By: Susan B. Barnes - Special for USA TODAY

It’s hard to believe that summer’s nearly over. While school has started in many places across the USA, there’s still a chance to hold on to summer just a bit longer – Labor Day weekend. Here are some beach ideas at which to bid summer adieu until next year.


Camden, Maine’s Inner Harbor hosts the annual Camden Windjammer Festival over Labor Day weekend with the largest gathering of Maine Windjammers found anywhere; a perfect vantage point is Laite Beach. Just 10 minutes north, Lincolnville Beach has some of the best paddling around – kayak or stand up – and Barrett’s Cove on Megunticook Lake is a family favorite.

At Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, a fireworks show will light up Sunday night, September 6 at 10 p.m.

When New Yorkers want to get to the beach, many head out to the Hamptons, and Jones Beach State Park is a terrific place to spend a day – or weekend – at the beach, with more than six miles of coastline. Other beaches in the Hamptons that you can visit without owning a mansion include Ocean Road Beach and Mecox Beach in Bridgehampton. In nearby Montauk, Navy Beach will have music on the beach all Labor Day weekend, and even launch service to transport you back to your yacht offshore, should that be your mode of beach transportation.

Just 60 miles from NYC but in New Jersey, Asbury Park is hosting a bonfire on the beach September 4, and a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tribute band will play September 5 at the Stone Pony, where the band got its start. Will the Boss show up? We’ll have to wait and see!

Bethany Beach, Del., has a full slate of activities to enjoy over Labor Day weekend, including the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral on Monday, September 7 to “mourn the passing of the summer season” and an end-of-season fireworks celebration with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra.


Virginia Beach is hosting its 22nd annual American Music Festival over Labor Day weekend with the sounds of rock, jazz, country and R&B. This year’s lineup includes Sheryl Crow and Steve Miller Band, to name but two. The festival is a terrific way for those who run the Rock & Roll Half Marathon that same weekend to celebrate. For something a bit quieter, check out the three-mile boardwalk and the beaches found nearby: Resort Beach, Chesapeake Bay Beach and Sandbridge Beach.

If the 60 miles of beaches found in Myrtle Beach, S.C. aren’t enough to keep you occupied over Labor Day weekend, check out the Tenth Annual Beach, Boogie & BBQ (free admission) for two days of finger lickin’ BBQ goodness. Even more food’s on tap at the 5th Annual Coastal Uncorked Food, Wine and Spirits Festival, featuring Chocolate Under the Moon, a dessert and moonshine mixology event on September 4. Nearby Hilton Head Island is a classic American beach town and a very family-friendly destination year-round with plenty of activities to choose from, including kayaking, stand up paddling, dolphin watching, bicycling, golfing and so much more. Keep an eye out for its iconic red and white candy striped lighthouse! To the south, Hunting Island State Park outside of Beaufort is a fantastic beach experience, complete with lighthouse you can climb and boating, fishing, kayaking, stand up paddling and more.

Just 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, Ga., Tybee Island is hosting its annual Labor Day Beach Bash with live music, fireworks and much more family fun. Elsewhere in Georgia, the world’s largest inland man-made white sand beach can be found at Callaway Gardens’ Robin Lake Beach (free admission September 7). Over the weekend, activities include the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival, a classic car show and a landing by the Silver Wings Pyrotechnic Parachute Team, not to mention Aqua Island, a floating water playground for all ages, and wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing and wake surfing.

Summer seemingly keeps going for a few months longer in Florida, and these beaches host Labor Day weekend fun to keep the summertime vibe going. Panama City Beach’s 27 miles of white sand and emerald green waters are welcoming year-round, and especially September 4–6 when the city hosts the 3rd Annual Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam with country music performances by Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban.

Also on Florida’s Panhandle, the 8th Annual Rubber Duck Derby and Mullet toss will take place Monday, September 7 in Navarre Beach, tucked between Pensacola to the west and Destin to the east. Nearby, South Walton and its neighboring communities along its 26-mile stretch of Gulf Coast beaches have plenty to offer too. A live painting competition will take place September 6 during the Art Walk at The Village of Baytowne Wharf; and live evening music can be heard at the Seaside Amphitheater and at the amphitheater in Alys Beach.

