With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching in less than three weeks, people are starting to make their plans for the holiday.
When most people in the Philadelphia area are asked what they will do, they usually give a response of nothing, or just going to the shore. If that’s what you’ve been doing every Memorial Day weekend for as long as you can remember, why not try something different? Here are some ideas for you that can fit all different types of budgets and travelers.
Looking to stay local and only spend a few bucks?
If you want this weekend to be free or relatively cheap, why not look in your own backyard? Philadelphia has numerous attractions that people come from all over the country to see. Yet most people that live in the city and its suburbs take them for granted and never take advantage of them. Visiting the Liberty Bell is 100 percent free, as is a tour of Independence Hall (although an advance reservation is highly suggested for $1.50/person).
There are numerous other options in Old City right next to these landmarks to try, as well, such as the National Constitution Center, the U.S. Mint, the National Museum of American Jewish History, the African American Museum, the Betsy Ross House, and the National Liberty Museum.
Looking for something outside of Philly, but still relatively cheap?
Less than two hours away is New York City, and about two and a half hours away is Washington, D.C., both cities with an abundance of activities to enjoy. You can easily drive to these cities, but if you’re looking to save some cash on gas and parking costs (which can be a bit pricey in these cities), consider taking the Megabus. This service connects in Philadelphia at 30th Street Station, which is easily reached from all the suburbs by SEPTA, to New York and Washington. Their fares start at only $1 per person in general, but as of the publication date for this article, fares are hovering around $20 per person for the weekend for a round trip ticket to either of these cities. This is still a great deal at this price.
If you’re really looking to save money, take the earliest trip in the morning out of Philadelphia and come back that night to save on a hotel stay. The buses they provide are quite comfortable, which will allow you to sleep instead of being forced to drive the whole trip.
If you have a few more bucks to spend, though, spend a night or two at a hotel and really take advantage of all these two cities have to offer.
Got about $1,000 to spend?
There are many different options with this type of money. Here are a few suggestions:
- Boston – Cheap flights can be found from Philly to Boston almost year-round. If you’d prefer to drive, it’s about a six hour drive, which isn’t that bad, and will give you an opportunity to explore other areas of New England
- Niagara Falls – This is actually my destination this year. Flights from Philly are running around $400, but the drive is only about seven hours, and you’ll get to see some beautiful portions of New York State and Northern Pennsylvania. You can even make a stop in Buffalo to check out the restaurant that created Buffalo sauce!
- Baltimore – A short two-and-a-half hour drive from Philadelphia, the Inner Harbor area always has something going on for visitors on a short one- to three-day stay. The National Aquarium is guaranteed to impress people of all ages.
- Cedar Point – This one has a pretty long drive of eight hours, but if you’re a big roller coaster fan, you’ll definitely love what it has to offer. Located in Northern Ohio, this theme park is a coaster fan’s paradise. If the drive is too long, you can find flights from Philly to Cleveland for about $350. The park is about an hour from Cleveland, but you can combine this trip with the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame to delight the rocker fans in your travelling group.
- Vermont – While the entire state has much to offer, I’d recommend using Burlington as a base point. I’ve seen the flights from Philly to Burlington go as low as about $200, or you can drive about seven and a half hours to get there. For nature lovers, this state offers plenty of gorgeous views and hiking. For ice cream lovers, you can visit the Ben & Jerry’s Factory and see how the delicious treats are made. Take the kids to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, and watch their eyes open in wonder as they see how these furry friends are made.
Money no object? Give these places a shot for the long weekend
- California – This state has numerous places to visit. You can spend a long weekend in San Francisco taking in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting landmarks such as Alcatraz Island. Or take a trip further down the coast to Los Angeles and get a taste of Hollywood. I’d highly recommend the Warner Bros. Studio Tour there. If you’re looking for a more laid back weekend, take a trip to San Diego and relax in places such as La Jolla and the various Pacific Ocean beaches.
- Iceland – This is a country that most people never think about, but the best time to go is in the late spring and early summer. You’ll find gorgeous views all over the country, experience a unique culture, and be able to get there in about eight hours from Philly, or only six hours if you drive to JFK in New York.
- Disney World – I’m pretty sure this location needs no introduction. If you’re a family looking for something to do for everyone to enjoy, a trip down here will make everyone happy. Just be sure to stay at one of Disney’s properties to take advantage of extra hours, dining benefits and free transportation.