With summer firmly in our sights, it’s never too early to plan your Labor Day long-weekend escape. After all, early September is primed for all manner of getaways, from golf-centric sojourns to national park explorations and beyond. Whether you wish to embark on three action-packed days, or simply unplug for a little while, finding the right destination at the right price point is key. 

Here, we’ve mapped out several destinations for two, based on a range of budgets (note: airfare costs aren’t included in our projected expenses). So without further ado, get ready to gear up for a trip unlike any other. Bon voyage! 

Budget: $250

Destination: Camping in Southern Utah

Utah’s red rock country is a haven for adventurers of all stripes: hikers, mountain bikers, climbers, and, where the mighty Green and Colorado rivers flow, kayakers and whitewater rafters. Home to five jaw-dropping national parks — Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion — the Beehive State has campsites aplenty.

Two female hikers trekking the Narrows in Zion National Park.

In-the-park sites book up early, so consider Bureau of Land Management (BLM), state, and private campgrounds. Whether you park-hop or hunker down in one campground for the weekend, be sure to take time to stargaze away from city lights, hit the trail, clamber through slot canyons, and marvel at rock formations carved out of the earth over millennia.

 Our long-weekender picks:

  • Visit Arches National Park to take in the iconic Delicate Arch
  • Check out pictographs and more on a hike to the Moon House, near Bear Ears National Monument (permit required)
  • Climb Zion’s sandstone cliffs
  • Watch the sunset over the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon after hiking a series of loops, or strolling along the rim trail
  • Mountain bike Moab’s many slick-rock trails or Hurricane’s Gooseberry Mesa

Revel in geological wonder with a campground (or house rental) in Springdale, Moab, St. George, Bryce, Blanding, Torrey, or elsewhere in Southern Utah.

Budget: $500

Destination: Beach-Bumming in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

An erstwhile pequeño fishing village, this now-modern, cosmopolitan spot in the Mayan Riviera is within easy reach of Cancun and similarly trendy destinations like Tulum and Cozumel. With 75 miles of coastline, this Yucatan getaway has glorious beaches — dominated by “beach clubs” and resorts — as well as stunning reefs for snorkeling and diving.

Palm trees, parasols, umbrellas, and sun loungers at the Reef Coco Beach Resort.

Soak up the sun and ocean breezes, dive into the warm waters alongside rays, explore underground caverns, or partake in the vibrant club scene. While relaxing with a seaside cerveza might be the extent of your activity here, it’s worth exploring some of the natural and archaeological wonders as well.

Our long-weekender picks:

  • Swim with turtles in Akumal
  • Explore Río Secreto’s — translating to “secret river’s” — caves
  • Amble (or party) along cobblestone, pedestrian-only La Quinta Avenida
  • Climb the tallest Mayan pyramid at the archeological site at Cobá
  • Pop over via ferry to snorkel or dive in Cozumel’s turquoise waters

Budget: $1,000

Destination: Glamping in Joshua Tree, California

Towering boulder formations dating back more than a billion years coupled with vast desert landscapes dotted with Joshua trees (a.k.a. yuccas) make this 800,000-acre California wilderness a unique glamping escape. Where the Mojave Desert meets the Colorado Desert, there are stargazing-perfect skies, rocks to scale — even sneakers will stick to the monzogranite! — hikes to explore, and cacti, birds, and oases to discover.

Take in the artsy vibe of the park’s gateway town, Twentynine Palms, or head to nearby Palm Desert for swanky golf and culinary finds. Of note: it is hot and dry in Joshua Tree, so be sure to stock up on water, particularly for day-time adventures.

Our long-weekender picks:

  • Watch the sunset at Cap Rock
  • Pop over to Palm Springs for some golf
  • Grab breakfast at Crossroads Café and peruse the hippie-themed shops of Twentynine Palms
  • Hike the Ryan Mountain Trail for views and a workout (be sure to pack plenty of water)
  • Strap on a harness and climb boulder formations like Jumbo Rock

Budget: $2,500

Destination: Ranch Retreating Near Bend, Oregon

Open countryside flanked by the Cascades makes for an idyllic weekend away from it all. Whichever posh ranch-resort you pick — Brasada, Sunriver, or Black Butte — you’ll have nature as well as creature comforts at your doorstep.

Views of the Three Sisters, a series of mountains in Oregon.

Saddle up for a horseback ride, take in tremendous views as you golf, settle into the spa, paddle the rivers and lakes, and indulge in inspired cuisine that goes well beyond the campfire. And, when (small) city life calls, downtown Bend is within easy striking distance. 

Our long-weekender picks:

  • Kayak the Cascade Lakes
  • Take a craft beer tour in Bend
  • Giddy-up for a high desert horseback ride
  • Golf Pronghorn’s Nicklaus course
  • Hike, mountain bike, or zipline at Mt. Bachelor

Budget: $5,000

Destination: Golfing on Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Island time meets tee time at Kiawah. One of the larger barrier islands off the South Carolina coast, this private, 15 square-mile, coast-meets-marshland haven is packed with manicured, top-ranked courses (most of which offer public access) as well as thousands of acres of pristine, protected habitat.

Sunset at the beach on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Exclusivity is par for the course here. An abundance of spa hotels in Kiawah with exquisite dining accompany outdoorsy pursuits like paddle-boarding and kayaking. Yes, you can follow in Phil Mickelson’s footsteps by selecting one of Kiawah Island’s rentals only minutes from a world-class golf course. Just don’t forget to take in the sunsets, too!

Our long-weekender picks:

  • Grab a Kiawah rental on the beach
  • Spend some time on the island’s 10-miles of gorgeous beach (public access via Beachwalker Park)
  • Bike Kiawah’s 30 miles of paved trails
  • Swap out the clubs for a tennis racquet for a few hours
  • Visit historic Charleston, only 21 miles away
  • Play the Ocean Course, currently ranked as the number four public golf course in U.S. by Golf Digest

Budget: Unlimited

Destination: Pinkies Up in Monte Carlo, Monaco

Jet-set, James Bond-style, by taking a sojourn steeped in lavishness to the tiny country of Monaco. Pack your dinner coat for the casino and your stylish beachwear for the pebbled shore, take a seven-minute helicopter ride from nearby Nice and — voilà — instant immersion in one of the wealthiest and most beautiful places on the planet.

Views of the exquisite bay from the Exotic Garden of Monaco.

Sip champagne and bask in Mediterranean splendor on land or sea. Dine like local royalty and venture to nearby Cote d’Azur attractions, from lavender fields to St. Tropez beaches. Cheers, mon ami!  

Our long-weekender picks:

  • Take a private yacht cruise along the stunning French Riviera
  • Roll the dice courtesy of Monte Carlo Casino
  • Shop on the streets of Carré d’Or (Golden Square)
  • Tour Provencal wineries
  • Drive a Lamborghini or Ferrari on the Grand Prix racetrack

Vacation like a celebrity with just the right Monte Carlo lodging.  

Labor Day Weekend Getaways to Inspire

Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on a sandy beach in Playa del Carmen or unwind in the great outdoors of Southern Utah, we’ve got you covered. No matter what your interests or budget may be, there’s a Labor Day trip out there waiting for you. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to make some unforgettable memories. Happy travels!