(photo: The Phoenician)
No plans for Labor Day weekend? It's not too late to score a great getaway. The three-day holiday weekend offers a golden opportunity for one last summer escape, as destinations and resorts around the country roll out family-friendly events and activities. Here's a sampling of where summer is going out with a bang instead of a whimper:
Hotel rates in this desert oasis remain in a summertime lull until mid-September. In the meantime, you'll hardly notice the triple-digit temperatures at the palatial Phoenician, thanks to its nine acres of pools, kids' club, air-conditioned afternoon teas and cool $25 million art collection, complemented with family-friendly audio tours. Over the holiday weekend, your family can enjoy hula-hoop contests, lawn games, badminton tournaments, s'mores-making, poolside movies, plus evening waterslide games and stargazing.
Grand Traverse, Michigan
Crystal Mountain, a family-owned ski resort near Traverse City, Michigan, will wrap up this summer with chairlift rides, a pool party for the kids, hula hoop and limbo contests, a family golf scramble, and poolside movies. The resort also boasts Michigan's only alpine slide, a water park, and an adventure zone with tubing, kayaking, and biking.
St. Pete Beach, Florida
(photo: TradeWinds Island Grand Resort)
Recently named one of "America's Best Beach Towns" by Parents magazine, St. Pete Beach beckons with miles of pristine white sand and westerly sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. The beachfront TradeWinds Island Grand Resort is offering plenty of family-friendly activities both on and off the sand, as well as fireworks and a big buffet to end the summer season. Kids can ride down a three-story beach waterslide, get their faces painted, attend a pirate show, watch a dive-in movie, play mini golf and carnival games, and compete in limbo or hula-hoop contests.
South Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Set up home base at the Zephyr Cove Resort, where the weekend kicks off on Saturday morning with the annual paddlewheeler race and brunch. Consider it a prelude to Sunday's "Sample the Sierra" festival in South Lake Tahoe, a farm-to-fork event showcasing the best food and art from the Sierra Nevada region with locavore cooking demos, a chef cook-off, and tastings of award-winning wines from regional vineyards. Cap off the season in style with a fireworks dinner cruise hosted by Lake Tahoe Cruises.
Cooperstown, New York
(photo: Otesaga Resort Hotel)
Nothing says summer like baseball and no place enshrines America's favorite pastime like Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Abner Doubleday Field. Spend Labor Day weekend at the historic Otesaga Resort and you can opt for an American plan rate to include breakfast and dinner daily. Weekend festivities include lawn games, family bingo, movie nights, swimming in the heated outdoor pool, canoeing on beautiful Lake Otsego, or playing 18 holes on the Leatherstocking Golf Course, considered one of the East's most challenging and scenic courses.
Pine Mountain, Georgia
This year marks the 16th anniversary of the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival, which takes place every Labor Day weekend at Callaway Gardens, a public garden and resort located 80 miles south of Atlanta. The weekend kicks off on a high note with a beautiful balloon glow on Robin Lake Beach, when rows of tethered balloons will be illuminated. Balloon launches will take place on Saturday and Sunday, along with kid-friendly activities such as trampolines, tethered balloon rides, mini golf, laser tag, a car show, live music, and a 5K fun run.
Pismo Beach, California
(photo: Cliffs Resort)
Blessed with a spectacular location on California's Central Coast, the kid-friendly Cliffs Resort offers luxurious accommodations and Labor Day weekend festivities that will include live music, nightly wine-and-cheese tastings for adults, and dive-in movies for kids. Families can go biking, kayaking, fishing, and horseback riding nearby, while the complimentary kids' club offers crafts, tidepooling, and s'more-making.
New York City, New York
Whether you're coming to see the U.S. Open tennis championship, the NYC Unicycle Festival, or a Broadway show, there's plenty to do in the Big Apple over Labor Day weekend. Just $200 a night, including breakfast, is the starting rate over the holiday weekend at the Wolcott Hotel, an architectural gem located just three blocks from the Empire State Building and within walking distance of the Theater District and Rockefeller Plaza.