Memorial Day

8 Memorial Day Getaways We're Taking This Weekend

Our staff's favorite summer destinations.

May 22, 2019
Photo by Tom Hilton/Flickr Commons

I have to say, there are few things in this world more satisfying to me than setting up my Out of Office message before a vacation. In Gmail it’s called a “vacation responder,” and really, there’s no better digital status symbol than an auto-response that says something to the effect of:

If you’re reading this right now, then I’m probably driving down the coast in a classic convertible with my loved ones and nowhere near my computer.

Anyway, that’s the vibe I’m going for with my OOO, which brings us to the real reason why we’re here: to pick a destination for the ultimate Memorial Day weekend, a time that was made for grabbing your summer linens from the top shelf, throwing them in your favorite weekender bag with some sunscreen, and hitting the road.

If you’re like me—i.e., semi-scrambling to find good Memorial Day weekend getaways now that it’s midweek and the holiday is just a few sleeps away—I've got some recommendations below, including a few that are near and dear to the Food52 crew (some that require a passport and some that don’t).

1. Montreal, Canada

You can take a plane, train, or automobile to Montreal (did you know it shares a border with Vermont?), and suddenly be in another country that feels like it’s on another continent. In fact, when it comes to people who speak primarily French, Montreal is second only to Paris. Montreal is famous for its own Notre Dame, or more specifically the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, a breathtaking piece of history and architecture that dates back to the 1800s. There’s also RÉSO, the Underground City, built for shelter from cold winters and hot summers, that encompasses 32 kilometers (approximately 20 miles) of restaurants, shopping centers, performing art spaces, and much more, with direct access to the Montreal Metro. Not to mention, Montreal has the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada, and the second-highest in all of North America, second only to New York!

2. The Carolinas

"I love going to Charleston for the long weekend. Something about being at the beach for Memorial Day weekend feels right, and I love the food scene and laid-back vibe for a nice getaway. If I’m not feeling beachy, Asheville is another great place for a long weekend. The weather is so nice this time of year in the mountains for a good hike, or also to meander around the eclectic city." —Megan Guntas, product designer

3. Sanibel and Captiva Islands

Off the Gulf Coast of Florida, Sanibel and Captiva Islands (once a single island, some 6,000 years ago), are known for its 15 miles of lovingly preserved white-sand beaches that boast 250 kinds of shells (they’re seriously beautiful) and a more-than-7,000-acre wildlife preserve that’s home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, and reptiles, with free tours year round.

4. Devils Lake, Oregon

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“My Memorial Day weekend getaway is usually Devils Lake in Oregon. It's really quiet and secluded, super relaxing. My cousins and I rent a cabin in the woods and trout fish on the lake. At night, we go to the beach with s'mores ingredients, build a fire on the sand, toast marshmallows, and pig out (with hot cocoa!) until it gets too cold to stay. Back at the cabin, we warm up next to the fireplace watching horror movies or true crime documentaries, which are may more fun because the fear element is heightened staying in a stranger's house in the middle of the woods." —Eric Kim, senior editor

5. Sawyer, Michigan

"A little beach town called Sawyer outside of Lake Michigan on the Michigan/Indiana is my family's go-to! The sand dunes are the best-kept secret of the midwest. Plus, the craft brewery scene is amazing. We love to hit up Greenbush Brewery, Haymarket, and Transient Artisan Ales. There's space for everyone on the long stretches of beaches. You can't beat the epic stargazing and lakeside bonfires." —Aja Aktay, associate buyer

6. Austin, Texas

The coolest people I know on the East Coast have either been escaping to Austin every chance they get, or else decamping there permanently—and I guess that’s because the city has incredible live music, outdoor splendor, breweries, a race track, and lively festivals all year round. It helps that you can find great barbecue every moment of your stay until you get on the flight home. In fact, Austin’s Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew is not only home to some of the best Texas barbecue available (from ribs and pulled pork to Frito pie and jalapeño-cheddar sausage), it’s also set in the historic Violet Crown Shopping Center, the production center of Dazed and Confused (and where the pool hall scene was filmed).

Added bonus: If you get a chance to extend your stay in the Southwest, there are some flights to Mexico City that are just over two hours long!

7. Lisbon, Portugal

The coastal capital of Portugal has the perfect climate to visit any time of the year, but late May is the start of Lisbon’s sweet spot, where the weather is sunny and and beach-perfect without being stifling. You’ll get a workout as you traverse over the seven steep hills that make up the city and are responsible for the stunning European vistas, including that of São Jorge Castle, with roots as far back as 48 BCE. You’ll feel like you’re living inside a “Wish You Were Here” postcard as you take in the city’s combination of ancient ruins, pastel hillside homes, and, thanks to its centuries of seafaring culture, some of the best seafood the world has to offer.

8. Greenport, Long Island

"I don’t have a Memorial Day weekend getaway tradition, but I usually do a few trips a year to Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island, and I’m going there this weekend. A close friend runs the Bridge Lane Wines tasting room where they have this amazing white merlot (I know) that I could drink a gallon of in one sitting. There are a ton of great restaurants out there, too (The Halyard at the Soundview Hotel!). Everything is so much quieter and less scene-y than the Hamptons/Montauk. Also, beaches without the insane heat." —Rebecca Sutter, UX designer

Where's your go-to Memorial Day weekend getaway? Tell us in the comments below, and have a relaxing, safe holiday!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Karen Lo

Written by: Karen Lo

lunch lady