Labor Day weekend may be just around the corner, but it’s not too late to plan the perfect three-day getaway. From coast to coast, there are plenty of free and budget-friendly activities to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for a Jazz Festival in Chicago, a quirky traditional event held every year in Park City, or an American music extravaganza in Virginia Beach, we’ve rounded up eight exciting events and festivals around the country you won’t want to miss.
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Lake Tahoe: For carnivals, races, and family-friendly fun
Take the kids to the South Lake Tahoe Community Fair at the Heavenly Mountain Base Lodge for carnival rides and a ride on the 40-foot-tall Ferris wheel. You can also enjoy live music with an impressive fireworks display over the lake Sunday night starting at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 31st, you’ll have the opportunity to board one of South Shore’s two Mississippi paddlewheeler boats, the Tahoe Queen or the M.S. Dixie II, for the 21st annual Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race, a unique only-in-Tahoe experience that can be yours for from $25 per person including brunch and drink specials. If you’d rather be a spectator, cheer runners on from the sidelines as they compete in the second annual Heavenly Mountain Run, racing from the California Base Lodge at 6,565-feet all the way up to the Tamarack Lodge at 9.150-feet. Another notable weekend event is the 4th annual Sample the Sierra Festival on Sept. 1st from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., where you can sample fresh farm-to-table food and wine creations by local chefs and farmers.
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Launch the Slide Show
The Jersey Shore: For beachside water parks on the pier
The beaches along the Jersey Shore have definitely bounced back from last year’s storm damage with style—some of them even made our list of America’s Most Awesome Boardwalks, and Ocean City, N.J. was featured as one of BT’s favorite beach towns. This Labor Day weekend, pay a visit to one of New Jersey’s many beachside waterparks, like Raging Waters and the Ocean Oasis Waterpark & Beach Club at Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, for a fun way to cool off in the hot summer sun, whether you prefer to relax in the lazy river or take on adrenaline-pumping attractions like the Cliff Dive slide and WipeOut. Waterpark passes start at $39 for adults and $35 for children under 48″. Seniors over age 65 get in free with a valid photo ID. Families with toddlers and small children should opt for Asbury Splash Park—try the $50 family fun pack that includes four passes to Asbury Splash Park, four passes to the onsite mini-golf course, four beach access passes, a daily parking pass, and discounts at vendors along the boardwalk. Admission to Asbury Splash Park costs $5 for adults, $9 for children, or $20 for a family day pass for two adults and two children.
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Baltimore: For high-speed racing through the city streets
Kids 12 and under get in free (with a general-admission-paying adult) to watch the Grand Prix of Baltimore, an event held from Friday to Sunday where you can see sports cars tear their way through the 12-turn, two-mile track along Baltimore’s harbor at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour. Enjoy live musical performances by local bands, and treat the kids to family-friendly activities, Radio Disney shows, an obstacle course from the Port Discovery Children’s Museum, and special insider access to the Baltimore Convention Center, where they can get an up-close-and-personal look at the race cars before they go out. Check out the Autobahn Indoor Speedway in the Esskay Family Fun Zone for a chance to drive high-speed electric go-karts from Italy—go-karts for children ages 8-13 go up to 25 miles per hour while the ones for ages 13 and up can go as fast as 50 miles per hour. Children must be at least eight years old to drive go-karts; races are $15 each. Adult general admission to the Grand Prix of Baltimore starts at $25 for a three-day ticket.