As lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted, the desire to travel may be on the top of your mind—especially since Memorial Day weekend 2020 is right around the corner. It goes without saying that the world is not out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID-19, so while you may have the itch to skip town, it’s pertinent that you’re still following all of the rules when it comes to social distancing and protecting yourself with a mask and gloves when necessary. Of course, you should only be traveling with those you’ve been quarantining with.
While Memorial Day traditions such as parades, fireworks, and festivals will likely be canceled this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a last-minute getaway to kick off the start of summer while honoring our vets. We’ve chosen a top destination per region based on location and the vast array of stellar recreational activities to choose from.
Even though beaches are typically popular choices as the weather gets warmer, we’re promoting activities that allow for safer social distancing measures and the opportunity to reconnect with nature. So, if you’ve been thinking “what are some day trips near me?,” turn off the news and turn your attention to planning your Memorial Day Weekend 2020.
Northeast: Kennebunkport, Maine
Memorial Day weekend is a fantastic time to be in the Northeast for a last-minute getaway because of the mild climate and outdoor activities—and the quaint town of Kennebunkport, Maine is no exception. One of the town’s Memorial Day traditions is a parade, but there’s still plenty to do, see, and eat without it. This charming respite is chock-full of historic inns, quaint bed and breakfasts, an abundance of shops offering goods from local artisans, and fresh seafood based on its coastal location.
What to do:
While there are some beaches, we’re not adding those to our list, but there are other highlights that make this town a great option as a day trip near you.
- Whale-watching boat trips
- Bicycle and scooter rentals
- The dog-friendly Seashore Trolley Museum
- Fantastic shopping from local artisans
- Rugosa Lobster Boat tour experience
What to eat:
One can’t take a trip to Maine without partaking of lobster and it comes in many forms in Kennebunkport, from rolls to bakes to chowders, to traditional butter-dipped.
- Nunan’s Lobster Hut has been serving up whole lobsters for more than 60 years, so it’s garnered quite a positive reputation. Go here if you’re ready to sport a bib and crack your way through a lobster feast, complete with drawn butter.
- The Clam Shack is a tiny little takeaway eatery that typically has long lines. Despite the name, it’s a place visitors and locals go for a lobster roll (served with mayo or butter) on freshly baked bread. Also on offer is a dazzling selection of fried seafood—and yes, clams are one of those options. If you still have room, the specialty clam chowder is worth every calorie-laden spoonful.
Where to stay:
Kennebunkport has accommodations to suit all tastes, whether you’re looking for a quaint inn or a more full-service resort.
- Offering only six rooms, the 1802 House Bed and Breakfastis one of the most historic inns in town. It’s nestled in a quiet residential area yet it’s only steps away from the main attractions in Kennebunkport’s Dock Square. The rooms are well-appointed and feature ensuite bathrooms, fireplaces, queen size beds, and jacuzzi tubs in some rooms. You’ll be treated to a three-course, housemade breakfast each morning before launching your day.
- The Colony Hotelis a 1912 landmark and considered Maine’s grandest oceanfront resort hotel. There are 125 guest rooms throughout five different buildings. The main building is considered classic New England charm while the four separate garden houses range from traditional resort accommodations to a more rustic, rich pine look. You don’t need to leave the premises to get a good seafood meal, complimentary oceanside views included.
Southwest: Sedona, Arizona
Nature-lovers rejoice! Sedona is a breathtaking desert town that’s surrounded by pine forests, arduous canyon walls, and red-rock cliffs. The mild temps make it easier to enjoy the copious outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, picnicking, and bird watching. Sedona also has a dynamic arts community and several spas to wind down after a day on the trail.
What to Do:
- Outdoor activities and hiking at Grand Canyon National Park, Airport Mesa, Boynton Canyon Trail, Cathedral Rock Trail, Red Oak Creek Canyon, Red Rock, Wupatki National Monument, Tuzigoot National Monument, Montezuma Castle National Monument, Montezuma Well, Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley Tribal Park, Honanki Heritage Site, Palatki Heritage Site, V-V Heritage Site, Slide Rock State Park, and Sedona trails and trailheads.
- Jeep, segway, or hot air balloon tours.
