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Cheap last-minute trips for Labor Day

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Carefree Desert Gardens, near Scottsdale, Ariz., has one of the largest working sundials in the U.S.
(Thomas Baker)

If you waited until now to plan an end-of-summer getaway, you’re still in luck. There are plenty of deals — and hours of lounging by a pool — to be had Labor Day weekend.

Although some travel experts advise traveling a weekend or two after Labor Day to avoid crowds, Gabe Saglie, senior editor for Travelzoo (travelzoo.com), a member-exclusive, travel-offer website, has good news for vacation procrastinators.

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Travelzoo has a list of Labor Day deals, but Saglie said Aug. 31 probably will be the priciest night. “The most flexible travelers get the best deal, so if possible, cash in a vacation day and stay Sunday to Tuesday,” he said.

Here are four deals where you can fly or drive. (Resorts also alerted me to their specials that include Labor Day.) In mid-August when we priced round-trip airfare for Aug. 30 to Sept. 3 from LAX to San Francisco, the lowest fares, including taxes and fees, hovered near $135 on Southwest, Alaska and Delta. Round-trip fares to Phoenix were $177 on American.

San Francisco’s Union Square area

Tilden Hotel is offering 45% off its nightly rate and waiving its $29 daily facility fee through Travelzoo. For a Sept. 1-3 stay, as Saglie recommended, we found a queen room for $130 per night.

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Drawbacks: Valet parking costs $50 (plus tax) per night, but prepayment isn’t required and a reservation can be canceled up to 72 hours prior to check-in.

Hotel Zeppelin has a refundable Travelzoo bargain with 55% off room rates and a waived facility fee. When Saglie and I checked, we found nightly rates of about $169 during Labor Day weekend.

Drawbacks: Parking costs $58 (plus tax) per night.

Nearby fun: Both hotels are a short walk from shops at Union Square and Westfield San Francisco Centre. Also Wild SF Tours offers a variety of walking tours, including a free San Francisco walking tour that departs daily from Powell and Market streets. Take Walks has tours ranging from a venture to Alcatraz and Chinatown ($95) to less-expensive Walk On Walk Off tours ($15), including one that covers LGBTQ history in the Castro.

Phoenix/Scottsdale area

Sonoran Desert/Carefree retreat: Civana is about 27 miles from Scottsdale. Its buy-two-nights, get-the-third-night-free deal is available during Labor Day weekend. Rates for a deluxe queen room for Aug. 30 through Sept. 2 were about $145 a night (with the third night free).

Drawback: There’s a $30-$35 nightly seasonal experience fee (pretax), but it includes valet parking, daily fitness classes and more.

Nearby fun: In Carefree Desert Gardens, about three miles from the resort, is one of the largest working sundials in the U.S. In Cave Creek, you can hike, bike or ride horses.

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Phoenix resort: Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort has Tap into Summer Fun deals that include a family getaway package, which discounts rooms to $150 per night with $100 in dining certificates (four $25 certificates) per paid night. The rate isn’t available on Aug. 31, but it’s available Sept. 1 through Sept. 3.

Drawback: There’s a $35 daily resort fee. However, the fee includes Wi-Fi, valet/self-parking, 20% off spa services, access to Falls Water Village and more.

Nearby fun: The resort offers guided hikes and yoga stretch classes, and Falls Water Village, which has two large pools, two whirlpools, a plunging water slide and more. The resort is 11 miles from the Musical Instruments Museum, 16 miles from Old Town Scottsdale and 19 miles from the Desert Botanical Garden.

Want more options? Booking.com has a list of Labor Day deals, and Scottsdale is still sizzling with other specials that we highlighted in June.


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