Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Thu May 26 2016

Where Are Memorial Day Travelers Headed? The Answer May Surprise You.

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | May 26, 2016

Where Are Memorial Day Travelers Headed? The Answer May Surprise You.

PHOTO: Chicago tops the list of Memorial Day destinations this year. (courtesy City of Chicago)

It’s the unofficial beginning of summer, so why aren’t Americans heading to the beach? Well, they are doing that, but new data released by Hotwire shows that cities are actually one of the most popular getaways over the holiday weekend.

Based on its internal booking data, Hotwire determined that, not only are people heading out of town to hit the beach over the holiday weekend, but they are also planning city vacays, putting together an infographic of the most popular Memorial Day weekend U.S. destinations for 2016 that shows that more people are traveling to these five destinations than any others. 

READ MORE: 3 Can't-Miss Memorial Day Hotel Deals

The list found cities to be among the most popular locales for the holiday weekend. Topping the list are:

1. Chicago, Illinois
2. New York, New York
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
5. Washington, D.C. (tied) 
5. San Diego, California (tied)

While city life might not seem like the best way to be celebrating the beginning of summer, these destinations do make sense for a Memorial Day Weekend sojourn.


Ready to welcome summer? Well in the Midwest, Chicago is the place to do it. The summer schedule for Navy Pier fireworks officially kicks of on Memorial Day weekend, with a synchronized show every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10:15 p.m. through Labor Day. There’s also the Chicago Memorial Day Parade at 11am on Saturday, May 28.

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New York

One of the biggest events for Memorial Day weekend is the Memorial Day parade in Queens, which is on Sunday at 1 p.m. on Grand Avenue at 72nd Street. But for visitors, there are many other draws to the city for the weekend such as shopping, sightseeing, dining and more – the usual big city stuff – perfect for kicking off the summer season.


The only thing surprising about finding Orlando on this list is finding the destination in third place. Orlando is notoriously one of the most popular destinations for a family vacation in the country and is no doubt bustling with visitors overflowing its many theme parks over the holiday weekend.

Las Vegas

Every weekend is a good weekend in Las Vegas and, if you are looking to let loose and bring on summer, Sin City is a always a safe bet for a good time. Remember, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

San Diego

San Diego may be a city but kicking off summer here, a popular California beach city with a number of theme parks, is not too surprising. It is an ideal three-day getaway, during which visitors can combine beach days with a day at the popular San Diego Zoo, a stroll around Legoland’s Miniland or a visit to Sea World. 

Washington D.C.

Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember those who have given their lives in military service for the country – and where better to do that than in the nation’s capitol?

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