- New age shopping
- Spa retreat
- Out of Africa Wildlife Park
- Verde Valley Wine Trail
- Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
- Sedona Heritage Museum
- Frank Lloyd Wright’s Chapel of the Holy Cross
- Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park
- White water rafting
What to Eat:
You’ll find a little bit of everything in Sedona, but you can’t miss out on Southwestern and Mexican fare—Arizona is known as the runner-up mecca of Mexican nosh.
- Elote Cafe is an award-winning eatery that specializes in modern Mexican and Southwestern cuisine made with seasonal, locally-grown ingredients. Standout dishes include the Elote fire-roasted corn with spicy mayo, lime, and cotija cheese; lamb adobo, smoked chicken enchiladas, smoked pork cheeks, and the almond tequila-infused flan. Wash it all down with a 100 percent Agave tequila margarita such as the El Roble, a potent blend of Tres Agaves Añejo, Torres Orange Liqueur, and fresh lime mix.
- If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, head to Tamaliza Cafe. A native of Mexico, Claudia brought her made-from-scratch recipes to the heart of Sedona after moving to the States with her husband. She’s known for her killer tamales that are served with a variety of toppings. If tamales aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other Mexican eats to choose from, including chile relleno, pork with a choice of one of three sauces, chicken in mole or adobo sauce and tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. Claudia doesn’t use any lard or impure oils in her cooking, only non-Gmo, organic oils. Bonus points for being gluten-free.
Where to Stay:
- The Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock is a sprawling four-star property that’s perfectly positioned amongst the stunning red rock formations. The 221 rooms feature WiFi access, a gas fireplace, a kitchenette, flat-panel LCD televisions, and a private balcony or patio. Perfect for those looking for a relaxing getaway, the grounds feature a 25,000-square-foot spa featuring treatments made with locally sourced ingredients, 18-hole championship golf course, swimming pools, hot tubs, and a fitness center. There are two restaurants on-site, a casual cafe, and an upscale grill that serves dishes with a Southwestern flair.
- Set amongst a canopy of sycamore trees and a babbling creek, L'Auberge de Sedona Resort & Spa is a true nature retreat. The accommodations consist of various sized cottages complete with contemporary yet cozy furnishings and high-tech amenities. The spa offers unique services such as forest bathing and the “Feet in the Creek” treatment, as well as traditional offerings geared towards wellness and relaxation.
Additional resort activities include daily duck feeding, yoga, and the artists in residence program. Additional off-site activities can be arranged by the resort. For a memorable dining experience, dine alfresco (and creekside) at the charming Cress on Oak Creek restaurant on-site.
West: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole (aka Neverland as the locals like to call it) is a laid-back resort town that’s nestled in Wyoming’s national park system so it’s surrounded by thousands of acres of protected land. The area boasts some of the country’s most stunning landscapes which is why it’s one of the most popular places to come skiing in the winter. However, the upside to coming right at the beginning of summer is that the warm-weather tourism season hasn’t peaked yet, so you’re more apt to enjoy the wildlife and nature (think flowers and green spaces) that disappear in the winter months.
What to Do:
- Experience the Old West in the town’s shops and restaurants
- Rock climbing
- Hiking in Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone
- Wildlife viewing
- Fly fishing
- Yellowstone Wildlife Safaris
- Jackson Hole Shooting Experience
- Horseback Riding
- Covered wagon cookout
- Jackson Hole Rodeo
Where to Eat:
- Located underneath the legendary Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, the Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse is a meat-heavy eatery that sources its ingredients from the best local and regional farms. Standout dishes include the Lone Ranger, a slow-cooked locally raised lamb shank served with polenta, whiskey winter succotash, and braising jus; and the signature “John Wayne and Friends,” which includes the butcher cut of the night, fried Brussel sprouts with lamb pancetta vinaigrette.
Since the wheels are already off the bus, don’t miss out on the loaded country smashed potatoes with béarnaise sauce—but there are seafood and vegetarian options just in case. The extensive drink list includes specialty cocktails with house-made shrubs, syrups, and tonics along with a diverse wine list and locally-brewed draft beers.
- The Gun Barrel Steak & Game House is a fine dining restaurant with a museum-like atmosphere because it was formerly the Wyoming Wildlife Museum and Taxidermy. The space features original exhibits from a former wildlife museum (think full-mount game trophies and dioramas), as well as a rare collection of antique guns and regional artifacts. On the menu, you’ll find lots of game fare such as elk, bison, buffalo, and venison as well as traditional steaks and chops. Those with a lighter appetite should opt for the Rocky Mountain rainbow trout, a local specialty.
