No plans for a Memorial Day weekend trip? No worries. Whatever your travel preferences, these destinations have something for everyone.
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial official kick-off to summer and there is no better way to celebrate than by getting out of town and soaking up the sun. Even though most people start dreaming of their Memorial Day trips months in advance, you are certainly not the only one who let the planning slip by the wayside. A busy spring quickly leads into the end of the school year, leaving you with little time to catch your breath, let alone plan a stress-free vacay.
These nine destinations all perfect for your Memorial Day weekend. And best of all? They are laid-back, cost-effective, and require little to no planning, meaning you can book a flight and go. Plus, they are all great options for whatever kind of trip you are looking for: a family-friendly trip, a gal pal getaway, or even something a little more romantic.
Keep reading to find out why these nine cities make for the best Memorial Day trip in recent memory—all at the last minute. Here are some outfits to consider for your trip!
Memorial Day Trips for Urban Explorers
The easiest vacations are the ones that allow you to just wake up and wander. These three cities are built for exploration, meaning you do not need to worry about excessive planning time at all.
Head to Chitown for a taste of big city life with some Midwestern hospitality. Chicago, a city often overlooked in favor of NYC or LA, packs a major cultural punch, thanks to their world-class museums and the nearly endless list of award-winning restaurants.
For a trip with the kids, consider the classics like the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Make sure your kids get to experience deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s and a boat ride on the Chicago River. Build in some time for napping at your hotel; we recommend staying in River North or South Loop so you are closest to all the action.
For a girly getaway, make sure you are prioritizing what you love to do. If that is beach time, you are in luck: Lake Michigan’s beach is popping when the weather gets warm, and there are plenty of lakefront restaurants where you can grab a glass (or three) of wine and dig your toes in the sand. If you and your squad are foodies, stay in the West Loop so you can start a shopping and eating marathon early.
A Memorial Day weekend trip for two is easily done in Chicago, especially when you book a sweet Airbnb in the Gold Coast. Stroll through the Art Institute a la Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson, book a dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurants, and end the evening by ducking into one of the city’s many dimly lit bars, like The Violet Hour or The Darling.
Avoid the impending summer heat with a jaunt up north to Seattle. The Emerald City, as it is known, might not be what you think of when it comes to major metropolises, but this city on Puget Sound certainly has enough to entertain you and your travel companions for three days.
Take the kids to the Northwest Folklife Festival, a major gathering that is family-approved for its wide variety of food, world music, and arts and crafts. Memorial Day also hosts Family Science Weekend at the Seattle Aquarium; the whole fam can take in diver shows and learn all about aquatic life, making this Memorial Day trip fun and educational.
Hang with your girls in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s party central. Even if you’re long past your partying days, let your hair down for a night in fun speakeasies and themed bars. Get your shopping done at Pike Place Market, one of the city’s most popular spots, and take some Instagram-approved pics at the slightly-disgusting-but-very-cool Gum Wall.
Cuddle up with your boo at the Edgewater Hotel, which is aptly named considering it is built on the literal edge of the water. Tuck into one of the many bars and microbreweries in the cobble-stoned Pioneer Square neighborhood, smooch at the top of the Space Needle, and finish off the day with dinner at The Pink Door downtown.
Traveling with kids? Be sure to pick up these fun travel games while you are en route to your final destination.
Whatever you think of the current political landscape, D.C. is for everyone—and it is a beautiful choice for a Memorial Day weekend trip. Whether you are going for a crash course in American history or you are more interested in the myriad dining destinations, D.C. is a must-see for every U.S. resident.
The kids will love seeing history up close and personal with visits to the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and the Smithsonian museums at the National Mall. If your kids are more the type to run and play, take them to the U.S. Botanic Garden to poke around the Children’s Garden.
Girl time in D.C. can be whatever you want it to be, and it is okay if that is not endless museums. You will be surrounded by history no matter what you do—it is everywhere. Make reservations for dinner but during the day, pop into any old wine bar in between perusing the shops. Soak up being in our capital city, especially on such a patriotic weekend.
Keep the romance alive in the capital with a date night on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. While you cannot wait to pop a bottle of bubbly there, head north to Georgetown afterward for a late-night dinner. Speaking of Georgetown, wander its streets, looking at exquisite homes—you never know what kind of fantasy you might cook up.
Memorial Day Trips at the Beach
Nothing says Memorial Day like the beach. The temperatures are rising, the sun is out, and the drinks are cold. Hit any of these destinations for a Memorial Day trip you are not soon to forget.
Rosemary Beach, Florida
There are plenty of incredible beaches in Florida to choose from, but Rosemary Beach is a seriously picture perfect way to spend Memorial Day weekend.
Let the kids spend the weekend on the beach. As long as you have sunscreen and sand toys, it is just about the simplest weekend you can ask for.
Girls weekends on a beach always tend to be ones for the memory books. Rosemary Beach’s gorgeous white houses are the perfect setting for mimosas over brunch, afternoon naps, and late nights laughing on the wide porches. Do not worry about making too many plans; just enjoy the time with friends.
For a romantic weekend, if you want to make a yearly tradition, Rosemary Beach should be at the top of your list. The Pearl Hotel, which is just steps away from the Gulf, is a romantic paradise, complete with relaxing spa and top-tier dining options. Rent bikes to ride through nearby Alys Beach and complete the day with some champagne on your private hotel balcony.
Do you plan on visiting the beach? Be sure to bring along sun protective clothing for those who tend to burn rather than tan while lounging in the sun.
Yes, Cancun is a tourist hotspot, and no, Mexico is not the United States. But you can get cheap and quick flights to this resort hub, making it a logical choice for an international Memorial Day trip.
