10+ Ideas for Labor Day Weekend in Raleigh and beyond

Hop the state line to South Carolina, head to Pinehurst for barbecue, or enjoy a staycation right here in town this Labor Day. 
by Kara Adams and Addie Ladner

Head Downtown for First Friday

Celebrate the first weekend of September in downtown Raleigh, with extended hours at art galleries and studios, artists, music, and special offers at retailers and restaurants. Check out an acrylic art display at Haymaker on Fayetteville Street from painter and tattoo artist Chris Evans, Wake Up Your Root Dance Battle hosted by the our local breakdancing group, the Raleigh Rockers, live music performed by soul singer-songwriter XOXOK, pop artist Angela Parchetta, and many more events for the whole family.  Sept. 3 | 5 p.m.; Free; Details here 

Listen to Elton John’s Greatest Hits at North Hills

Kick off the weekend with Elton Live! The Tribute Band dedicated to reproducing the magic of Elton John at the Coastal Credit Union Midtown Park in North Hills. Make an evening of it and grab dinner and drinks at nearby Rosewater Kitchen or bartaco.  Sept. 3 | 5 – 9 p.m.; $10; details here 

Take a Roadtrip to South Carolina

Just a quick drive and a state away, South Carolina offers small towns and mid-sized cities filled with vibrant beaches, historical walking tours, delicious food, and Southern charm. From Columbia’s bustling Soda City Market  to Greenville’s peaceful Falls Park on the Reedy, here are 5 cities within a 5-hour drive that feel a world away.

Take a Walk on Water

Enjoy one last summertime swim on one of Raleigh’s waterside hikes with this list of easy nature walks with access to refreshing creeks, lakes, and swimming holes. Spend the day un-plugged and enjoying they day outside with a pre-packed picnic full of local goods

Host an End-of-Summer Dinner Party

Each year, Sandy Kipp hosts friends and neighbors for a homemade feast. She shared this menu with WALTER: A North Carolina-inspired feast that celebrates summer produce. On it, sweet tomatoes and zucchini shine in a creamy flaky tart, a zesty blackberry sauce complements a crispy, spatchcocked chicken atop a bed of field peas; and a cherry-berry sorbet is a fresh finish to it all. Here she’s generously shared her recipes with us for you to throw together your own end-of-summer soirée.

Head to Pinehurst BBQ Festival

Spend your Labor Day weekend just an hour away with decorated pitmasters like Ed Mitchell and Ashley Sheppard, who will be serving up your favorite barbecue flavors alongside classic Southern fixin’s. The inaugural Pinehurst Barbecue Festival will also include a live performance from country music duo McKenzies Mill, grilling classes, and bourbon-tasting events in the picturesque village of Pinehurst. September 3-5 | Tickets from $12.50; 395 Magnolia Road Pinehurst; Details here 

Fire up the Grill

Nothing like a long weekend to join the heat and get the grill going. This mix of 10 classic and unconventional recipes for the grill will get you ready for toasty nights filled with smoky aromas and family-style dinners under the stars.

photo credit: Bob Karp

Head to Durham for the weekend..and for barbecue 

Mike D’s BBQ, an award-winning BBQ Sauce and Rub Company, is bringing a stellar BBQ festival and competition to East Durham with the Bull CIty BBQ Bash. Get the details here and make a weekend of it with this guide boosting 15 things to do on a weekend in Durham. Sept. 4 | 12 – 5 p.m.; Details here 

photo credit: Liz Condo

Relish the Last Long Days of Summer’s Golden Hour

The long, scorching days of summer can at times seem unbearable — but at least they lead into starry, steamy nights. From hitting an evening film screening at NCMA or Dix Park to star gazing to cheering on the Durham Bulls or Carolina Courage, check off a few of these summer bucket list items during the long weekend.  

Head Downtown for the African American Cultural Festival

Head downtown for the 11th annual African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County, featuring a gallery walk, an arts and crafts center, a Vendor Village of goods, and performances from artists including Project 919, Terence Young, Niito, and Teressa Ferguson. The two-day festival will take place across various outdoor locations including Moore Square, Chavis Park, and the plaza in front of the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts.  September 4-5; Free; see website for locations; Details here

Photo credit: Bob Karp

Book a Last Minute Airbnb West or East 

From Raleigh, you can be in the Outer Banks or nestled along the Blue Ridge Mountains in no time. Why not fit one more weekend summer road trip before fall? Whether your wanderlust is calling you to a coastal beachside stay, or a cozy cabin rental in Western North Carolina, there’s plenty of sweet vacation rentals to choose from in either direction. P.S. Don’t forget to check out one of these pit stops on the way and jam out to our North Carolina Summer Playlist on the way.

Here Music in the Pines at Koka Booth

One of the Triangle’s favorite ampiethre’s, Koka Booth is hosting Pickin’ in the Pines Music Series and on September 5 with Kelley and the Cowboys, a 4-piece country meets blues band hailing from North Carolina.  Grab grub from the venue’s virtual Café which offers a variety of food items from Pizza Hut, Lowes Foods, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop and Taziki’s Mediterranean CaféSept. 5 | 4:00 p.m.; $5; details here 

Enjoy a Staycation in Here in Town

With COVID cases back up again. many of us are finding ourselves staying hunkering down with just our families and pandemic pods. Here’s the good news: Raleigh’s a great place to be and most places are staying open, even during a pandemic and especially during a long weekend. So if you find yourself at home this Labor Day weekend, take the chance to explore a different neighborhood and discover a new favorite coffee spot, hiking trail, spot to window-shop, or playground for the kids right in town. Consider these 100-plus suggestions to enjoy different neighborhoods in Raleigh.