3 Last Minute Road Trips for Memorial Day Weekend


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No plans for Memorial Day weekend? You may be out of luck trying to nab a house in the Hamptons, a place on the Jersey Shore, or even a cabin in the Catskills this late in the game, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay put in the city while seemingly everyone else heads out of town for the long weekend. Here are three last minute road trips for Memorial Day that you can plan and pull off just in the nick of time. You can thank us later.

Get some history in Philadelphia
Memorial Day weekend is a great time to teach kids about the history of the United States, but no need to hit the books. Take them to Philadelphia for a history lesson disguised as fun. Hop the train at Penn Station and you’ll be there in 90 minutes flat.

national constitution center

What’s there to do?
While in Philadelphia, take a free, yes free, 2-hour walking tour of Independence Mall offered by Free Tours by Foot. We recommend doing this tour first, so your kids can ask the tour guide all their questions, so you don’t have to bone up on your US History before the trip; keep the illusion alive that mom knows everything. After the tour, visit the National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street), where kids can learn history through games and hands-on activities. If time and the length of the line permits, end your visit at Independence Mall with a visit to the Liberty Bell.

president's house philadelphia

Where to eat
After your gigantic history lesson, you have probably worked up an appetite. Walk over to Reading Terminal Market(corner of 12th & Arch Street) and grab something to eat at one of the myriad of food options. We recommend the pork sandwich at DiNic’s and the apple dumpling at the Dutch Eating Place.

reading terminal market

Where to lay your head
The Omni Hotel at Independence Park (401 Chestnut Street), is located, just as the name says, right by Independence Park. You can walk from the hotel to all the historical attractions. Plus, it has a pool, which is a great way to spend a couple of hours after walking around all morning.

omni lobby

Go back in time at Colonial Williamsburg
If you want to live your history instead of just viewing it, Colonial Williamsburg (101 Visitor Center Drive), a living history museum in Virginia, will bring the American Revolution to life for you and the kiddos. Don’t have a time machine? Don’t worry, you can take a plane, train or automobile to get there. Fly to Richmond airport from New York City and be in Williamsburg in 2 hours, or take the scenic route by train or car, which both take around 7 hours

colonial wmb kids with hoops

What’s there to do?
When you get to Colonial Williamsburg take in a performance of Rev City, which captures key events in history such as the reading of the Declaration of Independence and Benedict Arnold’s capture of the town. Trained historical interpreters and actors take on the roles of key figures in history, and do more than just read from a script – they interact with the crowd and bring the roles to life. They even go so far as to answer questions as their character. If you prefer to put your small freeloaders, those 6 and up, to work, you can sign them up for the apprentice program. No, they won’t come back with jobs, or a paycheck, but they will get the chance to try three different trades, working and learning alongside the tradesmen in town.

If you are going to explore on your own, popular shops include the blacksmith, the brick maker and the wigmaker. The apothecary is also good if your family is one that complains about having to visit the doctor or dentist. Evening programs include a Tavern Ghost Walk (appropriate for kids of all ages), and In Defense of Our Liberty, where your family gets to join the Colonial Militia and train alongside the soldiers of Colonial Williamsburg. Be sure to check out the Fife and Drum Corps when it marches through the town, and marvel at the discipline of the all-high school group. Then look at your kids and wonder how to get them to be so well-behaved.kids with cannon

Where to eat
The Historic Area has several taverns, but Chowning’s is the most casual of them. There’s usually entertainment and family-friendly games at the long, communal tables. If you want to go for a walk, then you’ll find shopping and food in Merchant’s Square. We recommend Retro’s (435 Prince George Street), a hot dog shop with plenty of options, to please just about everyone. Save room for dessert, and you can try the frozen custard. The Cheese Shop (410 W. Duke of Gloucester Street), long popular with locals and students from the College of William and Mary (go Tribe), is another place to eat.

Chownings Exterior

Where to lay your head
If you want to immerse yourself in colonial times, Colonial Williamsburg operates several hotels at different price points. There’s also the option of renting a room, or a house, in the historic homes program. If you want to re-enter present day, there are also many hotels just outside of the historic area, and along the main street in town, Richmond Road.Inn-Exterior-Angle

To do nearby
When you’re ready to escape back to the 21st century, Busch Gardens (1 Busch Gardens Blvd.) is not even five minutes away. Here, roller coasters and shows rule the day as you travel through a virtual Europe. We recommend checking out the shows More, Pet Shenanigans and Celtic Fyre; they’re lots of fun for kids of all ages. Younger kids will love the Sesame Street area, where Elmo and friends are likely to make an appearance.

Hit the beach, Myrtle Beach that is
Think vacations should be more play than work or a history lesson? If fun in the sun, building sandcastles and swimming in the ocean are more your speed, then take a trip to Myrtle Beach.

Beach Kids Play

What’s there to do?
There’s over 60 miles of beach here, so park your car, in a metered spot of course, and start working on your tan, uhm we mean cover the family in sunscreen and start working on those sandcastles with the kids. After you get tired of the beach or the sun goes down, whichever comes first, head over to Broadway at the Beach (1325 Celebrity Circle) an outdoor shopping, restaurant and amusement complex. There’s so much to do there, it’ll make your head spin. A few of our favorites are Pavilion Park, where you can go on old school carnival rides, Wonderworks, anywhere you experience a hurricane in a tube has got our vote and Ripley’s Aquarium, we love big fish, what can we say.

One evening, we recommend checking out the Pirates Voyage show (8901-B North Kings Hwy), produced by Dolly Parton. The acrobatics and fight scenes will keep the kids entranced and the food isn’t bad either. Show up early so the kids can visit with the sea lions.Ripley's Aquarium

Where to eat
Broadway at the Beach has a bevy of dining options. Head over to Margaritaville, so the kids can experience a faux hurricane while dining. Want another notch on your Planet Hollywood belt, then you can mosey on over there. If Hard Rock is more your style, there is one located there also.

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville

Where to lay your head
Our favorite place to stay is the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa Grand Dunes (8400 Costa Verde Drive). The hotel is in North Myrtle Beach, so it is a little quieter up there, which we like, plus it’s right on the beach; roll out of bed and you’re there. There are also plenty of hotel options on the Grand Strand if you want to be right in the middle of the action.

Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort at Grande Dunes

Photos of National Constitution Center and The President’s House courtesy of G. Widman for GPTMC. Reading Terminal photo courtesy of J. Smith for GPTMC. Omni Hotel at Independence Park photo courtesy of Omni Hotels. All Colonial Williamsburg photos courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg foundation. All Myrtle Beach photos courtesy of Myrtle Beach CVB.

Where will you be vacationing for Memorial Day 2013?

–Mikaela Walker

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