Five Places Not to Be on Labor Day Weekend

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Watchtowers on Venice Beach, California
Popular vacation spots, such as Venice Beach, California, fill up quickly on Labor Day weekend.  (iStockphoto)

It’s summer’s big finale, when seashores swell with beachgoers and the last melons ripen in the fields. The three-day holiday known as Labor Day is also the weekend when crowds converge—in cities, on beaches, in parkland and wilderness—for a climactic, bittersweet snatch of summer before autumn rolls in and school starts again. Some folks thrive in these mass convergences; others find the traffic, noise, and commotion to be one big headache. If you’re of the latter persuasion, here are a few popular American vacation spots you may want to avoid on Labor Day weekend.

1. Jersey Shore, New Jersey
The tawny beaches of the Jersey shore have been a summertime refuge for Atlantic Seaboard urbanites for more than a century. On summer weekends, sunbathers lie cheek-by-jowl on the glistening sands and endure long lines at old-time amusement parks. Even in 2011, just days after Hurricane Irene slammed the Jersey Shore, throngs of beachgoers flocked to the seaside for Labor Day weekend without missing a beat. This year should be no exception: Expect packed beaches and crowded boardwalks at classic shore towns like Seaside Heights, Ocean City, and even Atlantic City. Equally annoying to those who disdain crowded beaches and boardwalks? The drive to get there, when the Garden State is jammed with Labor Day “shore birds.”       

2. Yosemite National Park, California
One of the most popular national parks in the country gets practically overrun on Labor Day weekend, when day-trippers from nearby towns clog up the highway and traffic crawls in and out of the park. According to Yosemite photographer Phil Hawkins, who hosts a comprehensive Yosemite website,, not only is traffic gridlocked with people coming and going, but popular trails such as Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls can be overcrowded with Labor Day visitors. Make hotel and campsite reservations well in advance or plan a trip during autumn, when the crowds thin and the weather cools. A general rule of thumb for heavily visited national parks: Avoid, if possible, these parkland vacation spots during the three major summer holidays.

3. Venice Beach, California
Venice Beach is naturally thronged on a daily basis, but on Labor Day weekend the beach and boardwalk almost feel like Bangkok at rush hour—that is, of course, if Bangkok were filled with half-naked rollerbladers and preening bodybuilders. In fact, Labor Day is the date for the annual one-day Muscle Beach Championship, held right here on Venice’s famed Muscle Beach, where former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pumped his way to bodybuilding stardom. It’s a scene, you bet, and one made only more frenzied by the shoppers, beachgoers, bicyclists, and rubberneckers inevitably drawn to the happy circus that is Venice Beach.

Published: 10 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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