Okay, don't hate us for bringing this up, but summer is almost over. The official final day of the season isn't till September 22, but most largely associate the end of summer Fridays, summer beach days, summer lazy days -- you name it -- with that dreaded Tuesday following Labor Day.
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Okay, don't hate us for bringing this up, but summer is almost over. The official final day of the season isn't till September 22, but most largely associate the end of summer Fridays, summer beach days, summer lazy days -- you name it -- with that dreaded Tuesday following Labor Day. But we're all about finding the silver lining here at Oyster.com and we see the close of summer as just another reason to travel! After all, nearly 35 million Americans will take a trip over the holiday weekend, and you don't want to be the only one stuck at home.
It's not too late to plan an epic Labor Day getaway. Here's our top 10 list of the best last-minute weekend getaway destinations for the holiday this year. Be sure to check out our hotel picks on Oyster.com.
If you want to soak up some final hours on the sand over Labor Day, San Diego's La Jolla is a great destination to set your sights on. About a 30-minute drive from the San Diego airport, this seaside community is set on one of the most affluent stretches of California's coast. But the atmosphere is nonetheless laid-back; nature is key here, and it is well-maintained to preserve the area's natural beauty. There is even a 6,000-acre underwater park, great for snorkeling and scuba diving, and Mount Soledad, a park with 360-degree views of La Jolla. Partiers should look elsewhere, but this destination is a solid choice for those seeking a tranquil long weekend away.
Hotel Pick: La Valencia
Labor Day weekend rates start at $549/night
Just because Labor Day is a national holiday doesn't mean you have to spend it stateside; Toronto is a wonderful international destination for the weekend, especially this year when airfare costs to the Canadian metropolis are down. This may come as a surprise, because many would argue that North America's fourth largest city is just hitting its prime; the sweeping gentrification of former industrial areas have made this cultural hub all the more impressive. Toronto is an extremely walkable city, and Labor Day weekend is a nice time to visit since daytime temperatures hover in the low 70s. Plus, if you stick around for a few extra days, the world-renowned Toronto International Film Festival kicks off on September 10.
Hotel Pick: The Saint James Hotel
Labor Day weekend rates start at $157/night
3. St. Louis
Despite the recent Ferguson riots (although the peak period took place after the holiday), St. Louis experienced a major uptick in tourism over Labor Day weekend in 2014 compared to 2013, and this year the hospitality board is expecting a good number of visitors to fly in for Labor Day 2015 as well. Home to the iconic Arch, this Midwest metropolis offers visitors some great perks, including free access to one of the country's top zoos, where a beloved polar bear now resides. Other fun Labor Day weekend activities include baseball games (the Cardinals will be taking on the Pirates and the Cubs), the St. Nicholas Festival, and the Midwest Wingfest, a two-day food fest dedicated to wings.
Hotel Pick: Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark
Labor Day weekend rates start at $209/night
4. Virginia Beach
Thanks to its miles of beaches, Navy presence, and generally affordable restaurants and bars, Virginia Beach finds itself as one of the most visited beach destinations in the country for Labor Day year after year. The weekend is packed with patriotic pride in the form of musical events, food and arts festivals, and fireworks. Though the highly regarded East Coast Surfing Championships take place two weekends prior, the swell is still great for surfers over Labor Day, and the waters are packed with swimmer, kayakers, and surfers.
Hotel Pick: Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront
Labor Day weekend rates start at $399/night
5. New York City
New York City may be one of the top five Labor Day destinations annually (flights over summer are slightly cheaper than those around the winter holidays and spring break), but it never feels too crowded over the weekend -- probably because most Manhattanites escape to the Hamptons. Aside from less-packed restaurants and a sunny High Line stroll, this year tourists can take a trip to the recently opened Whitney Museum, which has found its new home in the Meatpacking District. Entry is expensive, so guests can also visit classics like the Metropolitan Museum (which only has a high "suggested" fee) or head to Brooklyn for a cheap, delicious feast at Smorgasburg.
