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Labor Day Getaways

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The last vestiges of summer inadvertently slip away with the final hours of Labor Day weekend. School starts again and work kicks back into high gear leaving precious little time to enjoy the gilt flecked afternoons of September. With just a few days off, Labor Day is the perfect time to hop in the car and head to a not-too-distant locale. Here are five drivable destinations to make the most of Labor Day weekend.

—Lisa Dukart

 

This tiny coastal town, just north of the Maryland border, sits right on the Atlantic. Its small population—under 400 at the last census—makes it a snug hideaway that’s just a little off the beaten path. About a two and a half hour drive from the Main Line, it bypasses more popular Delaware getaways like Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach.

Just north of Fenwick Island, on a small barrier island, is Fenwick Island State Park. The three-mile stretch of beach makes for the perfect sandy spot to spend a few days, offering visitors 344 acres of shore, where they can spend a day lounging on the sand and swimming in the lifeguard-patrolled surf. There is also a designated surfing spot for those hoping to catch some waves.

Get break from the beach at Viking Golf and Thunder Lagoon Water Park. Right on the edge of town, there’s plenty to keep everyone amused, from mini golf to go go-karts to water slides. For those who want to get a little more adventurous than a lazy river, the Atlantic and the calmer Little Assawoman Bay make for great spots for watersports. Located on the beach, Coastal Kayak offers a myriad of rentals, from kayaks to paddleboards to sailboats. They also offer guided tours and instructions for those who want to learn the ropes. Like any beach town, there are plenty of spots nearby to grab ice cream to complete the quintessential summer escape.

Accommodations in Fenwick Island are somewhat limited, with just a couple of hotels, inns and motels. The Seaside Inn is right in town and offers simple accommodations and a pool. North of Fenwick Island, there are many more hotels, like the Hyatt Place in Dewey Beach. Slightly removed from the bustle, it offers easy access to Fenwick Island State Park, the bay and the beach. 

 

The city does its final disappearing act for the season, as natives flood the Hamptons, leaving the city eerily empty. Or, as empty as the country’s biggest city can be. Just a two hour drive from the Main Line, it’s the perfect destination, whether seeing the sights, taking in a show, or experiencing one of the nation’s best international sporting events.

Head to the Theater District and take in a Broadway feature. Family friendly and perfect for nostalgia seekers, Finding Neverland has become a hit. Those looking for a classic can see The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, or Fiddler on the Roof. After the curtain, explore Times Square, the Museum of Modern Art and Rockefeller Center for a truly traditional New York City experience.

For a luxury getaway, stay at The Chatwal, conveniently located in the Theater District. The interior sports a sleek Art Deco design. For those who’d rather see the sights, too, try the Renwick Hotel. Its central location puts it within easy distance of the theaters, Times Square and lots of museums.

Those looking for world-class sports should head to the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows. The middle weekend of the premiere tennis event draws lots of crowds, giving it a fun vibe. At this point in the tournament, visitors will have the chance to see the top players, some fresh off their run at the Rio Olympics, as well as lesser-known athletes on a hot streak.

The nearby Parc Hotel offers well-appointed rooms and suites, all with a sleek, modern aesthetic. Or try The One, a boutique hotel that’s near the USTA grounds, boasting a more colorful, yet modern palette.

When not watching tennis, explore the 1964 World’s Fair grounds at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, check out the art at Queens Museum, meander the New York Hall of Science, or take a stroll through Queens Botanical Garden. Regardless of destination, New York is brimming with entertainment.

 

The region west of the Main Line, not quite half way across Pennsylvania, is an elusive one, often overshadowed by the large cities to its east and west. Still, South Central Pennsylvania, which comprises Perry, Cumberland, Franklin, Adams and York counties, among others, offers a great deal for nature lovers and history buffs alike. A reasonable drive—visitors can be to parts in just an hour and a half—the region makes for a perfect long weekend escape. 

