Five Cool Ways to Celebrate Labor Day and Say Goodbye to Summer in Style
Before you trade your daily iced coffee for chai lattes and your cover-ups for cardigans, give your summer a sweet sendoff with these celebratory ideas for parties, meals, cocktails, and getaways during Labor Day weekend. They'll help you savor the last few days of the season and give you a few memories to carry you through the winter.
Savor an iconic summer meal.
"There are so many different meals that could classify as the perfect end to a summer meal," says chef Garnett Livingston of La Maison Dining, "but one that stands out in my mind—and particularly in America—would be an East Coast/Maine-themed outdoor dinner. This meal is special because it is seasonal, fresh, delicious, and fun!" Incorporate sweet summer peaches into a roasted baby beet salad as a starter; serve classic Maine lobster rolls, grilled corn on the cob with chive butter, and Cape Cod chips for the entrée; and finish with blueberry cobbler and vanilla ice cream. "You could have some fun with the lobster rolls, serving them on brown paper bags on top of a piece of weathered wood—the table could be set in red, white, and blue, using mason jars for water," says Livingston. "A few choices of wine might be a nice and crisp Chenin Blanc from South Africa, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or Chablis from France."
Take an end-of-summer trip.
If you've been taking advantage of your vaccinated status to make up for a year of staying home, add one last warm-weather trip to your itinerary. "I think the best 'goodbye to summer' destination is definitely somewhere on the water," says travel agent Diane Scherer of Beyond, who recommends Santa Barbara and Lake Tahoe on the West Coast. Santa Barbara is an amazing destination with great hotels, restaurants, and tons to do from biking and hiking to sailing and wine tasting, she notes; Lake Tahoe, on the other hand, is a special place to bridge the gap between summer and fall, since you get both the mountains and the lakefront beaches. "The nights can get chilly there at that time of year reminding you that yes, summer is almost over—but those crisp nights by the fire are waiting for you on the other side," she adds. If you're looking for a destination on the East Coast, try Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard. "There's nothing that screams summer more than a lobster roll, incredible sunsets, and hydrangeas," says Scherer. "Saying a final goodbye to these quintessentially summer things before winter hits is a must!"
Make the most of the summer harvest.
Before swapping the fresh berries and stone fruits of summer for fall's rich comfort foods, Virginia Frischkorn of Bluebird Productions suggests hosting a sweet, pie-themed party. "The summer fruit is prime for the picking, and baked goods served with ice cream is sheer perfection," she says. The aesthetic is classic summer-fair: basketweave textures, gingham prints, colorful fonts. "The party can happen anywhere, but we love a park or backyard to celebrate the end of 'outdoor season,'" she says. "We see picnic blankets or picnic tables set with colorful linens, and cheerful flowers like sunflowers and daisies. Decorate with finds from the farmer's market: fruit on the table or flowers fresh from the farm."
Enjoy summer in your city.
If long-distance travel doesn't work for your schedule this year, take a few days off to play tourist in your own town: Get a day pass for a rooftop pool, make reservations at your favorite outdoor restaurant, or rent boats on the lake. "No matter where you live, you can always find something fun to do locally," says Scherer. "Whether it be a staycation at a local hotel, a visit to a museum with a special exhibit, an art or food festival, or an amusement park, or even just a great outdoor dining experience—there's always a way to make anywhere you are feel like a vacation," she says. "And don't forget to order an Aperol spritz!"
Schedule one last beach bash.
Bonfires and firepits may anchor your social schedule well into the fall and early winter, which makes them a perfect transitional celebration. "We love sending off summer and welcoming fall with a big bonfire. As it cools off and the days get shorter, the bonfire helps keep the heat and light alive," says Frischkorn, who says you can host yours in the backyard, on the beach, in the mountains, or even on a rooftop (albeit, on a smaller scale). "The more picnic blankets and pillows the better!" Enhance the mood with a playlist of acoustic favorites and set up a s'mores bar with all the trimmings: graham crackers and marshmallows, dark and milk chocolate, peanut butter cups, banana slices, caramels, white chocolate, and chocolate chip and fudge-drizzled cookies.