Where to Stay:
There’s no need for a ski resort this time of year. While Jackson Hole offers everything from standard hotels to high-end resorts, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Wyoming cowboy culture is by staying at a traditional ranch.
- While it’s going to take you approximately 75 minutes outside of Jackson Hole, the M. Ranch is well worth the trek. Operating since 1927, this unique accommodation is listed with the National Register of Historic Places and is known for its cordial, Western hospitality.
Accommodations include cabins of various sizes (made with logs that were cut in the upper Jakey’s Fork canyon in the 1920s and brought to the ranch by teams of horses and wagons), as well as larger houses for families and groups. No matter which option you choose, rest assured you’ll have a beautiful view from your porch as the ranch sits on 13,000 acres of stunning land. On-site activities include fly-fishing, hiking, and of course, horseback riding.
- If you prefer to stay in the heart of Jackson Hole in more posh accommodations, opt for the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole. Situated in a mountain valley, the hotel has everything you’d expect from a Four Seasons property, including posh accommodations, white-glove service, a full-service spa and fitness center, hiking trails, a complimentary house car, two on-site boutiques, a ropes course, heated year-round pool, two restaurants, one lounge, and babysitting services. The best part? Grand Teton National Park is a stone’s throw away.
Southeast: Blue Ridge, Georgia
Blue Ridge is a stunning mountain town located in northern Georgia and more than 40 percent of the land is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest. While upscale shopping and dining, art galleries, wineries, and breweries, give this city a cosmopolitan feel, don’t let that fool you. You’ll find plenty of small-town charm here amongst the blue ridge mountains.
What to Do:
- Take a steep two-mile hike through Hurricane Falls
- Walk the suspension bridge at Tallulah Gorge State Park
- Ogle the waterfalls at Amicalola Falls State Park
- See a play at the Blue Ridge Community Theater
- Ride an antique train along the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
- Visit a craft brewery or farm winery
- Whitewater rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing
- Trout fishing
- Hike the Blue Ridge Mountains
- Mountain biking
- Horseback riding
- Pick fruit at a local orchard
- Take a boat tour—or rent a boat
- Visit the abundance of art galleries
- Visit the shops and antique stores offering local goods
Where to Eat:
One of the best ways to get a taste of Blue Ridge is to eat a meal composed of local ingredients from the waters, farms, and orchards. Luckily, there are several places that celebrate homegrown goodness.
- Harvest on Maine features globally influenced cuisine with a southern flair, which matches the charming, rustic interior. The chef has an international and stateside pedigree which has garnered him national attention in the media. Whenever possible, the restaurant uses seasonal products from local farmers and suppliers, whether that’s farm-raised trout, grass-fed beef, or fresh fruits and vegetables. Standout menu items include locally farmed rainbow trout served with creamy succotash, mashed redskin potatoes, and roasted red pepper-parsley and finished with a lemon tapenade and a smoked duroc bone-in pork chop with red-skinned garlic mashed potatoes, pork collard greens, and mustard-braised apple gravy.
- Treat yourself to a dinner with a view at Toccoa Riverside Restaurant situated amongst the gorgeous natural environs along the Toccoa River. Considered a fine dining establishment, the menu features award-winning steaks and seafood including fresh trout (with eight preparations available), fried oysters, smoked trout chowder, porterhouse steak, flat iron steak, KC strip, and more.
There’s also a selection of southern specialties such as buttermilk fried chicken, beef liver, and catfish served with hushpuppies. Speaking of puppies, the outdoor patio and bar area is dog-friendly. Try the Toccoa Red Berry Spritzer, a refreshing concoction consisting of red wine and a berry blend topped with club soda and garnished with a lime.
Where to Stay:
No matter what type of lodging you choose in Blue Ridge, rest assured you’re going to be treated to some killer views and the right amount of peace and quiet that makes for a perfect night’s sleep.
