Making the most of your Labor Day: 13 unique ideas

time in the sand

Happy Labor Day!

The first Labor Day celebration was held on September 5, 1882, by the Central Labor Union in New York City. And the United States has celebrated the holiday each year since to recognize the work that has been done by those fighting for fair labor practices.

Acknowledge the freedoms you have as a worker in today’s United States compared to a century ago—or even a few decades ago—and enjoy your extra day off to the fullest.

Here are a few ideas for making the most of your Labor Day:

So you have a three day weekend?

Until 1908, when the New England Mill began giving its employees Saturday off, workers were required to work six full days. And it wasn’t until 1926 that the five-day work week truly took hold, thanks to Ford adopting the practice.

Still, science (and Forbes) says that every week should have a three day weekend. While we wait for society to catch up and begin to accept that full-time employees could accomplish the same amount of work in fewer days, let’s make sure we’re making the most of the time that we have.

Last-minute booking

If your heart isn’t set on a specific location, you could find good deals on hotels that haven’t yet sold out. Try out Priceline’s Express Deals, or call up a few locations with vacancies and see what they can offer.

Adventure trip

Arrange the rest of your time away around a particular adventure or activity and you will have at least one big thing to look forward to, rather than just an all-around good time. Is this the weekend you’ll try skydiving? Or hike to a waterfall? Or climb to the Hollywood sign? Or paddleboard on Lake Tahoe? Choose your own adventure!


Relaxation retreat

Maybe it’s a treat yourself, rest, and rejuvenate kind of weekend. Visit a hot spring, book a day of manicures, pedicures, and facials, or lay on the beach with a book and a cold drink. Go away so that you can come back renewed.

Seizing the last of summer

With this holiday marking the last of summer celebrations for many, people tend to flock to surrounding lakes and beaches for one last hurrah.

dog at the beach

In fact, up in certain parts of the California mountains, Labor Day is known as “farewell to flatlanders,” as campgrounds and lakefronts empty, and summer visitors return to their regularly scheduled routines.

Find a hidden cove where you can do the same, or seek less crowded spaces in cities where residents may have vacated for the weekend.

Taking a day trip?

What can you do in a day?

Be a tourist


What’s one of the top visitor destinations near your home? Show up early to take advantage of any holiday specials and to see the spot for yourself, then move on before the busiest tourist times really start.

Spot on the map

Do you happen to have an old geometry compass from your school days? No? Then use a tool like Travelmath to find all the cities within a certain radius of your home. Choose the distance you are willing to travel, then research what there is to do and see in those locations.

What’s within two hours’ drive time of Novato, California (One Legal’s home base)? Hollister, Prunedale, and Navarro: here we come!

By boat or by train

train through the mountains

These days, boats and trains are highly underutilized forms of transportation, much less travel. Have a nearby lake or ocean with day cruises available? How about a wine tasting railway trip or a heritage train with scenic views? Enjoy the getting there as well as the arrival.

Staying close to home?

You don’t have to leave your city to enjoy yourself!

Go with (or against) the flow


According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, Labor Day and Memorial Day are tied for the second most popular days to barbecue, preceded only by the Fourth of July. Grab a grill to follow the trend, or go out of your way to do anything but…

Buy happiness

It turns out that money might actually be able to buy happiness—or at least a little of it. According to a study by Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, people who spend money on time-saving purchases report greater happiness levels compared to those who buy material objects.

“If there’s some task that just thinking about it fills you with dread, then it’s probably worth considering whether you can afford to buy your way out of it,” said Elizabeth Dunn, an author of the report and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

So, if cleaning out the gutters or deep cleaning the bathroom has been on your dreaded to-do list for too long, consider hiring a professional with the money you might have otherwise spent on something you don’t need or really want.

Search for sales

Of course, if you do need to buy a physical item, then holidays are notorious for weeklong sales and special deals. Lifehacker has this guide for the best time of year to buy certain products. On Labor Day, mattresses, appliances, and meals are most likely to be reduced.

Attend a community event

community event

Look in your local papers and browse event sites to find out what fun things are going on in your nearby cities. There may be live music, craft fairs, or other themed events going on especially for local community members.

Try something new

What will you say when you get back to the office and everyone is swapping stories of their long weekend? While rejuvenation and relaxation can’t be qualified in a sentence or two, a single story could earn you some bragging rights.

  • Organize a scavenger hunt
  • Go fruit picking
  • Put together a jigsaw puzzle
  • Write out your bucket list
  • Attend a play
  • Browse garage sales
  • Host a “Minute to Win It” party
  • Plan a movie marathon (with a theme)
  • Look for volunteer opportunities

Do something you miss

What did you once love but haven’t had time to do in a while? Whether it’s painting landscapes, playing the saxophone, or curling, give yourself the gift of getting back to it. Devote an entire day to your former passion or several hours from each of your days off. Find out if you still enjoy it, or if there are other things you’d be interested in trying.


No court deadlines, no meetings, no commute! What are your ideas for Labor Day weekend? Share your plans and recommendations in the comments.

Wellness guide

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