Kids can go too by choosing a family-friendly resort complete with a fully packed schedule of activities for kids. Send them off to an age-appropriate fun camp while you take some time to yourself. To get off the property, book a tour down to the Xcaret Eco Parks to experience a nature/adventure theme park.
Cancun is for the girls, as evidenced by the massive amounts of gal groups you will see around your resort. If you are explorers at heart, Cancun is within driving distance of Playa del Carmen and hippie haven Tulum. Just do not spend too much time away from the hotel; you want to make sure you get your money’s worth at the pool bars.
Fall in love all over again exploring the Yucatan. With its many Mayan ruins and countless cenotes, Cancun is the perfect basecamp for a long weekend full of embracing Mexican culture. Feast on street tacos, pop into literal mom-and-pop shops, and fall into bed at a resort built for couples, like Secrets Silversands or the extremely adults-only Temptation.
For a decidedly different take on being a beach bum, the beaches of Michigan are a popular choice for all kinds of travelers.
Kids will love playing at the beaches of west Michigan. Grand Haven State Park has beach access, a playground, picnic tables, and more. Let the kids dig in the sand and jump off the dunes while you relax with a good book.
Kick back with the girls in Saugatuck on the west coast of Lake Michigan. Oval Beach has been named one of the best beaches in the world, and there’s more to do in the sleepy town center. Find sweet pastries, savory steaks, and a cute B&B for the girls’ weekend of a lifetime.
Settle in with your sweetie in Grand Haven. Arguably Michigan’s most famous beach town, you will not be at a loss for things to do. Fill your days with beach time and tiny town exploring before kicking back at the Harbor House Inn, just across from the boardwalk at night. The cozy rooms are an excellent spot to spend some seriously sweet one-on-one time.
Memorial Day Trips for Outdoor Lovers
When you have an extra day off work, make the most of it by spending time outdoors—aka as far away from an office as possible.
California Wine Country
Part of the appeal of the wine country is the endless rolling hills. Whether you are in Napa or Sonoma, it is a part of the country that everyone will enjoy, wine lovers or not.
Kids do belong in wine country—just maybe not front and center at a vineyard. That is unless you’re at the Benziger Family Winery, which has created a family-friendly experience with their all-ages tractor tour of the vineyards. The focus is more on sustainable agriculture than alcohol content, so rest assured knowing the kids will actually learn something in Sonoma. There are several pro-kid wineries and vineyards in the area so the adults and kiddos will all be pleased.
What better spot for a girlfriend getaway than wine country? It is a classic for a reason. The most obvious activity is winery-hopping (and hopefully learning something along the way). The best way to indulge your active sensibilities is by taking a guided bicycle tour of the area.
Romance comes alive in Wine Country, USA. Make a toast to your love at any winery you come across before settling into one of the incredibly romantic hotels in the area, like the Calistoga Ranch in Napa. Wake up early for a hike on one of their private trails then take a private hot air balloon tour of the valley.
The City of Roses is full of nature lovers who get out of town and into the mountains every chance they get. Join them over this three-day weekend for a Memorial Day trip of your inner hippie’s dreams.
Get the little ones on the trail on some of Portland’s many kid-friendly hikes. Tryon Creek State Park has some incredible hiking opportunities, and thanks to its varied routes, you can choose a path that’s best for you and your family’s abilities. The Leach Botanical Gardens is another great choice that is a little less intense but certainly no less beautiful.
Grab the girls and get moving toward one of the Portland area’s famous waterfalls: Multnomah Falls, Wahclella Falls, or the more adventurous Lower Oneonta Falls. (Trust us, the Instagrams will be worth it.) Unwind after your exertions with dinner at Brasserie Montmartre for the burger or foodie favorite Beast.
Hold hands with your boo as you traverse the trails leading up to the summit of Mount Tabor. Find a secluded spot to smooch in secret, then head down to a Stumptown location for a coffee day date. If you are both wine lovers, the Willamette Valley is home to plenty of wineries and you can bike your way through a few glasses at least.
Denver is a low-maintenance destination and the laid-back vibe of the Colorado capital will put you in the mood to seriously slow down this Memorial Day weekend.
A family-friendly afternoon in Denver’s City Park is a great way to kick off your Memorial Day trip. Paddling lakes, tennis courts, and open grass are the perfect place to burn off the kids’ energy. Follow it up with a hike on Dinosaur Ridge, the best place to find fossils and even partial dinosaur skeletons embedded in the ancient rock.
Groups of girls’ trips converge on Denver almost every month of the year, as it’s an excellent base for Colorado exploring. Whether you bike along Denver’s dozens of paved trails on their bike-share program or take a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, you will be able to bond with your pals in the great outdoors.
There is no shortage of romance in Denver, particularly for the outdoorsy types. Lookout Mountain Park is the perfect spot to snap a kissing selfie looking out over miles and miles of panoramic views. Soak your stress away at Indian Hot Springs’ hot mineral waters and geothermal caves to get you in the mood for some serious lovin’.
Final Tips for Last-Minute Memorial Day Trips
Planning (or not planning) a last-minute Memorial Day trip might stress you out. Pick out one of the recommended destinations above, and remember these important tips:
- To find cheap, last-minute flights, make sure you are checking Kayak, Skyscanner, and Google Flights. Yes, all three!
- Be flexible with your accommodations. Memorial Day weekend is a popular time to travel so if your top choice for hotel, B&B, or Airbnb is taken, do not stress! You will find something equally cool.
- Speaking of “not stressing”… Breathe! Memorial Day trips are supposed to be fun. It is three days (or four if you are lucky) to experience something new. Go with the flow—it is worth it, we promise.
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