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7 Memorial Day Weekend Getaways in California
Travel

7 Memorial Day Weekend Getaways in California

People go on Memorial Day weekend getaways as an indirect celebration of life. How do you plan on celebrating the long weekend?

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5 min read

May 31, 2021

Memorial Day in the U.S. is a time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Many people observe the holiday by wearing red poppies, visiting cemeteries and memorials, and attending parades often involving military personnel. But it’s not all somber. The long weekend is also seen as an unofficial welcome of summer. Hence, people go on Memorial Day weekend getaways as an indirect celebration of life. How do you plan on celebrating the long weekend?

How to Make the Most of your Memorial Day Getaway 

Lively festivals, family gatherings, and festive barbecues are great ways to spend your vacation. Make Memorial Day weekend travel plans and map out your California staycation itinerary in advance for maximum fun and minimum last-minute stress. 

While it’s by no means the busiest travel day of the year, Memorial Day is still definitely up there in popularity. From one-day Memorial Day trips to weekend-long extravaganzas, these are options you should consider booking when planning your next trip.

Great Places to go for Memorial Day Weekend

Big Bear Lake is Southern California's largest recreation lake, which is why families flock to the year-round destination to spend a long weekend.

1. Big Bear

What’s the ultimate weekend getaway from Los Angeles, you ask? Big Bear is definitely a strong contender. Situated only 80 miles away from L.A., Big Bear feels like it’s a completely different world. This year-round vacation destination is the perfect Memorial Day weekend getaway. Unwind near the lake, surround yourself with the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest, and watch the crystal blue waters twinkle in the light of the nearly summer sun.

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Enjoy water sports like fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and jet-skiing. Don’t forget about on-land adventures, though. Mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, and off-roading are just a few of the exciting activities you can partake in on your Memorial Day vacation.

There are many wonderful, fun, and festive activities, perfect for all the family to enjoy this Memorial Day weekend in San Francisco.

2. San Francisco

If your vision of the best Memorial Day vacation is more traditional, San Francisco is the ideal spot for you. Every year, the city cooperates with the Presidio Trust and Veterans of Foreign Wars to present the Memorial Day Commemoration, which began all the way back in 1868. Traditionally, the commemoration includes a ceremony, parade, speakers, music, and a 21-gun salute.

You can also participate in another Memorial Day weekend tradition of the city with Carnaval San Francisco. This event celebrates the city’s roots and rich cultural diversity with parades, dances, music, art, and colorful displays. This year’s theme is “Our Existence is Resistance”, which aims to highlight the historically marginalized communities of the state, as well as their struggles and efforts for a better future.

Inexpensive Memorial Day Vacations

Looking for a break from the stress and noise of the city? A stay in Joshua Tree National Park may be just what you need.

3. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a foolproof destination for an affordable weekend getaway in California, especially if you’re active and love spending time outdoors. All you need to do is spend a weekend hiking, touring, and camping in Joshua Tree. A majestic weekend awaits you.

Add a little bit of luxury to your inexpensive Memorial Day vacation and choose desert glamping for accommodation. Dome in the Desert is a long-standing favorite for glamping enthusiasts. The futuristic-looking geometric dome has a bohemian-inspired interior that makes you feel like you’re in your element. Don’t forget to spend a night under the stars—you’re at one of SoCal’s top stargazing spots.

There's always something special happening on Catalina Island. Visit this Memorial Day weekend to check it out.

4. Catalina Island

If you’re more of a beach bum than a desert dweller, your ideal inexpensive Memorial Day vacation is Catalina Island. Relax at the beach, rent a kayak, and be a tourist in your own state by making the most of your Memorial Day getaway. One fun activity to try is snorkeling and spotting cool species, such as sea stars, eels, anemones, and Garibaldi fish.

Don’t miss out on seeing the historic Avalon on the east end of the island and the rustic Two Harbors to the west. The most affordable way to spend the night on the island is by camping. Fortunately, there are five great campgrounds—this inexpensive SoCal getaway spoils you for choice. The best part is that you won’t even have to think about the traffic coming back from your Memorial Day getaway; the island ferry gets you home sans traffic stress.

Memorial Day Weekend Getaways for Couples

Whether you’re a fast-paced city slicker or a laidback local hippie, Ojai is a total mind, body, and soul retreat for anyone and everyone.

5. Ojai

Find your zen on a weekend getaway to Ojai. The laid-back, easy-going feel of this coastal destination is the perfect place to escape and spend the Memorial Day weekend on a spiritual journey. The climate of this idyllic destination also allows it to organically grow many types of fruits and vegetables. Expect lots of delicious local produce in your cuisine, from olives and grapes to many sorts of citrus. 

If your magical Memorial Day weekend getaway needs an equally enchanting accommodation, choose Ojai Rancho Inn. Located at the base of the Topatopa Mountains, this former 1950's retro roadside motel is full of character, complimenting Ojai itself.

Locals see Napa Valley balloons all over the sky as tourists pour into the region to book their hot air balloon rides during Memorial Day weekend.

6. Napa

A Memorial Day weekend staycation in Napa doesn’t have to be all about vino. In fact, the beautiful NorCal spot has tons of things to do that don’t involve drinking. Check out cool Napa attractions, go on scenic drives, dine at Michelin-starred eateries, and have the Meditteranean-inspired Memorial Day weekend getaway of your dreams.

And of course, you can’t spend a weekend in Napa without treating yourself to a couple’s massage. Spa Terra at the Meritage Resort offers 12 treatment spaces, whirlpools, soothing water walls, and more throughout its 22,000 square feet of space. Here, your Memorial Day weekend stay is a calming, other-worldly experience.

A Memorial Day Weekend Staycation Idea

On a typical summer day, Lake Shasta's crystal blue waters are sprinkled with fishing boats, jet skis, inner tubes—almost anything that floats.

7. Lake Shasta

Craving a staycation but can’t quite imagine yourself spending another night in a hotel room? Rent a houseboat on the dreamy Lake Shasta. As one of the hottest houseboat destinations in the state, Lake Shasta is known as the “Houseboat Capital of the World”. You’ll enjoy sharing the shores with other families who also head out to the lake for a Memorial Day weekend getaway. Enjoy the traditional experience with barbecues, fireworks, and a family-friendly feel. Can you think of a better way to bond with your youngsters?

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