Memorial Day is often celebrated in the United States with backyard barbecues and trips up north or to the lake house. While we all deserve to spend time off with family and friends, sometimes the holiday weekend can start to feel more like an opportunity to have fun and less of a chance to pay respect for servicemen and women that have lost their lives in battle.
So why not consider traveling to places where Americans gave the ultimate sacrifice, and learn more about the history and culture of the area? While it might not immediately sound like the perfect vacation, it is an excellent way to honor and remember American servicemen and servicewomen, which is precisely what Memorial Day is all about.
We've selected the top three destinations to consider visiting on or near Memorial Day Weekend in honor of the veterans. The historical information you will uncover can create lasting memories for you and the loved ones you travel with to these places. Whether you plan the trip to coincide with Memorial Day Weekend or not, these spots will never disappoint. You don't have to be a historian or history buff to see why the United States really is such an incredible place to call home.
Pearl Harbor - Seeing the U.S. Naval Base just outside Honolulu for yourself is a life-changing experience, one that you and your family will never forget. Pearl Harbor remembrance day is December 7th annually, but traveling to visit the site any time of the year is an excellent way to honor the 2,400 Americans who lost their lives that day. Observed on the final Monday of May each year, Memorial Day is a big deal in Hawaii, given the deep history and modern-day military presence in the islands.
There are plenty of events over Memorial Day weekend on Oahu and varying ways to pay your respects. The annual Memorial Day Parade begins at Fort DeRussey in Waikiki with a memorial ceremony. The parade proceeds down Kalakaua Avenue for 1 mile, then goes along Monsarrat Avenue to Kapiolani Park.
Another event you won't want to miss on Memorial day is the Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony. The ceremony celebrates honor and reverence for all life. Specifically, it serves to pay homage to those veterans who so selflessly gave of their own lives so that we may enjoy the safety and freedoms of today—opening with the iconic Hawaiian shell trumpet, or Kani pū. The Japanese taiko ceremony involves chanting and an oil service that calls in six large Parent Lanterns offering prayers and gratitude. Visiting Honolulu before or after you stop off on other Hawaiian islands is something every American should do in their lifetime.
Normandy - Like many important events in American history, the Battle of Normandy and D-Day was a significant turning point in WWII. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial are overlooking the D-Day landing beaches along Colleville-Sur-Mer. It has been recorded as the most-visited of all the cemeteries maintained by the American Battles Monuments Commission, with more than 1 million visitors annually.
The site is the resting place of 9,388 Americans who gave their lives fighting to free Europe. This is just one reason why making a point to see this famous French beach is so important. This hollow ground allows you to understand just how real a battle like this was for everyone who fought in it, whether American or not.
Planning a trip to Normandy for Memorial Day Week is a great way to honor our American history. It is most notable for its culture, architecture, picture-perfect coastline, historic D-Day Landing Beaches, delicious food, and welcoming atmosphere.
Washington D.C. - From Arlington Cemetery to the National Mall, Washington D.C. can't be skipped if planning to travel for Memorial Day. Most American 8th or 9th graders take a trip to D.C. in the springtime to learn about the birthplace of our political and historical start. D.C. is an incredible place to visit for every American, and even more so if you happen to time it on Memorial Day Weekend.
Home to the largest Memorial Day parade in the nation, visiting D.C. allows you to enjoy many festivities. The National Memorial Day Concert and numerous museums, including the Newseum, the International Spy Museum, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and the American History Museum, all feature exhibits the whole family can enjoy.
Washington, DC celebrates Memorial Day (May 31st) like few other cities can. And its mixing pot of food culture is not be missed either. During the week, there is a mix of events to go along with the city's monuments, memorials, and museums, shine a light on the selfless service of our active-duty military and veterans.
If you are ready to start planning a historical trip or one for next Memorial Day, start by filling out our trip planning form, and we'll get you scheduled for a free consult.