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26 Great Last-Minute Places to Go for Memorial Day Weekend

From patriotic parades to sunny beach destinations, these Memorial Day weekend getaways will help you kick off your summer in style

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U.S. Flags on the Beach
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The best places to go for Memorial Day weekend

As the weather warms up and the days get longer, the urge to book a vacation is heating up too. And there’s no better way to start the summer than with an easy-to-get-to destination. But where should you go for Memorial Day 2023 … especially if you waited until the last minute? We’ve rounded up some of the best places to go for Memorial Day weekend that either have opportunities to celebrate America’s heroes with parades or special events or where you can just relax on your quick trip.

You’ll find a little something for everyone on this list, whether you’re looking for an affordable family vacation or an adults-only weekend getaway. And don’t worry—there’s still plenty of time to book your trip!

Is Memorial Day weekend a good time to travel?

Memorial Day weekend is a great way to leap into summer, and not just because you probably could use a vacation. Seasonal resorts generally launch their summer schedules on this big weekend, but prices often haven’t peaked as they do when the summer kicks into full gear later in June. Many pools, parks and beaches are open for the summer as well—only without the even bigger crowds that will come in just a few weeks.

But you should definitely follow a few tips before embarking on a Memorial Day weekend getaway:

If you really can’t get away this year, bookmark these ideas for next year.

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Tray Full of Barbecue and Sides
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Best for foodies

Austin, Texas

Austin loves to throw a party, and Memorial Day is no exception. You can celebrate the holiday in true local style at the Hot Luck Live Food & Music Festival, which combines two favorite Austin activities: chowing down on top regional cuisine and listening to rollicking bands. More than a dozen of Texas’s top chefs, including Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s BBQ, will be whipping up Texas delights, while musical performances take center stage all day and night. And you can also feel good about visiting Hot Luck, since proceeds benefit the Southern Smoke Foundation, which supports food workers.

Make the Four Seasons Austin your home base. You can’t beat its location right on Lady Bird Lake and just around the corner from the music and Rainey Street restaurants. It also boasts a great heated and cooled pool, with a bar, where you can catch some early summer rays and take a dip when you need a break from the festivities.


  • Authentic Texas barbecue and top-notch live music
  • A chance to see the Congress Bridge Bats just before sunset, when approximately 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats take flight


  • The Texas heat and humidity are already revving up by Memorial Day

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USS Constitution - Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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Best for history buffs

Boston, Massachusetts

The city that played a key role in the American Revolution hosts a patriotic Memorial Day ceremony at the USS Constitution Museum. And, of course, Boston is one of the best cities for history buffs any time of the year. While there, you can walk the Freedom Trail, an easy-to-follow 2.5-mile path marked by red lines in the road, to visit 16 Revolutionary War landmarks. The route starts at the Boston Common and takes in the Old South Meeting House, Paul Revere’s House, Old North Church, Bunker Hill Monument, the USS Constitution and the site of the Boston Tea Party, among other history-steeped spots.

Situated along the Charles River, the Royal Sonesta is in an ideal location for experiencing both Cambridge and Boston. Bonus: The hotel is pet-friendly, so you can bring Rover with you to celebrate too.


  • Loads of Revolutionary War history embedded right in the city
  • One of the best science museums in the country
  • Myriad green spaces—perfect for a holiday weekend picnic


  • There tends to be a lot of traffic here

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Musician playing guitar in the middle of the street in front of a microphone and with a saxophonist
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Best for performing-arts fans

Charleston, South Carolina

This South Carolina gem makes for a fantastic East Coast vacation destination any time of the year, but it’s particularly great when you’re looking for a place to go for Memorial Day weekend. That’s because starting on the holiday weekend, the Spoleto Festival USA will bring two weeks of theater, opera, jazz and symphonic and choral music performances to charming, cobblestone-lined Charleston. The festival fills the city’s historic theaters, churches and outdoor spaces with performances by renowned artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Esperanza Spalding, as well as emerging performers.

Stay at the stunning Charleston Place hotel, which oozes Southern hospitality and boasts a fabulous rooftop pool. The iconic Charleston grande dame is centrally located near all the Spoleto action, so you can easily walk to everything you want to see.


