4. Climb the Eiffel Tower.
66. Drive the Amalfi Coast.
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Labor Day is fast approaching and before we know it, students will be back at their desks, nose in their books, and chronically sleep deprived. This weekend is our last hoorah to enjoy summer so you better wear that white shirt, shorts or bikini and make the most out of it! Whether you want to spend a few days by the ocean, roast smores by a campfire, or dance the night away in a bustling city or festival, there are a ton of options for your best Labor Day weekend getaway. Grab a ticket for a flight, buy some road trip snacks, maybe even hop on a cruise!
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy the last few days of the summer sun.
1. Miami, Florida
Beaches, nightlife, and shopping encompass a flawless weekend under the Florida heat. Don't forget to grab your stilettos, makeup bag, and sunscreen!
2. U.S. Open
You don't want to miss out on Rafael Nadal's hilarious personality.
3. American National Parks
From Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Denali, America has some of the best nature-filled views. These landmarks are gorgeous and a showstopper for your Insta-feed.
4. Electric Zoo Festival
Go crazy as the floor vibrates beneath you!
5. Las Vegas
Calling all the selfie-fanatics, the city of Las Vegas has a new gateway sign!
6. Oregon's Coast
Don't hesitate to explore the rugged cliffs and catch the sunset as you bolt for freedom.
Toronto, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Quebec, there are so many different areas to explore.
There are carnivals being set up as we speak, and you won't want to miss the classic carnival food!
One word: lobster—or rather, lobstah.
If you have a soft spot for camping, you won't regret escaping to the campgrounds of Utah.
11. Washington D.C.
The nation's capital has an abundance of Labor Day weekend activities arranged just for visitors like you!
On July 11th, 2016, (exactly two years ago from the day I'm writing this), after an 18-hour flight, I stepped foot on Italian soil for the first time. Why was I in Europe you ask? I was fortunate enough to have received a scholarship opportunity to participate in a foreign exchange program. So, there was 17-year-old Summer with her life in a suitcase and an incredible passion for traveling, off to meet my Italian friend Cecilia and the rest of her family for the very first time. I was both thrilled and terrified at the airport as I looked for a family holding a sign reading, "Welcome Summer." Little did I know that these five Italian strangers would soon become my Italian forever family.
Cecilia has three siblings: an older sister named Marta, a younger sister named Camila, and a younger brother named Jacopo. Believe it or not, the language barrier didn't hinder the growth of our bond. Lucky for me, Italians have been taking English classes since the first grade, and with Cecilia being the brain of her siblings, she spoke English incredibly well, serving as the Queen of Translations for her siblings, parents Anna and Marco, and myself. The times we did struggle we used our hands to communicate and when that didn't work… let's just say we all downloaded Google Translate on our phones.
When I tell you the culture shock was real, it was real. Cecilia lives in Rimini, Italy and some parts of the city were very country-like with flower fields, vegetable gardens, and haystacks everywhere. The tourist in me screamed to sit on a pile of hay and so we dealt with the itchiness long enough to get a good picture. I know it sounds so insignificant like "girl it's a haystack who cares" but it's just the experience of something different in a place I've never been to before. I didn't just sit on a haystack. I sat on a bale of hay, for the first time, in ITALY.
Of all of the adventures and new experiences in Italy, my absolute favorite part of the trip was the authentic Italian food. All of the vegetables and spices Italians use in their kitchen are grown in their backyard. In movies, Italians are known for eating their meals outside with a glass of wine, warm bread and some kind of pasta dish. That is indeed the Italian lifestyle. I promise I tried every pasta known to man. Once you've made lasagna from scratch in the home of true Italians, you will never be satisfied with anything less. I distinctly remember focusing all my attention on Cecilia's Nonna (grandma) as she explained the directions to make lasagna. She told us where to place the lasagna pasta, how much meat to put on each layer and which spoon to use to spread the cheese. A lot of time, sweat and most importantly love went into perfecting that lasagna, but at the end of the night, our stomach and hearts were full.
My last week in Italy, Cecilia's family and I made the three-hour drive to Venice, Italy. It was an indescribable experience. I saw St. Mark's Basilica live in person, and the Roman and Greek Byzantine design were beautiful. As we rode in the gondola, I remember feeling so grateful for the opportunity to visit Italy and meet this incredible loving family. My trip to Italy taught me there is an entire world out there just waiting to be explored. What is front of us right now isn't all there is to life, and we must travel to learn and grow physically, mentally and spiritually. As cliché as it sounds, the possibilities are endless so go everywhere and anywhere as much as you can. Take it all in and embrace the different cultures, people, architecture, and food. We can't forget the food.
A little tradition that Cecilia's family and I started during my time in Italy was sharing common English sayings such as "Good things in life don't come easy" or "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Each week I would share a new saying with them and as a going away present they framed a picture of us and wrote all the quotes on the border of the frame. It's one of the best gifts I've ever received. So, I leave you with this saying, Saint Augustine once said, "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."