1. Washington, DC
The National Memorial Day Concert, hosted at the Capitol Building, is always a special event, and this year’s affair features appearances by General Colin Powell and actor Gary Sinise, in addition to several military bands and the National Symphony Orchestra. Visitors can also opt to simply stroll through Washington’s many amazing monuments — during the day or at night — and sample some of DC’s delicious culinary offerings in their downtime.
If you want to go hardcore patriotic, there really isn’t any place better to be this Memorial Day weekend than Washington, DC. (Especially since NYC had to go and cancel Fleet Week due to the sequestration.) In addition to a variety of military ceremonies taking place around town, visitors can also attend the National Memorial Day Parade or the Rolling Thunder Run to the Wall motorcycle rally (nothing quite like high-fiving riders on the parade route, right?!).
STAY: The gorgeous, 317-room W Washington D.C. blends the new — fusion cuisine from Jean-Georges Vongerichten; a great spa and gym; Whatever/Whenever 24-hour concierge service –with the old — the property’s historic Beaux Arts building dates back to 1917. Plus, you can see the Washington Monument from the hotel’s hip rooftop lounge, POV, making celebrating in style easy.
2. Palm Springs, California
This resort city smack-dab in the middle of the California desert is an excellent getaway for some quality R&R, found through golfing, art gallery browsing and poolside sunbathing. The natural beauty here – including sweeping mountain vistas — is stunning, offering nature lovers plenty of chances to explore the desert landscape. Hiking is especially popular at the Indian Canyons, as is visiting ancient Native American sites.
This Memorial Day, don’t miss the Palm Springs Air Museum’s Annual Memorial Day Flower Drop, during which 3,000 red and white carnations are dropped from a B-25 bomber in dedication to America’s servicemen.
STAY: If it has anything (and it has a lot), the Parker Palm Springs has style. Expect eclectic and ’70s-inspired decor with a modern edge, and an entranceway that belongs on a movie set: It manages to be dressed-up glamorous and laid-back cool all at the same time. The rooms are just as impressive, with white-brick walls, sexy white decor and private balconies.
3. Austin, Texas
A rapidly evolving yet mellowed-out metropolis, Austin draws a diverse crowd — from inked artists to chic urban entrepreneurs. With its recent revitalization and growth, Austin gives visitors a little bit of everything: political hot spots such as the governor’s mansion and the State Capitol, over 193 miles of scenic walking trails, plus a lively nightlife, tasty restaurants and hip coffee pubs, congregated along Sixth Street. Visitors should also check out Austin’s Lake Travis this Memorial Day weekend, where boating season is officially in full swing.
STAY: The 40-room Hotel San Jose sits at the center of Austin’s South Congress (SoCo) neighborhood, a trendy area known for its great music. The hotel reflects its hipster surroundings by offering lots of cool stuff on loan: an excellent music library (both CDs and pre-filled iPods), a video collection, Polaroid cameras, bicycles and even a Remington typewriter.
4. St. Louis
St. Louis is a thriving Midwestern city, perhaps best known for the Gateway Arch, the “gateway to the west.” St. Louis has plenty of historic character, and Forest Park is a major draw for locals and tourists alike with its ample grassy space, art museums, theaters and golf courses.
This Memorial Day weekend, be sure to check out the Bluesweek Festival, featuring 3 days of blues, food and cold beer at the Soldiers’ Memorial in downtown St. Louis. Shakespeare in the Park will also be having free performances of in Forest Park, the Missouri River Irish Fest is taking place in nearby St. Charles, and guided hikes will lead nature buffs through the Cahokia Mounds.
STAY: The Cheshire has long been a St. Louis institution. The classic lobby and cozy Fox & Hounds Tavern are charming, both filled with British-inspired elements. Plus, modern additions — such as the chic outdoor pool and terrace, as well as luxe amenities in the rooms — add a dose of freshness to the boutique appeal.
5. Las Vegas
If you’re looking to party — and — then Vegas is the obvious choice for a summertime weekend getaway. You can of course expect large crowds in Vegas during this 3-day weekend, but what would Vegas be without the masses of pool-goers, booze-guzzlers and daring gamblers? Pool parties on the Strip will be a priority for most visitors this Memorial Day, but there are also countless clubs, restaurants, bars and shows to attend.
STAY: The Palms Casino Resort is known for its crazy parties and celebrity stopovers, so it’s no surprise that the hotel is packing the pool this weekend with an impressive lineup of performers. Wiz Khalifa, the Black Eyed Peas, Ludacris, Questlove and Chris Brown are all set to get the party started.
