Top 10 Fun Things To Do On Memorial Day Weekend
Fun things to do on Memorial Day Weekend are attending concerts, visiting monuments, and watching a movie. Pay your respects to the national heroes.
Memorial Day is one of the most important holidays in the US. It is a day to show your gratitude and tribute to military officers who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
Celebrated on the last Monday in May every year, the federal holiday was first observed as "Decoration Day" in 1868. It was initially proclaimed as a tribute to Union soldiers who had lost their lives fighting the Civil War.
For over a century, the day was celebrated on May 30. US Congress renamed the holiday "Memorial Day" and changed it to the last Monday of May in 1971.
As the occasion always falls on a Monday, citizens get to enjoy three days of consecutive holidays. So, how do you plan on spending the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend?
We have created a list of activities suitable for the day of remembrance.
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1) Watch Fireworks
Fireworks are associated with many US holidays, and Memorial Day is no exception.
Most major towns and cities in the US host their unique fireworks shows. People host outdoor picnics, grilling events, and BBQ parties to witness the spectacular shows taking place in the sky.
The fireworks shows are mostly held on the night before the actual day. Several private and public parties host viewing parties free of charge as people enjoy watching the eye-catching display of firepower.
Some of the best places to show fireworks displays on the weekend are as follows:
- TD Bank Ballpark [Bridgewater, New Jersey]
- Navy Pier [Chicago, Illinois]
- Kings Dominion [Richmond, Virginia]
- Hot Springs Memorial Field Airport [Hot Springs, Arkansas]
- South Bay Shores Waterpark [San Jose, California]
2) Visit A US Military Memorial Or Monument
Memorial Day is the day to honor the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for saving Democracy. So, visiting a military monument or memorial and paying your respects to the departed is one of the best ways to honor the soldiers.
The Arlington National Cemetery hosts an annual remembrance ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater inside the cemetery. The event, sponsored by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, is attended by around 5000 visitors, including the US President.
But, you don't need to go to Arlington, Virginia to pay your respects. There are several historic locations to visit on this day.
Places to Visit During Memorial Day Weekend
Here, we have listed a few monuments and memorials you can visit on the said weekend:
- The National Memorial Arch [King of Prussia, Pennsylvania]
- African American Civil War Memorial [Washington, D.C.]
- The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument [Brooklyn, New York]
- The National World War II Memorial [Washington, D.C.]
- Jefferson Memorial Forest [Louisville, Kentucky]
- Philadelphia Korean War Memorial [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]
- Lone Tree Cemetery [Fairview, California]
- Medal of Honor Memorial [Indianapolis, Indiana]
- New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Holmdel Township, New Jersey]
- Oregon Korean War Memorial [Wilsonville, Oregon]
3) Watch A Movie
Moviegoers don't require any special occasion to go watch a movie. The theme of the movie, however, can change based on the number on the calendar.
Holidays like Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and the 4th of July have been predominantly associated with the military. Hence, most movie watchers select a patriotic or army-centric option for this day.
Movies like Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers, American Sniper, Black Hawn Down, and The Longest Day have recounted the real-life stories of American battles and war veterans. These films are highly rated by critics and are interesting to watch at the same time, which has made these movies loved by generations.
Similarly, American Civil War movies are also a compelling option to view on the upcoming May 29. Some of the Civil War films to watch on this Memorial Day include Lincoln, Gone with the Wind, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Dances with Wolves, The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams, and 1862 Battle For Glory.
Movies Coming Out Memorial Day Weekend 2023
Several highly-anticipated films are due to release on the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.
Disney's awaited project The Little Mermaid will see a clash with Gerald Butler's CIA thriller Kandahar.
Similarly, Robert De Niro's About My Father and Mark Hamill's The Machine are also expected to draw significant crowds to the theatres.
1) The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is an upcoming Disney movie co-produced by Marc Platt Productions, DeLuca Marshall, and Walt Disney Pictures.
It is an adaptation of the 1989 Disney animated movie of the same name.
Release Date: May 26, 2023
Cast: Halley Bailey [Ariel], Jonah Hauer-King [Eric] Melissa McCarthy [Ursula], Awkwafina [Scuttle], Jacob Tremblay [Flounder], Javier Bardem [King Triton], and more.
Directed By: Rob Marshall
Budget: $150 Million [Approx.]
Kandahar is an upcoming CIA thriller movie produced by Thunder Road. The film is based on the real-life experiences of Mitchell LaFortune, the movie script writer and former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Mitchell LaFortune.
Kandahar follows Tom Harris [played by Butler], a CIA undercover officer stuck in Afghanistan. After Tom's identity is exposed, he must reach Kandahar for extraction with his translator and fight the special forces unit tasked with killing him.
Release Date: May 26, 2023
Cast: Gerald Butler, Travis Fimmel, Ali Fazal, Elnaaz Norouzi, Olivia-Mai Barrett, Corey Johnson, Tom Rhys Harries, Mark Arnold, Rebecca Calder, Fahim Fazli, and more.
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh
3) About My Father
About My Father is a comedy film produced by Lionsgate. It stars Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro in leading roles.
