Labor Day in the Northern San Joaquin Valley has a lot going for it:
The three-day weekend in early September aimed at celebrating the American worker typically offers gorgeous weather.
Families that already have started school get a chance to take a quick breath and enjoy some time together before the full brunt of fall activities gets under way.
And a lot of retailers are offering good deals to lure those with the day off into their stores.
This week, AAA predicted that more than 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more from home over the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend, an increase of 3.4 percent over last year.
According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Labor Day weekend is the third-busiest camping weekend of the year behind only Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. In the past three years, the number of reservations has climbed steadily, though there have been fewer total nights booked.
This year, however, the number of nights reserved is on trend to increase, though officials said there still are spots available at many campgrounds.
"I think people view this time period as the end of the summer vacation season, so they look for ways to get in one more outing with their family and friends," said Roy Stearns, parks department spokesman. "That's how my family has always seen it, with our kids pushing us to do one more camping trip before the school season starts."
In addition to schools, local government offices will be closed for the holiday Monday, which started with municipal ordinances in 1885 and 1886, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Forecast looks lovely
The weather looks to be agreeable, with forecasters calling for a weekend that begins with highs in the 80s on Saturday and goes up to the 90s Monday. For those looking for even cooler pursuits, summer blockbuster "The Avengers" is returning to theaters including several local movie theaters for the weekend, as is Disney's animated hit "Brave."
Those driving to the theaters or campgrounds will find themselves paying more for gas than last year, thanks in part to a 25.8-cent spike following an Aug. 6 fire that damaged a key Chevron refinery in Richmond.
Pump prices are 34.5 cents per gallon higher than this time last year and 39.9 cents higher than last month.
That's not enough to keep most people home, however.
"While many Californians are still caught in a fragile state of economic affairs, they are willing to travel, but will be cutting back on other expenses," said AAA Northern California spokeswoman Cynthia Harris.
She said those surveyed by the travel agency about their Labor Day plans expect to "cut back on shopping, take a shorter trip, travel by an alternative mode of transportation and stay with family and friends."
On the Net: www.parks.ca.gov. Click on "Reservations & Fees" then on "Labor Day Park Availability"
The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343.
Whatever your plans this Labor Day weekend, health officials want to make sure you're guarding against mosquitoes and the West Nile virus they can carry.
"Based on several factors, the potential risk of being exposed to WNV is higher this year compared to previous years," Aaron Devencenzi, public information officer with the San Joaquin County Mosquito & Vector Control District, said in a news release.
Nationally, West Nile is on track to infect more people this year than the record years of 2002 and 2003, officials said. In California, there have been 44 human cases reported this year, compared with 27 last year.
Officials advise the following precautions:
Apply insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET or Picaridin when outdoors.
Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, at dawn and dusk, and especially for the first two hours after sunset.
When outdoors, wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and other protective clothing.
Exclude mosquitoes from your home with tight-fitting screens on doors and windows.
Remove standing water a breeding ground for mosquitoes from your property.