Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Labor Day is almost here. Remember Labor Day? The end of summer, the start of school, the kickoff for fall, the lead-in to winter, the … let’s stop there.
Summer’s end is inevitable, but there’s no reason why you have to go quietly into that long good night. If you haven’t yet made your plans, start making them now. Get out of the house; go somewhere. Live a little. Grab a couple of apps (like the AirCare app, or the apps we’ve reviewed here and here) to make things easier. If you’re looking for ideas of where to go, consider these five great end-of-summer destinations:
- Porcupine Mountains State Park, Mich.: If you live anywhere in that great swath of land between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians, and you want cliffs, shoreline, lakes, and forests, there’s nowhere better than the Porkies. It’s a haul from practically anywhere except Ontonagon, but tougher travel means fewer people. And it’s so worth the trip. If the hike-in cabins are gone, pitch a tent in the campground. If the campground’s full, sleep on the beach. But bring your winter sleeping bag either way.
- White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., or Asheville, N.C. When planning Labor Day travel, it’s best to zig when everyone else zags. When the masses head to the shore for that last bit of beach time, counterpunch and head for the hills. The newly renovated Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs is bucket-list breathtaking and Asheville’s Inn on Biltmore Estate is glorious, but if you’re looking for something almost as scenic but a lot more affordable in either place, Airbnb has you covered. (Act fast, though.) Just remember: You’ll eat better in Asheville.
- Santa Fe, N.M.: There is never a bad time to visit Santa Fe, but early September might be the best time of all. The hills are tipped with gold, the skies are a hard and glorious blue, and Santa Fe is Santa Fe, one of the most enchanting destinations in North America. Just remember to pack a sweatshirt. Or two. If La Fonda is booked, or out of your price range, try The Bishop’s Lodge. A morning horseback ride through the mountains is all you need to convince you that you made the right choice.
- The redwoods. Head to the hills when everyone else heads to the beach, part two. Sequoia National Park is spectacular, but many California state parks are no less spectacular. Big Basin State Park is especially recommended; just watch out for the municipal buses (!) in the twisties if you take California 9 down to Santa Cruz.
- Kennebunkport, Me.: Yes, it’s going to be crowded, and yes, it can get terribly touristy. But it’s going to be less crowded and touristy than Cape Cod (though it lacks the fin-de-siècle melancholy of Martha’s Vineyard in September), and lunch at Nunan’s Lobster Hut will make you oh-so-glad you came.