The film is loosely inspired by Maniscalco's real-life relationship with his dad Salvatore Maniscalco.
Release Date: May 26, 2023
Cast: Sebastian Maniscalco, Robert De Niro, Leslie Bibb, David Rasche, Kim Cattrall, Anders Holm, Deborah Tucker, Brett Dier, Adan James Carrillo, Laura Ault, and more.
Directed By: Laura Terruso
Movies Releasing In May
Other highly-anticipated movies to be released in May in theatres are:
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 [May 5]
- Love Again [May 5]
- Hypnotic [May 12]
- Book Club: The Next Chapter [May 12]
- Fast X [May 19]
- The Machine [May 26]
4) Attend Memorial Day Concert
Watching different US Military perform musical acts in their uniforms is a matter of national pride for millions of Americans.
The program is held every year on the US Capitol's West Lawn. It is a free event and no tickets are required for attendance.
The 2023 concert is set to be co-hosted by veteran actors Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna along with actress Mary McCormack.
Similarly, performers for the event include the National Symphony Orchestra, the US Army Herald Trumpets, the US Army Chorus, the Military District of Washington, the US Air Force Singing Sergeants, the US Navy Band Sea Chanters, and the Soldiers' Chorus of United States Army Field Band.
The concert will be held on Sunday, May 28; it will start at 7:00 pm CT / 8:00 pm ET and conclude at 8:30 pm CT / 9:30 pm ET. Even if you can't attend the event, it will air live on PBS along with several reruns. Or, you can also watch the Livestream on the official Facebook page of the National Memorial Day Concert.
If you are not a big fan of the military but still enjoy watching musical performances, there are several non-military bands and artists performing on the weekend.
Location: Monterey, California
Date: May 25-28
Performing Artists: Shaggy, Wu-Tang Clan, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Cypress Hill, Atmosphere, Sublime with Rome, and Matisyahu
Sonic Temple Festival 2023
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Date: May 25-28
Performing Artists: Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Converge, Kiss, Pennywise, Sublime with Rome, The Bronx, Bad Omens, Jawbreaker, Puscifer, Sleeping with Sirens, and more
Sunset Musical Festival
Location: Tampa, Florida
Date: May 27-28
Performing Artists: Zomboy, Adventure Club
Summer Camp Festival
Location: Chillicothe, Illinois
Date: May 26-28
Performing Artists: Green Velvet, Cory Wong, Girl Talk, Papadosio, The Floozies, The Disco Biscuits, Umphrey's McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, Vulfpeck, and more
Location: Allston, Massachusetts
Date: May 26-28
Performing Artists: Foo Fighters, The Flaming Lips, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National, Bleachers, Alanis Morisette, Maren Morris, Queens of the Stone Age, The Linda Lindas, Paramore, The Walkmen, and The Lumineers
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Date: May 27-29
Performing Artists: DJ Seinfeld, Charlotte De Witte, Caribou, Kaskade, Skrillex, Underworld, Seth Troxler, Carl Graig, Chris Liebing, Fisher, Maceo Plex, Three 6 Mafia, and Green Velvet
Lighting in a Bottle
Location: Bakersfield, California
Date: May 24-29
Performing Artists: Caribou, Sofi Tukker, 070 Shake, ZHU, Beats Antique, Tale of Us, Liquid Stranger, Phantogram, The Floozie, Diplo, Rezz, Drama, Tokimonsta, and The Police Ambassador
5) Hike In A National Park
Memorial Day Weekend is a great occasion to hike in your nearest national park and explore nature.
With over 424 national parks in the US, you don't have to travel far to enjoy the outdoors. Some of the best locations to visit this May are:
- Canyon National Park [Utah]
- New River Gorge National Park [Lansing, West Virginia]
- North Cascades National Park [North Cascades, Washington]
- Voyageurs National Park [International Falls, Minnesota]
- Big Bend National Park [Texas]
- Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve [Alaska]
- Glacier National Park [Montana]
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park [Carlsbad, New Mexico]
- Rocky Mountain National Park [Colorado]
- Hot Springs National Park [Hot Springs, Arkansas]
6) Go To A Weekend Getaway
If you live in a big city like Los Angeles or New York, there should be plenty of places to visit on a weekend.
Similarly, you can also go to another town/city to explore its culture and history. On Memorial Day Weekend, most people will have three consecutive holidays, so driving a few hours to get to an exotic location might not be a big deal.
There are many popular places you can choose to visit during memorial day weekend which are listed below:
Beacon, New York
Beacon is a city in Dutchess County, New York. Established in 1913, the city is rich in culture and history.
Beacon is home to several famous art museums and galleries, including Dia Beacon, The Clutter Gallery, and Hudson Beach Glass. Similarly, the historic Bannerman Castle also attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Other things to do in Beacon include exploring the local farmers market, visiting the state parks, and taking a tour of the flea market.
While in Beacon, stay at the Swann Inn of Beacon, a B&B hotel located in a Gothic house built in 1866.
