The Best Day Trips for Memorial Day Weekend
Though Memorial Day Weekend may look different this year, there's no reason you can't use the extra vacation day as an opportunity to escape the city and enjoy the great outdoors. Below, we've gathered a selection of beautiful day trips you can take from each of our six cities. All you need is a car, a picnic basket full of food (as local restaurants may be closed), and – it goes without saying these days – a mask.
Important to note: social distancing measures still apply in all of these parks, and many of them have closed facilities and bathrooms. Check the parks website daily to find out the latest information.
From New York City
The Delaware Water Gap: Only an hour-and-a-half drive from the city, the Delaware Water Gap offers over 100 miles of beautiful trails for hiking and exploring. Some campgrounds are also open if you're looking to stay the night, but make sure you call ahead to confirm they're open, as many places' policies are changing daily. Be aware that all facilities (including bathrooms) at the Water Gap are currently closed, though the trails and parking lots are open. You can find all updates to the park and their guidelines on their website.
The Fort Sheridan Nature Preserve: Only a 40-minute drive from downtown (and also accessible via the Metra Rail train line from Ogilvie Transportation Center), Fort Sheridan is ideal for finding a breath of fresh air in a picturesque setting. Though not a large spot, it does offer free public access to Lake Michigan and over four miles of trails for biking, walking and fishing, with dramatic views available from the lake overlook.
Another option for Chicagoans is to check out one of several golf courses that have also re-opened this month, though make sure you make a reservation for them before showing up as no walk-ins are allowed, and no groups larger than two can play together.
From Washington, D.C.
Patapsco Valley State Park: Maryland state parks are open for the most part (as are its beaches), and Patapsco Valley has over 200 miles of trails to explore. We recommend going early as the park does enforce a strict "Filled to Capacity" policy and will not allow any visitors in after a certain point (a plus for social distancing purposes). The park also offers camp sites for sleepovers and some prime fishing spots.
Alternatively, beaches in Maryland are also open for the season if you'd prefer to do some sunbathing (you can find the full list of regulations here).
Newport, Rhode Island: Though the famous mansions in Newport may be closed, you can still take a walk along the famous 3.5-mile Cliff Walk (which, arguably, is the best part of the tours anyway). And you can learn all about the Gilded Age mansions from afar using the Cliff Walk's app, which delivers important information about 16 different points of interest. Note that though most of the walk is relatively easy, the last portion near the Breakers does become rocky and more challenging, so sturdier shoes are recommended.
From Los Angeles
Angeles National Forest: Only a half an hour drive from The Emerson and Argyle House, the forest recently reopened 23 trails in the San Gabriel Mountains. Public facilities (think bathrooms and water fountains) remain closed and social distancing requirements are still in place. Several campgrounds and picnic areas are planning to open this weekend; check their website for the latest updates.
Some beaches are open in LA as well, but with many restrictions, including closed parking lots. The Los Angeles Times is tracking the most up-to-date information on openings and closures here.
From San Francisco
Napa Valley: Going out to Napa is always a beautiful drive from the city, and new guidelines from the state allow dine-in restaurants and retail shops in the county to open (note: wineries and tasting rooms remain closed). Though many restaurants remain closed, a few spots you can check out include Grace's Table, Calistoga Inn, and La Taberna. If you're still wary about dining out at a restaurant, you can always go for a hike in one of the many state parks in the area.
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