The 30th Annual NKF Rich Salick Pro-Am Surfing Festival at the newly renovated Cocoa Beach Pier will help Cocoa Beach maintain its title as the East Coast Surfing Capital of the US over Labor Day weekend; spectators are invited to watch surfing by day and go to a Hawaiian luau at night. In Miami, the 3rd Annual South Beach Bike Week will rumble through the streets over Labor Day weekend with a slew of events scheduled. Over on the other coast, the weekend will be a bit quieter on the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel, where shelling, wildlife viewing, sailing and kayaking are on tap. Or, go island hopping – the area has more than 100 barrier and coastal islands to explore.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Ala., take Labor Day weekend seriously when it comes to fun, and have three days filled with just that to appeal to everyone. The Labor Day Street Part at The Wharf features live music; the 48th Annual Labor Day Invitational will entice anglers young and old; and you’ll be sure to find a keepsake to remember the weekend at the Waterway Village Art Market.

Arts are taking over the Mississippi Gulf Coast and its 62 miles of beaches over Labor Day weekend: there’s Arts & Crafts Under the Oaks in Beauvoir, across the street from Biloxi Beach; Ocean Springs Artwalk in downtown Ocean Springs and just a few minutes from Ocean Springs Front Beach; and Saturday Afternoon Family Clay at the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art, also across the street from Biloxi Beach.

The great state of Texas has a wide variety of beaches on which to spend Labor Day weekend. Port Aransas is known as the “best kept secret on the Gulf Coast” with deep sea fishing, beachside horseback riding, surfing, kayaking and more; one of the top kite-boarding destinations in the world can be found in Corpus Christi; history and beaches collide in Galveston; and Surfside is popular with those who live in and around Houston.


In Michigan, Oval Beach on Lake Michigan in Saugatuck is a terrific spot to spend Labor Day weekend. The area’s sand dunes that frame the beach are reminiscent of the White Cliffs of Dover, and the beach is bordered by the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, recently nominated as an 8th Wonder of the Word. The Dunelands is popular with birders seeking to add that rare tropical bird to their life list – 67 of the more than 200 locally spotted bird species are designated rare.

A beach in Wisconsin? You betcha! The 10th Annual Kites Over Lake Michigan will be held September 6 on Neshotah Beach in Two Rivers. The event is one of the largest kite flying events in the Midwest, and a high-flying way to end the summer.


San Diego and the Maritime Museum host the Festival of Sail over Labor Day weekend, during which more than 20 tall ships and other marine vessels from around the world will sail into San Diego Bay. In addition to being able to tour the ships, live entertainment, food, drinks and family fun will be available, and about 125,000 people are expected to attend. The ships will also be visible from the beaches on San Diego’s outlying Coronado Island.

Just a bit north of San Diego, the Labor Day Pier Swim is an Oceanside, Calif., tradition, in its 86th year this year! Other weekend activities in Oceanside include a sand art contest, First Friday Art Walk, and a beach cleanup with the Surfrider Foundation Saturday morning, September 5.

In Newport Beach, classic activities include kayaking, stand up paddling, whale watching, or simply hanging out on one of the area’s fantastic beaches. If your dog is joining you for Labor Day weekend antics, be sure to check out Bark’N’Borrow to find activities both of you can enjoy – for instance, Huntington Dog Beach is the top dog beach in the LA area.

Up the coast a bit, Santa Barbara’s East and West beaches offer classic California beach activities, from sand volleyball to simply sunbathing, and so much more: kayaking, windsurfing and stand up paddling can also easily be on the agenda. Keep an eye out for dolphins and whales passing by, too!

Take the ferry from San Francisco and enjoy Labor Day weekend in Alameda, an island with the only beach in the East Bay. One of the best flea markets in the country can be found here, as well as historic neighborhoods and craft distilleries.

Go fly a kite in Lincoln City on Oregon’s coast. No, really! Lincoln City’s coastal winds are perfect for kite flying, and has even been named the “Kite Flying Capital of the World” by Kite Life Magazine. Over Labor Day weekend, check out the Surf City Classic Car Show, head to the farmers’ market, or simply enjoy the beach. Also in Oregon, camping, hiking and sandboarding – that’s going down huge sand dunes snowboard-style – are all on the agenda with a stay in Florence.

A helpful tip: when planning your Labor Day weekend getaway, search Twitter using a hashtag with a destination to see what people have to say about where you’re thinking of going. According to Twitter, last year’s five most tweeted about beaches for Labor Day weekend were South Beach, Palm Beach, Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach and Hilton Head.

Asbury Park Now