so special. Whether you choose to stay in one of the luxe boutique hotels or camp among the Redwoods, there's no shortage of ways to fill a long weekend with unforgettable food (Nepenthe, Big Sur Bakery), drink, and outdoor adventures in Big Sur.
Snuggled into a sun-kissed valley below the Topatopa Mountains, Ojai is one of California’s premiere getaways. Here, you can spread out and wind down: explore citrus and olive groves (Friend’s Ranch), embark on hikes that offer breathtaking views of the valley (Los Padres National Forest), taste local wines, devour farm-to-table dinners (Ojai Ranch House), and even ride horseback into the sunset. Is there any better way to unwind?
Joshua Tree National Park truly is one of the West Coast’s most distinct landscapes. Just over two hours driving from Los Angeles, you’ll see the landscape from your car window morph drastically to barren desert that gives way to dusty buttes rising from the land, peppered with yucca trees jumbo rocks. While camping is the most popular way to stay overnight near the park, you can also find rooms at eclectic hotels (The Joshua Tree Inn) nestled in the desert. Stop by Natural Sisters or Joshua Tree Coffee for a quick bite to eat before heading off to explore the beautiful landscapes.