Memorial Day is a day to honor our fallen soldiers, and many people choose to spend the long holiday weekend celebrating those lives with family and friends. But unfortunately, those festivities can quickly become costly.
Luckily, with a little creativity, flexibility, and planning, you can celebrate Memorial Day weekend without breaking the bank. In fact, you can celebrate the holiday for less than 50 dollars. Here are a few budget-friendly Memorial Day activities to get you started.
What’s more entertaining than camping?
Typically, tent plots only cost 20-40 dollars a night. If you don’t already have camping gear, don’t fret! You can purchase small tents for just a few dollars at a supermarket or outdoor store. Or, you can always ask to borrow someone’s camping supplies for the weekend.
Pack a cooler full of food and beverages and become one with nature. To find a campground, the National Park Service has a camping website dedicated to helping you find a campsite to fit your needs and your budget. If you aren’t near a national park, Reserve America lists private campgrounds available.
If the great outdoors isn’t for you, try pitching a tent right in your own backyard. You can enjoy all of the fun of camping without missing out on the conveniences of your own home. Kids particularly love the novelty of sleeping in their own backyard, and that makes it all the more affordable for you.
Host a potluck
Hosting a party doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Memorial Day weekend is all about being casual, and a potluck fits the bill perfectly.
Invite your friends and neighbors over for a backyard potluck, and ask everyone to bring their favorite dish to share. For some free music, plug in your phone or laptop and create a free playlist from websites like Spotify or Pandora. And if you don’t have any backyard games, ask neighbors and friends to bring theirs to entertain kids and adults alike.
Go to the beach
What better way can you enjoy a long weekend than spending it at the beach?
The beach is perfect for anyone, whether you’re a group, family, or by yourself. Plus, nothing can provide a better official kickoff to summer. Your family can enjoy swimming, beach games, or just reading a book in the sun. You can make it a whole weekend event by packing plenty of snacks, sunscreen, and yard games. Just don’t forget to fill up on water.
Find local Memorial Day events
Plenty of events are going on during Memorial Day weekend. You just have to find them.
Many cities, like Chicago, throw a Memorial Day parade each year. The parade includes floats, a marching band, and a wreath-laying ceremony to honor fallen soldiers.
Other cities, such as Boston, offer a wide array of free events on Memorial Day weekend. In fact, you can score free admission to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts during the holiday weekend. Wherever you live, you can scour the local newspaper and websites to find Memorial Day events or activities in your community.
Visit historical attractions
Depending on the size and age of your family, visiting historical attractions can allow you to relish in the splendor of this country – all for an affordable price.
Historical attractions, such as Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, hold a parade and ceremony on May 28. This free event is a great way to honor the men and women who served our country.
Be sure to check for discounts
Whatever you do, don’t forget to check for additional discounts. For example, if you are a veteran or active service member of the military, you can gain free admission for you and your family to over 2,000 Blue Star museums. To sweeten the deal, this benefit actually extends all the way from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Service members can also receive free or discounted entry to a variety of zoos, aquariums, and theme parks across the country.
If you aren’t a veteran or service member, you still have opportunities to save. Check out Groupon for last-minute discounts for the entire family. If you are a member of AARP or AAA, you may have additional discounts available to you.
Rent a boat
No boat? No problem. Rent out a boat for the day to enjoy an afternoon out on the water.
Small boats, like kayaks and canoes, can be rented out for anywhere from around 20 dollars to 50 dollars for a few hours’ worth of use. Speed boats and pontoons are slightly pricier, but you could always get a group of friends to go in on the rental cost with you
Pack your own food and beverages and hit the water for a fun day you’re sure to remember.
Participate in a race
Many families make it a tradition to run a Memorial Day 5k or 10k each year. And why not? With most races costing less than 50 dollars, they can be a fun and healthy way to celebrate the holiday.
As an added bonus, many Memorial Day races donate the proceeds to help active-duty soldiers and veterans with expenses not covered under military benefits. Just check out the Essence of Freedom Run in Deerfield, Illinois!
Take a day trip
Sometimes, the best locations are right around the corner from you. Take a day trip this Memorial Day weekend and explore a town near you.
The biggest expense related to a day trip is gas. To lessen the financial blow, be sure to fuel up before Memorial Day weekend when gas prices are notoriously higher than usual. You can make the trip more affordable by packing sandwiches and road trip snacks along the way. Visit local parks, shops, and museums to make for a cheap afternoon getaway.
Or, if you have family nearby, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect excuse to pay them a visit. After all, Memorial Day should be celebrated with the ones dearest to you.