Let's take our hats off to our country and those who have served for it. With the holiday fast encroaching, plan to head to any of our top ten Memorial Day getaways and enjoy what the long weekend is all about—good food, good friends, and celebrating freedom. Here is our guide of where to go, where to stay, and, perhaps most importantly, where to eat.
10. Kansas City, Missouri
Around Memorial Day each year, the Paris of the Plains hosts The Great American Barbeque Festival, where the savory juiciness of America's favorite meat is held high above all others. With events like a Sauce, Baste, and Rub Contest, the festival showcases the who's who of Kansas City BBQ.
9. New York City, New York
New York celebrates the holiday weekend through fireworks, Hamptons' getaways, and Fleet Week. This annual event docks hundreds of sailors for a week off of their deployed ships in the Big Apple. The vast greenery of Central Park is open for picnics, bike rides, and outdoor concerts.
8. Freeport, Maine
Surrounded by the Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, Freeport is a tranquil retreat with a back-to-nature vibe. Take a drive down U.S. 1 Coastal Highway stretching over 200 miles from Freeport to Quoddy Head, Maine. The sites along Maine's coastline are breathtaking, and U.S. 1 is ideal for meandering off onto side roads leading down the coast for a closer view of lighthouses, rocky cliffs, fishing boats, and the shoreline.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
Is there ever a bad time to visit New Orleans? With the warm weather encroaching and the promise of sunshine, New Orleans holds the key to the hearts of those vacationers who just want to get away from it all. The simple stillness of the city is evident in the alligator swamps, in a chair underneath a drooping New Orleans oak tree, and through the lush bohemian way of life seen in the locals. The romance of this city is unexplainable by many but saturated in realness to visitors arriving for the first time.
6. South Padre Island, Texas
Head south to Texas, land of big hair, big belt buckles, and big excuses to party. South Padre is easily accessible and distinct enough that you feel you have left the country. The tropical tip of Texas still rings true with its good ole boy theme and laid-back country living. If you've grown out of the all-night ragers, head to the island's 34-mile-long barrier reef for dolphin-spotting boat trips, fishing, and lazing on the beach.
5. Key West, Florida
Laid-back living at its finest—Jimmy Buffet sang about it, the sun loves it, and pie has been inspired by it. The three-day weekend is always a big event in the Keys and plans should be made accordingly—i.e., book ahead of time! The U.S.'s southernmost point is as close as you can get to the Caribbean without boarding a boat, and it's an island paradise that's still relatively low-key. Though developments line the beach, the city vibes like a small town. The people are friendly, the food is legendary, and the views are majestic.
4. Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California
This freshwater lake has been climbing the ranks of America's favorite getaways throughout the years, and it has its vast array of outdoor activities to thank. Memorial Day usually marks the opening day of the lake and surrounding hiking trails. Master mariners delight in the overabundance of water sports—from parasailing to swimming to windsurfing.
3. Memphis, Tennesse
For the foodies out there, head to Memphis. Think baked beans, potato slaw, and slaw (they leave out the "cole" in the South). I think few would argue against the fact that nothing defines Memorial Day like a plastic plate of heaping meat on a sesame-seed bun. To get the best of the 'que head to Beale Street, a mecca of deliciously appetizing BBQ joints and clubs that play music straight from Memphis's heart—what more would you expect from a city that has been hailed the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock 'n Roll?
2. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
The small town of Hilton Head, South Carolina, is a popular east coast getaway. With seaside attractions and hometown charm, Hilton Head is an ideal Memorial Day family escape. The tiny island is jam packed with restaurants, golf courses, and shopping opportunities. Apple blossom trees are in full bloom this time of the year and supply a breathtaking backdrop during walks with the whole family.
1. Washington, D.C.
Where better to remember past heroes than the nation's capital? The District offers more than enough opportunities to pay tribute where tribute is due. Monuments, landmarks, cemeteries, and memorials dot the landscape of this east coast city, commemorating those who have fought for our country. Attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, watch the Presentation of the Colors at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and join the masses of patriotic Americans as they celebrate our veterans at the National Memorial Day Parade—each branch of the military is honored with bands, floats, and active and retired military units marching down Constitution Avenue past 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the president's home.
Did we leave off your favorite Memorial Day locale? Tell us in the comments section here.
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