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Memorial Day is absolutely one of the best times to visit New York City. With inspiring parades commemorating one of the United States’ most important holidays, incredible springtime weather that makes exploring a breeze, and a city that doesn’t feel quite as packed, there are plenty of reasons to stop by NYC for Memorial Day.
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And given the recent trends, you’ll be in good company! In just the U.S., nearly 37 million people traveled on Memorial Day weekend, an increase of 60% over 2020. It seems likely that we could see even more people moving around the country this year. So if you’re looking for Memorial Day events in NYC or how to spend your whole Memorial Day weekend in the Big Apple, read on!
My tip: Check out my article about military discounts in NYC!
Why do US cities honor Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is a federal holiday dedicated to honoring and mourning the U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. This day of observance is different from the two other days dedicated to those serving or having served in the U.S. Military, including Armed Forces Day for those currently serving and Veterans Day, for those who have served.
In addition to families and friends honoring their loved ones by visiting cemeteries, communities often come together to organize parades and events.
When is Memorial Day 2024?
Memorial Day is always celebrated on the last Monday of May. In 2024, Memorial Day will be celebrated on Monday, May 27th.
Where is Memorial Day commemorated in NYC?
To honor Memorial Day in NYC, a particularly special event takes place each year at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum Complex. This annual commemoration takes place on Pier 86 is and is free to the public. It includes the unfurling of a large American flag, the playing of taps, ceremonial wreath-laying, and a rifle salute. More details are to be announced. For now, save the location below and be sure to make it a part of your plans!
- Location: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum West 46th Street at Pier 86 and 12th Avenue
Where is the Memorial Day parade in NYC?
One of the longest lasting Memorial Day parades in the country, Brooklyn’s 156th Memorial Day Parade will take place Monday, May 27, 2024 at 11:00am (and be sure to keep an eye on their website for the exact route). Veterans, NYPD, and NYFD personnel will march from 78th street and Third Avenue to 101st and Fourth Avenue in honor of the fallen soldiers and their family members. Post-parade, there is a 21 gun salute at Fort Hamilton led by the U.S Army. This year’s special guests include the New York Veteran Corps of Artillery and Hope for the Warriors.
Another iconic Memorial Day NYC parade is one of the city’s largest: the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade. In regular occurrence since 1927, their memorial is a “a quintessentially American home town tradition, organized by ordinary folk from many walks of life: local business-people; working or stay-home moms and dads; retirees and the young.” It takes place in Queens, NY.
My tip: This is my complete guide to parades in NYC
The 13 Best Things to Do on Memorial Day in NYC
Looking for the best events and things to do during Memorial Day Weekend in New York? We’ve got you covered!
Brooklyn’s Memorial Day ParadeParade in Downtown BrooklynAdd to myNY added
One of the longest lasting Memorial Day parades in the country, Brooklyn’s 156th Memorial Day Parade will take place Monday, May 29th, 2023 at 11:00am (and be sure to keep an eye on their website for the exact route). Veterans, NYPD, and NYFD personnel will march from 78th street and Third Avenue to 101st and Fourth Avenue in honor of the fallen soldiers and their family members. Post-parade, there is a 21 gun salute at Fort Hamilton led by the U.S Army.
Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day ParadeParade in FlushingAdd to myNY added
The parades take place – on the last Monday in May – in all five boroughs, with the Little Neck Douglaston Parade in Queens not only being the largest in New York, but also the largest nationwide. Little Neck is the start and Douglaston the finish of the parade. In Manhattan there is surprisingly only a small Memorial Day Parade. It starts at Dyckman Street and Broadway in Inwood, the most northern district of Manhattan.
Fleet WeekOther Events in Hell's KitchenAdd to myNY added
Though it’s only officially been a celebration since 1982, Fleet Week has been a beloved spring activity in New York for many years before that. The week is hosted by the United States Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard each year and features active military ships that are deployed in overseas missions to dock in a variety of big cities for one week.
After the ship is docked, the crew enters the city and visits tourist attractions. At scheduled times, the public can enjoy a guided tour of the ship, and demonstrations by the Blue Angels usually accompany this event.
Visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space MuseumMuseum in Hell's KitchenAdd to myNY added
The Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum is the only floating museum in NYC. You will find a wide array of historically significant military and maritime vehicles as well as a collection of museum ships on this aircraft carrier which is docked on the Hudson River. This is great for kids and adults alike as it discusses and shows a wide variety of artifacts regarding the US military and maritime history.
Tip: Free Friday is back! During the months of April-September, you’ll get into the museum for free from 5pm-9pm! Mark your calendars for these dates:
- April 28, 2023
- June 30, 2023
- July 28, 2023
- August 25, 2023
- September 29, 2023
Enjoy the sunset on a boatCruise in ChelseaAdd to myNY added
A day sail on this 105-foot schooner is perfect for family outings, dates, and entertaining guests from out of town and locals alike. A sail on America 2.0 is guaranteed to be a memorable experience.
