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What to do on Labor Day with your kids

Celebrate the unofficial end of summer with these fun Labor Day activities

An American flag on a deserted beach signifying Memorial Day weekend
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School may already be in session or just about ready to begin, but for kids and adults, Labor Day signals the unofficial end to summer. While many families pack up and head out for one final three-day weekend of summer fun, others choose to stay close to home and avoid the people-packed beaches.

Just because you decide to have a laid-back Labor Day doesn’t mean you and the kids have to be bored. If you’re looking for fun activities for the family on Labor Day, there are plenty of ways to relax and enjoy a day off before September school, sports, and extracurriculars amp up.

Kids having fun in a pool and wearing sunglasses.
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What to do on Labor Day with the family

Labor Day is a federal holiday in the U.S. It is a day set aside to recognize the contributions of laborers or workers. It’s been marked across the nation since 1894 and is celebrated annually on the first Monday in September in the U.S. and in Canada. Many other countries also mark Labor Day, but on May 1. On the East Coast, Labor Day is often seen as the final weekend before summer vacation officially ends and the school year begins. In most other parts of the U.S. school is already in session, which makes Labor Day weekend a day off from school and work.

Either way, Labor Day is a fun day the family can spend together since many businesses are closed too. Sure, there may be soccer or baseball tournaments in full swing, but for the most part, Labor Day marks the end of a long family-friendly weekend. Like any other summer holiday, the family wants to spend it together doing something cool. So, if you can’t go away because the kids had a tournament or it wasn’t in the budget, don’t worry. There are plenty of things to do on Labor Day that the whole family will enjoy. Here are some awesome ideas to get the kids off the devices and out of the house.

Go to a local parade

Many towns across the country still host a Labor Day parade to honor the origins of the holiday was created to celebrate the nation’s workforce. Check online to see if your town or a nearby one is holding a Labor Day parade.

See a movie

Blockbuster movies traditionally aren’t released on Labor Day weekend, but a day off from work and school is earmarked for a matinee and a bucket of movie theater popcorn. See what’s playing at your local movie theater.

Take a hike

Lace up your sneakers and head out on a hike. There are always plenty of kid-friendly hiking trails within driving distance to explore. Whenever you take kids hiking, make sure to pack plenty of snacks and water.

Head to a national park

With 400 plus national parks and monuments across the U.S., every state has a least one national park and probably more. Check out a national park in your state. To find one, visit the National Parks website. Labor Day is a federal holiday and national parks are run by the National Parks Service. Some like Gateway National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey are open on Labor Day. Be sure to check the national park you’re heading to is open on Labor Day before packing up the car.

Paddle a kayak

An afternoon in a kayak is a fun way to spend Labor Day. When kayaking with kids, an hour rental is usually enough. If you decide to go longer, come prepared with a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way.

Picnic in the park

Bring the teddy bears and the blanket for a relaxing picnic in a nearby park. If you prefer, have the picnic in your backyard.

Have a family barbecue

With school and work a day away, you might not want to host a big barbecue. Instead, have a small one with just the immediate family. Plan on playing backyard classics like cornhole and ring toss.

Pool day

If you have a backyard pool, a lazy holiday afternoon by the pool is in order. Labor Day is the perfect day to spend poolside before you have to close it up for the season. If you don’t have a pool, check out a community pool in your area and spend the day.

Family outside biking together
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Ride a bike path

Load up the bikes, pack a lunch, and take a ride on a bike path. Make sure the bike path is paved and kid-friendly before bringing little ones. If there aren’t any nearby bike paths or you don’t have a rack for the car, a family bike ride around the neighborhood is cool too. Even better is a bike ride to the local ice cream shop.

Backyard camp-out

If you’ve always wanted to have a camp-out, but not having a nearby bathroom or a fear of Yogi’s buddies stopping by has kept you from giving camping a try, have one in your backyard. Plan to sleep under the stars and wake up on Labor Day morning in a cozy tent. With your own home just steps away, you can answer the call of nature without worrying about poison ivy. Even though it’s your backyard, you can still experience the thrill of sleeping outside in a tent under the stars.

Visit a museum

Spending Labor Day exploring a museum is a different way to spend the holiday. Art, history, and science museums make for a family-friendly day out. Just be sure to check the museum website to make sure it’s open on Labor Day.

Mini golf

Get in one last round of mini golf before the weekend schedule is packed with sports and other activities. Tweens and teens might enjoy a trip to the driving range instead or a round or two at Top Golf.

Check the local calendar

Before heading out for a family Labor Day outing, check and see what’s going on in and around your local neighborhood. If you live in a city, chances are there are festivals, fairs, and other exciting community events going on nearby. You also don’t have to live in a city for Labor Day events to be held. Head online and see what’s going on in your area for Labor Day. You just might be surprised at the number of activities you find.

Family going on a Labor Day picnic
oliveromg / Shutterstock

Enjoy Labor Day

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. It was born out of the labor movement in the 19th century. Labor Day means different things to everyone. For many teachers and students, it means the school year is about to start. Most people have come to think of Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer even though fall doesn’t begin until September 22.

Regardless of what you feel about Labor Day, it is a day off of work and school, which means it is perfect for family-friendly activities. Don’t worry if you can’t fit a long vacation weekend in the budget, there are plenty of things to do within driving distance of your home. If you are looking for something to do on Labor Day with your kids, you are certain to get inspired by our list.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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