  • Memorial Day weekend kicks off an annual two-week-long music festival
  • Charleston Waterfront Park, with lovely views of the Cooper River
  • Southern cuisine at top-notch restaurants


  • Spoleto’s most popular acts can sell out, so you need to buy tickets in advance

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Crowd of people outside for a festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams
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Best for art lovers

North Adams, Massachusetts

This art-infused Berkshires town is the home of MASS MoCA, a contemporary arts center boasting both visual and performing arts venues in the sprawling former Sprague Electric Company Plant. Multiple buildings across 16 acres house massive murals and works by Sol deWitt, Jenny Holze and James Turrell, among others. That said, this Memorial Day all eyes—and ears—will be focused on the Solid Sound Festival, headlined by Wilco. The multifaceted music festival features multiple stages and several days of live music in addition to a comedy lineup, events for kids and plenty of food and beer options.

Looking for a place to stay? It’s hard to beat Porches Inn for its access to MASS MoCA. Right across the street from the arts complex, the inn is actually a series of mill-worker houses that have been transformed into a cozy boutique bed-and-breakfast. Each room is unique, and many have their own porches. Over Memorial Day weekend, you’ll be able to take advantage of the tree-lined pool out back too.


  • Massive modern-art center
  • The Solid Sound Festival, with musical guests, comedians and kids events
  • A-OK BBQ and Bright Ideas Brewing on the MASS MoCA campus
  • Hiking the Mohawk Trail from Boston to the Berkshires


  • Local hotels fill up fast for the festival

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planes in the sky in missing man formation

Best for the aviation-obsessed

Palm Springs, California

On Memorial Day weekend, the Palm Springs Air Museum, home to dozens to historic airplanes, hosts its annual Flower Drop & Air Fair ceremony. Throughout the day, visitors can watch air shows, visit flight exhibitions and see a World War II reenactment. The ceremony culminates with the Flower Drop Memorial Service, a fly-by with planes in “missing man formation” (a salute to fallen military members), followed by a B-25 Mitchell Bomber that drops 3,000 red and white carnations on spectators below. Just an FYI, though: The poppy is actually the traditional flower of Memorial Day.

With its spectacular sand-beach pool, the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa is perfect for families. It also has corn hole and ping-pong to keep everyone happily occupied, as well as a fire pit to snuggle around at night while you recount the day’s adventures.


  • The annual Flower Drop & Air Fair ceremony, along with air shows and flight exhibitions
  • Joshua Tree National Park is nearby
  • The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the longest rotating tram in the world


  • You’ll need to rent a car to explore the greater Palm Springs area

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Historic Fort Adams, RI
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Best for paying tribute

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island, will host the dramatic and acclaimed Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial, which is on display for the public during Memorial Day 2023 at Fort Adams. The moving memorial features nearly 7,000 military boots, each affixed with an American flag and bearing the name of an American service member killed in action in the Global War on Terror. The historic fort that dates back to 1799 is also open for self-guided tours, for visitors looking to explore one of the most complex fortresses in the country.

Stay at the Club Wyndham Long Wharf, perfectly situated on Newport’s waterfront—it’s one of our favorite places to go for Memorial Day weekend. An excellent choice for families or friend groups, the resort offers large, condo-style units with up to three bedrooms, roomy living spaces and full kitchens. You can even book a private chef to whip you up a local summer feast—for free!—as part of a Club Wyndham stay.


  • The area’s many gilded historic mansions
  • A sailboat ride along the Atlantic Coast
  • The Newport Cliff Walk offers a fabulous, free adventure


  • The weather can still be a bit chilly over Memorial Day weekend

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Turrets on navy battle ship with blue sky background
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Best for saluting our sailors

Los Angeles, California

For Memorial Day 2023, Los Angeles will celebrate the country’s armed Sea Services with a full week of naval events along the waterfront for Fleet Week. You can tour active-duty ships, visit the Battleship Iowa, catch a concert and even watch naval-aircraft flyovers, among other Fleet Week activities. And, of course, aside from the Memorial Day activities, you’ll get to enjoy all that Los Angeles has to offer, from its trendy bars, clubs and restaurants to its Hollywood allure. Don’t be afraid to be a tourist—you’re on vacation, after all! If you have some extra time, follow one of these California road-trip routes to get you to your destination and so much more.

For a central Los Angeles location, it’s hard to beat the Godfrey Hotel Hollywood. In addition to its prime spot on Cahuenga Boulevard, this modern structure also boasts a chic rooftop bar and great onsite restaurant. You’ll feel like the star you’ve always dreamed of being.


