A Memorable Memorial Day – The Best Destinations and Activities for Families

Make the Unofficial Kick-Off to Summer a Blast

Image Caption: Consider a trip to Mount Rushmore for an up-close look at the famous presidential sculpture.

Although the solstice isn’t until June 20th, Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to the summer season. The late May three-day weekend is one of the most popular camping holidays for families and for good reason. School has just let out (or is close to wrapping up) and virtually the entire country is enjoying comfortable temperatures and ample sunshine.

With everyone dying to get out of the house as summer peeks its head around the corner, there’s no better way to celebrate Memorial Day weekend than with a proper family camping trip.

Memorial Day Activities

If you’ve got kiddos in tow this Memorial Day or you’re getting a bunch of the family together, you’re probably considering some group activities for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are looking to get a lively competition going or lay the groundwork for some great conversation, check out a few ideas to make planning your camping trip a little easier this year.

Family Olympics

By far the most fun activity your family can plan for your Memorial Day camping trip is a full-fledged family Olympics. Whether you want it to be focused on one day in particular, or spread out over the three-day weekend, your family will have a blast competing in a variety of events to show off their athletic, and in some cases quirky, talents. These events can be anything from your usual family-reunion-type activities (i.e. potato sack race, egg on a spoon, etc.) to more unusual ones like water-pong and ‘tipsy waiter.’

Sack Race Memorial Day

A potato sack race is a great event to consider for a Family Olympics this Memorial Day!

Feel free to organize your Olympics as a team-based or solo competition (some games can only be played in a team format). After each event, assign points to the top one-to-three finishers. After all the points have been tallied, be sure to have a prize waiting for the champion(s)! If you’ve never done anything like this before, introducing family Olympics is a surefire way to start a beloved yearly tradition.

Visit a War Memorial

Yes, Memorial Day is filled with sunshine (we hope) and charcoal grills sizzling away, but lest we forget its true meaning. At its core, Memorial Day is a day to honor and pay respect to our servicemen and women, military veterans, their families, and most importantly, those that made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms.

Depending on where your campground is located, you will likely be within driving distance of a war or military memorial. If you like, this is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day with your kids or family.

Cook-Off Competition

Dad always says he makes the best burgers, but you’ve tried Uncle Randy’s and they’re something special… so, settle this once and for all and let the food do the talking. Add a little extra flair to all the grilling and cooking we enjoy on Memorial Day weekend and throw a cook-off competition.


Every time we celebrate our country, it’s hard to imagine it without some sort of firework display. The explosions of color bring out the child in all of us as we look up at the night sky in wonder. Even if you prefer the professionals to handle the firework duties, the chances of you finding a local firework show are pretty good.

Kids Sparklers

Sparklers can easily provide plenty of entertainment for your kiddos.

Now if you prefer to be the master of explosive ceremonies, be sure to verify which types of fireworks are safe to use in the state and area where you are camping. Some states restrict fireworks to non-explosive types whereas others prohibit public use, entirely. In addition, state and national parks are also no-go’s for fireworks to protect the land and wildlife from fire risk and disruption.

Memorial Day Destinations

Now that you may have some inspiration for how your family camping trip might go this Memorial Day, next it’s time to decide where to go. Whether your group is an active one that loves to hike and explore all day or is one that is full of history buffs that want to stop at every historic site along the roadway, there’s a perfect destination for you.

Mount Rushmore

If you’re feeling patriotic, head to the Black Hills of South Dakota and pay a visit to our most presidential memorial. Mount Rushmore is full of fascinating history. Yes, there’s plenty on the four presidents immortalized on the granite rock face that stands before you, but many folks would argue the most interesting history concerns the memorial, itself. It wasn’t exactly easy carving their likeness into a hillside in the 1930s.

Mount Rushmore Memorial Day

Consider a trip to Mount Rushmore for an up-close look at the famous presidential sculpture.

The Black Hills area around Mount Rushmore is also perfect for RVers. For starters, you’ll find more than 50 campgrounds within 25 miles of the memorial. The hills also offer tons of outdoor exploration including bountiful hiking trails, fishing creeks, and even a bunch of horseback riding opportunities. The late May South Dakota weather will also be temperate, with average highs in the low 70s.

Galveston Island State Park

Perhaps you can’t imagine Memorial Day weekend without some sun and surf. I’m right there with you. If it’s the beach that’s calling your name, check out Galveston Island State Park on Texas’ Gulf Coast.

Spend your mornings walking along the beach, collecting unique seashells. After lunch, get out the paddles hit the park’s designated canoe and kayak trails, or break out the fishing rod and see what’s biting. Round out the day with some sun on the beach or a little swim session.

The park does offer RV camping options on-site, but there aren’t a ton of spots available. Don’t fret if you can’t reserve a site in time; there are almost 30 RV-friendly campgrounds less than 25 miles away.

Branson, Missouri

Maybe Memorial Day for your family is less about relaxing and instead you are looking for an action-packed weekend of fun? Possibly an amusement park, live music, shopping, dining, and perhaps a casino night for the adults? If this sounds like your crew, take a peek at Branson, Missouri.

Located along Missouri’s southern border, Branson is often considered a midwestern playground for kids and adults, alike. Although the area attracts tons of nature-seekers to spend time at the famous Table Rock Lake (and you definitely should make some time to do so), the area is also home to a thriving entertainment industry. Nearly 50 RV campgrounds within a 30-minute drive are ready to welcome your family for a spectacular Memorial Day weekend you won’t soon forget.

Sedona, Arizona

Virtually guaranteed dry and sunny conditions await you in the vibrant, nature-based town of Sedona, Arizona. The forested mountain scenery is truly spectacular and is the perfect backdrop for all of your Memorial Day adventures. What makes Sedona so great is that it has something for everyone. Whether you’re a golfer, hiker, mountain climber, foodie, wine enthusiast, angler, pottery collector, etc., you’ll have a blast in Sedona.

Sedona welcomes RVers with open arms, offering more than 20 campgrounds around town. Even though the area’s lush greenery suggests a modest climate, you are indeed in the desert. You’ll want to pack your bags for the 80+ degree highs as well as the 50-degree lows.

You can’t wait to get outdoors and explore somewhere new this Memorial Day weekend and we are just as excited as you are. With the addition of various exciting and engaging group activities, your family is sure to have a very memorable camping trip.

Brandon Fritz
+ posts

Read This Next

Subscribe to Wildsam Magazine today, Camping World and Good Sam’s magazine of the open road.

Just $19.97 for a year’s subscription.


Read Premium Articles with an RV.com subscription.
Starting at $14.97/year

Join Now