Memorial Day is traditionally a holiday of commemoration. It also signals the start of summer activities. While we’re all for honoring those who served, we happen to think it’s possible to both pay homage to our brave service members AND celebrate America’s great cities.
Whether you’re up for a parade through the streets or a quiet museum tour, we’ve found the most exciting attractions where you can brush up on your history…while having fun…this Memorial Day weekend.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charming Charleston is a city that blends history and modernity. From its pastel plantation houses and cobblestone streets, to its trailblazing restaurants and bars that have gained national recognition, the city has lots in store for visitors. You can drop by the legendary Middleton Place, the former home of Arthur Middleton (a signer of the Declaration of Independence), to frolic around 65 acres of what the Garden Club of America dubbed “the most important garden in America.”
You’ll even experience 18th and 19th-century plantation life thanks to costumed craftspeople stationed on the grounds and a stable yard complete with live heritage breeds. When you’re through, take a stroll along the Battery Promenade for a view of Fort Sumter, where the shots that marked the beginning of the Civil War were fired.
St. Louis, Missouri
A St. Louis weekend escape is just perfect for families with small kids in tow. Think picnics, lounge chairs, open spaces, and prices that won’t drain your bank account – plus plenty of free activities!
While you might be suffocated by the throngs of tourists in some other Memorial day parades, the Alton Memorial Day Parade marches on without an absurd number of onlookers. The first Alton parade was held just three years after the Civil War’s close and the tradition continues to this day. Free and open to the public, it honors our veterans with floats, flags, and true American spirit.
New York City, New York
If you need an excuse to finally embark on your dream Big Apple getaway this Memorial Day weekend, we have a solid one: the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade. This parade is an NYC institution that kicks off at 11 am, makes its way along Fourth Avenue and ends with a 21-gun salute by the U.S. Army at Fort Hamilton.
On top of that, New York has a whole host of other wonderful Memorial Day weekend events including the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, The Great Brooklyn Grill Out and there will also be a ton of military fun during Fleet Week 2017 (a seven-day celebration in New York City, which honors the members of the United States Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps).
You may have not heard much about this pristine little town, but there’s a lot of things to do here on Memorial Day Weekend. Spend an afternoon at Riverbend Park to experience Florida wildlife and embark on a family canoe ride under the canopy trees. You’ll even find a preserved battlefield from the early 18th century Seminole War, which was waged between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, in the park’s historic district.
Once you’ve experienced all the green you could handle (don’t forget the bug spray!), a trip to the historic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, which was once overtaken by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, should be next on your list. While it’s closed on Memorial Day, you’ll be able to purchase admission Tuesday-Sunday. Your family will also have the chance to tour the WWII Naval housing building’s exhibit on the local history and enjoy picturesque outdoor attractions including the Keeper’s Workshop, Tindall Pioneer Homestead, and Pennock Plantation Bell.
Palm Springs, California
This resort city, smack-dab in the California desert, is an excellent getaway for Memorial Day Weekend. Whether you want to engage in golfing, art gallery browsing, or poolside lounging, you are sure to lose yourself in the stunning natural beauty of the desert landscape.
This Memorial Day, don’t miss the Palm Springs Air Museum’s Annual Memorial Day Flower Drop, during which 3,000 red and white carnations are dropped from a B-25 bomber in dedication to America’s servicemen.
Know of any other historic and fun cities that are perfect for Memorial Day weekend? Let us know in the comments!