Start your engines — and barbecue grills — for Memorial Day weekend (May 29-31). The holiday brings millions of travelers to the road to kick off the summer travel season and relax in the warm weather. Are you prepared? The ingredients for a great Memorial Day weekend are pretty simple: 1) make sure your vehicle is ready for the road, 2) pack all the gear you need for an RV trip and — most important — 3) pick a great location.
Below are underrated Memorial Day destinations across North America. Many of these spots fly under the radar, but they pack all the fun you’ll need for a three-day getaway. Also included: Nearby Good Sam Parks.
Bullhead City, Arizona
Bullhead City sits on the banks of the Colorado River near the juncture of the Nevada and California state border. Visitors might be tempted to use this spot as a jumping-off point for day trips to Laughlin (5 miles to the west) or Lake Havasu (65 miles to the south), but your best bet is to stay local. This stretch of river is perfect for waterskiing, paddleboarding, inner tubing and kayaking. A short distance to the north, the river widens to form Lake Mohave, where anglers can cast for largemouth bass and striped bass. On land, travelers can tee off at the Mohave Resort Golf Club, with 18 holes connected by fairways that twist and turn through natural desert landscapes. A visit to Arizona Veterans Memorial Park on Rio Grande Road is a great way to cap off this three-day weekend.
Stay: Vista Del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City is a 55+ gated community and RV resort that combines great amenities with proximity to exciting destinations.
Located near Lake Tahoe, this town celebrates the beginning of summer with the Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake Open on the Coyote Moon Golf Course. Sprawling across 250 acres of pine forests and wildflowers, the course dazzles even the most jaded golfers any time during the summer. Prefer water to sand traps? Go boating on Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake, two of the most scenic bodies of water in the West. In the surrounding mountains and hills, visitors can go hiking and rock climbing. If you’re feeling lucky, travel 30 miles east across the border into Nevada for a Reno gambling excursion.
Stay: Coachland RV Park in Truckee puts guests close to the banks of the Truckee River and a stone’s throw from charming downtown Truckee.
Located about halfway between Key Largo and Key West, Marathon packs attractions that belie the island’s 9.3-square-mile size. Put on your flip-flops and walk the streets of this key’s charming downtown, as laid back as the lyrics of a Jimmy Buffet song. Hoist a tropical drink at Island Fish Co., which keeps the good times going with concoctions like the Key Lime Colada, Rum Runner and Pain in the A#%$. Nature lovers can get up close to amazing sea creatures at the Turtle Hospital, which helps injured turtles and nurtures vulnerable hatchlings. Take a tour and watch baby turtles take their first awkward steps into the sea. Also nearby, the Dolphin Research Center gives visitors the chance to swim with dolphins and learn about these highly intelligent mammals.
Stay: Camp by the water in Grassy Key RV Park and Resort, with boat dockage and pool.
Few places are better suited for a Memorial Day visit than Annapolis. The home of the U.S. Naval Academy boasts a beautiful location on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay as well as a historic Old Town district that preserves the town’s past in the American Revolution. Near town, Quiet Waters Park encompasses 340 acres for biking, kayaking and walking. Bring a picnic basket for a feast to enjoy in the warm weather. The Boatyard Bar and Grill serves up seafood in a festive atmosphere.
Stay: Located near Washington, D.C., Cherry Hill Park is a great location for Maryland adventures.
Known for its history of witches and warlocks, this Bay State town has a lot more going for it than supernatural legends. This year, Salem brings back its Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony, with a wreath-laying upon the Veterans Memorial. Explore the gorgeous Salem Harbor and step aboard the Friendship of Salem, a replica of the tall ships that sailed the globe to bring imports to the fledgling U.S. Other attractions include the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers.
Stay: Close to the beach and less than an hour from Boston, Black Bear Campground in Salisbury is an ideal park for a Massachusetts visit.
