Summer Kick Off: A Guide to Memorial Day Weekend 2018

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Beach club
© Free Stock Photos/Flickr, Creative Commons
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WWII veteran shaking hands with parade-goers
Courtesy American Veterans Center
Washington D.C. Memorial Day Parade

Head to Constitution Avenue in Washington D.C. for the nation's largest Memorial Day event, the 14th annual Memorial Day Parade—also known as a "moving timeline" of American military history. The event includes live music, marching bands and United States soldiers and veterans.

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Musician singing
©Eric de Redelijkheid/Flickr, Creative Commons
Nashville: Music City Jazz Festival

Get moving from May 25-26 at the Music City Jazz Festival. The lineup includes performers like Boney James, Rachelle Ferrell, Euge Groove, Hiroshima and Kim Waters. Spend the weekend people watching, eating, drinking and mingling in the sun. From May 25-27, music lovers can also enjoy Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in concert at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. 

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Children at museum
Courtesy National Constitution Center
Philadelphia: National Constitution Center

Patriotism continues at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center where Memorial Day activities from May 26-28 include daily flag ceremonies and live shows. There's also an American Flag Etiquette Workshop and hands-on projects for kids.

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Wreath laying ceremony
©Presidio of Monterey/Flickr, Creative Commons
Chicago Memorial Day Parade

Friends and families can gather on Chicago sidewalks to remember soldiers on May 26. The Wreath Laying Ceremony, where the City of Chicago will honor fallen heroes and gold star families, will begin at 11 am at Daley Plaza. The parade follows shortly after. 

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SkyHike at Stone Mountain
©Carissa Rogers
Atlanta's Stone Mountain Park

From May 25-28, Stone Mountain Park will honor troops during a four-day weekend event featuring a "Lasershow Spectacular" and patriotic fireworks. Active duty, veterans and retired military personnel will receive one free all-attraction pass and save up to 30 percent off per person for immediate family members. Passes are available each day from 10:30 am-8 pm and allow access to the SkyHike, Geyser Towers, Summit Skyride and Dinosaur Explore. 

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Road to Tokyo exhibit
Courtesy National WWII Museum
New Orleans: National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum will honor families of World War II soldiers on May 26 with a tribute concert performed by the US Marine Corps Band. On May 28, museum events include a commemoration ceremony at 11 am and a national moment of silence at 3 pm.

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Peopel running
©Martins Zemlickis/Unsplash
Boulder, Colorado: BolderBOULDER

More than 100,000 spectators gather in Boulder on Memorial Day. On May 28, BolderBOULDER 10K invites runners, joggers, walkers and viewers of all ages to run and visit the BB Expo for food and drink samples. There will also be live entertainment and a Memorial Day tribute finale. 

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People with props at event
Courtesy MAINopoly
Santa Monica, California: MAINopoly

The Monopoly-themed food festival invites families to celebrate the weekend on Main Street where they can experience the best restaurants, coffee shops, juiceries and more in a Monopoly-themed event. Enjoy a walking tour of Main Street and visit every spot on the "board" to be entered to win a prize package! May 27 from 1 pm-6 pm.

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Celebration at the Station event
©Mark McDonald
Kansas City, Missouri: Celebration at the Station

Listen to the sweet sound of the Kansas City Symphony at the 16th annual Celebration at the Station event on May 27. It's the largest free Memorial Day weekend festival in the Midwest. The patriotic concert is an all-day family affair offering preconcert musical acts, food trucks, a family zone and services for veterans beginning at 3 pm. The concert begins at 8 pm. 

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Women at food and wine festival
Courtesy New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience

Memorial Day weekend is the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience's 26th anniversary. From May 23-27, hundreds of wineries and restaurants come together to serve up local flavor and various new creations and cuisines. As one of the Big Easy's biggest events—and a foodie favorite—the festival offers seminars, wine dinners, Brunch Around the World, a Royal Street Stroll and more.

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Las Vegas beach club
© Free Stock Photos/Flickr, Creative Commons
Las Vegas Shows and Parties

Entertainment in Las Vegas awaits at every turn. Catch shows like Blue Man Group, "Criss Angel Mind Freak Live", Celine Dion in concert, "Mystére" or "Michael Jackson One" by Cirque du Soleil. Head out to a pool party at Encore Beach Club or Wet Republic where swimming, live music and drinks are offered. Experience Las Vegas nightlife at OMNIA Las Vegas, JEWEL Nightclub or TAO. 

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World War I musuem exterior
Courtesy National World War I Museum and Memorial
Kansas City, Missouri: National World War I Museum and Memorial

The National World War I Museum and Memorial will hold events from May 25-28. Veterans and active duty military receive free admission. General admission is half-price for the public. Discover your connection to WWI, view various displays and discuss and look at art. Meanwhile, children can participate in "Hands-On History." On May 28, events include a pancake breakfast from 9 am-11 am, a ceremony from 10 am-11 am and "Walk of Honor" ceremony at 2 pm.

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People at Busch Gardens food festival
Courtesy SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment
Williamburg, Virginia: Busch Gardens and Water Country USA

Water Country USA opens the weekend before Memorial Day on May 19, so don't be surprised when families flock in on Memorial Day weekend to get their summer started. And let's not forget, May 25 is the first day of Busch Garden's Food and Wine Festival, where park visitors will be tasting international dishes between roller coaster rides. After a long day of play, stick around to watch a fireworks show on May 26.

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Flag pole in New York
©Michael Aleo/Unsplash
Central Park Tour: Memorial Park

On May 28, remember and honor our veterans on a two-hour walking tour through Central Park with Central Park Conservatory guides. Learn how generations of New Yorkers use the park to remember fallen soldiers. The tour includes Main Monument, Red Cross Memorial Flagpole and the 107th Infantry Regiment Memorial—just to name a few. 

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Painting on display
©Tom Bullock/Flickr, Creative Commons
Denver Arts Festivals

More than 50,000 people attend the Denver Arts Festival each Memorial Day weekend to observe some of the best artists in the nation. The fine arts and fine crafts festival features a beer and wine garden, a kid's art zone, various artwork displays and music from the Navy Brass Band of the Pacific Northwest.

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Chairs on the beach
©Annie Spratt/Unsplash
NYC Public Beaches

Take a break from busy city life and soak up the sun during the official reopening of New York's public beaches. That's right. On Saturday, May 26, beaches will reopen for swimming. Head to Penn Station and take the Long Island Rail Road transit down to Jones Beach. Here, you can go for a swim, stroll down the boardwalk, fish and play mini-golf. For a calm beach away from bustling crowds, head to Manhattan Beach with a picnic basket and fire up the grill for some barbecue.

By Jasmyn Snipes Louis

Americans spend the last Monday in May remembering those who died serving in the U.S. military. Whether that means visiting monuments and cemeteries in D.C., attending parades and festivals or enjoying water parks and beaches, take advantage of the three-day weekend to kick off summer and make the most of Memorial Day weekend.



Jasmyn Snipes Louis
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