Labor Day: The Beach, Festivals and Wine Tasting Under the Stars

Pool party labor day Ocean City

Labor Day – it’s a tribute to the American working man and woman and the time of year when many Americans wave a reluctant farewell to summer. Here are some suggestions to help you say goodbye to the sunshine season.

It’s the end of summer, but the beach is still the place to be. From August 31until September 2, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina puts on a Beach Boogie and Barbeque. This family event takes place at Myrtle Beach’s Grand Park. Groove to live music, take to the water on free boat rides, browse through the offerings of arts and crafts vendors and watch fireworks in the evening. Come on an empty stomach. Thanks to the South Carolina Barbeque Championship, the Kansas City Barbeque Society Cook-off and the Sunday Wing-off competition, there will be plenty of good food to sample.  Make sure to visit the beer garden – you’ll need plenty of cold brew to wash down all that barbeque.

If you love a big beach town, Ocean City Maryland beckons. During the day, stroll the boardwalk for funnel cakes, take a turn on the Ferris wheel, go gift shopping, eating and drinking. No trip to Ocean City would be complete without a trip to the wildly popular Seacrets. With its Irie Radio tower standing tall over the property’s beach sand, palm trees, and the Jamaican and American flags flying high, Seacrets bills itself as Jamaica USA. Grab a table set down in the water, order a Red Stripe and jerk chicken from a server in a swimsuit. It’s big, crowded and busy, but the very able Peace Police keep it irie.

A weekend in Washington DC merely scratches the surface of what the capital city has to offer.  Begin with the National Mall, home to many of the Smithsonian Museums. Tour the exhibits in the Museum of African Art and the perennial favorite Air and Space Museum. On Saturday, September 1, Washington’s s iconic Carter Barron Amphitheatre hosts the annual Washington, DC Blues Festival. This event begins at noon and the good music is free. On the Sunday before Labor Day gather on the West Lawn of the Capitol to hear the National Symphony Orchestra. The show starts at 8:00 but that’s way too late to find a seat. The gates open at 3:00 pm, and at 3:30 you can catch the orchestra’s rehearsal.

Come to the city of Chicago and celebrate Labor Day at the 34th Chicago Jazz Festival. It takes place in Grant Park, Millennium Park and The Chicago Cultural Center, bringing together local and national jazz artists for four days of world class music. Good food and a line-up of arts and crafts vendors round out this Chicagoland summertime staple. This year’s headliners are Roy Haynes, Allen Toussaint and Diane Reeves. The Festival ends with Exquisitely Ella, a tribute to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald.

While you’re in Chicago, come to the 23rd African Festival of the Arts. It’s said to be the largest neighborhood festival in Chicago, and one of the largest of its kind in the country. Bring the entire family to celebrate the culture and contributions of people of the African Diaspora. Walk through the villages for story-telling, historical artifacts, magnificent art, praise dance, drumming, and live music from Afro-Soul to George Clinton and Funkadelic.

West Coast wine lovers, take heed.  Labor Day weekend is also Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, with tickets available for a variety of events. On Friday night  poolside at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery becomes the Sonoma Starlight Supper Club with wine, live music, and dancing under the stars. On Friday and Saturday the weekend features lunch and a barbeque with local winemakers and on Sunday the Chateau St. John Winery hosts the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction.

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