Memorial Day Weekend is one of the busiest traveling U.S. holidays of the year, a time when most students are out of school and families are ready to kick off their summer with a great mini vacation or camping trip. In 2015 over 37.2 million people drove over 50 miles to get somewhere on Memorial Day Weekend, about 88% of them choosing automobiles as their preferred mode of transportation. This means the roads will be packed, and last minute trip decisions may not work out as well as you thought!
That's why we've put together this list of top Memorial Day Weekend Travel options for this summer! Choose between classic summer beach towns, historic national iconic cities, or far away tropical oases, any option is a truly great way to spend Memorial Day weekend!
- Phoenix, Arizona - Head to Phoenix, Arizona, to enjoy rising temperatures and dropping travel rates to kick off your summer! Here you can participate in the local popular water parks Wet N Wild "Salute to our Heroes," a weekend full of great BBQ, fireworks, and summertime activities! Enjoy classic Memorial Day recreation options, sight-see, or head over to any of the amazing spas to get a massage, learn tai chi, or take part in Pilates.
- Palm Springs, California - California has got to be on your mind when you think summer, which is why we’ve included one of our favorite Cali locations, Palm Springs, for an unforgettable Memorial Day vacation option. Enjoy the endless sunshine, low seasonal rates, and great food in this desert oasis landscape. You can spend your weekend hiking, mountain biking, or rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, or you can keep it classic and take part in Palm Springs Air Museum's Flower Drop from the B-25 aircraft, an annual event in which thousands of white and red carnations are dropped in memory of the fallen.
- San Juan Islands - Washington - Perhaps the state of Washington isn’t exactly what comes to mind when thinking of good summer kick-off destinations, but we think that the San Juan Islands here are absolutely perfect! Take a scenic ferry ride from the coast to the largest of the San Juan Islands and enjoy the low season’s tranquil atmosphere. You can kayak, spot orca whales and seals, enjoy local art galleries, boutiques, and museums, or just relax with a farm-fresh meal at the popular Friday Harbor House and beach. You can even partake in an authentic small-town parade and ceremony that is well worth the trip in celebration of Memorial Day!
- Catalina Island, California - We couldn’t leave out this second California gem for Memorial Day weekend travels! On Catalina Island, you can take a one-hour boat trip to the clear waters of the resort island, a place full of diverse marine life and out of this world snorkel opportunities. In fact, Lover’s Cove here is considered one of the top 10 places to snorkel in the world and also one of the most concentrated populations of fish on the West Coast! See sea stars, eels, anemones, octopi, dolphins, and even sea lions! Enjoy glass boat bottom tours, kayak lessons, golfing, casinos, and plenty of great food.
- Washington D.C. - You know what’s great about D.C. on Memorial Day? Surprisingly enough, there aren’t very many people visiting at this time! After the April Cherry Blossom Festival tourism boom there is a significant drop in rates, allowing you to comfortably come see the National Memorial Day Parade and enjoy the sights (and great weather) of D.C.! You can participate in several different Memorial Day activities while here, actually, such as a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, at museums, and at concerts throughout the city all day.
- Camp Wandawega, Wisconsin - Haven’t heard of Camp Wandawega? Well, we will enlighten you, because it is a great choice for Memorial Day Weekend travels! At Camp Wandawega in Wisconsin, you will kick off summer the right way with tons of boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, biking, and beaching options! You can relax in the sand or hit the courts for some tennis or shuffleboard, it’s practically a summer lover's paradise. The best part, in our opinion, about this camp is that you can choose between really fun vintage cabins, bungalows, bunkhouses, tree-houses, teepees, or tents for you lodging over the weekend while here!
- Miami, Florida - The sunshine state just screams summer, making it an obvious top option for great Memorial Day Weekend destinations. In Miami, you can soak up the sun on any of the endless gorgeous beaches with fewer crowds and amazing temperatures, as well as pay respects to the event by attending the annual March of Colors or wreath-laying ceremony at the Miami Beach Police Headquarters. It’s the best of both worlds!
- Atlantic City, New Jersey - Atlantic City is considered to be the Las Vegas of the East, a truly amazing city to both gambles and enjoy the great family fun! Enjoy starting your summer at the fun Steel Pier Oceanside amusement park or famous New Jersey boardwalk, both really fun options full of summer fun and delicious fair food! You can also take part in Memorial Day Parades, firework displays, or the highly popular Wildwoods International Kite Festival, a massive, yet amazing, site to see while here!
Out of the States: If you’re looking for something a little less traditional and a little more tropical, these options are great for kicking off your 2016 summer as well!
- Riviera Maya - Riviera Maya has been voted among the top destinations for 2016 summer travel, especially around the weekend of Memorial Day! During this season you will find absolutely unbeatable rates, most Americans wanting to stay closer to home for the holiday. You will also find spectacular white sand beaches and endless ocean vistas, a true tropical paradise in Mexico!
- Bermuda - The stunning Caribbean island of Bermuda is an incredible destination for summer travel. Bermuda is much closer than many realize as it's just a two-hour flight from NYC and closer from D.C. Enjoy pink sand beaches, hidden coves, relaxing spas, and delicious restaurants while here, as well as the iconic views from Horseshoe Bay Beach!