  • Fleet Week events, including flyovers and a concert
  • A walking tour of Old Hollywood with Hollywood historian April Clemmer
  • Grandmaster Recorders, a fabulous restaurant and bar housed in the former recording studio of David Bowie and Stevie Wonder


  • Traffic in Los Angeles can be challenging

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Close up of bartender pouring draft beer in glass
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Best for beer lovers

Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City is one of the top places to go for Memorial Day weekend, with a plethora of festivals to kick off summer in style. Among the top options are Chicago Friday Night Flights, craft beer tasting in the shadow of Wrigley Field, and the Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest in the waterfront Lakeview neighborhood, which features tribute bands, artists and plenty of drinks. The Chicago Memorial Day Parade marches through downtown after a wreath-laying ceremony at Daley Center Plaza. And finally, the weekend caps off with fireworks from Navy Pier.

It’s hard to beat the Pendry Chicago hotel for both location and history in Chicago—it occupies the completely reimagined 1920s-era Carbide & Carbon Building, an iconic Art Deco landmark situated right along the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue. From its rooftop Chateau Carbide, you’ll be able to spot the fireworks over the lake while munching on French-inspired bites.


  • The Museum of Science and Industry, which has a replica coal mine and a real German U-boat from World War II
  • Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza
  • Chicago Cubs games


  • It will still be too cold on Memorial Day to swim in Lake Michigan (for non-Chicagoans, at least)

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US Civil War re-enactors
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Best for learning the history of Memorial Day

Waterloo, New York

Believe it or not, Memorial Day actually has a hometown—Waterloo, New York, in the Finger Lakes region of central New York—and it’s the ideal place to learn about Memorial Day history. It’s here where the idea to remember the patriotic dead was first suggested in 1865 and then made a formal holiday in 1868 by General John Logan. Today the modern-day celebration involves a parade, a fireworks grand finale and plenty more to keep you busy during the day.

Keep the historic feelings going with a stay at the 19th-century Belhurst Castle in nearby Geneva, New York. Yes, it’s an actual castle, and it’s also located right in the heart of the Finger Lakes’s wine region.


  • The birthplace of Memorial Day
  • The illumination ceremonies at the American Civil War Memorial
  • Horse-and-wagon tours for an old-school feel
  • Presidential and Civil War reenactors, including “Theodore Roosevelt” and “Abraham Lincoln”


  • Can be difficult to travel to if you don’t live in the northeast

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The United States Capitol Building in Washington DC with a view of the water in front
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Best for showing off your patriotic side

Washington, D.C.

The largest Memorial Day parade in the country, the National Memorial Day Parade, takes place every year in Washington, D.C. Watching hundreds of servicemen and women march down Constitution Avenue, past the White House and the Washington Monument, is a moving reminder of what this holiday is really all about, and it instills a powerful sense of national pride. For the rest of your D.C. trip, there’s plenty more to do, between the many free museums and national monuments, as well as the fun restaurants and nightlife in the district’s distinct neighborhoods.

With an ideal location on the edge of Georgetown, the Four Seasons Hotel ticks all the boxes for a perfect Memorial Day getaway. Among the draws of the homey-feeling property are a pool and a swoon-worthy brunch—including an entire room of desserts!—at Seasons restaurant. Should you have any downtime, stream one of these Memorial Day movies while relaxing in your room.


  • The National Memorial Day Parade, the epitome of patriotism
  • Renting a kayak at the Wharf waterfront to paddle past some of D.C.’s most famous attractions
  • Smithsonian museums and national monuments are all free, though some require free timed passes
  • A cornucopia of international cuisines in the city’s Adam’s Morgan neighborhood


  • Expect the nation’s capitol to be crowded for this well-attended event

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Carlsbad ranch flower fields near sand Diego, California with the ocean in the background
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Best for flower lovers

Carlsbad, California

With San Diego to the south and Los Angeles to the north, Carlsbad might be easy to drive past on the way to better-known Memorial Day destinations. And that would be a shame, because this under-the-radar seaside gem offers all the SoCal charm without the big price tags or packed highways that come with the holiday weekend. Plus, the start of summer is when you can immerse yourself in the 60 acres of blooming ranunculus that make up the colorful Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch.

For quintessential Southern California beach vibes, book a room at the Cassara Carlsbad. You’ll find multiple pools, a splash pad for little ones and shuttle service to the seasonal Flower Fields attraction.


