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Summer can feel like an endless season in some parts of California, but in other regions, snow and cold are just around the corner. California offers such a vast array of landscapes and climates that travelers can experience a little bit of everything on a statewide road trip. Labor Day is an ideal time to get in one last summer adventure and see some amazing places outside of the big cities. These are our picks for the best places to get away in California this Labor Day.
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In the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area town of Sausalito, you can embrace your artsy side and check out the annual Sausalito Art Festival this weekend. Head to the waterfront and the various stages to see everything from kid-friendly theater to live music performed by your favorite bands. There are lots of food vendors on-site, as well as artisans and artists selling their masterpieces.
With its rugged coastline and mysterious fog, Mendocino is a great getaway any time of year. But over Labor Day weekend, it’s particularly fun to take a trip here to attend the Paul Bunyan Days in Fort Bragg. This is an annual festival with arts and crafts, barbecued meats, pies, a circus, eating contests, a parade, and live music. This is the region’s oldest and largest festival that has been going strong since 1939. You can also check out model trains, an ugly dog contest, horseshoe tournament, and classic car show. Also, make sure to check out the beautiful Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens to take a walk among the beautiful flowers and coastal plants.
If a wine-themed getaway sounds like exactly what you need right about now, then plan your Labor Day trip to Sonoma. This wine-producing area really comes alive over the Labor Day weekend because it is the city’s Taste of Sonoma. You can taste culinary specialties from the region’s finest chefs, which pair perfectly with locally produced wine.
You can also take a drive up to Mount Shasta in the north-central part of the state to see this forested and mountainous area. Come here over Labor Day to get active in the great outdoors with hiking, biking, and seeing the waterfalls. There’s a festival taking place called Cool Mountain Nights, which includes live music, a car show, street fair, and a meet and greet dinner. You can also check out the second annual poker run, which is open to the public, and a mailbox art contest at this festival.
We also recommend heading to the California town of Santa Cruz for Labor Day, especially if you’re traveling with your family or a group of friends. That’s because there’s a little something for everyone in this part of California – including top attractions that range from beautiful beaches and dramatic coastlines to a family-friendly town full of charm, while nature lovers can admire the towering redwood trees nearby.
Another great Bay Area destination for Labor Day is Monterey. The Monterey County Fair takes place over Labor Day and brings in live entertainment, rides for the kids, and livestock. This is also a great place to enjoy food and browse arts and crafts booths. While you’re in town, don’t miss the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and the shops along Cannery Row. We also recommend the Monterey Bay Greek Festival, which celebrates Greek culture and food in Monterey State Historic Park in the downtown area. Come enjoy some baklava, Greek coffee, dancing, and ouzo!
Catalina Island is located about 22 miles from the Southern California coast, just southwest of Los Angeles. This tranquil getaway destination will make you feel like you’re on the vacation you deserve. Land and sea adventures are offered in Avalon and Two Harbors, including zip line tours, aerial adventures, dolphin tours, boat tours, and golf. Here you can also get active with kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding or be lazy with a cabana rental and the beach.
Palm Springs gets scorchingly hot in the summertime, but it often begins to cool off a bit over Labor Day weekend, which is just when the busy tourist season kicks off here. This is an ideal destination for golf enthusiasts because there are lots of great golf resorts here to play on, including the Indian Wells Golf Resort and the Desert Willow Golf Resort. You can also browse the weekly farmers’ market next to the Palm Springs Cultural Center.
The Lake Tahoe area is also a lovely place to visit over Labor Day if you’re craving some outdoor recreation and mountain scenery. Come here to bike or hike the Tahoe Rim Trail or part of the Pacific Crest Trail and enjoy the turn of the seasons. Over Labor Day, you can check out the Heavenly Village Days Labor Day Car Show or the Heavenly Village Concert Series, which showcases the talents of both regional and national musicians. For the 2019 Lake Tahoe Summer Concert Series at Harveys Outdoor Arena on Labor Day weekend, you can check out a special screening of a previously unreleased “sing-along” version of the hit movie “Bohemian Rhapsody,” plus a concert by the world’s only female Queen tribute band and a dazzling laser light show.