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Memorial Day Weekend Destinations That Are NOT the Beach

memorial day weekend travel
Written by Shannon Durso

This blog post was updated on May 15, 2023.

Planning to get away during a long holiday weekend can be a hassle, especially when travelers are scrambling to race against the clock to start their vacation. Most plan to spend Memorial Day weekend relaxing on an island or heading to an overcrowded beach. But, if you’re not a fan of the sand and want to avoid the masses, then keep reading, because we’ve rounded up a few destinations that you can visit at the very last-minute…and where you won’t have to bump elbows with too many people!

New York City

Memorial day weekend destinations

The warmer days have arrived in the bustling city that never sleeps. As most New Yorkers get away for the long weekend, there are still endless things to do in the city. Of course, there’s Broadway, so you might want to head over to the TKTS booth and grab some cheap tickets to the latest show. And New York has more art museums per square mile than any other city in America. There are seemingly innumerable tall buildings that you can scale (via elevator, of course) to get a bird’s eye view of the city. And for those who prefer to remain outdoors, there’s Central Park, the High Line, and Little Island, a new park off the west coast of Manhattan that’s built out on top of the Hudson River on a fascinating series of pylons.

Page, Arizona

memorial day weekend destinations

The city of Page is close to Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam, so you’ll be able to visit all the incredible canyons while you’re here. We’re sure you’ve seen the incredible photos of Antelope Canyon, located just east of Page. But if not, it’s a world-famous slot canyon where tourists can explore the land on foot. The Horseshoe Bend (yes, shaped in a horseshoe) is a spectacular place with perfect views to watch the sunset. Lastly, touring the lake’s surrounding red rock cliffs will definitely make it a trip to remember!

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

memorial day weekend destinations

Head out east in Tennessee for some fresh air in this amazing mountain town. There are plenty of affordable attractions and activities in Gatlinburg for everyone to enjoy, making it an ideal destination for families to spend the weekend. While you’re here, we suggest you head to the observation deck at the Space Needle, enjoy the day at Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies, plan for an outdoor adventure such as ziplining, or even go water rafting! Oh, and if you’re in pursuit of a cocktail with some friendly locals, there are plenty of bars and wineries around!

Mystic, Connecticut

Tall sailship at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, New England, USA.

Mystic is a small laid-back town on the coast of Connecticut, and it’s an affordable option to escape for the weekend. If you’re a seafood lover you’ll surely enjoy the sea-to-table restaurants located along the coast. And, if you’re not a fan of seafood, head to the famous Mystic Pizza (yes, the same place as seen in the 1988 film). Some things to do and see here are the Mystic Seaport Museum, the Mystic Aquarium, taking a boat ride around the picturesque town, and strolling around Downtown. This charming historic town will fulfill your weekend with a bit of relaxation and exploration!

Providence, Rhode Island

memorial day weekend getaways

You won’t go hungry while in Providence; that’s for sure! The city has an abundance of restaurants where both locals and tourists can sit for a delightful meal. Shopping in downtown Providence is hard to resist, so prepare to shop ‘til you drop! But during the long weekend, you cannot miss the WaterFire! It’s an award-winning public art installation of fire sculptures on the surface of the three rivers flowing through the center of downtown Providence. The show is free, so grab your spot by the water because thousands are usually expected to attend!

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA townscape.

Portsmouth is a small yet charming destination that’s perfect for travelers who are interested in spending the weekend strolling around a new town to visit different museums, parks, and attractions. Take a break from exploring and enjoy a riverside seafood meal at Old Ferry Landing for either lunch or dinner. And if you’re here during Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Navy hosts a ceremony at the U.S.S. Albacore Museum & Memorial Park to remember those who’ve sacrificed their lives in war.

Palm Springs

memorial day weekend getaways

Grab your swimsuit and lounge out in the desert of Palm Springs! Skip the sandy California beaches and make a splash in the pool while catching some rays of sunshine. If you’re a fitness freak and don’t mind the heat, head to the Indian Canyons to spend the day hiking or biking through the desert. If you’re here for the holiday weekend, the annual Memorial Day Flower Drop and Air Festival held at the Palm Springs Air Museum is a fun-filled event to attend. The museum hosts the event to honor fallen service men and women by dropping over 3,000 flowers from a fighter jet. If you’re planning to go, be sure to get there by 1 P.M. to catch the Flower Drop!

Where are you headed this Memorial Day Weekend? Leave a comment and let us know!

About the author

Shannon Durso

If she’s not searching for the world's coolest destinations she has yet to explore, you can find her writing content at Fareportal or maybe even drooling over a foodies latest post. Shannon’s a Brooklyn native who enjoys good company, new adventures, and a great laugh!

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