Memorial Day Weekend is a rite of passage for every American — the official start to summer and a weekend of soaking up the sunshine, catching up with old friends at your neighborhood block party BBQ, and dusting off your cruiser bike and swimsuits. Prepare to greet the season in style, because summertime has arrived. Whether you’re after a coastal retreat or an old-school seaside escape, here are 5 of the best Memorial Day Weekend getaways.
1. Avalon, CA
Located on Santa Catalina Island, a trip to Avalon is your getaway to a quintessential summertime destination. Hop on the boat to Catalina Island, take in the stunning views, and kick back on the beach, without a worry in the world. Returning this Memorial Day Weekend, the town will host their beachfront summer concert series, LIVE @ Descanso Beach Club, taking place at the island’s new beach club — a beautiful cove and beach that is one of the last private beaches in California with public access. Festivities will begin on Saturday, May 28 with throwback hits performed by Smash Mouth. Soak up the sun, hop in the water, and kick back for a truly relaxing weekend with a breathtaking backdrop to boot.
2. New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
In a state that has no shortage of coastal towns, New Smyrna Beach has gained its recognition as the quaint, artsy community set on 13 miles of white, Atlantic coast sandy beach. Home to various offshore sand bars, surfing, fishing, dune buggying, and an Intracoastal Waterway ideal for kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding, New Smyrna hosts its signature Beach Weeks all summer long, and over Memorial Day Weekend, visitors can take part in the Fishstock fishing tournament, Wine Walk & Art Walk, an Outdoor Movie, and the 2nd Annual Sweet Corn Festival. And the main attraction? The annual Memorial Day service at Riverside Park, complete with a fly-over by a local aerial group, to commemorate the contributions of all who have served our nation. The ceremony also includes the laying of wreaths, a color guard in attendance, prayers, invocations and the singing of our national anthem.
3. Virginia Beach, VA
Home to some of the largest military bases in the country, there’s no better way to celebrate the long weekend than honoring our heritage. Occurring over the holiday weekend, the Salute to Summer gives visitors and locals alike the chance to celebrate the real meaning of Memorial Day Weekend with three days of music and festivities. As the “Star-Spangled” salute to those who have served our country and sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom, the Salute to Summer features live, free entertainment on three outdoor stages, and a “Heroes Walk” display which stretches along the boardwalk from 17th to 31st Street. And the fun doesn’t stop there. The celebration is carried into the following weekend, as the USO hosts the Patriotic Festival, a three-day event (June 3-5), with live performances from national touring artists to honor our Armed Forces. And if you’re traveling with the whole family, be sure to check out the 33rd Annual Strawberry Festival. Taking place at Sandbridge Beach on May 28th and 29th, you can treat yourself to a strawberry-filled occasion, complete with a pie-eating contest, strawberry bake-off, continuous entertainment on three stages, a parade and one of the largest carnivals on the east coast.
4. Cape May, NJ
As America’s oldest seaside getaway, Cape May is home to award winning beaches and America’s oldest seaside resort, Congress Hall, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. The bicentennial celebrations will kick off on Memorial Day Weekend, beginning with a concert with the Bay Atlantic Symphony on the lawn, overlooking the pristine beaches of Cape May. Offering a wide range of activities for families returning and new to this summertime spot on New Jersey’s southern tip, this Victorian town is the perfect getaway for east coasters looking for quick escape from city life.
5. Laguna Beach, CA
As the well-known beach and chic town are conveniently located along the Highway 1, Laguna Beach offers a charming escape to seaside bliss on the California coast. On May 30th, visit Heisler Park for the annual Memorial Day Celebration, then continue the festivities with the Memorial Day Patriotic Concert at Main Beach Park, in which the Laguna Concert Band will honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Visitors to the area can navigate the town with ease, as the local trolley offers free rides throughout the town every weekend.