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5 hottest destinations for Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day is often considered the unofficial kick-off to the summer season — and with COVID-19 restrictions relaxing around the country, Americans are ready to make plans for the long holiday weekend.

“Now more than ever, people are itching to get out of their homes either alone or with their loved ones and feel alive again through travel,” said Sahara Rose, a travel coach and consultant and founder of The Travel Coach Network. “A year of isolation and (lack of) amusement left people hungry for exploration and excitement.”

The volume of home-stay reservations for Memorial Day weekend is 225% higher this year compared with the same time frame in 2020, according to property management platform Guesty. Here are the top five destinations for Memorial Day weekend 2021, according to Guesty’s data.

Nashville Tennessee TN Drone Skyline Aerial Panorama.
Nashville, Tennessee (Photo: Getty Creative) (Kruck20 via Getty Images)

Nashville, Tennessee

If your ideal Memorial Day weekend involves eating barbecue and exploring natural green spaces, Nashville’s got plenty of both. Pick up your Martin’s Bar-B-Que-Joint order and head to Shelby Bottoms Greenway or Centennial Park for a relaxing holiday meal.

It’s also a good weekend to plan a trip to the World War II Memorial at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Or, if you’re planning to partake in Nashville’s party scene, check out the Broadway strip and one of the city’s pedal bar tours.

New Orleans

New Orleans: Pubs and bars in the French Quarter after the Mardi Gras, New Orleans on March 1, 2017
Pubs and bars in the French Quarter after the Mardi Gras in New Orleans on March 1, 2017. (Photo: Getty Creative) (donvictorio via Getty Images)

New Orleans has something for everyone celebrating Memorial Day. History buffs will love The National World War II Museum, which was ranked the fourth-best museum in the U.S. by TripAdvisor, while families can relax with a picnic at New Orleans City Park. Bicycle tours, Creole cuisine, and a trip to Cafe du Monde can help round out a long weekend in The Big Easy.

Moab, Utah

Sunset at famous Delicate Arch, Utah, USA
Sunset at famous Delicate Arch in Moab, Utah. (Photo: Getty Creative) (ventdusud via Getty Images)

If one of your pandemic rituals has been reconnecting with nature, Utah should be your go-to Memorial Day destination. “Being in nature has proven to decrease stress and boost our mental health,” Rose said.

You’ll find plenty of outdoor activities in Utah, from mountain biking, water rafting, rock climbing, and hiking the state’s five national parks. Moab is situated between Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, making it a convenient place to stay if you want to visit both.

Miami Beach, Florida

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, USA - FEBRUARY 18, 2018: Vintage Car Parked along Ocean Drive in the Famous Art Deco District in South Beach. South Beach, FL
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, USA - FEBRUARY 18, 2018: Vintage Car Parked along Ocean Drive in the Famous Art Deco District in South Beach. South Beach, FL (Photo: Getty) (mariusz_prusaczyk via Getty Images)

There’s no shortage of things to do and see around Miami, from the party scene on South Beach to the funky murals in Wynwood, the art deco historic district in Miami Beach, Cuban culture along Calle Ocho, and trendy bars and restaurants in Brickell.

For more family friendly events, check out the National Salute to America’s Heroes event and plan a low-key day trip to Oleta River State Park.

Las Vegas

The well-known famous Las Vegas sign  in front of the Blurred Background.
Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo: Getty Creative) (ANDREY DENISYUK via Getty Images)

With temperatures set to climb, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to check out one of Las Vegas’ legendary pool parties or stay indoors at one of the city’s iconic casinos. But you’ll also find family-fun adventures like hiking trails at Red Rock Canyon, Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, and kid-oriented Cirque du Soleil shows.

2021 travel trends: Shorter trips, pricier stays, and ‘travel pods’

While the vaccine rollouts are helping control the spread of COVID-19, travelers are still taking precautions. Rose said people are vacationing in “travel pods,” or small groups of friends and family members who quarantined together or have been vaccinated. Road trips are a great way to practice social distancing, and home-stay rentals are rising in popularity for the same reason.

Consumers are also planning shorter stays compared with a year ago, according to Guesty data. But these shorter bookings — which are four days on average during Memorial Day weekend — signal recovery as consumers revert to pre-COVID travel habits.

In terms of pricing, reservations are 47% more expensive now compared with 2020, according to Guesty data. The steep year-over-year increase can be partly attributed to the discounts travelers received as an incentive to travel during the pandemic.

If you’re planning a Memorial Day getaway, “it’s never a bad idea to be overly prepared” with hand sanitizer and masks, Rose said. Also, “check the travel guidelines for the destination of your choice on that state’s website.”

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