New Hope, Pennsylvania
New Hope is a historic town located in Pennsylvania. Founded in 1715, it is home to several popular restaurants, antique shops, museums, art galleries, and craft stores.
You can also explore more than 80 species of plants that lie in a 134-acre field. The Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve is one of the best places to visit in New Hope.
Whidbey Island, Washington
Whidbey Island is the fourth largest island in the US. It is located in Washington, nearly 30 miles away from Seattle.
The Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is a major attraction in Whidbey. It stations three US Navy Reserve units and 20 active duty Navy units.
You can also indulge in a series of activities like taking an SUV tour of the island, rowing in Deception Pass, and rock climbing. Additionally, you can also take a tour of the Fort Casey State Park, Whidbey Island Distillery, and Meerkerk Gardens.
Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
Daufuskie Island is an ideal destination for getting away from modern life and enjoying a peaceful weekend.
While on the island, you can tour multiple locations like the Haig Point Club, Iron Fish Art Gallery, and the 1873 Lighthouse. You can also stay at the lighthouse which comes with a dining room, a kitchen, a porch, and two bedrooms.
Further, you can participate in several water sports-related events hosted on the island.
St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg is best known for being the home to the widely-famous Dali Museum. The museum houses the works of the legendary Spanish artist Salvador Dali.
Additionally, the city is famous for its specialty museums, water tours, breweries, and biking tours. You can also dine at the restaurants located in downtown St. Petersburg.
Similarly, touring locations include Chihuly Collection, Duncan McClellan Gallery, Hatchet Hangout, Florida Orange Groves, and Winery, Tropicana Field, Florida Holocaust Museum, and more.
Where To Go For Memorial Day Weekend In California?
Memorial Day Weekend Getaways California include places like Big Bear Lake, Catalina Island and Joshua Tree NP. California is the third biggest state in the US.
California is the most populous US state and it hosts some of the biggest cities in the US, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.
If you want to escape the routine life in a big city and take a weekend getaway, the last weekend in May might be the perfect time for you. Here are some of the places where you can spend a fun weekend:
- Big Bear Lake
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Solvang and Santa Ynez Wine Country
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Catalina Island
- Coronado Island, San Diego
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Disneyland Park, Anaheim
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7) Host An Outdoor Barbecue
Barbecues are a fun way to socialize and cherish the outdoors. Hang out with your friends and family while also paying respects to the fallen soldiers.
Prepare an outdoor setup with lawn chairs, tables, a few American flags, dishware, and napkins. Also, you might need to plan games and other activities for kids, while the adults hang out drinking and grilling.
Make a delicious menu consisting of bee sting sausage balls, smoked ribs, burgers, hotdogs, and drinks.
Moreover, there are several special recipes for dishes that cater to Memorial Day. Some of the dishes you can prepare on this day are root beer baked beans, strawberry-cabernet barbecue sauce, firecracker sangria, puff pastry star cookies, cinnamon twists, turkey burgers, kebabs, pork chops, and more.
8) Volunteer For A Day
The best way to show your gratitude to your country and veterans is by actively participating in a program that helps them.
You can volunteer for community work like building a local shelter or serving at a soup kitchen. Likewise, there are several volunteer programs that let you choose a specific person or cause you want to help. You can mentor at-risk kids for a day, spend time with differently-abled people, or even take care of an elderly.
For instance, the non-profit organization A Kid Again lets you get involved in a series of programs, including raising funds, planning an event, visiting hospitals, providing office support, volunteering on social media, mentoring, and more.
Similarly, you can volunteer at United American Patriots (UAP), a non-profit established to help in-need military veterans. The organization lets you get involved in a series of works, including raising awareness, providing functional support, and participating in legal aid.
If you don't want anything fancy but still want to help, the best choice might be to help out at a local retirement home or orphanage.
9) Tour A Nearby Military Base
Memorial Day is observed to show respect to deceased soldiers, so touring a military base is a way to spend the holiday.
Take your family and friends to visit your nearby army station. Several military locations host guided tours for visitors to learn about the base and its history.
However, the military bases have strict security protocols, so you'll need to be on your best behavior. Also, it's not like visiting a local park or theatre; you may need to make reservations a few days before the actual tour.
Another great option is to take a tour of a military museum. There are several such museums to visit in the US, including the Airborne & Special Operations Museum (Fayetteville, North Carolina), The National WWII Museum (New Orleans), the Navy SEAL Museum (Fort Pierce, Florida), the National Museum of the U.S. Army (Fort Belvoir, Virginia), the National Aviation Museum (Pensacola, Florida), and so on.
10) Attend Or Watch Memorial Day Parade
Parades are one of the major attractions on Memorial Day. Many states host their unique parades to appreciate the contributions of soldiers.
One of the largest parades in the US is hosted in Washington, D.C. The three-hour-long event takes between 7th & 17th Streets and passes through Constitution Avenue.
Even if you can't physically attend the event, it is broadcasted live on local channels. Several national channels like ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, and CW also live stream the parade to their viewers.
Moreover, other big cities to host parades are New York and Chicago. The Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade held in Queens, New York claims to be the largest in the country.