8 Last-Minute Memorial Day Escapes

May 23, 2019

If you’ve majorly procrastinated on booking a trip for Memorial Day Weekend, fear not:  We've found eight towns that don't require serious planning or cash outlay—and have a ton to do once you arrive. So take a look, pick a spot, then pack your bags. And if the packing doesn't happen 'til morning of? Hey, that’s okay, too.


Washington, D.C.

Of course, the granddaddy of all Memorial Day destinations is our nation's capital, where the 15th anniversary edition of the National Memorial Day Parade—America's largest—is going to be especially moving. Because 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, dozens of  World War II veterans—including some who landed at Normandy, June 6, 1944—will serve as the parade's Honorary Grand Marshals. Join the 250,000 or so spectators along the National Mall on Monday after a an event-packed weekend. If you get to town by Friday, hit opening night of Jazz in the Garden, a free weekly summer concert series in the Sculpture Garden at The National Gallery of Art from May 24-August 23.

 

Over the weekend, stop into the Hirshhorn, and show up hungry. The museum has just staged its first-ever exhibit to incorporate actual, edible food: 60+ liters of Beau Thai curry that will be incorporated daily into the thought-provoking Rirkrit Tiravanija: (who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green) through July 24. Keep on thinking at the Walt Whitman 200 Festival—a big 200th birthday party for the nation's "first poet of democracy" (May 23-June 3), complete with readings, workshops, exhibits and family activities. Or, you know, just eat your way around all the amazing new offerings at the Wharf.

Getting there: You can find round-trip flights to Washington for less than $200 from several U.S. cities, including Pittsburgh, Denver, New Orleans, and Orlando.

Staying there: The Phoenix Park Hotel offers one of the best locations in town—on Capitol Hill just a block from Union Station. Book now to pay only $109 per night on select rooms.

 

Nashville

There’s never a wrong time to visit Music City, but Memorial Day Weekend is particularly eventful, starting with—what else?—the big (and free) musical lineup in Centennial Park, where you'll find a five-artist slate for Acoustic Friday Night and nine more performers between two stages the next day (May 24-25). For something a bit more old school, head to the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night, when you can catch a minimum of eight country stars (some rising, some super). Or head to the iconic Ryman Auditorium and hit the stage yourself—at least for a photo op on a weekend backstage tour. And treasure hunters, take note: Memorial Day weekend also brings the epic monthly Nashville Flea Market to the city's fairgrounds, along with 2000 or so booths. Between stops, gorge on the legendary local eats. And trust us: the line at Hattie B’s is worth the wait.

Getting there: JetBlue has several round-trip flights available to Nashville for less than $300, from New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Boston, and more.  

Staying there: The Fairlane Hotel has a great downtown location, about a 25-minute drive from Nashville International Airport. Book now to save 40% off your room rate through summer.

 

Las Vegas

We defy you to think of a more extravagant place to welcome pool season than Vegas. Just pick a scene: DJs and bikini-clad waitresses at MGM Grand; locals lounging under palm trees at Aliante; or massage therapists and relaxed grown-ups at Bellagio (and that’s just the tip of the chlorinated iceberg). While you’re in town, follow the crowds to the city’s best casino floors, Michelin-starred restaurants, and musical shows. (Pro tip: Two of Celine Dion’s final 10 performances at Caesar’s Palace will take place over the holiday weekend.) As for Memorial Day-specific activities, expect more raucousness than reverence. The city’s hottest clubs will see some mega-famous DJs making cameos over the weekend, not least, Mark Ronson at JEMAA and David Guetta at Encore Beach Club (both May 26).  But if you’re really looking for some patriotism, discounted and free drinks for veterans is probably as close as you’re going to get. 

Getting there: Frontier and Spirit have round-trip flights for $223 from Denver, $237 from Houston, and $292 from San Francisco. Just beware of those infamous fees.

Staying there: Experience an exclusive, private check-in at the new NoMad Las Vegas, located atop the Park MGM in the center of the Strip. Book now to save up to 30% and receive a daily $50 dining credit.

