When it comes to ideal destinations for the last bit of summer fun, Los Angeles is a great place to visit over Labor Day weekend, offering plenty to do for tourists of all ages. From Fleet Week and the Los Angeles County Fair to music, food, art, and film festivals, you can send off the summer in style this year.
If you want to spend the last official weekend of summer at the ocean, stop by one of the beaches of Los Angeles or cool off at one of the city's many water parks. You can also take advantage of the extra free day to check out some of the things to do that are available year-round, or even take a short road trip to escape the crowds in nature.
Be sure to book your accommodations in advance, though, as spaces are likely to fill up closer to the holiday.
Los Angeles Fleet Week is a celebration of the U.S. Armed Forces that takes place for four days over Labor Day Weekend at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. It features public ship tours of active Navy and Coast Guard ships, aerial demos, military equipment demonstrations, a resource village for active military and veterans, a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Expo, live music, food trucks, and even a few parties.
The main event takes place near the Los Angeles World Cruise Center Terminal. While most events are free to attend, check the event website to ensure whether museums or other components of Los Angeles Fleet Week charge admission.
The LA County Fair starts Labor Day weekend and runs throughout much of September. The kickoff events on the holiday weekend feature live music, rides, livestock shows, gardening demonstrations, and hundreds of gadgets to discover. The LA County Fair takes place at the Fairplex in Pomona, off the I-10 freeway. Admission varies, but you can get a season pass if you plan to visit for more than one day, and other discounts are offered.
A three-day arts and crafts festival with over 300 vendors, live music, the Charity Beer & Wine Garden, food from many cultures, and a kiddie carnival, Fiesta Hermosa has taken place over Labor Day weekend since 1972. The annual festival held at Pier Plaza in downtown Hermosa Beach is free, as are the ocean views. Fiesta Hermosa happens twice a year, so if you missed your chance to celebrate on Labor Day, you can stop by on Memorial Day weekend the following year.
Four city streets are blocked off around the traffic circle in Old Town Orange each Labor Day Weekend for the annual Orange International Street Fair taking place since 1973. The fair features nine stages, including an Irish stage, a Greek stage, a German stage, a Mexican stage, a Polynesian stage, an English stage, and an all-American stage, as well as a children's stage with daily kid-friendly activities. The event is free to attend and takes place from Friday through Sunday of Labor Day weekend. This is a very family-friendly festival during the day, but it gets very crowded in the evening and a lot of people who have been drinking all day are bothersome by dusk.
Southern California has a rich cultural heritage and a robust Greek population, so it may not surprise you to learn that there are plenty of Greek festivals and parties coming to the region throughout the summer, culminating in the biggest event of them all: the Long Beach Greek Festival By the Sea. Events take place on Saturday through Monday of the holiday weekend, and a small admission price supports the festival production team. Live music, exhibit dancing, social dancing, videos about the beloved country in southeastern Europe, authentic Greek food and product booths, and children's games all complete the experience, held at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Long Beach.
Cinephiles from around the world have gathered in Los Angeles every Labor Day weekend for over 50 years to celebrate classic cinema by attending a five-day series of screenings of "rare, unusual, and unjustly forgotten movies from the silent and early sound era" of film. Featuring many classic film screenings, celebrity guests, and film, book, and movie memorabilia shows, the Cinecon Classic Film Festival takes place at the Egyptian Theatre and the Loews Hollywood Hotel. The majority of films are screened in 35 millimeters, and the silent films include live piano accompaniments.
For 25 years, the city of Long Beach has been celebrating Hawaiian culture over Labor Day weekend at the E Hula Mau Polynesian Festival. This event includes hula and chant competitions, art and craft workshops, and island cuisine at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Terrace Theater. Some parts of the festival are free but others carry an admission fee; you can check Goldstar for discount tickets.
The New Blues Festival returns to Long Beach for two days of modern blues performers. Typically taking place on two stages in El Dorado Regional Park, the New Blues Festival welcomes over 30 acts as well as a variety of corporate, food, and merchant vendors to southern Los Angeles. You can buy either a one or two-day pass to the event, and discount tickets are also available through Goldstar Ticketing. The organizers have also added a New Blues Festival in Huntington Beach in the spring.
Every year, Season Pass holders at Knott's Berry Farm can come for a special barbecue on Labor Day Sunday at Knott's Soak City Water Park and at Calico Square all weekend long. The event finishes off with fireworks Sunday evening over the whole park, so no matter where you are or what ride you're on, you're sure to enjoy the display. You can also experience all the regular attractions of the park for extended hours on Labor Day weekend, and day and weekend passes are available for purchase online and at the gate.
The community of Laguna Beach hosts a variety of art festivals throughout the summer, including the Festival of Arts which runs from early July through the end of August, making Labor Day weekend the last chance to catch a part of the action. The holiday is the final weekend of the three summerlong Laguna Beach Arts Festivals, including Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters, which end Saturday, and Art-A-Fair and the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival, which both end Sunday.