Memorial Day is just around the corner – and for most of us, that means a long weekend freebie without having to take a vacation day from work. So what to do with that whole extra 24 hours of free time? Here are a few ideas that will ensure fun for the whole family – and give you the chance to celebrate what Memorial Day is all about – honoring our long history of veterans and active military men and women.
1. The Historic Triangle – Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown
Go back to where it all began at the Jamestown settlement.
See living history with exact replicas of early colonial life, including military forts and Native American villages.
Visit Colonial Williamsburg and see firsthand what life was like in Virginia’s early days.
Williamsburg served as the center for political and social life in the beginning and today, you can take a walk back through time to see how pre-Revolutionary life, politics and military took shape in Virginia.
See Yorktown where America’s independence began.
Celebrate Memorial Day with a walk through the Yorktown Battlefield and see where Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington in 1781.
2. See the D-Day Memorial in Bedford…
Pay a tribute to the “Bedford Boys” and all of the other brave men who died on June 6, 1944. Pay special honor to the town of Bedford, who’s residents suffered the highest per capita loss of any town in the U.S. that day, with a parade and celebration themed “Saluting the Price of Freedom” on Sunday, May 24.
...…then make the most of your trip at the Peaks of Otter.
Take full advantage of your time in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains and enjoy Virginia spring with a hike through the Peaks of Otter. There are trails for every skill level and views that can’t be matched.
Kick back and relax at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.
Visit the Johnson Farm, an historically restored, fully functioning farm that shows off life in the Blue Ridge at the turn of the 20th century.
3. Take a tour of Richmond
Take a Memorial Day Walking Tour through Hollywood Cemetery – the burial place of 2 presidents and countless Civil War greats and other military veterans.
Visit the Museum of the Confederacy and the Virginia War Memorial for a look at Virginia’s military history.
Go to Maymont Park for history, gardens and the Maymont Farm animals.
4. See what sacrifice looks like up close in Arlington National Cemetery
See more than a quarter of a million flags on the graves of military veterans at Arlington National Cemetery
Visit the Tombs of the Unknowns and see the guards that honor it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
A wreath laying ceremony will take place at 11am on Monday, May 25.
Stay for the changing of the guard, which happens every half hour until 7pm.
Pay tribute to the Women in Military Service For America at the memorial on the cemetery grounds.
At 4pm on Monday, May 25, a ceremony will be held where the public is invited to join in with personal tributes.
Just down from Arlington Cemetery, you can visit the Marine Corps Memorial – also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial.
5. Enjoy a long weekend at Virginia Beach.
As the world’s longest stretch of pleasure beach, Virginia Beach has an equally long list of exciting things to do.
Watch the street performers, ride bikes or visit the giant statue of Neptune on the boardwalk.
Go camping and exploring at First Landing State Park and see where the Jamestown settlers first touched Virginia in 1607.
Have close encounters with marine life at the Virginia Aquarium.
6. If the Virginia Beach isn’t your scene, try the Potomac for sand and sun in the Northern Neck.
Take the Road to the Revolution Heritage Trail for 22 historic stops including George Washington’s Birthplace at Pope’s Creek, James Madison’s Birthplace in Colonial Beach and Robert E. Lee’s boyhood home, Stratford Hall.
See the “sky walking” goats at Westmoreland Berry Farm.
Sail the Potomac River.
Go wine tasting at Ingleside Vineyards in Oak Grove.
7. Explore the Shenandoah Valley.
Spring in Virginia is pretty close to heaven – and spring in the Shenandoah is even one step closer.
Visit one of the Shenandoah’s many state parks, like Douthat State Park near Clifton Forge.
Go fishing, take a hike, sit on the beach or rent paddleboats, kayaks and canoes. Visit http: www.dcr.virginia.gov for lists of campsites and other great outdoor activities in the Shenandoah.
Explore Luray Caverns. And don’t miss the amazing Stalacpipe Organ while you’re down there!
Go hiking – grab your backpack and a picnic and explore world-class trails like Old Rag, Jones Run Falls, or Hawksbill.
With 27 military bases in Virginia representing every branch of the armed forces, it’s not hard to find somewhere to stop and take a moment to honor the many brave men and women who have served our country. Be sure check out these amazing getaways this Memorial Day and wherever you go, remember to be thankful for their service!