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24 Last-Minute Memorial Day Travel Ideas

Because it doesn’t take much for summer magic.

Memorial Day weekend is always sort of the unofficial kickoff to summer (even if your kids are still in school) and it’s the perfect way to get in a little extra family time. Whether you can’t begin your three-day weekend until Saturday morning or you have an early Friday afternoon start, there are still plenty of last minute Memorial Day travel ideas to try with your family.

One of my favorite things about summer is how everything just feels like an adventure, especially last minute trip ideas. A day trip to the children’s museum followed by an ice cream cone and the sprinkler when you get home? Adventure. Going to the library then the pool before eating pizza in front of a movie? Adventure. Finding a local hotel with a pool and ordering room service? Adventure.

And that’s why Memorial Day weekend is so great. You don’t have to go epic with your plans or look for some kind of ocean view hotel room to enjoy the start of summer. You just need to be willing to put in a little work for these last minute Memorial Day travel ideas and you and your family can make some serious summertime memories.

Look up your local state parks.


Every state has some hidden gems, all you gotta do is look for them! Visit America’s State Parks, find your state, and look at all of the parks available for you and your family to explore. You can choose one that’s just a little drive away or one that goes a bit farther if you want, but once you pick a park, find out about lodging or camping and make a fun weekend out of it. Memorial Day is a holiday to remember those who sacrificed everything for our freedom, so it feels especially poignant to go celebrate your state with the three-day break.

Have a staycation at a hotel with a pool.

Remember: everything’s an adventure. Find a hotel near you that has a pool and some vacancy for the weekend and book it! Bonus points if it’s in a walkable area where you can explore shops, restaurants, and maybe even some historical landmarks.

Head to the beach.

I mean, a no-brainer, right? A lot of great beach places will already be booked, but if you’re willing to stay in a hotel with maybe a 10-minute drive to the beach, it’s definitely doable. Check out some beaches that aren’t always super crowded like Myrtle Beach or Panama City Beach, like St. Petersburg or Mexico Beach.

Find a water park or splash pad.

There has to be a water park near you, but if there’s not, look for the best splash pads and water play areas in your town. You can make a whole weekend out of traveling around to find the best places for your kids to get soaked.

Spend a weekend at the baseball field.

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So many games are played during Memorial Day weekend, so it’s a great last-minute Memorial Day vacation to plan a weekend at the ball park. Find a hotel nearby, grab tickets to all of the games happening, and get ready for a big dose of nostalgia and Americana this Memorial Day weekend.

Look up the KOA sites near you.

With nearly 500 campgrounds in North America, you can probably plan a great last-minute Memorial Day trip with KOA campgrounds. The campgrounds are staffed by KOA employees, so if “roughing it” isn’t really your idea of a good time, this is a great place for a family to start camping. You can bring your own tent or RV, or you can book a lodge at the campground near you. Hop on their website and start exploring — you can even find some KOA spots farther out from you if you want to make it more of a real trip.

Visit some historical landmarks.

Depending on where you are, you might have some national museums available to explore, or you might just have a historical landmark that could count as a day trip during the weekend. Memorial Day really unleashes the patriotic side of people, so it’s fun to plan a trip around a historical landmark or place so you can get a big dose of America in with your hot dogs and swimming.

Last-minute Memorial Day travel ideas across America

No matter where you are in America, there are tons of vibrant, fun cities to explore, and many of them aren’t too far away. Depending on where you are, this short list can be a great starting point for going out and having some fun. Just try and find a place to stay now before you get too excited with those dinner reservations.

Asheville, North Carolina — Tons of great eating, drinking, and entertaining here.

Charleston, South Carolina — If you’re a history buff who also loves to eat, this is the spot.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Another perfect spot for the history buff in you.

Savannah, Georgia — Be sure to do a ghost tour in between bites of pimento cheese dishes.

New Orleans, Louisiana — Replace the pimento with beignets and still do a ghost tour.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona — I mean, a no-brainer to visit, right?

Mackinack Island, Michigan — It doesn’t get much more darling than horses and bookstores.

Portland, Maine — Just pure summer charm.

Big Sur, California — Gorgeous coasts and cliffs with lots of parks to visit.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee — Be sure to go to Dollywood, y’all.

Tupelo, Mississippi — Don’t you want to see the birthplace of Elvis Presley?

New York City, New York — Catch a Broadway show, take a walk through Central Park, soak it in.

St. Augustine, Florida — Eat all the delicious Cuban food and then explore the fort.

Lexington, Kentucky — For the Horse Girl in your family.

Austin, Texas — The motto of Austin is to keep it weird, so this is definitely a fun spot to explore.

Washington, D.C. — So many free things to visit here and tons of good food.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Colorado — Gorgeous, romantic, a little slice of heaven.

No matter what you plan or where you go, Memorial Day weekend is all about celebrating those who gave their all for our freedom. Their sacrifices are the reason you can plan a trip, and if you keep that in mind, literally everything sounds good.