Travel Leisure

Best Places To Honor Veterans And Celebrate Memorial Day

The true purpose of Memorial Day is to honor those who lost their life in military service. Memorial Day has been an official federal holiday since 1971, although it was first celebrated in 1866. Since 1968 (technically going into effect in 1971), Memorial Day has been observed by Americans on the last Monday of May. To many Americans, the last Monday of May marks a day of remembrance where they can recognize the sacrifices of those who have served. 

Although the holiday is a day of remembrance, it also represents more. For many, Memorial Day weekend is a time to gather with loved ones and enjoy the freedom veterans have granted fellow citizens. It is the unofficial beginning of summer since the temperatures get warmer around May and people can start to enjoy outdoor activities more. 

Some people travel every Memorial Day since they are off work and there is pleasant weather to enjoy. Others attend parades, visit memorial sites, throw parties, and have barbecues. For travelers who want to respect those who have passed and enjoy their leisure time, there are several destinations to visit. Here are some of the most popular places for Memorial Day travel in the United States. 

Washington D.C. 

Washington D.C. is one of the best places for travelers who want to honor veterans. 
pictured: a veteran's memorial in Washington D.C.
Photo credit: Joshua Woods/Unsplash

Travelers who visit Washington D.C. on Memorial Day are in for a unique experience. Washington D.C. is a very patriotic destination. It is the nation’s capital, so the city has much historical significance. Memorial Day is also during summer so travelers can enjoy the outdoors more. There are many events throughout the city along with memorials, museums, and monuments travelers can enjoy during Memorial Day.  

There are countless ways for travelers to celebrate the holiday while they are in Washington D.C. The city has a National Memorial Day Concert with an all-star National Symphony Orchestra performance. This event is a salute to veterans and is free to access in person or online. The National Memorial Day Parade: Our Sacred Honor is another popular event with musical performances, historical reenactors, veterans, and celebrity appearances. This parade is also broadcast nationwide each year.  

Waterloo, New York

Waterloo is an iconic and ideal location to spend the veteran's holiday in. 
pictured: patriotic balloons
Photo credit: Blessing Ri/Unsplash

Waterloo, New York held the first formal observance of Memorial Day in 1868 and has been held annually ever since. The federal government declared Waterloo the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966. Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed a proclamation to make it the birthplace of Memorial Day that year. After that, President Lyndon Johnson signed a congressional proclamation in the same year that established it further. With Waterloo’s clear connections to the holiday, it is considered one of the best places for Memorial Day.

The Waterloo Memorial Day Parade is popular for both locals and tourists. Waterloo’s commemorative parade pays tribute to those who served. It has floats, a lunch for veterans, reenactors, and band performances. The parade is a great chance for travelers to interact with locals and pay respects to people who have fallen while in military service. The National Memorial Day Museum is located in Waterloo as well. There travelers can discover the full origin and history of the holiday. 

Palm Springs, California 

Palm Springs, California is a good place for travelers to spend on this holiday weekend.
pictured: people standing in front of the US flag
Photo: Brett Sayles/Pexels

Palm Springs is an underrated place for Memorial Day. Travelers can enjoy many different events throughout the city. This city is a historic place that has annual tributes to fallen soldiers so travelers have plenty of options. The annual Memorial Day Air Fair and Flower Drop is an event travelers can enjoy in Palm Springs. This event features vintage warplanes, a memorial service, live music, food, drinks, and even kid activities. The Palm Springs Air Museum hosts it so travelers are also encouraged to visit the Museum to learn more. The museum is where visitors can view a collection of military aircraft. Travelers heading to Palm Springs can also attend the city’s Memorial Day Ceremony at Veterans Park. 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming 

Wyoming is an underrated destination to visit during this holiday for veterans.
pictured: a sign for Wyoming
Photo credit: Martin Podsiad/Unsplash

Jackson Hole, Wyoming has great American outdoor experiences and has spirited celebrations during the remembrance holiday. This destination in Wyoming has a unique celebration and is also known for its celebration of the Old West, so fans of the American pastime can enjoy the themed events. Old West Days is a Memorial Day celebration worth taking note of. It is held annually over Memorial Day weekend and has many free events within the celebration. Travelers can celebrate with food, music, and family activities during the Memorial Day weekend.

The Elk Fest, Chili Cook Off, and Million Dollar Music Fest are some of the most popular events during the Memorial Day weekend. The Million Dollar Music Fest is held in the town square and brings top country music acts to the community. Another option for travelers is to visit the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum. This museum is a great way to reflect and remember the legacy of those who have made an impact on history. 

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