 

Myrtle Beach

Because Myrtle Beach is really 14 getaways in one, there's almost no form of amusement you won't find here over MDW, from live music lovers to bikers, to... BIKERS. There's also horseback riding, pier fishing, theme park-hopping, kayaking, and good old-fashioned boardwalk-strolling. And when you need to refuel, check out one of the area's newest and tastiest offerings: Carolina Food Tours (if you're thirstier than you are hungry, note that the company's Drinks of Market Common Tour is on offer May 25th). If you're looking for a more traditionally patriotic way to explore Market Common that day, know that Myrtle Beach's Military Appreciation Days Parade runs through the neighborhood in the morning. And in keeping with the parade's tradition of enlisting VIP veterans as Grand Marshal (John McCain and Buzz Aldrin have both done the honors), U.S. Army Ranger turned country star Keni Thomas will serve in the role this year.

Getting there: American Airlines has affordable round-trip flights from Chicago ($241), Miami ($299), and Denver ($393).

Staying there: Stay at the family-friendly DoubleTree Resort by Hilton, complete with indoor and outdoor pools and bike rentals. Book now for discounts up to 60% off.

 


New Orleans

Even without a holiday, New Orleans could easily fill a three-day vacation—but this coming weekend happens to be particularly eventful. The Tremé/7th Ward Arts & Culture Festival kicks off Friday with a historic tour and bar crawl and continues throughout the weekend with local crafts, food and music. If you make no other portion of the festival, try not to miss Sunday's grand finale: a traditional NOLA second line. For festival-hoppers, the city's Greek Festival conveniently happens this weekend, too, complete with food vendors, Hellenic dance performances, and tours of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral (sport a “tasteful and tightly tied toga” on Sunday to gain free admission). For Memorial Day, the National WWII Museum will host a series of events on May 25—all of which are free for veterans and service members. The day kicks off with a performance by the U.S. Marine Forces Reserve Band, followed by a commemoration ceremony and national moment of silence near the U.S. Freedom Pavilion.

Getting there: Hop on a cheap flight from Austin ($215), Denver ($215), or Houston ($277), courtesy of Spirit Airlines. (Again, don’t forget to factor in airline fees.)

Staying there: The Royal Sonesta is one of the best places to stay on Bourbon Street. Book now for saving of up to 50% off.

 

Denver

If you visit Denver over MDW, you can expect some major celebrations, many of them free. Make sure to set aside time for the May 25 Denver Day of Rock—the massive block party on the 16th St. pedestrian mall with food trucks, beer gardens, and free rock concerts on five different stages. That same day, the 20th annual Veterans Memorial Day Tribute will honor all fallen Colorado heroes and their families through music and storytelling. As for the remainder of your weekend, we're thinking the Denver Arts Festival in Stapleton's Conservatory Green Neighborhood (May 25-26) should keep you plenty occupied, with nearly 200 artists displaying and selling atheir creations.

Getting there: Flights to Denver are some of the most inexpensive in the country. Right now, Frontier has round-trip flights from Las Vegas and Minneapolis starting as low as $87.

Staying there: Book a room at the Maven Hotel, an artsy boutique hotel located downtown in Denver’s foodie-friendly LoDo neighborhood.


Cape Cod

For a beach vacation that screams “yay, America!" head to Cape Cod, home to lighthouses and sandy stretches galore, and enough lobster dishes to keep you satisfied for a full calendar year.  For a peninsula of few hundred square miles, the place has quite the variety of Memorial Day activities, from the oh-so New Englandy Figawi charity regatta, which starts in Hyannis, to Memday, when thousands of lesbians from across the world descend on Provincetown to kick off summer.

Getting there: JetBlue has tons of round-trip flights to Boston for less than $300, including routes from Newark, Washington, and Chicago. From Boston, you can take the Cape Flyer—the seasonal train that starts service this weekend—or rent a car and drive about an hour to Cape Cod.

Staying there: Blue Rock Resort has discounted rooms throughout the summer, including free breakfast and rates up to 50% off. Book now to take advantage of the deal.

 

Indianapolis

The end of May means two things in Indianapolis: Memorial Day Weekend, and the Indy 500. The country’s most famous auto race takes place on Sunday, May 26 this year, with plenty of parades and festivals leading up to the event. On Monday, head to Grand Park for a veterans ceremony and charity run.

Getting there: Get to Indianapolis on Allegiant Airlines for $185 round-trip from Orlando, or $274 from Las Vegas. Not a fan of budget airlines? American has tickets from $384 from San Diego.

Staying there: Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites boasts some of the largest suites in the downtown area, just steps away from Monument Circle.

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