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With endless miles of soft sand beaches, majestic mountains, towering redwood forests, and warm desert oases, the state of California is a picturesque destination perfect for an unforgettable Labor Day weekend getaway. When you stay at one of many California vacation rentals, you can enjoy easy access to thrilling recreational activities, opportunities for relaxation, and family-friendly events and festivals. Check out the top Labor Day weekend vacation spots in California.
1. Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta is a city in north-central California located on the slopes of its incomparably beautiful namesake mountain. Popular activities include hiking and mountain biking along the many forest and mountain trails, including the McCloud River Trail, which leads to three gorgeous waterfalls. Enjoy fly fishing for trout and bass in Lake Siskiyou, Castle Lake, and other nearby waterways. Mount Shasta’s annual Labor Day weekend festivities, called Cool Mountain Nights, celebrate the end of summer. Events include the Classic Car Show ‘n Shine and the Downtown Street Fair. These are followed by the Tinman Triathlon at Lake Siskiyou and the Blackberry Music Festival at the City Park.
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2. Fort BraggSource: Flickr/Images by John ‘K’
Fort Bragg lies in Mendocino County on the gorgeous northwestern California Coast. The city is famous for Glass Beach, where churning waves have transformed discarded glass into baubles that look like precious gems. Other beautiful nearby sights to see are the amazing Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and the awesome Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. Every year over Labor Day weekend, the city hosts Paul Bunyan Days, the biggest and oldest festival on the Mendocino Coast. Events include barbecues, pie sales, live music, a circus, and arts and crafts displays. Among the contests are a tricycle race for kids, a hot dog-eating contest, a horseshoe tournament, a fireman’s water fight, and a log-rolling tournament. The festival culminates in a grand Labor Day parade.
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3. South Lake Tahoe
Located at the southern end of a beautiful sapphire-blue lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in northeastern California, South Lake Tahoe offers numerous outdoor activities in September, including hiking and cycling the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Take a relaxing tour of the lakeshore aboard the massive M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler out of nearby Zephyr Cove. Every year during the Labor Day weekend, South Lake Tahoe hosts the Heavenly Village Carnival, Art, and Music Festival. The three-day event offers carnival rides, live entertainment, a car show, and many other attractions. Stilt walkers roam the grounds, and artists create balloon sculptures and caricature portraits. A highlight of the festivities is the evening Labor Day Lasers at Lakeview Commons, a colorful and dazzling display of laser lights.
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The city of Sonoma lies in the lovely Sonoma Valley just north of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. The area is world-renowned for its wine production, and every year over Labor Day weekend, the city hosts the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. On their individual properties, wineries offer meals prepared by master chefs paired with fine wines. At the Taste of Sonoma event, dozens of chefs and hundreds of wineries gather to provide samples of their finest offerings. The Sonoma County Wine Auction often closes the proceedings.
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5. SausalitoSource: Flickr/Tom Hilton
Vacation rentals in the picturesque town of Sausalito are at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge across the bay from San Francisco. Renowned as an artists’ colony, the city hosts the annual Sausalito Art Festival over Labor Day weekend. Most of the events take place on the Sausalito waterfront, at which multiple stages are set up for numerous nationally recognized musicians and bands. A special entertainment area for children features theater performances, clowns, and hands-on activities. Hundreds of artists exhibit and sell their paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, and artwork in other media. Food vendors offer diverse gourmet options paired with wine, beer, and other drinks.
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Monterey is south of San Francisco on the southern end of beautiful Monterey Bay. The city is famous for its picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf, historic Cannery Row shopping area, and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Every year on Labor Day weekend, the city fair grounds hosts the Monterey County Fair. The event includes livestock competitions, rides, games, live entertainment, and plenty of other activities. The annual Monterey Bay Greek Festival also takes place over Labor Day weekend at the Custom House Plaza near Fisherman’s Wharf. Head for the festival to enjoy traditional Greek cuisine, dramas, arts and crafts, and dancing.
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Sacramento, the state capital, lies in the Sacramento Valley at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers in central California. During Labor Day weekend, the historic district of Old Sacramento presents its annual Gold Rush Days. Activities include train rides, river cruises, wagon rides, and underground tours. The evenings are full of entertainment, such as the Gold Rush Days Beer Crawl and the Gold Rush Country Dance. On Labor Day, there is a grand parade with a brass band, living history characters, street performers, and horses and wagons.
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8. Los Angeles
The dynamic city of Los Angeles bursts with activities during Labor Day weekend. For instance, the immense Los Angeles County Fair takes place at Fairplex in Pomona. The extravaganza features family-friendly fantasy exhibits, carnival rides, games, concerts, and plenty of food. The four-day LA Fleet Week at the Port of Los Angeles honors the armed forces with ship tours, aerial demonstrations, military exhibits, live music and entertainment, and fireworks. Fiesta Hermosa at Hermosa Beach offers one of the largest arts and crafts fairs in southern California along with a children’s carnival and extensive ethnic food options.
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9. Palm Springs
The city of Palm Springs lies in warm Coachella Valley east of Los Angeles. Labor Day weekend is an ideal time to take advantage of low-season rates at world-renowned golf courses such as Desert Willow Golf Resort and Indian Wells Golf Resort. Many of the local entertainment venues bring in special celebrity performers for Labor Day weekend. Additionally, the majestic Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which takes you in a rotating tram car from the valley floor to near the summit of San Jacinto Peak, is open all day every day over the Labor Day weekend.
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10. San DiegoSource: Facebook/Visit San Diego
The warm weather and beautiful soft sand beaches of San Diego provide opportunities for Labor Day weekend swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The Port of San Diego Festival of Sail, the largest tall ship festival on the U.S. West Coast, features sailing extravaganzas, cannon salutes, ship tours, live entertainment, and activities for children. The U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge, in which sand sculptors from all over the world compete for prizes, also takes place over Labor Day weekend on the waterfront in downtown San Diego. The annual Labor Day Pier Swim in nearby Oceanside, drawing a multitude of swimmers, is a beach side competition for charity.