Swap the barbeques and family gatherings for an unforgettable American adventure this Memorial Day weekend.

You can cram a lot into a long weekend, especially in your own backyard right here in the US. Whether you fancy discovering thundering waterfalls and giant sequoia trees in Yosemite, soaking in natural hot springs in the Sierra Nevada, tackling bucket list-worthy hiking trails or losing yourself in the beauty of the wild west’s spectacular desert landscapes, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect excuse to create some new travel memories. There will still be barbeques and get-togethers – but they might look like camp-style dinners under the stars followed by late-night chats around the fire with your new Intrepid family instead.

What is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is a solemn but important day for many Americans. It’s a day to honor and commemorate the lives of Americans who have died while serving the US military service. A minute of silence is observed across the nation at 3 pm and many people visit the graves and cemeteries of fallen soldiers. Some cities hold parades, but many people will get together with family and friends to enjoy barbeques in the garden or picnics at the beach or park.

History of Memorial Day

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was established in 1868 by a group of Union veterans who visited the graves of soldiers that fought in the Civil War and adorned them with flowers. It was then recognized as a day to remember all those who have served and fallen, and later became a federal public holiday in 1971. 

When is Memorial Day 2023?

Memorial Day is always observed on the last Monday in May. This year, it falls on May 29, 2023.

Highlights of our Memorial Day getaways & vacations

A traveller enjoying the views at Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Experience the true wild west

From vast desert landscapes littered with ‘hoodoo’ sandstone spires and soaring slot canyons to natural amphitheatres and lush hanging gardens, it’s not called the wild west for no reason. Join your Intrepid leader as you venture into the depths of Zion National Park, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon. Whether you want to hike untamed trails, marvel at soul-stirring views, watch kaleidoscopic sunsets or kayak through a labyrinth of unique rock formations, the wild west is waiting to be explored.

Granite monoliths in Yosemite National Park

Discover the stunning Yosemite

Switch off, throw on a pair of hiking boots and immerse yourself in Yosemite’s great outdoors. From thundering waterfalls (peak runoff is in May/June so expect amazing water flow!), giant sequoia trees that tower into the air, sheer granite monoliths and bright blue glacial lakes, Yosemite is brimming with scenery that’ll knock your socks off. Enjoy the easy trails to soak up Yosemite's natural beauty at a steady pace or tackle more challenging trails like the iconic Half Dome and Glacier Point.

People preparing a Navajo homecooked lunch in Monument Valley

Learn about Native American culture

Connect with US national parks on a deeper level by learning about the rich history and cultures of Native American peoples. Whether you join a guided 4x4 tour of Monument Valley with a local Navajo guide followed by a traditional Navajo lunch, or a walking tour from Ahwahnee Hotel to Yosemite Valley while listening to Native American stories and history, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with American culture and support local communities along the way.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA

Soak up the city life

From the spectacular shows and dazzling neon lights in Las Vegas to the bustling multicultural streets and iconic sights in San Francisco, why not spend a few extra days in these lively cities before or after your adventure. There's heaps to see and do whether you fancy dining at top restaurants, visiting places like Alcatraz or day-tripping to Sonoma or Napa Valley to taste the region's best wine. Vegas and San Fran will energise you in a different kind of way to a national park and we think you can appreciate being immersed in nature even more with a bit of contrast.

Tours departing around Memorial Day

United States FAQs

What to pack for your trip in the United States largely depends on what kind of trip you're going on. If it's more of an active trip then packing things like comfortable walking shoes, a day bag/backpack (for your reusable drink bottle and snacks), lightweight clothing, and sunscreen are all essentials. Be sure to pack your camera, portable chargers, extra batteries, a hat, and other appropriate clothing items (swimwear, etc) so your trip is a stress-free one.

Learn more about what to pack for the United States

Trips on or before 31 December 2022

If your Intrepid trip starts on or before 31 December 2022, you must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.

If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional. 

Children under 18 are exempt. Children aged between 5 and 17 years old must provide proof of either vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Read more about travel in the United States