Hotel Pick: Lefferts Manor Bed & Breakfast
Labor Day weekend rates start at $199/night
6. Las Vegas
Las Vegas actually often comes in as even more popular than New York over Labor Day weekend; for those who want to party, there are few places better suited. It's certainly not cheap to get there, and whatever money you may (but more likely may not) rake in from the tables, you'll be spending -- and then some -- on tables at clubs, but the beauty of Vegas is that even the most luxurious resorts are cheap by hotel rates standards elsewhere. Plus, almost all pool parties rage on through at least the end of September, so you can drink and dance in your bikini while you celebrate the holiday.
Hotel Pick: SLS Las Vegas
Labor Day weekend rates start at $123/night
7. Mexico City
Airfare rates to Mexico City are a deal these days, and the South-of-the-Border metropolis is bustling with a thriving arts, culture, and food scene. Packing everything this massive city has to offer into one weekend may seem difficult, but there are some highlights you can focus on -- namely taking in downtown's numerous historic buildings and monuments, exploring the city's countless museums (Mexico City has more museums than both New York and Paris), and of course getting your fill of Mexican dishes like tacos al pastor and quesadillas -- but authentic-style.
Hotel Pick: Sheraton Mexico City Maria Isabel Hotel
Labor Day weekend rates start at $94/night
June through September are Miami's quietest months, meaning they're also the beach destination's cheapest -- not only in regards to hotel rates, but also airfare, which is down about 10 percent compared to last year on top of that. But, let's be honest, Miami is never really dead. The party continues all summer long and over the long weekend this year events range from float festivals to yacht parties, and baseball games to musical performances by a slew of favorites, including Pitbull.
Hotel Pick: Dream South Beach
Labor Day weekend rates start at $189/night
Early September is a wonderful time to visit Seattle; the high temperatures hover around a lovely 70 degrees, and prices begin to drop as the summer tourists depart. This waterfront city makes for a wonderful Labor Day destination if you seek a laid-back long weekend. Locals are friendly and it's easy to immerse yourself in the culture, which is defined by beautiful natural scenery, outdoor pursuits such as cycling, and, of course, delicious artisanal coffee. Plus, Seattle is home to a lively farmers market scene -- the best undoubtedly being the one at Pike Place.
Hotel Pick: Hotel Deca
Labor Day weekend rates start at $173/night
Just like Seattle, Chicago is probably best enjoyed during September -- before the brutal cold and infamous winds of the winter arrive. The lakeside city is one of the Midwest's cultural hubs, home to world-class museums, great parks, top-notch dining and shopping, and cutting-edge architecture. Highlights include the Lincoln Park Zoo (entry is free) as well as the Navy Pier, where events such as movie screenings, musical performances and fireworks shows will be taking place this Labor Day weekend.
Hotel Pick: Hotel Blake Chicago
Labor Day weekend rates start at $183/night
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Photo Credit: Sylvia Kania / Shutterstock Two new, non-stop Delta flights, from JFK and Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, allow easier access to this island paradise. The hard part is choosing among Barbados’s 60 beaches—all of them public. Whether you opt for the calm waters of the west coast, aka the Platinum Coast, or the surfable waves of the east coast, it’s hard to go wrong. And when weary of the rays, there’s plenty else to do, from wreck and reef diving to touring rum plantations to spelunking through Harrison’s Cave. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Barbados Travel Guide
PUNTA DEL ESTE
Photo Credit: Cienpies Design / Shutterstock If Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America, then Punta del Este is its Nice. A quick flight from Buenos Aires or Montevideo gets you to Uruguay’s glamorous beach scene in less than an hour. Come ready to see-and-be-seen, with celeb-spottings aplenty between dips in the Atlantic during the day and club-hopping at night. The Grand Hotel, which just opened on Brava Beach, is Punta del Este’s first five-star hotel in over 15 years. The 120-room property includes a spa, Roman baths, heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a theater. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Punta del Este Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland This secluded island holds appeal to sun-seekers who not only crave an abundance of white, sandy beaches, but who enjoy diving and privacy. And after a restoration due to damage from Cyclone Ita last year, the only resort on Lizard Island has its soft reopening on March 1 and full reopening on April 1. The Great Barrier Reef resort is the perfect spot for those who want to completely unplug: there’s no mobile phone coverage at the 40-suite stay, so guests can picnic on a private beach, frolic in plunge pools, or swing lazily on verandah hammocks completely undisturbed by “the real world.” Its Great Barrier Reef location offers world-class diving, with sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays, and humpback whales swimming the waters along with exotic reef fish. There’s even a coral reef research station operated by the Australian Museum on the westernmost point of the island. