Memorial Day is coming up faster than you think, and booking your beach vacation should be your top priority if you plan to beat the crowds. Memorial Day is meant to mourn our fallen soldiers who have fought for our freedom with their bravery and lives. It’s a time to reflect on what they added to our country and how we can use their example to be better citizens.
If you plan on heading to the beach that long weekend, pick the beach with the most to offer. Beaches nationwide differ in terms of what kind of water and sand and what kind of vibe each one has. Choosing the right one, depending on your travel type, can make or break your weekend, and we’ve sourced some of the best the country offers.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday that gives (mostly) everyone the day off to observe. Even though it is not officially the beginning of the summer, most people think of it as such, and starting it the right way can make or break your summer season. As well as respecting the holiday, you should take advantage and do something with your family that can signal the start of the summer season.
Here are the top six U.S. beach destinations for Memorial Day weekend:
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Gulf Coast, Florida
The Gulf Coast of Florida starts at Destin Beach (top of the panhandle), ends in Key West, and is a favorite among local travelers. The beaches are top-rated and sometimes a hidden gem that folks outside of Florida don’t know about.
The best places to spend your Memorial Day weekend are Siesta Key, Lido Key, and Longboat Key. These three towns are minutes from each other and have some of the best beaches and scenic views Florida can offer. Skip out on Miami Beach this year and check out these fantastic alternatives. Pro tip: getting ice cream at Lido Key is a tradition many Floridians share when in this area.
If traveling to Hawaii for the long weekend, you must check out Maui. Known as the second-largest Hawaiian island and is probably the most popular. Beaches here include Kihei, Wailea, and Hana.
They are famous for being part of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and celebrating Memorial Day Weekend there would be a fantastic experience for everyone involved.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Known as a luxury alternative to Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island is located in South Carolina and is probably one of its most famous beach areas.
Some of the best golf courses are here, and The Coastal Discovery Museum is also here.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod has Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, but the most fun place is Provincetown. If you know about U.S. history, you know that the Mayflower landed here in 1620 before getting to Plymouth. It’s also where LGBTQ+ folks have been coming from since the 1890s. Writers and actors started coming to this beach area then, and now it’s a beautiful New England cottage-style architectural haven.
The beaches are excellent, too; the great thing about this place is it’s family-friendly. LGBTQ+ folks and families here meet, and each has a great time. It’s a beautiful space that you should visit soon.
Close to Los Angeles, Malibu is a great place to visit if your vacation takes you to California. Malibu Lagoon State Beach is known as a surfer paradise, and you can get some delicious food here. Nobu Malibu and Moonshadows Malibu are great restaurants for a scene and Japanese food.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Sanibel Island is a beautiful town near Fort Myers and should be on your bucket list. While the island is still recovering from Hurricane Ian, it is now reopened.
The island is known for its shelly beach and the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. It’s also near Captiva Island, where you can find the Bubble Room. It’s a funky restaurant that you should visit at least once. This is a very low-key way of celebrating Memorial Day, but it’s worth it.
A Dairy Queen Grill & Chill on Periwinkle Way has not been modernized in the last few decades due to Sanibel’s strict formula business restriction, which bans fast-food restaurants from being built or updated on the island. The Dairy Queen Grill & Chill looks like it’s from another era and is a sight.
Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to head to the beach. It’s almost the beginning of summer, and knowing the history behind this holiday makes enjoying your day in the ocean all the more special.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com