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How to spend Labor Day weekend in Philly

15+ ways to spend the long weekend

View of Center City Philadelphia from the BoK Bar atop the BOK building in South Philadelphia on Thursday, August 5, 2021.
View of Center City Philadelphia from the BoK Bar atop the BOK building in South Philadelphia on Thursday, August 5, 2021.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The extraordinary storms that the remnants of Hurricane Ida brought to the region may have affected some events this week. Please check first to make sure events are still happening, and take care getting to and from any events that may be in or near affected areas. Stay safe, everyone.

It’s the last holiday weekend of summer, so you might as well make the most of it.

Give Labor Day weekend the last-summer hurrah it deserves by visiting rooftop bars, swimming in the ocean and in lakes, eating outdoors with family and friends, enjoying some ice cream, and renting a bike or a boat.

It’s also a weekend of live music as the Made in America festival returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway after a one-year hiatus; Justin Bieber and Lil Baby are this year’s headliners.

Here are 15-plus ways to spend Labor Day weekend, whether you’re in Philly, the Poconos, or down the Shore.

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Labor Day weekend weather

The days leading up to the holiday weekend are expected to be pretty stormy as remnants of Hurricane Ida reach our region. By Friday, though, the weather is expected to be sunny and not too hot.

The weekend forecast looks generally pleasant with temperatures in the mid- to upper-70s and low-80s and sunny or partly cloudy skies. In other words, get ready for a long weekend that’s fit for outdoor dining, outdoor events, and nice beach or Poconos days.

At the same time, though, keep an eye on the forecast in case of unexpected end-of-summer storms.

Labor Day weekend events

Tri-State Labor Day Parade 🎉 (Community / in-person / free / outdoors) Celebrate Labor Day locally at this family friendly parade and celebration. All-ages fun includes crafts, games, food, and live music. The parade kicks off at the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 19 Union Hall on S. Columbus Blvd. near Washington Ave. and continues along Columbus Blvd. to Penn’s Landing. (Free, Sept. 6, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m, parade leaves from 1301 S. Columbus Blvd.,

Labor Day Volksfest 🍻 (Oktoberfest / seasonal / multiday) The Oktoberfest season kicks off at the beginning of September with this three-day festival from Cannstatter Volksfest Verein full of German music, dancing, beer, and food. Buy a one-day pass for $10, go for two days for $15, or the whole weekend for $20. ($10-$20, Sept. 4-6, 9130 Academy Rd.,

Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show and Country Fair 🐎 (Community / in-person / kid-friendly) Spend Labor Day Weekend reveling in the 78-year tradition of this horse show and country fair. The whole family can enjoy rides, games, food, and, of course, the fair’s famous horse show, featuring equestrians from the Brandywine and Delaware Valley. No entry fee is required after 4 p.m., before that time it’s $10 per car. ($10 per carload, Sept. 3-6, 8 a.m -6 p.m., 5 Nantmeal Rd., Glenmoore,

Circus Vazquez at the King of Prussia Mall 🎪 (Circus / in-person / kid-friendly / multiday) Clowns, jugglers, aerialists, acrobats, and dancers supply all of the fun and thrills under the big top in this historic, family-run, Mexico-born circus. Masks required. Ages 3+. ($35-$65 adult, $25 ages 2-10, through Sept. 6, 160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia,

Labor Day Weekend, Museum of the American Revolution 📜 (History / in-person / multiday / free / kid-friendly) Being 12 or under has an obvious downside, but also its perks — like, getting in free to the Museum of the American Revolution over the long weekend. Labor Day marks the close of the engaging exhibit, Flags and Founding Documents, 1776-Today. Ages 12 & under. (Free, Sept. 4-6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 101 S. 3rd St.,

Polish American Family Festival & Country Fair, National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa 🎡 (Seasonal / in-person / free) You don’t need to know how to pronounce Czestochowa — although pierogi and kielbasa might come in handy — at this celebration of Polish culture. Enjoy carnival rides, live entertainment, a dunk tank, and a Mummers string band performance. All ages. (Free, Sept. 4-6, 11-12, noon-8 p.m., 654 Ferry Rd., Doylestown,

Made in America 🔊 (Music / in-person / outdoors) Philly’s Festival on the Parkway is back for its 10th year. Headliners and performers include Doja Cat, Meghan Thee Stallion, Justin Bieber, Lil Baby, and more. All three festival stages will stream virtually, free of charge, exclusively on TIDAL. In-person attendees are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and are strongly encouraged to complete and upload all COVID screenings to CLEAR Health Pass app prior to arrival. Masks are required for all in-person attendees. ($150, Sept. 4-5, 12 p.m., along the Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.,

» READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Philly’s new COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements

If you’re in the city

Check out to Made in America

After a one-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Made in America music festival is back with coronavirus precautions like proof of vaccination requirements and festival mask policies. We’ve got the full rundown on COVID-19 precautions at the festival.

