Jetty Island. Credit: Elisa Murray
While not the official end of summer, Labor Day weekend does mark the transition from summer to fall — and back to school, for many families.
Labor Day weekend is a busy weekend for last-hurrah family camping and quick getaways. But for those of us sticking around town and looking to savor every drop of summer 2023, we’ve rounded up all the best things to do Labor Day weekend in Seattle. Let’s queue up some long-weekend family fun!
1. Ferry to Jetty Island
Jetty Island is a man-made summer paradise of sand and water. It’s open daily through its last day of the season, Sunday, Sept. 3. Head to Everett to catch the ferry — the ride takes 5 minutes — and make it a glorious family beach day.
2. All aboard!
Who doesn’t love trains? It’s a great weekend to hop on a scale mini train ride on the Great Northern & Cascade Railway, or aboard Kitsap Live Steamers’ mini trains. For a scenic ride, the Northwest Railway Museum is running Labor Day weekend trains between North Bend and Snoqualmie Falls. Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad’s steam train excursion from Elbe to Mineral returns for a limited time.
3. Olympia Harbor Days
Tour the super-cool vintage tugboats docked at the harbor, then watch the tugs race around Budd Inlet at fun-filled Olympia Harbor Days. This annual fest celebrates the local maritime industry and its important history. Families will dig all of the activities, including tugboat races, sand carving, Legos, pirate stuff, live music and lots more.
4. Fair-time fun
Fair options abound over Labor Day weekend! Check out the lumberjacks, stunt dogs, carnival rides and Demolition Derby (extra fee) at the last weekend of The Evergreen State Fair.
It’s the opening weekend to “do the Puyallup” at the Washington State Fair, and kids enter for free all weekend. Check out a new nature survival exhibition, in addition to adorable farm animals and arena competitions, such as the rodeo.
For extra Western atmosphere, saddle up and head over the mountains for pro rodeo action and county fair fun at the Ellensburg Rodeo and Kittitas County Fair. There’s a pancake breakfast and parade Saturday, plus families will love historic Frontier Village at the fair.
5. Family swim
Cannonball! Labor Day weekend is the last open weekend for many of our region’s super outdoor swimming pools, including Seattle’s scenic Colman Pool, Kirkland’s Peter Kirk Pool, Henry Moses in Renton, and Tacoma’s Stewart Heights and Kandle pools (closing dates may change so be sure to check individual pool schedules).
6. Bremerton Blackberry Festival
Berries are a staple of our Northwest summer, and the Bremerton Blackberry Festival serves up all manner of delicious family fun on Bremerton’s beautiful waterfront. In addition to tasting blackberry desserts (and wine for grown-ups), there’s live music, loads of fun family activities and the chance to ride the foot ferry over to Port Orchard.
7. Free fun
Spent all your summer vacation dough? Luckily, there are free activities that let you have an adventure without spending a cent:
Explore the Ballard Locks, one of our area’s top-visited tourist attractions; it’s a banner year for salmon! Go see the humongous fish swimming through the fish ladder. Turn up on weekends to listen to the pleasant sounds of free outdoor concerts, the last few of this season. Musical acts play Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 2 p.m. Tip: Show up for a Van Morrison tribute band on Labor Day!
Go on a guided search for wildlife inhabiting a local lakeside park. You might spot shorebirds, turtles, beavers and more. No need to register, just pop in for this free monthly Sunday walk taking place Sept. 3.