Published August 2020
Summer is winding down, and the days are getting shorter. Every year, Labor Day weekend represents a final chance to enjoy the sunshine for three uninterrupted days (or more). But, we all know this year is different.
In the wake of the pandemic, some health authorities are predicting destination closures across the U.S. come winter, so this could be your last shot at a big vacation for a while. That means you’ve got to make it count—and we want to help you. So, pack your hand sanitizer and get ready to hit the open road.
We dug into our reservation data and discovered that two guests is the most common group size for Labor Day weekend stays this year (47%, to be precise). And, we get it—the long weekend is the perfect opportunity for an extended romantic getaway.
But, more than a quarter of our guests will have at least one child with them this year—that’s up 6% compared to 2019, likely due to school opening delays and online coursework. Plus, bookings with dogs have increased 8%. For many Americans, this Labor Day weekend is a full-blown family affair.
So, we identified the top 10 off-the-grid destinations in the U.S.—suitable for every type of crew—to get away this Labor Day. We used our proprietary data to evaluate occupancy of our U.S. markets on Labor Day, spanning 2019 and what we have on the books so far for 2020. We’re still seeing rare availability on Labor Day weekend in each of the charming towns that made our list, and there’s plenty of room to spread out, unwind, and toss the ball for Fido.
Small-town Sun Valley sits at the edge of the Sawtooth and Challis National Forests, and it gets a whopping 15 hours of sunshine per day during the summer months. Hike all the way up Bald Mountain west of town, then order some takeout from one of Sun Valley’s coveted restaurants.
When you reach historic Steamboat Springs, you may feel like you’ve gone back in time. Reminiscent of the Old West, Steamboat is a naturally stunning escape tucked in the Rocky Mountains. Cool off by floating the Yampa River, or take a stroll through town and expect to be greeted (at a distance) by all the friendly locals.
Along a large freshwater lake chain, you’ll find the laid-back northwoods town of Eagle River. Bike through densely wooded forests, or take a more leisurely method of travel—a guided horseback ride.
Tucked away in the Great Smoky Mountains, Sevierville has hundreds of forest trails and several jaw-dropping waterfalls. Boat along Douglas Lake, take a tour through underground caverns, or just breathe in the crisp air from the back deck of your cabin rental.
Concealed in North Carolina’s range of Blue Ridge peaks, Sugar Mountain is a treasure of a village. If heights don’t make you queasy, visit the nation’s highest suspension footbridge, the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, or take a chairlift from the base of the mountain to 1,200 feet up.
Tourists flock to Ludlow to enjoy snow sports during the winter, but the summer months are decidedly less crowded. Don’t be fooled, though: the tiny town is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise year round. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, and hike to the swimming holes at Buttermilk Falls.
Often called New Mexico’s best-kept secret, Angel Fire is a small village rife with adventure in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Visit the largest bike park in the Rocky Mountains, charting 60 miles of terrain, or hike to New Mexico’s highest point, Wheeler Peak.
Venture to Helen in northeast Georgia and you’ll feel like you just touched down in Europe. A Bavarian village set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Helen has a storied past and unequivocal charm dating back to the 1800s. While you’re there, don’t miss 300-foot Dukes Creek Falls.
Nestled in the Pocono Mountains, Tannersville is the perfect destination for big families and honeymooners alike. Take a dip in a unique heart-shaped tub, or zipline through the treetops if adrenaline-pumping activities are more your speed.