Home to the Sweetest Place on Earth, Hershey is a great stop for families or those just looking to reignite their inner childhood wonder. Spend a day hurtling on roller coasters, cooling on waterslides and exploring the history of Hershey’s chocolate at the iconic Hersheypark and Hershey’s Chocolate World. Take a break from the rides at the nearby Milton and Catherine Hershey Conservatory at Hershey Gardens. The beautifully manicured grounds also have a children’s garden and butterfly atrium. From there, get in touch with wildlife at ZooAmerica, home to exotic animals like the alligator snapping turtle, gray wolf, bald eagle, black bear, bobcat and more. Visitors can stay right near the fun, at the Hotel Hershey or the Hershey Lodge, both of which offer family-friendly escapes.

Also in the region is the state’s capital. Visitors can tour the Pennsylvania Capitol where its impressive architecture and art are on display, along with the state’s legislative processes. Delve further into Pennsylvania’s history at the Historical Society of Dauphin County, housed in the John Harris – Simon Cameron Mansion, erected in 1766. In addition to a glimpse into its owner’s lives, it displays exhibits relevant to the region. The National Civil War Museum and the Fort Hunter Mansion and Park also make excellent stops for history lovers.

After a day exploring Harrisburg, visit Gettysburg for a dose of American history. The Gettysburg Battlefield is a must, either by guided or independent tours. Round out the trip with a visit to the Gettysburg National Military Park, which honors the soldiers from the Civil War and marks an important turn in American history. 

 

For those looking for a waterfront escape, but not necessarily the crowds of the shore, St. Michaels provides the perfect getaway. Just a two and a half hour drive from the Main Line, the charming town is situated on the Chesapeake Bay, making it an ideal location for boaters.

In town, visitors can sip on wines at St. Michaels Winery, explore history at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and take in the Hooper Straight Lighthouse, situated on the tip of St. Michaels. Lyon Distilling Company also calls St. Michaels home. Visitors can taste the artisan-crafted liquors, including several whiskeys.

A trip wouldn’t be complete without enjoying the marina and the Chesapeake. Hop on one of the area’s boat tours, like Patriot Cruises, which offers a different perspective of the town. Guided sails are also available throughout town. For those who really want to get on the water, there are watersports rentals available. Shore Pedal and Paddle offers bike rentals, perfect for navigating the small town, as well as paddleboards.  

Part of the charm of the region is its many interconnecting towns along the water. Take a drive along the roads, edged by the beautiful Chesapeake. A serene drive leads to Tilghman Island where visitors can rent canoes, kayaks, jet skis and more.

St. Michaels is dotted with charming bed and breakfasts and inns. Situated on the main street is the Five Gables Inn and Spa, offering a quaint and intimate accommodation, perfect for couples. Those looking for waterfront accommodations should try the Harbour Inn, which has views of the marina and cozy rooms.            

 

The nation’s capital is a treasure trove. The perfect destination for history lovers, Washington, D.C. also offers great nature experiences, and is just two and half hours from the Main Line. No visit to D.C. is complete without a stop at the National Mall and the many top-notch museums. Discover the 45.5 carat Hope Diamond, dinosaurs and many species at the National Museum of Natural History. Visitors can also get a look at America’s national parks in IMAX, celebrating 100 years. Those looking to the skies can explore the history of aviation and space travel at the National Air and Space Museum, home to the original Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11 command module. Other Smithsonian highlights include the National Zoo, the National Museum of the American Indian, the American History Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

While there, take in famous political sites, including Capital Hill, the Library of Congress and the White House. The capital also contains plenty of impressive monuments, which are always impressive, including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the Jefferson Memorial.

Those looking to get outside of the city while still exploring history can visit Manassas National Battlefield Park, about an hour drive west. The park served as a key location in two battles in the Civil War. George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, also lies outside the city. His stately home is available for tours and offers insight on the country’s first leader.

Those who’d rather forego the car can get out in nature at Rock Creek Park, which covers 1,800 acres. A favorite among locals, the park offers hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, tennis, golf and even boating.

While there, call the Hay-Adams Hotel home. With impressive architecture to match its equally impressive location, it’s perfect for those set on exploring the highlights. The luxury hotel offers plush accommodations, but most importantly, a panoramic view of the White House and surrounds for a truly unforgettable weekend escape. 

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