May is a great time to travel to many places in the U.S. and around world thanks to sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. Memorial Day weekend might just be the opportunity you have been waiting for to take that much-needed vacation – and you should take advantage of your time off to plan a getaway.
Top 6 Memorial Day Weekend Getaways
Travelers looking to pay tribute to military men and women this Memorial Day can do so in the waterfront city of Annapolis. Get outside to watch the Memorial Day Parade through Main Street, or stroll through the rest of Historic Annapolis, where you're bound to see rows of American flags. If you're looking for a bit more space to stretch out, head to Quiet Waters Park. Spanning 340 acres, the park is ideal for biking, kayaking, picnicking or simply admiring panoramic views of the South River in late May's pleasant temperatures (high 70s to low 80s). Bicycle and boat rentals are available on-site and nearby. When hunger strikes, head to Boatyard Bar & Grill or Carrol's Creek Cafe for delicious seafood and outdoor seating. Accommodation options range from modern outposts like the Hotel Annapolis to picturesque bed-and-breakfast establishments to vacation rentals downtown or near the water.
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Head to St. Thomas for the feel of an international vacation with the ease of domestic travel (Americans don't need a passport to visit this U.S. territory). Though it's not the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is arguably the most popular of the three main islands. And since the major tourist season is from December to March, you may find discounted hotel rates and fewer crowds without sacrificing enjoyable temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Beloved outdoor activities include swimming and snorkeling at Magens Bay and Coki Beach, plus shopping and strolling along duty-free Main Street. For panoramic views of nearby islands – including Puerto Rico, on a clear day – head to Paradise Point with your camera or smartphone in hand.
Charleston, South Carolina
Cobblestone streets, centuries-old oak trees and historic architecture make Charleston a charming getaway year-round. But visiting during Memorial Day weekend means you'll see the city at its best (albeit usually its busiest) before the oppressive summer heat sets in. Average May temperatures sit in the high 70s, rain is minimal and colorful gardens are in full bloom. Learn about the history of the city as you cruise through the Charleston Harbor on a boat tour, or admire the flora and fauna of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. If your holiday weekend experience won't be complete without a beach trip, head to nearby Folly Beach (12 miles south of the city) or Sullivan's Island (10 miles southeast) for a day. Retire for the evening at luxurious, highly rated Hotel Bennett, or stay in one of many quaint vacation rentals to save some cash.
Big Bear Lake, California
By late May, travelers can bid farewell to snowfall in Big Bear Lake and say hello to pleasant temperatures in the low 70s. Located in the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California, about 80 miles northwest of Palm Springs, Big Bear separates itself from typical long-weekend beach destinations with its endless outdoor activities, including fishing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and paddleboarding. Canoes, kayaks and other equipment rentals are available from a bevy of local sports shops dispersed throughout Big Bear Lake. Although there are a few small swimming beaches on the lake, including Meadow Park, keep in mind that the water is fairly chilly year-round. When it comes to lodging, take your pick from multiple resorts, inns, vacation homes, cabins and lodges. If you plan to travel with your pet, Big Bear Lakefront Cabins offers 35 pet-friendly cabins with amenities like hot tubs and swimming pools overlooking the lake or lush mountains.
When it comes to celebrating the true reason behind Memorial Day, nowhere is quite as patriotic as Washington, D.C. Honor military personnel with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 400,000 fallen soldiers and veterans (plus their family members) are buried. On the National Mall, wander along the long granite wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to read the names of more than 58,000 Americans who died during the Vietnam War. Then, head to the World War II Memorial to pay tribute to those who perished on the battlefields. After a long day of exploring, head back to your elegant room at The Hay-Adams – just steps from the White House – or bed down at a more modestly priced Airbnb. Average May temperatures in the nation's capital tend to sit in the mid-70s.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Leave your worries behind with a relaxing long weekend in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This spot in Jamaica offers plenty of accommodation options, including hotels, villas, all-inclusive resorts, apartments or guest houses. Popular things to do include exploring Dunn's River Falls and Park, relaxing on Mahogany Beach or Ocho Rios Bay Beach, taking a sunset cruise and snorkeling in the clear Caribbean waters, among other activities. Travelers can expect temperatures in the 80s and the potential for scattered showers.
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