This year, headliners Lil Baby and Justin Bieber perform, along with Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Rich, Doja Cat, and more than 20 additional rap, R&B, and EDM performers. Here’s our guide to Made in America 2021, which includes information on the performers, the food and drinks available at the festival, the best spot for ride share drop-off and more.

If you’re going to the festival, know that the party doesn’t have to stop when the music ends. Many bars near the festival grounds on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway are open late with food and drinks for those looking for some post-festival sustenance.

Oh, and if you don’t want to go, you should still find out about all the city road closures that could make getting around town this weekend tough.

» READ MORE: Ultimate 2021 Made in America Guide

Grab a group of friends and go for an outdoor meal

Outdoor spaces get crowded on holiday weekends, but there are many places throughout the region that have plenty of outdoor seating — whether at picnic tables, in hammocks, and even on the grass — for a big group of friends. Many (but not all) of the larger outdoor bars and restaurants don’t require reservations, so you may be able to easily stroll in.

Some best bets: Within the city limits, check out summertime pop-up Spruce Street Harbor Park for waterfront views and a variety of food and drink vendors, or, stop by Juno on Spring Garden for a sit-down Mexican-inspired dinner. Outside of the city, visit Levante Stables’ 45,000-square-foot outdoor space in Chester Springs for beer plus a rotating lineup of food trucks.

» READ MORE: These Philly restaurants and bars have the biggest outdoor spaces

Visit a rooftop bar

Labor Day one of the final weekends when you can reliably hang outside on a breezy rooftop. Our guide to rooftop bars in the area has 13 places you can visit for sky-high drinks, many of which also don’t require reservations (but call ahead to check).

Some best bets: Stop by Bok Bar on top of the former Edward W. Bok Technical High School in South Philly for a laid-back day or visit the city’s swank Assembly Rooftop Lounge for a more elevated (but cover-charge-required) experience.

» READ MORE: Philly's best rooftop bars

Have some ice cream

What says summer more than ice cream? Maybe nothing? Go out for a scoop this Labor Day weekend, and we have details on all the best of Philly’s great ice cream shops. Vegan? We got you.

Some best bets: Order delivery pints or to-go pints of beloved Milk Jawn, which makes ice cream in flavors like vegan mango sticky rice and lemon curd with blueberry basil swirl. Or, for a classic Philly ice cream cone, head to Reading Terminal for some creamy ice cream from Bassetts.

» READ MORE: Best ice cream in Philadelphia

Or, opt for water ice

For a dairy-free frozen treat that is quintessentially Philly, go for water (wooder) ice. We have a guide to the best options.

Some best bets: Head to one of the standbys like John’s, Fred’s, Pop’s, or Jimmy’s.

» READ MORE: Best spots for water ice

Feast on a burger

A perfectly grilled burger is ideal for a summer holiday weekend (or, maybe, any holiday weekend?), and there are plenty of bars and restaurants that serve excellent burgers in Philly. Here’s our guide to the best burgers in the Philadelphia region.

Some best bets: At Charlie’s Hamburgers in Folsom, find classic griddled burgers that have been a region favorite since 1935, or, visit Fountain Porter in East Passyunk for its $6 juicy cheeseburger.

» READ MORE: The best burgers in Philly

Go out for a picnic

Our days for picnicking are numbered. Pack a picnic lunch or dinner and visit one of the great picnicking spots in Philly over the long weekend, some of which even have grills so you can make your meal when you get there.

Some best bets: For water views, try Schuylkill River Park. For a spot with BBQs you can use and plenty of green space to spread out, check out FDR Park in South Philly. Or, if you want to make a day of it, drive out to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope.

» READ MORE: Best picnic spots in the Philadelphia area

If you’re down the Shore

Have a waterfront dinner

If you’re craving waterfront views with your dinner down the Shore, check out one (or more than one) of the great waterfront bars and restaurants in towns like Wildwood Crest, Sea Isle City, Strathmere, Avalon and more.

Some best bets: You can get a Bloody Mary topped with crab and shrimp Blood Mary at the Surfing Pig. For an indoor-outdoor sprawling space check out the Deauville Inn. Or, if you’re looking for a fancier meal, book a table at Water Star Grille.

» READ MORE: These Shore restaurants have the best waterfront views

Visit a brewery

A beer down the Shore sounds delightful always, and especially on a holiday weekend. While the Shore wasn’t always a craft beer destination, there are now a number of breweries throughout the region.

Some best bets: Check out the ever-popular being Cape May Brewing, which has plenty of space for beers — it has a beer garden, Brewtique, and Brewtanical Garden, in addition to its taproom. Beyond Cape May, visit Hidden Sands Brewing for its beloved Grapefruit DIPA or Mudhen Brewing, Wildwood’s first brewpub.

» READ MORE: Best breweries at the Jersey Shore

Scoop up some ice cream

Beachside ice cream is an essential summer tradition. From Wildwood to Long Beach Island, there are many, many places to visit for a cold cup or cone of ice cream — whether you prefer soft serve, classic ice cream, frozen yogurt, or vegan ice cream.

Some best bets: Seek out Margate Dairy Bar + Burger, Springer’s in Stone Harbor, or Sundae Best in Avalon.

» READ MORE: Best ice cream at the Shore

Take your bike out

It’s no secret that the Jersey Shore is beautiful. There are many ways to explore the scenery, and one of the best ways is by bike. There are short and long, and easy and hard bike routes throughout favorite Shore towns like Cape May, Wildwood, Avalon, Long Beach Island, and more.

» READ MORE: Best bike routes down the Shore

Go for a free swim

It’s not really worth it to buy a pricy beach tag now, especially if you’re going with a group. Luckily, there are a bunch of beaches, including Atlantic City, North Wildwood, and Strathmere, that are free to visit – so, no beach tags are required. Here’s a guide to the beaches along the Jersey Shore that are free to visit this Labor Day weekend.

See the sights

Swimming and sunning at the Shore is certainly the main draw, but there’s a lot more to do in each one of the great of Southern shore towns. Looking for a free zoo to visit? There’s one in Cape May. Looking for some beachside theater? Check out Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven. For more things to do in your favorite Shore town, here are some best bets:

If you’re going to the Poconos

Swim in a lake

The Jersey Shore gets so much of the where-to-swim attention, but there are some pretty stellar places to swim at the Poconos, too. Here’s a guide to where to swim at the Poconos this Labor Day.

Some best bets: Beltzville Lake at Beltzville State Park promises a 525-foot sandy beach at a 949-acre lake — and through Labor Day you can rent kayaks, pontoon boats, and paddle boats from an on-site rental stand. There are two sandy beaches at free-to-visit Promised Land State Park in Greentown, and at Gouldsboro Lake at Gouldsboro State Park, you can rent boats (including motor boats!) and enjoy the shaded areas beyond the lakefronts, too.

» READ MORE: Where to stay in the Poconos

Eat some good Poconos food

There are many great places for food and drinks throughout the Poconos, whether you’re looking for a fancy meal, quick bar food, or an experience that promises mountain views.

Some best bets: Restaurants and bars like Boulder View Tavern on Lake Harmony (which also has prime views of the lake), Blue Ridge Estate Vineyard & Winery, and Native in Honesdale keep Poconos visitors and locals coming back year after year for their food and drinks.

» READ MORE: Best places to eat in the Poconos

Hike, go whitewater rafting, or visit a museum

Outdoor activities are the main draw in the Poconos, which are great in the summer months when swimming, boating, and hiking are in prime season. We’ve found the best things to do in the Poconos, from hiking to waterparks to scenic railways.

Some best bets: Beyond the quintessential Poconos activities, there are also popular museums (like the Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe) and places for hands-on, kid-focused fun (like East Stroudsburg’s Pocono Go-Karts and Play Park).

» READ MORE: Things to do in the Poconos

More great options, no matter where you are

If you’re looking for a good recipe

  1. Use up your summer produce with some summer corn recipes, including pickled corn, Jersey corn fritters with watermelon gazpacho, or sweet corn and blueberry no-churn ice cream.

  2. Get a last batch of summer fruit, like blackberries, raspberries, or peaches, and make a delicious and easy fruit galette.

  3. Have a final ode to summer over a super-summery meal: a crawfish and shrimp boil.

» READ MORE: Live your best life in Philly: Read our most useful stories here

Amber Burns and Lauren McCutcheon contributed to this article.