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Oh, say, can you see… that Memorial Day weekend is quickly approaching? The holiday that’s become known for cookouts and mattress sales is still an opportune time to see some of America’s most patriotic sites. Here are some of our favorite places to explore, from sea to shining sea.

St. Louis, Missouri

Channel your inner Lewis and Clark with a trip to this Gateway to the West. Instead of roller coasters, give kids a thrill with a 630-foot-ride to the top of the city’s iconic Gateway Arch. Then sneak in some learning with a visit to the Old Courthouse below, followed by a relaxing sightseeing cruise down the Mississippi River in an old-school riverboat. Also pencil in a visit to the Magic House, the city’s popular children’s museum that’s packed with hands-on fun.

St. Louis's iconic Gateway Arch overlooks the Mississippi River. Credit Wikipedia.

St. Louis’s iconic Gateway Arch overlooks the Mississippi River. Credit Wikipedia.

San Diego, California

Tour the USS Midway Museum, a retired Navy aircraft carrier with flight simulators, interactive exhibits and the enticingly named “Ejection Seat Theater.” The floating museum’s lineup of Memorial Day week events including a veterans’ wreath ceremony, live music, kids’ activities and more. While you’re in town, take in some history at Cabrillo National Monument. Then end your trip on a lighter note with a visit to the San Diego Zoo—arguably America’s best.

USS Midway Museum. Credit Jeremy Thompson/Flickr.

USS Midway Museum. Credit Jeremy Thompson/Flickr.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Start things off with a stop inside the National Park Service Museum and Visitor Center, where you’ll watch “A New Birth of Freedom” narrated by Morgan Freeman (we’re feeling more patriotic already.) Then, tour the historic Civil War battleground via car, hike, bicycle or even horseback. Take plenty of time at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery—also the site of Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address. If time permits, head about 140 miles east for a day trip to Philadelphia, where families can snap a selfie with theLiberty Bell, climb the “Rocky steps” at the Museum of Art and visit the Philadelphia Zoo.

Gettysburg National Cemetery. Credit Sallicio/Wikipedia.

Gettysburg National Cemetery. Credit Sallicio/Wikipedia.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Get the best of both worlds with a trip to this so-called “Revolutionary City,” known for its colonial-style buildings and historic reenactments. On Memorial Day, attend a special service honoring veterans of the American Revolution and Civil War who are buried nearby. Then fast-forward two centuries with a visit to Busch Gardens, a massive amusement park with all the modern-day trimmings—towering roller coasters, a simulator tour of Europe and water rides—making it perhaps the most well-rounded of Memorial Day weekend trips.

Governor's palace at Colonial Williamsburg. Credit Larry Pieniazek/Flickr.

Governor’s palace at Colonial Williamsburg. CreditLarry Pieniazek/Flickr.

Keystone, South Dakota

It’s one thing to see a picture of Mount Rushmore. It’s another thing entirely to view it with your own eyes. But you didn’t come all this way just to gape at the landmark, so head to the onsite amphitheater, museum complex, book store, gift shop (natch) and more. Stick around for the evening lighting ceremony, which takes place all summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Round out your vacation with some all-American activities like canoeing, biking the family-friendly George S. Mickelson Trail Mountain Trailhead or posing with the life-sized presidential statues around downtown Rapid City.

Can you name all four presidents on Mount Rushmore? Credit Dean Franklin/Wikipedia.

Can you name all four presidents on Mount Rushmore? Credit Dean Franklin/Wikipedia.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Nothing against the Alamo, but this town about 80 miles west of Austin packs quite a family-friendly punch.History comes to life at Fredericksburg sites like the Pioneer Museum Complex, National Museum of the Pacific War, the Texas Rangers Heritage Center and other historic buildings. Don’t miss the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, which contains the native-son-turned-president’s boyhood home, family cemetery and other points of interest. And what’s more American than gorging on seafood? Memorial Day weekend blissfully coincides with the Fredericksburg Crawfish Festival.

This log cabin belonged to the grandparents of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Credit National Park Service via Wikipedia.

This log cabin belonged to the grandparents of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Credit National Park Service via Wikipedia.

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Tagged: City, Family, Holidays, Uncategorized