  • The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch in full bloom
  • Great weather, with plenty of sunshine
  • Nearby LEGOLAND California, which features a LEGO Ferrari build and race


  • You’ll need a car to get around SoCal

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planes hanging inside WWII museum in New Orleans, LA
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Best for World War II history

New Orleans, Louisiana

If you think of New Orleans and picture amazing food, the bayou, jazz and Mardi Gras, you wouldn’t be wrong. But did you know the National WWII Museum is actually the No. 1 attraction in New Orleans, according to Tripadvisor? It’s also a great destination for the whole family to reflect on the meaning behind Memorial Day. Through hands-on exhibits, the museum explores the American experience in the war, why it was fought, how it was won and other lessons that are still relevant today.

History enthusiasts will want to book their stay at the Higgins Hotel New Orleans, located right on the National WWII Museum’s campus. The Art Deco–style property pays homage to WWII-era presidents, and its rooftop bar, Rosie’s on the Roof, offers sweeping views of the city along with World War II artifacts, such as General George S. Patton’s piano.


  • A closer look at World War II
  • Sweet fried beignets served round the clock at Café Du Monde
  • Wooden trolleys traverse the city and the charming Garden District


  • The ever-popular French Quarter can get crowded on holiday weekends

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Historic Home: Savannah, Georgia
Marje/Getty Images

Best for historic architecture

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah’s historic charm, lush gardens and 22 beautiful town squares make it an ideal getaway. While strolling through the “Hostess City,” you’ll see so many gorgeously restored historic homes, you’ll lose count; the city boasts that 40% of its 2,500 buildings have architectural or historical significance. Savannah also happens to be a particularly excellent spring destination, especially when the Savannah Music Festival fills the city with jazz, global and folk music. And for the seasonal switch to summer, you can catch the annual Memorial Day Parade that marches past the city’s historic homes, as well as a waterfront fireworks display.

Stay at the Mansion on Forsyth Park, a luxurious boutique hotel in the heart of the historic district. Set in a grand Victorian-Romanesque home, it comes complete with an art gallery and a relaxing spa.


  • Easily walkable city
  • The Telfair Museums house multiple arts buildings, which you can visit for just one fee
  • SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) has created a “beach,” an immersive art installation complete with sand, sea sounds and beach chairs


  • No real beach access in the city

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INDY CAR SERIES: APR 9 Indianapolis 500 Open Test
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Best for racing fans

Indianapolis, Indiana

“Gentlemen, start your engines.” We’ve all heard the immortal words that launch the Indy 500 race every year, so why not take a trip to Indianapolis to spend Memorial Day weekend finding out what all the excitement is about? Other than the actual race (which is on Sunday, May 28, this year), Motor Speedway mania will be revved up with 500 Festival celebrations that include road races, parades and activities for kids. If you’re feeling the need for speed on a personal level, you can put the pedal to the metal on the speedway via the Indy Racing Experience.

For an equally exciting overnight, try the Crowne Plaza Historic Union Station, where you can sleep in an original Pullman train car. Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, it’s in a prime spot for you to visit many of the area’s attractions easily, whether you’re taking a family-friendly vacation or an adults-only one.


  • The Indy 500, which is held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend
  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum
  • The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis


  • Be prepared for big crowds for one of racing’s most popular events

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Scenes from the 47th annual Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center, Friday, May 25, 2018. (Genna Martin, seattlepi.com)
San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

Best for folksy types

Seattle, Washington

The Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle is now more than a half-century old, and its Memorial Day weekend celebration includes four days of free American and international ethnic, folk and traditional performances. Other events include cultural dance workshops, storytelling sessions, film screenings and cooking demonstrations, all tailored to the theme of this year’s fest—”Lagom,” a Scandinavian term that the festival’s official website says is an “exploration of our ability to find balance.” The best part is that some of these events are participatory, which means you can join in all the singing and dancing action.

The Hilton Motif Seattle offers the perfect retreat in the heart of the city’s downtown, with a rooftop lounge, a heated indoor pool and an outdoor swimming pool, so you’ll be able to take a swim no matter what the Seattle weather offers up.


  • Pike Place Market, the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the country
  • Chihuly Museum, which features stunning glass sculptures in exhibits open to the public
  • The Space Needle, built for the 1962 World Fair—and which you can go to the top of for amazing views of the city


  • Seattle isn’t exactly known for clear skies and sunny weather, regardless of the weekend

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2018 Atlanta Jazz Festival
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Best for jazz lovers

Atlanta, Georgia

Who doesn’t love free stuff when traveling? The Atlanta Jazz Festival is one of the largest free jazz festivals in the country, and it will feature dozens of artists performing over Memorial Day weekend in Piedmont Park. Multiple international acts will take the stage Saturday, Sunday and Monday, starting in the afternoon and extending into the evening hours, and this year’s headliners include Wynton Marsalis, David Sánchez and Jazz at Lincoln Center. There will be a wide array of food and beverage vendors too, so you can dine while you groove. And you should definitely check out the adjacent Art Market for one-of-a-kind creations.

The modern Loews Atlanta Hotel is just a short walk away from the Piedmont Park venue, so you really can’t beat the location. Plus, it’s popular with scene makers and musicians, so you never know who you may see in the lobby!


  • Three days of free jazz at the Atlanta Jazz Festival
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
  • Centennial Olympic Park, where you can take tours


  • Pepsi lovers, beware: It’s hard to find anything but a Coke in Coca-Cola’s headquarter city

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LEGOLAND New York Hotel Grand Opening
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Best for young families

Goshen, New York

For the perfect place to go over Memorial Day weekend with the kids, head to LEGOLAND New York, which opened just two years ago in Goshen, New York, about an hour north of New York City. The immersive theme park is geared squarely at the 2-to-12 set, who will love the hands-on LEGO-building, just-scary-enough rides and play spaces. This year, the park was designated as a Certified Autism Center, so rides will be posted with sensory guides that note whether there are bright lights, loud sounds or any other potentially problematic features. And, debuting on Memorial Day weekend, kids will also get to enjoy a brand-new, splash-tastic water area, LEGO City Water Playground.

For an even more LEGO-filled stay, book a room at the super-cool LEGOLANDR Resort. The rooms feature bunk beds for kids (which, trust us, they’ll love), plenty of LEGOs to build with in the rooms and separate king-size sleeping areas for the grown-ups. But don’t worry—you’ll still have lots of fun decor on your side of the room, including giant LEGO artwork and light-up Ninjago, Kingdom, Pirate or Friends decor in those themed rooms.


  • A just-right amusement park for kids under 12
  • Recently designated as a Certified Autism Center, with trained staff, plus sensory guides posted on the rides
  • Free breakfast included with the themed resort rooms, which come with bunk beds for kids
  • The BIG Shop has exclusive and hard-to-find LEGO kits


  • Older siblings might be looking for bigger thrills

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St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon, 1/2 Marathon & 5K
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Best for runners

Nashville, Tennessee

A great Memorial Day 2023 weekend getaway, Nashville offers a number of celebration and commemoration ceremonies. There’s the Fort Negley Memorial Program, held annually on the Saturday before Memorial Day, to honor all serving members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the Memorial Day Classic 1 Mile, 5K and 10K races. After the race (or instead of, if you’d rather just enjoy Music City), amble down Broadway to check out the live bands that take the stage at honky-tonks and bars noon through night. You can also purchase tickets to a live performance of the Grand Ole Opry on the Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend.

There’s no better place to stay on race day than the funky, brightly colored Graduate Nashville, right in the heart of downtown, with its karaoke and rooftop bars. Book its Let’s Live for Tonight Package and you’ll get a late checkout along with other goodies.


  • Annual Memorial Day races for all levels
  • Live music at local honky-tonks
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry
  • “Night Visions” at the Nashville Zoo


  • The so-called Bachelorette Capital of the U.S. can get a little rowdy on a Saturday night

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Beach, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, America, USA
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Best for beach lovers

Gulfport, Mississippi

Bursting with Southern hospitality and charm, Mississippi’s “Secret Coast” boasts 62 miles of scenic shoreline and welcomes families and visitors with warm weather and sunny skies. Another draw: the annual Sounds by the Sea, an open-air Memorial Day concert featuring patriotic selections and fireworks, presented by the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra. Bring your picnic basket, blanket and lounge chairs, and enjoy the music and the spectacular show, all overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re interested in following up your lazy day with a wild night, Gulfport also happens to be less than 30 minutes to Biloxi and its casinos.

Make your base at the Grand Centennial Hotel in Gulfport, which features a zero-entry pool, a swim-up bar and even a lazy river. It’s also steps from Centennial Plaza’s dancing fountain and grand oak trees—the perfect setting for a romantic nighttime stroll.