- As the name suggests, 5 Star Lodge and Stables is a luxurious yet rustic property that boasts breathtaking views from each one of its rooms, including the screened-in porch. Sitting on 45 private acres, the lodge can accommodate up to 33 guests. The property features custom woodwork, floor to ceiling windows, ample seating and entertaining areas, and an oversized gourmet kitchen. Along with horseback riding, you can enjoy tennis, basketball, and skeet shooting— there’s also a large game room, custom bar, and outdoor fire-pit to sit around and roast s’ mores.
- If you’re looking for a unique place to lay down your head, how about staying in a treehouse? At the Blue Ridge Treehouse, you’ll literally be sleeping up in the trees! The quaint lodging features sweeping views of vineyards and Little Sugar Creek. But make no mistake: This “house” is anything but child’s play. It’s tastefully decorated and is equipped with all the modern-day amenities you need to enjoy a more than comfortable stay. Fun fact: The house was built by "The Treehouse Guys" on DIY Network.
Midwest: Door County, Wisconsin
To be honest, Door County is a wonderful place to visit year-round, but the action really picks up during the summertime. The first major town in Door County is Sturgeon Bay, a small community of only about 9,000 residents.
The DC area is made up of one island, nine waterfronts, and a handful of small inland villages, each with something special to bring to the table. Luckily, they're all within a five-to-15 minute drive of each other so it’s easy to cover a lot of ground. Home to five state parks and breathtaking nature, it’s truly a getaway for those who need to get away from it all. It’s a trip that is likely to remind you of a childhood vacation except for this time, you’re in control of the agenda.
What to Do:
- Hike through one of the five state parks
- Cherry Picking
- Take a visit to Ridges Sanctuary, the oldest private nature preserve in Wisconsin (since 1937)
- Shop the charming shops—gift, antique, specialty foods, local artisans, and otherwise
- Go on a lighthouse tour
- Take a ferry ride to Washington Island
- Kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, tubing, boating and sailing, jet skiing, or fishing
- See a drive-in movie
- Cool down with a scoop (or two) of homemade ice cream
Where to Eat:
Eating in Door County is like taking a bite into history. Specialties include supper clubs, fish boils, frozen custard, and cherries galore.
- You can’t take a trip to Wisconsin without eating at one of its famed supper clubs. Not only is Donny’s Glidden Lodge Restaurant oozing with old-school charm, but it’s located right on Lake Michigan, which means you’ll have unbeatable views while you sip your vodka gimlet and nibble off your relish tray. There’s a soup and salad bar that pairs well with specialties like prime rib, crab legs, steaks/chops, and pan-fried walleye,
- Fish boils are a Door County staple and the White Gull Inn has been serving up a killer one since 1896. The fish boil—comprised of chunked Lake Michigan whitefish, small red potatoes, and garnished with lemon and melted butter—are offered every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October. At around $22, it’s a real steal—especially since it comes with fresh coleslaw and a slice of cherry pie.
Where to Stay:
If you're a first-time visitor, consider staying somewhere in the middle—the county is 70 miles long, after all. If you’re staying on the bay side, Egg Harbor or Fish Creek are desirable choices. On the lake side, Jacksonport or Baileys Harbor are popular options.
- The Whistling Swan Inn and Restaurant in Fish Creek may be over 100 years old (it’s the peninsula’s oldest operating inn), but it’s been renovated to include modern-day conveniences without losing any of its historic charms. The on-site restaurant features contemporary American cuisine such as local freshwater fish, a Wisconsin meat and cheese platter, family-style whole rotisserie chicken, and grilled flat iron steak.
There’s also an impressive wine list with a selection of bottles from around the world. As an added bonus, the inn is a stone’s throw away from great shopping and Peninsula State Park—be sure to fuel up with the complimentary breakfast first.
- If you’re looking for somewhere more modern, the Stone Harbor Resort is a 161-room/suite property located right on the celebrated Sturgeon Bay waterfront. With that in mind, you’re a stone’s throw away from shops, sprawling golf courses, and water activities like boating and fishing. Inside, you’ll find amenities like a fitness center and sauna, a pub, and a restaurant that serves a variety of sandwiches, salads, and heartier mains like prime rib and grilled salmon.
No matter where you are spending your Memorial Day Weekend there are so many amazing places to explore close to where you are. Follow us as we take a roadtrip across the USA this summer and show you little known gems from the people that know their region best!
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May 29, 2020
wow I want to try the southeast trip. I have never heard of most of what’s included.