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Great Barrier Reef Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Russ Hamilton / Shutterstock In July, the 10th annual Beachfest on Horseshoe Bay promises to be Bermuda’s biggest beach party yet. Celebrating the island’s Emancipation Day (1834), with music, food, limbo dancing, and sports on the sand, attendees let their inner bohemians out by covering themselves in paint and powder. For those living on the East Coast, crashing the party couldn’t be easier, as flights from NYC and Boston are less than two hours. There are plenty of other reasons to visit Bermuda all year round, however. There’s the unique pink-sand beaches, for starters, and a growing food scene, spurred by new openings such as the harborside 1609 Bar & Restaurant at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and the upcoming restaurant from Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson, Samuelsson at HP, opening in May. The Fairmont Hamilton Princess recently underwent a $90 million renovation, in fact, and is the shiniest stay on the island right now. By spring, they will unveil the brand-new Princess Beach Club on site. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Bermuda Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Svetlana Arapova / Shutterstock Luxury travel company andBeyond is adding the Bazaruto Archipelago to its collection of camps, with 10 casitas and two cabanas surrounded by tropical forest and edged by soft, white sandy beaches of Benguerra Island in Mozambique. With andBeyond’s lodge refurbishment, the accommodations will feature plunge pools, gazebos, and spacious open air showers. The coral reefs offshore provide a haven for the Indian Ocean’s abundant marine life, while the beaches and towering sand dunes on the island also make for some of the world’s most scenic horseback riding. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Mozambique Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Rasti Sedlak / Shutterstock This tiny island getaway, about 200 miles south of Manila, is a little more than four miles long and about a mile wide. But despite its small size, Boracay is undergoing big development, with the continuing growth of the Boracay Newcoast, a community of hotels, shopping, and residences, and the winter opening of the Aqua Boracay by yoo, a five-star resort set on Bulabog Beach, one of the world’s best kite surfing beaches. In addition to water sports, the resort is rooted in luxury wellness, with a yoga studio, a day spa, and a pool spa. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Philippines Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Jerryway | Dreamstime.com Big news out of Oahu: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is pouring $500 million into transforming the JW Marriott Ihilani into the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. Slated for a September 2015 opening, not only will the property be Four Seasons’ first on Oahu, it will include the brand’s first residential property in Hawaii. The Courtyard by Marriott is also coming to Oahu, on its North Shore, this year. On the west side of Oahu, the ground will be broken for the 1.4 million square-foot retail development, Ka Makana Ali’i, with over 100 shopping, dining, and entertainment outlets, plus Hawaii’s first Hampton Inn & Suites. Elsewhere around the islands, travel to the Big Island is gaining in popularity for its stand-out snorkeling and hiking trails through the lava fields of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Ever sunned on a rare, green sand beach? The Big Island is welcoming a few new nonstop flights this year, too: Alaska Airlines announced new flights between San Diego and Hawaii starting in March, and Delta will start service from Minneapolis/St. Paul. Maui, too, is becoming more of a hot destination, thanks to the recently completed multi-million dollar renovation of the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Hawaii Travel Guide
Photo Credit: eddtoro / Shutterstock Billionaire John Paulson says Puerto Rico is not only poised to come out of its economic slump, but that it is now poised to become the “Singapore of the Caribbean,” which means it will boom as a center of commerce, and a safe bet for investors in the tropics. He should know, as he has pledged to invest $1 billion in the island over the next few years. One particular pet project: the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan, which recently debuted after 10 years and a $200 million renovation. (Paulson put in the funds to get the project to the finish line.) The new hotel is actually one of San Juan’s oldest luxury properties, having originally opened in 1919. In addition to the swank new stay, San Juan’s culinary scene is exploding, with food from chefs such as Jose Enrique Montes, José Santaella, Mario Pagan, Wilo Benet, and the Vanderbilt’s own Juan José Cuevas as tourist attractions in their own right. There’s also a burgeoning art scene in the Santurce section of the city, centered around Loiza Street. Another sign of the island’s comeback: San Juan also welcomed a record number of cruise passengers in 2014. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s San Juan Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Hank Shiffman / Shutterstock It’s been five years since a devastating earthquake destroyed this island nation, taking 200,000 lives in its wake. And while restoration efforts are still going on, tourism is finally coming back to Haiti. G Adventures is leading the charge of new tour operators visiting the island, while the Marriott Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s first internationally branded, four-star hotel, opens this year. These new additions make the island’s beaches, wildlife, ruins, and the Unesco World Heritage site of the Citadelle Laferrière, the largest fortress of the Americas, even more welcoming. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Caribbean Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Fotomak | Dreamstime.comMiami celebrates its centennial this year, with a year full of special events. A few new high-profile properties are ready and willing to accommodate those partaking in the year-long party, including the recently-opened Thompson Miami Beach and Ian Schrager’s beachfront boutique Edition, which opened in November complete with a restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a bowling alley, an ice rink, an outdoor movie theater, and a nightclub. The year will close with the debut of the Faena Hotel Miami Beach, part of the new urban development by Alan Faena (the gent who brought Faena Universe to Buenos Aires’s Puerto Madero). In addition to the five-star resort hotel, which will be designed by film director Baz Luhrmann and his wife, costume designer Catherine Martin, the six-block complex will include an arts center designed by Rem Koolhaas and luxury condos fashioned by Norman Foster. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Miami Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Arena Photo UK / Shutterstock New Caribbean Airline routes from NYC to Trinidad make a trip to the twin island even easier than before. Just a quick connection drops visitors to Tobago, known as the more attractive twin for beaches. And Carnival isn’t the only festival that the island is known for: The 2015 Tobago Jazz Experience in April will welcome powerhouses such as Jennifer Hudson and Kool & the Gang. A little trivia about Tobago: did you know that it provided the setting for the Disney castaway film Swiss Family Robinson, released in 1960? The movie was the highest-grossing of that year. Plan Your Trip: Travel Fodor’s Trinidad and Tobago Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Donsimon | Dreamstime.com If there were a contest for most hotel openings on an island in 2015, surely Bali would win, as it will unveil at least five major resorts. The long-awaited Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, will open by summer, with 60 luxury villas. Also coming by summer: the Alila, on the last sandy frontier of Seminyak, while exclusive Jumeirah Bali will be opening 80 suites and 25 private villas In the Jimbaran district. The Chedi Club, with 34 pool villas, will also join the resort scene in Jimbaran by summer. And that’s just a handful of what to expect. Several more big names are coming to the island next year, including Andaz, Mandarin Oriental, and Waldorf Astoria. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Bali Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Gert Hochmuth / Shutterstock The easternmost of the Spanish Canary Islands has long been associated with an art-based history. Lanzarote was the birthplace of César Manrique, an artist and architect whose work—from a white-washed windmill to colorful mosaic murals—decorates the island. Travelers to Lanzarote can visit the artist’s unique home at the Fundación César Manrique, where the design is based on the lava bubbles of the local volcanoes. Manrique’s spirit makes the island the perfect setting for the Museo Atlantico, Europe’s first underwater museum by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. Opening this year, just off the white sandy beach of Playa Blanca, the cement sculptures will be designed to attract marine life, becoming a reef of sorts. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Canary Islands Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Gail Johnson / Shutterstock One doesn’t need an excuse to steal away to this ABC island, just off the coast of Venezuela. But JetBlue just added to the pile of reasons by becoming the only airline to offer non-stop service to Curaçao from New York City. And if that wasn’t enough of an inspiration, there’s the fact that the island is basically storm-free, as it sits below the Caribbean’s hurricane belt. In addition to its 38 lovely beaches, Curaçao is also a go-to spot for divers, as the waters teem with barracuda, sea horses, and brilliant corals. And next month, the island will draw the fashion set, by hosting the first International Swim Fashion Week, so bring the good bathing trunks. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Curacao Travel Guide
Photo Credit: Todos Santos Sunset by Jon DeJong CC BY 2.0 This once-sleepy beach town in Baja California has become livelier of late, thanks to its thriving artist community, an annual music festival led by REM’s Peter Buck, and a soon-to-be completed “mindful living” community, complete with a beachfront boutique hotel. Tres Santos, a community within Todos Santos, will also include an organic community garden, gourmet farm-to-table restaurant, and a research center for Colorado State University, with an agriculture and water research focus. The CSU Todos Santos Center is set to open in March, while the first residences will debut by September. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Los Cabos Travel Guide