Whether you see Memorial Day as a time to party, a time to relax or a time to remember, most people will agree it’s a good time to get out of town without having to worry about using up your vacation days. If you aren’t yet sure of where to go, here are a few suggestions.
While heading out of the country during the three-day Memorial Day weekend might sound counterintuitive, it’s actually one of the best times to visit Montreal. Sunday, May 29, marks the annual Montreal Museums Day, during which museums across the city extend their hours and offer free admission to visitors.
The holiday also coincides with the weeklong Go Velo (Go Bike) festival, which features a week of activities for cyclists and their supporters, from workshops to night rides.
2. Las Vegas
Las Vegas has long been a popular Memorial Day weekend spot, with many of the casino-hotels offering weekend specials to entice tourists. It’s one of the busiest weekends of the year out on the Strip, drawing in die-hard partiers and gamblers along with a steady trickle of tourists who stop by en route to more outdoorsy pursuits such as the Grand Canyon.
For those who want to focus on partying, however, this year’s Vegas Memorial Day weekend promises an incredible range of offerings, including DJ sets by the likes of Diplo, Tiesto, David Guetta and Skrillex.
3. Washington, D.C.
Our nation’s capital has long been associated with Memorial Day. Wreath-laying events take place at the city’s various war memorials and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Va. A group called Rolling Thunder, which advocates for POWS and those missing in combat, also holds an annual motorcycle rally here to mark the day.
The city’s biggest highlight, however, is the National Memorial Day Parade, complete with floats and marching bands. Right after the parade, the National Memorial Day Concert is staged on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
4. Charleston, S.C.
Although there are conflicting stories behind the official origins of Memorial Day, Charleston is thought to be the first spot where the holiday was publicly observed. It was here in 1865 that free African-Americans came together to give a proper burial to 257 Union prisoners of war who had been buried in a mass grave by the Confederates.
Today the historic city offers a large range of Memorial Day activities. The most noteworthy is the annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival, which kicks off during the weekend and features 17 days of live music, art installations, book readings, and art and theater performances.
5. New Orleans
The Big Easy is a great spot for those who want a fun-packed Memorial Day weekend without the crowds and debauchery of Mardi Gras. Not only is the weather in New Orleans still pleasantly warm, there are also plenty of activities beyond drinking and sightseeing.
Now in its fifth decade, the annual New Orleans Greek Fest celebrates the heritage of the city’s Greek-American population with food, entertainment and family activities. The weekend also coincides with the annual New Orleans Food and Wine Experience, which attracts upward of 10,000 visitors to experience the city’s food and wine scene.