Who cares if you haven’t shopped yet for the pencils, notebooks and glue sticks on your kids’ school-supply lists for the coming year?
Your top priority for the last weeks of August should be finding a quick getaway to send out the summer with a bang. Here are 8 locations around the U.S.—resorts that throw big three-day-weekend parties and cities that save their biggest summer celebrations for the end—to take your family for Labor Day weekend:
1. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Since the 1970s, Labor Day weekend in this mountain town has featured the Colorado Hot Air Balloon Classic, the biggest air show in the state, with mass ascensions of more than 100 balloons each day. (There’s added incentive to come this year: organizers say that due to administrative reasons 2014 will be the last for the show.) Nearby, the grande dame hotel The Broadmoor is offering a four-night Labor Day Family Celebration Package, which for $830 per person includes a room, a whopping $300 dining credit, bicycle rental, horseback trail ride, and 40 per cent discount on suite rates.
2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Each year, the summer season ends here with the Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival, a two-day event with concerts on the beach, barbecue competitions—where spectators get to sample the wares—cornhole contests and fireworks. Close by, the Broadway on the Beach complex will have a Labor Day Weekend Extravaganza with kid-friendly live music—strolling brass bands, dancers and live statues—all three days, and its own fireworks. Hotel deals abound, too: Stay three nights at Coral Beach Resort and Suites and up to three kids can get free breakfast daily; stay at Oceana Resorts through September 1 and you get free (and unlimited) access to the water slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers of Wild Water and Wheels Water Park.
3. Park City, Utah
Starting in 1898, this mountain town started celebrating the town’s mining heritage in the annual festival Park City Miner’s Days, which includes kid-friendly races, a parade, pancake breakfast, live music, as well as mucking and drilling contests. The biggest competition, however, is the Running of the Balls, in which thousands of balls are “released” at the top of Main Street, and tracked as they make their way to the bottom. You can “adopt” (let’s not say “bet on”) a ball for $5, and winners can get airline tickets and other prizes. There are also plenty of deals at local hotels and condos, such as the Third Night Free deal at the various locations of Identity Properties condos, which come equipped with family-friendly kitchens.
4. Tradewinds Resort, St. Pete Beach, Florida
With white sand and sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico, this beachfront resort offers a blissful end to the summer–with plenty of family-friendly festivities to go with it. The three-night Endless Summer Three-Night Package starts at $216 a night, and includes fireworks, a big buffet, and free activities such as a pirate show, face painting, mini golf, carnival games and hula hoop and limbo contests.
5. Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania
This rambling resort in the Poconos always offers the chance to experience a big finish to the summer: cruising down a 1,980-foot alpine slide, climbing the rock wall, or flying through the air on the Eurobungy. There’s also bowling, disk golf, game rooms, and chairlift rides. And this year, over Labor Day weekend, kids ages eight-17 will be allowed to take part in the resort’s messy Mud on the Mountain obstacle course for the first time (depending on your age, the course is up to 3.5 miles long). Meanwhile, grown-ups can recharge for the coming school year at the full-service Trillium Spa. The resort’s Labor Day Celebration Package starts at $217 per person, and includes daily breakfast, an Italian dinner buffet, and an all-access wristband for all of the cool activities. Kids 11 and under can stay and play for free. The Mud on the Mountain events starts at $25 per person.
6. Pismo Beach, California
This Central Coast town has everything you want from a California beach town — with dunes to boot — but more quiet, and lower prices. The kid-friendly Cliffs Resort offers a beach and easy day-trip access to Hearst Castle, a local children’s museum, and a zoo. Labor Day weekend at the resort will feature live music, nightly wine-and-cheese tastings for adults, and dive-in movies. Families can go biking, kayaking, fishing, and horseback riding nearby, while the complimentary kids’ club offers crafts, tidepooling, and s’mores-making. The three-night Labor Day Weekend Getaway starts at $259 a night and you can add breakfast for two for just $20 (kids 5 and under eat free). You can also add Monday night for just $99.
7. Point Sebago Resort, South Casco, Maine
This all-inclusive, camp-style family resort, located on one of Maine’s most pristine lakes, consistently delivers a whirlwind of activities, ranging from Nerf soccer to canoe races, bingo, karaoke, and hayrides. Kids get time with their peers at Chippy’s Playhouse, while teens get their own hangout with video and table games. The three-nightLabor Day package starts at $320 per adult, and includes accommodations; eight buffet meals, including one lobster dinner; mini golf; myriad free entertainment and activities; discounted golf greens fees; plus a one-hour lake cruise. You’ll pay an additional $45 to $90 per night per child, depending on age (kids three and under are free).
8. Washington, D.C.
With the politicos safely out of town for the holiday weekend, there’s plenty of free fun in the nation’s capital. On Sunday the National Symphony Orchestra will perform its annual free concert at 8 pm on the Capitol’s West Lawn (come camp out early—the gates open at 3 pm). For a different kind of music, check out the DC Blues Festival, which features a stage where kids can test drive different instruments at the Musical Instrument Petting Zoo. Labor Day weekend is also the time for the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival, where kids can meet authors and illustrators (and Scouts can earn a Book Festival patch) such as Kate DiCamillo, author the Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn Dixie.
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