11 Cheap Last-Minute Labor Day Destinations

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BOOK SOON AND SAVE


Travel site Expedia has analyzed booking patterns to find the best destinations for last-minute hotel deals over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Expedia's study looked at stand-alone hotel bookings made between May 30 and Aug. 7. It compared the average daily rate, or ADR, in a given city within three days of travel to the cost of booking more than a week out. Here are the destinations where travelers can see the biggest savings when booking last-minute, along with sample prices of flights (as of Aug. 22) offered on Expedia from selected major cities, to provide a sense of the overall budget travelers might need for a last-minute trip. Note that the cost of flights may change, depending on when you book, and travelers looking for the best deals should be flexible with dates. Also, be prepared to deal with crowds. An industry trade group projects 15.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines over the Labor Day holiday, a 4 percent increase from last year.

Related: Cheap Labor Day Getaways for Families in All 50 States
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MEXICO'S RIVIERA MAYA

Average daily rate drop: slightly less than 20 percent
As of late August, Expedia showed a number of deals on offer for this area, including a day trip to the walled city of Tulum for $51 per adult and $30 per child and an express tour of Chichén Itzá for $54 a person (for those willing to meet at 5 a.m. to start the tour). Enjoying time by the pool or beach may also be very attractive for a quick, last-minute holiday. As of Aug. 21, flights to Cancun booked on Interjet from New York JFK were available starting at $436 round-trip per person, while flights booked on Aeromexico from Los Angeles started at $352 per person.

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FORT LAUDERDALE

ADR drop: slightly less than 20 percent
Florida doesn't require a passport, waiting in customs, or buying any foreign currency. Among activities worth considering is a half-hour airboat ride through the Everglades at Sawgrass Recreation Park. The cost is $22 a person for adults and $12.35 for children. If you're planning to drive to Miami (25 miles south), there's also a cruise around Biscayne Bay available for $20 per adult and $16.05 per child. Labor Day flights from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale on United Airlines via Expedia start at $550 and departures from Boston on Spirit Airlines through Expedia for $290.

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ORLANDO

ADR drop: slightly less than 20 percent
There are lots of deals for this Florida theme park destination, many for lesser-known attractions. One sweet example is a Chocolate Kingdom Factory tour, which sells on Expedia for $14.28 per adult and $10.92 per child. It includes not only a tour of the factory but also a cacao greenhouse and a chocolate museum. If all that sweet stuff leaves visitors with a hankering for some exercise, AirHeads Trampoline Arena may be a good option. An all-day pass costs $17.95. Labor Day prices for getting to Orlando from Chicago start at $295 when booking on Delta, while round-trip flights from Portland, Oregon booked on Frontier Airlines via Expedia begin at $503.

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DALLAS

ADR drop: 20 percent
There are lots of cheap activities on offer in Dallas, particularly for families. The Dallas Modern Art Museum, which houses work by renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollack, Susan Rothenberg, and Andy Warhol, carries an admission price of only $10. Younger visitors may want to create their own art at the Legoland Discovery Center. Tickets (including tax) cost $17.27 when purchased online in advance, with the same price for kids and adults, although children 2 and under get in free. Round-trip flights from San Francisco booked on Virgin America via ExploreTrip are offered from $464, while travelers from Detroit will see flights from $251 on Spirit Airlines when booked via Expedia.


Related: 12 Ways Booking Travel Direct Can Get You a Better Deal
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DETROIT

ADR drop: slightly more than 20 percent
Expedia's deals on activities in Detroit include a guided walking tour for $27 a person (including a ride on the People Mover to the Greektown neighborhood) and tickets to the Sea Life Michigan Aquarium for $18.80 per adult and $14.80 per child. Kids under 2 get in free. Round-trip flights from Minneapolis start at $336 on Spirit Airlines when booked in Expedia, while a flight from Las Vegas (also on Spirit Airlines) shows a starting price of $206.

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CAPE COD

ADR drop: slightly more than 20 percent
Aside from enjoying the iconic shoreline and beaches, visitors to Cape Cod can also take in the Felix Neck wildlife sanctuary ($4 for adults and $3 for children and seniors) or the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum ($10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, $5 for youth 6 to 17, and free for children under 6). There are many ways to get to Cape Cod -- nearby airports include Boston's Logan International; T.F. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island; Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis; and Provincetown Municipal Airport.


Related: 25 Cheap Destinations for Off-Season Travel
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CHICAGO

ADR drop: slightly more than 20 percent
It's a great time to hit the Windy City, as the Chicago Jazz Festival happens over the holiday weekend in Millennium Park. In addition, you can take the Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour (adults pay $15, kids 5 to 12 cost $10) or an architectural walking tour on the Chicago River (adult tickets are $25, children and seniors pay $20). The cheapest round-trip flight from Kansas City was $253 on Spirit Airlines when booked via Justfly, while a round-trip flight from Phoenix on Frontier Airlines via Expedia was $366.

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NEW ORLEANS

ADR drop: 25 percent
There is no shortage of things of fun and fascinating things to do in New Orleans. One of the more intriguing offerings is a ghost and vampire walking tour that starts in the French Quarter and costs $20 for adults and $16 for seniors and children 8 to 18. If you want something that will be entertaining and filling, try the New Orleans School of Cooking's Southern Cooking Class ($32.50 for the 10 a.m. class and $28 for the afternoon class). Expedia is offering round-trip flights on American Airlines from Philadelphia for $528 and from Seattle on United Airlines for $481.

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PHOENIX

ADR drop: almost 30 percent
When visiting Phoenix, consider taking the Desert Belle Sightseeing Cruise on Saguaro Lake, less than an hour outside downtown. The evening cruise on Saturday night offers live music (adults $22, children $15). For those who are feeling creative, there's an artist-led painting class at the Art of Merlot in Scottsdale that not only provides wine and instruction but will leave you with a lasting souvenir of the experience. The best round-trip flight on offer from St. Louis is $419 via Expedia on American Airlines, while a mixed flight (out on Alaska Airlines and returning via SouthWest Airlines booked via FlyFar) you can get there from Portland for $228.

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AUSTIN

ADR drop: almost 30 percent
The Austin Aquarium offers a chance to see a range of creatures, including stingrays, lorikeets, sharks, crocodiles, and a giant Pacific octopus. Admission is $16.18 for adults, $14.02 for seniors, and $10.77 for children 2 to 11. To see some native creatures in the wild, take a 2.5-hour kayaking tour along the Colorado River featuring bats that live under the Congress Avenue Bridge ($45). A mixed flight (out on Virgin Airlines and returning via Southwest Airlines booked via FlyFar) from Los Angeles starts at 584, while a flight on American Airlines via Expedia from Miami will cost you $518.

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BONUS DESTINATION: LONDON

One example of a particularly good deal that came from Expedia's analysis was a trip to London. Expedia reported that the U.K.'s biggest city is showing savings of more than $1,350 for package bookings (when you book a hotel and flight or car at the same time). One reason for those savings is that the current dollar-to-pound exchange rate is more favorable to U.S. visitors than it has been in a long time, following the decline in the British pound after the country's vote in June to leave the European Union.