Traverse City, Michigan
Treat yourself to local sweets at the “Cherry Capital of the World.” In town, you’ll find no shortage of confectioners selling all varieties of cherry candy, pastries and pies. Visitors also will discover local wineries and great restaurants with a homey feel. Late May is the perfect time to go biking on the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trail, but don’t get distracted by the stunning vistas of Traverse Bay. To the south, the spectacular Sleeping Bear Dunes entice hikers to ascend towering sand dunes for awesome views of Lake Michigan.
Stay: Traverse Bay RV Resort. The scenery is beautiful in this adult-oriented RV resort. Immerse yourself in world-class amenities.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Wine lovers, clear your schedules. Memorial Day marks the start of the wine-tasting season in the Willamette Valley, the fertile region on the banks of the Willamette River between Portland and Eugene. An estimated 700 wineries dot this lush region, bottling everything from pinots to cabernets. Visitors can go on self-guided tours to top wineries or explore the back roads where smaller vintners produce lesser-known wines. History buffs should visit the Honeywood Winery in Salem, founded in 1934 and producing prime wines ranging from the Ay Chihuahua Sangria to Strawberry Supreme. Prefer water to wine? The Willamette River attracts vacationers to its banks for fishing, boating and paddling. Trout and steelhead flourish in these cool waters.
Stay: Phoenix RV Park in Salem enjoys a high Good Sam rating and pampers guests with great amenities.
Charleston, South Carolina
While Myrtle Beach can claim the prize of most popular Palmetto State vacation destinations, Charleston holds its own when it comes to entertaining visitors. Upscale restaurants, historic districts with cobblestone streets and compelling colonial architecture transport visitors to the Old South. Go on a shopping spree at the Charleston Market, spanning four city blocks and packed with delicious food, crafts and more. Take a cruise through tidal creeks and marshes en route to the uninhabited Morris Island, home to a lighthouse built in 1876.
Stay: The Campground at James Island County Park, just minutes from downtown Charleston, gives guests the best of both worlds. Explore the city or spend time navigating the campground’s water park, trails and lake.
Music City USA pays a special tribute to service personnel who sacrificed everything for their country. At Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, a World War II Memorial honors the fallen. At the War Memorial Auditorium, visitors can peruse exhibits dedicated to veterans of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Did we mention the music? Visit the Grand Ole Opry, take a Homes of the Stars Tour and experience the city’s vibrant nightspots on Broadway, known as “Honky Tonk Row” for its rollicking music and party scene. Drop into Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a country music institution that may seem familiar to movie buffs: scenes from “Coal Miner’s Daughter” were filmed here.
Stay: At Two Rivers Campground, guests stay in the heart of Nashville, a short distance to golf, water fun, fine dining and Broadway honky tonks.
Settled by German immigrants in the 1800s, this town embraces its heritage with architecture, breweries and restaurants that harken back to Old Country. Grab a tall stein of beer and feast on a hearty order of duck schnitzel at Otto’s, or satisfy your appetite at Der Lindenbaum Restaurant, where the knockwurst will introduce you to traditional flavors. The town celebrates Memorial Day with the Jaycees Crawfish Festival, serving up the tasty crustaceans in all varieties in a wholesome family atmosphere of music and fun. Get away from the crowds by taking a hike to the nearby Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, home of the famous pink granite dome. Hit the Summit Trail and ascend to the top of the 1,825-foot-formation for stunning views of surrounding Texas Hill Country.
Stay: Fredericksburg RV Park surrounds guests in a relaxing setting with all the comforts guests need for a relaxing stay.
Travelers who visit Jackson during the long weekend can treat themselves to jaw-dropping views of the Grand Tetons. Thrillseekers can get a rush on the Snake River by signing up with Rendezvous River Sports and Mad River Boat Trips, who provide equipment rentals and guide services. For land adventures, a trip with Scenic Safaris takes guests on a trip through rugged country for sightings of bald eagles, bison, wolves and bears. During Memorial Day Weekend, the town puts on the Jackson’s Old West Days Celebration, with a rodeo, parade and live music. The event coincides with the Old West Brew Fest, featuring local craft brewers serving their creations.
Stay: The Virginian Lodge and RV Park in Jackson sits close to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.