  • White-sand beaches and the warm Gulf waters
  • Abundant Gulf seafood, including oysters (our favorite restaurant is the Half Shell Oyster House of Gulfport)
  • A boat trip along the coast to see the barrier islands of Gulf Islands National Seashore


  • There aren’t many direct flights into Gulfport’s airport

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Americans Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend At Myrtle Beach
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Best for family-friendly activities

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Every year, Myrtle Beach hosts Military Appreciation Days to observe the city’s military history. The celebration features various free events, including the Military Appreciation Days Parade, a festive brass band concert and a family picnic. And, of course, there are those 60 miles of Atlantic Coast beaches. Myrtle Beach is also one of our favorite spots for a budget-friendly vacation, especially for families, who can play mini golf, stroll the boardwalk or visit Brookgreen Gardens’s zoo.

Stay at the Island Vista Resort, a local family-owned resort that’s in a quieter, more residential part of the beach and has multi-bedroom suites perfect for families.


  • Free events during Military Appreciation Days
  • A budget-friendly beach vacation, right on the Atlantic
  • The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, where you can take a spin on the famous Sky Wheel


  • Even though it will be sunny, the Atlantic Ocean may still be a bit chilly so early in the summer season

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Puerto Rico San Juan beach vacation destination
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Best for a tropical getaway

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Tropical San Juan is a perfect place to go for Memorial Day weekend if you want some sun and fun, and it’s just a four-hour flight from New York and two-and-a-half-hour flight from Miami. Plus, this surprisingly affordable destination offers a variety of events and activities to honor the holiday, including the Memorial Day commemoration at the San Juan National Historic Site. The Puerto Rico Salsa Congress also brings music and dance to the town, making for a lively and festive atmosphere. While there, enjoy the city’s historic architecture, beautiful beaches and delicious cuisine for a well-rounded vacation experience.

Stay at the Palacio Provincial, a boutique hotel right in the middle of Old San Juan, close to the Colonial area’s most popular attractions. This early-19th-century building with loads of charm has been meticulously restored to offer complete comfort while also preserving its historic integrity. Highlights include a rooftop pool deck overlooking San Juan Bay and an outdoor restaurant and bar. If you’re looking for a resort, check out this list of our favorite resorts in Puerto Rico.


  • The only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system, where you’ll hear the endemic coqui frog while cooling off in a natural waterfall
  • Sustainable dining, with local products and produce sourced directly from the island
  • Easy to reach from the East Coast


  • You’ll need to book a flight to this U.S. commonwealth island

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Family enjoying beautiful mountain view on summer hiking trip.
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Best for hikers

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale is a great vacation destination because of its beautiful desert scenery, world-class golf courses, luxurious resorts and, for the holiday weekend, a Memorial Day ceremony and pancake breakfast at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. There’s also the Scottsdale ArtWalk, where you can browse galleries featuring the works of local artists, high-end boutiques and award-winning restaurants. But if you’re a hiker—and even if you’re not—you’ll love checking out the terrain by foot. We’re talking more than 104 scenic trails in the Sonoran Desert, at the foot of the McDowell Mountains, and surrounding area. Memorial Day is also one of the best times to visit Arizona.

Stay at Mountain Shadows Resort in serene Paradise Valley. It’s within walking distance of Camelback Mountain, where you’ll find awesome hikes and views, and it has modern rooms built around picturesque courtyards and a golf course. There’s also a contemporary art gallery here, Hearth ’61 restaurant and bar on-site, and multiple pools, a hot tub and a gym with new equipment.


  • More than 400 miles of well-maintained desert trails
  • An artsy vibe, with tons of local artists selling their wares
  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West, the architect’s former winter home and studio
  • Gorgeous weather and scenery


  • It’s easy to get dehydrated in the desert

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Illuminating Sunbeams
Jolie Zimmermann/Getty Images

Best for water activities

Waikiki, Hawaii

Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawai’i, the annual Memorial Day ceremony held on Ala Moana Beach, is a memorable sight, with thousands of lit lanterns floated out to sea to remember loved ones. And this year’s event promises to be even more memorable, because it’s the first time the event has been held in person since 2019 because of COVID. Plus, is there ever a bad time to visit Hawaii? Well, it just might be even better to visit around Memorial Day, since you’re nearly guaranteed to have great beach weather and optimal surf conditions.