Once known as the epitome of the Old West — complete with gold mines and cowboys — Denver has morphed into a beautiful, cosmopolitan destination. The city offers plenty of attractions for families, including the Denver Zoo, Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Denver Botanic Gardens.
Denver is also an increasingly popular place for young 20- and 30-somethings as well; Denver’s downtown, or LoDo as the locals call it, is chockfull of shopping, entertainment and restaurants. This Memorial Day, Denver Day of Rock will transform the neighborhood’s 16th Street Mall into a massive block party with live music, food stands and beer gardens. Visitors can also check out the Downtown Denver Arts Festival, or get splashed at Water World’s reopening weekend.
STAY: The Oxford is one of Denver’s most notable historic hotels, ideally located in the lively LoDo neighborhood and in close proximity to area hot spots. Many of the 80 individually decorated rooms include luxe touches, such as claw-foot bathtubs, pillow-top mattresses and bath butler service. The hotel offers ample entertainment with its beautiful 2-story spa and The Cruise Room Bar, Denver’s oldest bar.
7. Charleston, South Carolina
STAY: The 41-room Andrew Pinckney Inn, located within walking distance of Charleston Historic District attractions, is housed within 2 historic buildings dating back to the 1860s. Its decor incorporates both traditional Charleston details (such as original brick walls) and West Indies-style decor. The hotel has few on-site features, but the attractive rooms, convenient location and multiple freebies (such as complimentary breakfast and wireless access) make it a good value.
With its horse-drawn carriages, colorful gardens and cool ocean breezes, Charleston exudes old-world romance. But many visitors also head to Charleston in the hopes of exploring its numerous historic attractions. The Citadel, a nearly 200-year-old military college, offers full-dress parades that are free and open to the public every Friday afternoon, and various Civil War sites can be seen throughout the city and in the surrounding areas.
Memorial Day kicks off Charleston’s world-renowned Spoleto Festival, which brings 17 days and nights of theater, dance, opera, symphonic and jazz music, and more to Charleston’s historic venues.
On Memorial Day, check out Chicago’s annual parade before watching the fireworks go off at Navy Pier in the evening. The Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival will also be taking place Saturday and Sunday, as well as the Red, White and BBQ festival and competition in nearby Westmont, IL, featuring live music, chili tasting and (of course) all-you-can-eat BBQ.
Even on its infamous windy winter days, Chicago has a lot to offer travelers. World-class museums, great parks, top-notch dining and shopping, and cutting-edge architecture make Chicago one of the most fascinating cities in the Midwest.
STAY: The Hotel Sax Chicago is centrally located right on the river, minutes from The Loop and across the street from the iconic House of Blues. The decor is sleek, modern and neoclassical, making it a great pick for those looking for a chic, urban experience smack in the heart of the city.
Wonderful restaurants, fabulous shopping, hundreds of arts and culture venues, world-class museums … there’s more to do in Atlanta than many realize. Home to the world’s largest aquarium, the new World of Coca-Cola, dozens of beautiful parks and the High Museum of Art, the hometown of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most attractive cities in the region.
The Atlanta Jazz Festival is always a popular event this Memorial Day weekend, drawing crowds to Piedmont Park for free performances from top names in the jazz circuit. There are also great outdoor activities — and a laser show — at Stone Mountain Park, which will appeal to the whole family.
STAY: The 127-room Ellis Hotel in downtown Atlanta is located in a historic building that’s thoroughly stylish and contemporary. Its charming lobby has fresh flowers and a cool light fixture installment, the restaurant serves delicious farm-to-table cuisine, and the rooms — though on the smaller side — are sophisticated.
10. Providence, Rhode Island
Once the kitchens close, droves of students from nearby universities (Brown, Johnson & Wales and Rhode Island School of Design are in the area) keep the city’s nightlife bustling. Providence’s popular WaterFire event, with beautiful light instillations, will take place this Memorial Day weekend.
The “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” state capital has seen some serious revitalization over the years. Shopping centers and high-end boutiques are now main attractions in downtown Providence, a thriving artistic and creative community has brought with it music venues and theater productions, and the culinary scene in Providence is red hot; the city reportedly has more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the country.
STAY: Christopher Dodge House offers a quaint, affordable bed-and-breakfast experience in Providence. The full daily breakfast is a nice perk, and the cute rooms are spacious and comfortable (though the bathrooms are on the small side). Details such as 4-poster beds, fireplaces and original tin ceilings from 1858 add historic charm.