Last-Minute Memorial Day Getaways

No plans for Memorial Day weekend? Luckily we’re here to rescue you and your family from boredom!

500 Festival© 2011 500 Festival
Make sure to check out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum if you visit the 500 Festival this Memorial Day.

It’s that time of year again, when procrastinators everywhere suddenly panic because they have no plans for Memorial Day weekend. Luckily we’re here to rescue you and your family from boredom! Check out the ideas below and get ready to celebrate the start of the summer season.

Hit the racetrack
“Gentlemen, start your engines.” Who hasn’t heard the immortal words that launch the Indy 500 race every year? Why not a trip to Indianapolis to spend Memorial Day weekend finding out what all the excitement is about? The Indy 500 takes place May 30 this year, and Motor Speedway mania is already revved up with 500 Festival celebrations. The 500 Festival includes road races, parades, and kids’ activities. Don’t forget to wander through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum before hitting the track!

500 Festival

Celebrate street painting
The Santa Barbara Mission was the first U.S. city to host an I Madonnari Festival, the three-day Italian festival of street painters. This year’s free event– May 28-30–includes hundreds of madonnari (street painters), who will cover the mission plaza with 150 different paintings. Though the paintings are made with chalk, the tradition, dating at least to the 16th century, is called “street painting” because of how closely the pictures can resemble the oil paintings the artists use as their models. The festival benefits the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

I Madonnari Festival

Get the best in barbecue
Loosen your belt and head for the epic “rib-off” held during the Rib America Festival in Saint Louis’ Soldier’s Memorial Park from May 27-May 30. Scores of bands will also be entertaining the feasters. This year’s lineup includes: Puddle of Mudd, Kansas, .38 Special, Molly Hatchet, Loverboy, Mary Three, Pat Travers, Derek St. Holmes, AC/DShe, Brown Bottle Fever, Fabulous Motown Revue, and The Last Good Year. If you haven’t had enough meat, head to the Brew and Q World Pork Steak Championships at Schlafly Bottleworks brewery, where amateurs battle for best BBQ and pork steak to the sounds of local bands. On Monday you can tackle one of the largest flea markets in the Midwest, Gypsy Caravan (where the $5 entry fee benefits the St. Louis Symphony and its educational and community programs).

Rib America Festival

Brew and Q World Pork Steak Championships

Gypsy Caravan

Become a fan of folk arts
The Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle will be celebrating Memorial Day weekend with four days of free performances intended to revive and sustain ethnic, folk, and traditional arts. The Saturday Night Groove Party features music from Trolls Cottage, Handful of Luvin’, Cascadia’ 10, and the Panda Conspiracy. During the days, a vast array of crafts will be on display. Don’t miss the hula dancing performances! Music lovers should also check out Dusty Strings in the Fremont section of town, for “the world’s nicest hammered dulcimers.”

Northwest Folklife Festival

Get to know New England
Located at the northernmost point of New Hampshire’s coastline, Portsmouth is one of the oldest seaports in America and home to many nautical festivities. Check out the annual tall ships festival (Sail Portsmouth) and watch the U.S. Navy conduct a ceremony at the USS Albacore Museum & Memorial Park, a World War II–era submarine set in a park honoring those lost in deep-sea battles. Don’t miss the American Independence Museum, which holds an original broadside of the Declaration of Independence.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Sources: Budget Travel,,,

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest