Seattle is one of a kind. Where else can you find a mural made of used chewing gum, a rocket jutting from a building, and a Museum of Pop Culture ("MoPop") that looks like a pile of busted guitars?
The Bumbershoot Festival, an extravaganza of music, comedy and the arts, is celebrating its 49th year Labor Day weekend.
If there’s one absolute must-see, it’s Pike Place Market. Just be sure to dodge the “flying” fish tossed by the fishmongers. The ferry rides in Puget Sound aren't bad either.
Come hungry. Seattle boasts some of the freshest, most innovative cuisine in the country.
2. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
It’s not unusual to see visitors openly weeping as they leave this dreamy island.
At Sea Pines Resort, pack your best beach read and head to the shore. Take a sunset dolphin cruise. Spend a morning on horseback or checking out yachts in the marina.
Biking trails wind lazily through the moss-draped trees to Harbour Town or the Salty Dog Cafe.
Just watch out for gators in the ponds and the speed trap in Beaufort on your drive in.
3. Mackinac Island, Michigan
The first thing you’ll notice about this quaint, picturesque island off Michigan's Upper Peninsula is the absence of motor vehicles. You won’t miss them.
There are cozy inns and grand hotels to choose from, but none of them are chains. Hiking, kayaking, and touring the town by horse-drawn carriage are popular pastimes.
Be sure to take in Arch Rock and the scenic state park.
Whatever you do, don’t leave without sampling the famous local fudge, which is a Mackinac Island tradition since 1887.
4. Mill Run, Pennsylvania
Visitors to Fallingwater, the stunning home Frank Lloyd Wright built over a rushing waterfall, return again and again.
The legendary architect seamlessly integrated the house into the surrounding forest and brought the outdoors in. There are even stairs off the living room for going down and dangling your feet in the water.
Thanks to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the site is nothing short of a sanctuary.
If you come by way of Pittsburgh International Airport, the route will take you through Pittsburgh by way of the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Drive in at nightfall and prepare to be astonished by the city as it comes into view.
5. New Orleans
Southern Living essayist Rick Bragg recently wrote, “I'd rather melt in New Orleans than cool off anywhere else."
The birthplace of jazz always has something to celebrate. Ordinary people’s homes have costume closets.
Take a leisurely streetcar tour from the French Quarter to the lovely Garden District, or go crazy at a raucous Labor Day festival. Enjoy sunset over the Mississippi from Audubon Park, or mosey through a historic cemetery.
The crawfish etouffee, the cold beer and the blues are calling your name.
6. Vail, Colorado
It’s best known for world-class skiing in the winter, but you can’t beat Vail at other times of the year for rafting, fly fishing or soaring above the trees on a zip line. If the kids are hyperactive, the “Take a Llama to Lunch” hike with one of the animals might be just the thing.
In town, the annual Labor Day weekend Vail Jazz Festival will feature 35 musicians.
Foodies flock to Gourmet on Gore, an event featuring first-rate wines and spirits paired with culinary delights prepared by local chefs.
Around 10,000 rubber ducks tear down the Gore River in the annual Rotary Duck Race. Don’t scoff. The top prize is $1 million cash.
7. Savannah, Georgia
This sleepy Southern escape is shrouded in rumor, gossip and secrecy. The locals, while perfectly charming and hospitable, aren’t talking.
For inspiration on things to see and do, read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. It’s a real page-turner, and there’s even a trolley tour based on the book.
Don’t miss the gorgeous Wormsloe historic site, known for its live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, or Forsyth Park or Bonaventure Cemetery.
Save plenty of time for bustling and cobblestoned River Street, and fast for a few days before you gorge yourself on the Southern cooking at the legendary Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House.
8. Austin, Texas
The city motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” and the natives are doing a great job with that. People-watching is the best free entertainment in town.
It’s no surprise that North America’s largest urban bat population calls the Texas capital city home, and the bats’ nightly flight around sunset is something to see.
If you like live music, great barbecue and swimming holes, you’re in the right place.
Baby boomers will enjoy a stroll down memory lane at the LBJ Presidential Library.
9. Orlando, Florida
Live out your ultimate outer space fantasies in a galaxy far, far away. The new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction launches at long last on Aug. 29 at Walt Disney World near Orlando.
The highlight is an interactive smuggling mission aboard the Millennium Falcon. But be prepared for a mega-long wait in line if you want to be among the first to ride after the officially opening.
The holiday weekend’s other special events at Disney World include the start of the annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
Beyond Disney, Orlando offers museums, galleries, dance clubs and ecotourism adventures for your amusement. Choose from more than 5,000 restaurants. Take a well-deserved spa day.
10. Capitola, California
California's oldest seaside resort, dotted with brightly colored homes and shops, still holds its charm. You don’t have to surf to soak up the sun and laid-back local vibe, and you can take the dog just about anywhere.
An esplanade weaves among shops, sidewalk bistros and wine-tasting rooms in this charming community east of Santa Cruz on Monterey Bay.
Take in breathtaking ocean views from Capitola Wharf. Hop aboard the hillside tram for a peek at Soquel Creek with its stunning gardens and waterfalls.
The lush begonias are hard to miss.
Montreal — located less than 400 miles north of New York City — is wildly popular for its numerous parks, public markets, museums and open-air music festivals. It's also home to 850-plus public works of art.
For dazzling views of the city, head to the Ferris wheel La Grande Roue de Montréal, or to the Place Ville Marie building's 360-degree observation deck. Guided bus, walking or biking tours are worth the time.
A unique feature of the cityscape is the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Its illumination is dictated by the seasons and the energy of the city in real time. The concept is called Living Connections.
The MEG Montreal Festival — a celebration of electronic and urban music — and the Taco Fest are slated around the holiday, called "Labour Day" in Canada.
12. Washington, D.C.
There’s never a dull moment in the nation’s capital.
Active families enjoy paddle-boating past the Jefferson Memorial, crisscrossing the National Mall on Segways, and visiting the International Spy Museum, with its interactive exhibits for kids.
Visiting any one of the Smithsonian museums is an unforgettable experience. The newest is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, located near the Washington Monument.
The National Symphony Orchestra's annual Labor Day Capitol Concert takes place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 1. The free event features patriotic classics, including "America the Beautiful."
There's so much to see this Labor Day weekend, so book your accomodations today!