‘Alohilani Resort is considered one of the best resorts in Hawaii, thanks to its trendy, design-forward aesthetic and prime location. It puts you within steps of Oahu’s Waikiki Beach and the area’s best bars, restaurants and shops.


  • Snorkeling, surfing, boogie boarding and stand-up paddleboarding in the warm, clear Pacific waters
  • Easy to reach from the West Coast of the United States


  • Unless you live in Hawaii, you’ll have to hop on a flight to reach the island

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USA, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful Geyser erupting at sunset
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Best for nature lovers

Yellowstone National Park

While all the U.S. parks are special, Yellowstone—America’s (and the world’s) first national park, which turned 150 last year—is our pick for the best one to visit over the holiday weekend. Here, you’ll witness the wonders of the Old Faithful geyser erupting, the prismatic paint pots, steaming vents and bubbling mud. It’s basically the Disney of the great outdoors! For Memorial Day, head to the Wyoming side of the park (Yellowstone spans both Wyoming and Montana) to Powell, where the JWP Days Festival will feature fun for all ages, including bike obstacle races, carnival games, a beer garden and an outdoor movie when the sun goes down.

For anyone who loves the idea of camping but doesn’t want to give up sleeping on a bed, Under Canvas luxury tents are for you. The tents are on elevated decks with super-comfy beds and private en suite bathrooms. Bonus: The lodging is located just 10 minutes from the park’s west entrance, which makes exploring Yellowstone super easy.


  • Old Faithful geyser, Grand Prismatic Springs, Mammoth Hot Springs thermal basins and more natural wonders
  • A fun-for-all-ages Memorial Day weekend festival
  • Elevated camping options 10 minutes from the park


  • Yellowstone is so large, it will take more than just the weekend to see it all

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Pouring red wine in vineyard
Zbynek Pospisil/Getty Images

Best for wine aficionados

Loudoun County, Virginia

If you didn’t know, Virginia isn’t just for lovers—it’s also for wine lovers. Virginia is home to some of the best wineries in the country, and Loudoun County is a prime spot. Located just 25 miles outside of Washington, D.C., Loudoun boasts more than 40 award-winning wineries and 30-plus craft breweries, as well as farm-to-table dining on actual farms. There are also historic villages and charming small towns to visit, including Middleburg, the capital of Virginia horse country.

Salamander Resort & Spa, tucked into the grasslands in Middleburg, is an ideal place to stay in the area. The spacious resort offers horseback riding, fishing, falconry, biking, ziplining, archery and ax throwing. You’ll also find indoor and outdoor swimming pools, programs for kids, an immersive spa and several dining spots that highlight the bounty of the county’s wineries, breweries and farms.


  • More than 40 top-notch wineries and breweries, which often feature local musicians
  • Dirt Farm Brewing, which will have live music, a bluegrass brunch and a wide selection of brews and food all weekend long
  • The popular Tarara Winery Summer Concert Series, which features fun cover bands that specialize in ’70s through ’90s music


  • You’ll need a designated driver, since there are no shuttles to and from the wineries

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Beach in Menorca
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Best for jet-setters

Menorca, Spain

Want to take an overseas vacation? Here’s our choice for one of the best places to go for Memorial Day weekend in Europe: the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain—specifically, tiny Menorca, which has 112 miles of sun-kissed beaches with crystal-clear water, perfect for a swim and a romantic Spanish getaway. Isla del Rey, just off Menorca’s southern coast, was the location of the first U.S. military base in the Mediterranean, giving the island historical significance for a Memorial Day visit. (Today Isla del Rey is home to the Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery and a naval hospital historic site.)

Stay at Villa Le Blanc Gran Melia, a luxe hideaway on the southern coast of the island. Every room has a balcony, so you can enjoy the scenic vistas of the turquoise Mediterranean as soon as you open your eyes. And the luxe seaside resort, which opened last summer, is the only property on the island with a carbon-neutral footprint, making it an eco-conscious option too. Opt for a room with a private hot tub on the terrace, so you can truly soak up the views.


  • Warm weather and cool sea breezes
  • An under-the-radar and romantic island that avoids the party scene of nearby Ibiza
  • Excellent fresh seafood served at Villa Le Blanc’s S’Amarador Restaurant


  • No direct flights from the United States

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Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is an intrepid explorer and award-winning travel journalist with more than 25 years of experience. She covers topics ranging from family travel and Disney to honeymoons and romantic beaches and everything in between.