Our family travels quite a bit and I have been lucky to visit some great out of the way locations. When I was thinking about writing this article I realized that these small out of the way places give you a taste of America that you just do not experience when you unpack your bags at the more well traveled tourist attractions of our country. Labor day is a great time to travel as it is often the last bash of the summer. Even If you travel to the more well known destinations, it can be less crowded during this holiday, but in this article I am going to try to lead you off the beaten track and away from the crowds to experience Labor day in a quieter and less hurried fashion.
Vermont is one of my favorite states, it is scenic and rural, with a lot of opportunities to explore and find the unusual. Burlington, Vermont is a fun and busy college town, home to the University of Vermont and Champlain College. It is also the birthplace of the delicious Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. There is a small sidewalk plaque at the corner of St. Paul and College streets commemorating their original ice-cream shop. The center of Burlington overlooks Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of New York. If you look to the east the Green Mountains form a beautiful backdrop, with the famous Mount Mansfield in the center. At the center of Burlington’s flavor and ambiance is the Church Street mall. The pedestrian only brick walkway is home to an eclectic mix of art galleries, cafes, bookstores, boutique shops, and restaurants. A labor day weekend trip to Burlington can guarantee live music performances on the waterfront as well. Burlington makes a perfect home base to travel and see the rest of Vermont.
South of Burlington is Manchester, Vermont, a beautiful little town with a great mixture of activities for the whole family. Manchester is home to the famous Orvis fly fishing school, where you can spend Labor Day taking a course in casting, setting up your rod, fly selection, knots, and safely releasing your catch. Classes are held in the Orvis schoolhouse on the fully-stocked casting ponds, and out on the famous Battenkill River. The schoolhouse is across from the Orvis Store which is an experience in itself. In addition to carrying the full line of famous Orvis clothing and supplies the store hosts two stories of indoor fish ponds and beautiful interiors reminiscent of old Adirondack lodges. Cap off your stay in Manchester with a night or two at the beautiful 200 year old Equinox hotel that was richly renovated in the 1990’s. In addition to the beautiful Equinox Golf course you can also check out the birds of prey at The British School of Falconry and master 4×4 driving techniques at the Land Rover Experience Driving School. Stroll the town of Manchester and take a drive along the back roads for a truly memorable Vermont vacation.
We had the pleasure of driving west one year and stopped in Millersburg Ohio. I doubt that there could be a better place to spend Labor Day. The town is a Heritage Ohio Main Street Community, quaint and full of rich history. We stayed in the historic Victorian Hotel Millersburg which has been beautifully renovated and is on the national register of historic hotels. At one time the hotel was a stage coach inn and is now one of the oldest working hotels in Ohio. We only needed to walk out the front door to stroll the main street that seemed so authentically American to us. There were a lot of unique shops and it was fun to browse. There were also some nice restaurants, pubs, and museums to visit. Millersburg is located in the heart of Amish country. Take a drive off the beaten path and you will assuredly catch a glimpse of the gentle Amish driving their horse drawn buggy’s and working quietly in their community. There is also plenty of opportunity to purchase Amish made items which are known world wide for their quality of workmanship.
Head north from Ohio and find Labor Day beauty in the town of Escanaba, Michigan located on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Little Bay De Noc, in the beautiful Upper Peninsula. This area is a sportsman’s paradise with hunting, fishing, boating, camping, and hiking at every turn. There are miles of rivers, peaceful shoreline along lake Michigan, inland lakes, and the Hiawatha National Forest. If you are a history buff take a tour of one of the many lighthouses in the area or go visit the old Fayette Historic Town site. In the late 1800’s Fayette was a busy noisy and dirty industrial town that manufactured pig Iron. The museum site takes you back to the past in a realistic and well done way. What better way to celebrate Labor Day than to visit an area that played a pivotal role in the shipping of iron ore and the men who labored. After you pay homage to the gritty town that seems to define American Labor and the celebration of Labor day you can relax and play a round of golf on one of the many public courses in the area. If you’re still not tired after all your sightseeing you can head out to the Chip-In Casino, located a few miles west of Escanaba. With all your winnings you can begin to plan your next holiday vacation! Look for the unexpected, travel off the well worn road and you may find places that will warm your heart and fill your scrapbook with cherished memories.