Enjoy Central ParkPark in Midtown ManhattanOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
Weather dependent, Central Park is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon at. You have many options at your fingertips such as walking, biking, carriage rides, renting a rowboat, and there are even restaurants in Central Park. Memorial Day will clear out the locals, so the park will even be a little less crowded believe it or not!
Honorable William WallCruise in Lower ManhattanOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
The Honorable William Wall, affectionately called “Willy Wall”, is the floating clubhouse of the Manhattan Yacht Club. The clubhouse is anchored in New York Harbor north of Ellis Island from May to October. What is so special about it? It’s definitely an insider’s spot, which not only gives you a great view of Ellis Island and of course the Statue of Liberty – you can also enjoy the sunset from here.
Relax at my favorite spot in NYC: Grand Banks ...Sea Food Restaurant in TribecaOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
Water, a great view of Manhattan and a great atmosphere – the location is simply the best. You are sitting on a historic ship called F/V Sherman Zwicker on the Hudson River and can enjoy New York from the water when the weather is fine. The place also serves great drinks and seafood.
... or Pilot Brooklyn.Sea Food Restaurant in DumboOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
As you know, we love the two-master “Grand Banks” at Piers 25 in Manhattan. The same operators now have a counterpart, the Pilot Brooklyn, at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Enjoy a sensational view of Manhattan with a drink in hand – or enjoy smaller (but delicious) seafood dishes!
Spend a day at New York's BeachesOther Attraction in Coney Island & Brighton BeachAdd to myNY added
A day trip to Coney Island is definitely worthwhile and while you are there, make sure to stay until sunset. At the beach it is just beautiful and very idyllic.
My tip: these are the best beaches in NYC
Smorgasburg Food MarketFood Market in WilliamsburgAdd to myNY added
Smorgasburg Food Market is one of the hottest open-air food markets in New York City. People come here to meet, eat, drink and enjoy the view of the Manhattan skyline on the East River Waterfront during the warmer months. Smorgasburg means “a mixture of food” and offers a huge selection of small stalls. The main spot for Smorgasburg is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and is very popular among the locals. It’s more of an experience and it’s always a great time with friends.
Classic Harbor Line: Sunset SailCruise in ChelseaOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
See the spectacular New York City sunset from the water aboard a beautiful 80-foot sailing ship. Sail past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Battery Park, and enjoy a unique view of the iconic skyline with a complimentary glass of champagne.
Visit 9/11 Memorial MuseumMuseum in Financial DistrictOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is located at the 9/11 National Memorial and is probably one of the most emotional museums in New York. It is mostly located underground and displays debris from the former Twin Towers in addition to many of the personal belongings of those buried. Among them are fire trucks deformed by heat, a part of the antenna of the North Tower, a scorched elevator motor, the saving stone staircase (Survivor’s Staircase) as well as remains of sidewalks, street signs, bicycles and baby carriages that were in front of the World Trade Center.
Get to know the city better while doing a walking tourWalking Tour in Hudson YardsOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
This walking tour through Greenwich Village and Chelsea is one of the best food tours New York City has to offer! Because in this part of the city there are many wonderful little food spots that you must discover.
In addition, you will learn many exciting anecdotes about the High Line, which connects the Hudson Yards with the Meatpacking District. This former elevated railway line was saved from demolition due to an initiative and is now one of the most popular sights in New York. All the more reason to book this awesome walking tour!
My tip: These are the best walking tours in NYC right now!
Where will you spend Memorial Day in New York?
With parades and museums and a whole city to enjoy, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Let us know how you plan to spend your own Memorial Day in New York. Leave your reply below!
Is Memorial Day the official start of summer?
While the official start of summer is June 21, 2023, Memorial Day is often seen as the unofficial start of summer in the United States.
This tradition began back in the 1800s. As more and more cities began the practice of honoring those fallen in wars, workers began to receive a few days off. The practice then became to visit cemeteries in the morning before participating in more recreational activities in the afternoon.
Now, with the combination of some school semesters ending, a three-day weekend, and great weather, it is seen as the perfect time to travel with family. Plus, with a city like New York, the bars, restaurants, museums, and more all prepare for tourists visiting with great deals and special events.
Are New York City’s beaches open on Memorial Day?
After the health crisis and pandemic in 2020, New York City’s beaches will be open. Whether you’re packing up for a weekend getaway in New York, or you’re a New York local looking to get out of the city, there are plenty of beaches to enjoy right here in town.
From Coney Island and Brighton Beach to Rockaway Beach and Long Beach, check out our recap of the best beaches to kick off your summer season in New York!
How busy is NYC on Memorial Day?
Take it from the locals who have shared their experience: New York City may actually be a little less busy than it normally is. Given that Memorial Day is a federal holiday, many New Yorkers will actually head out of town.
As the unofficial start of summer, New Yorkers may take short trips to take advantage of the beautiful weather after a long winter. This means the museums can feel less crowded, it’s easier to get reservations at restaurants, and the subways are easier to navigate. With tons of great parades and free events throughout the city, there will still be plenty of people exploring with you.
Does New York honor Memorial Day?
Not only does New York honor Memorial Day, it has been declared the official national birthplace of Memorial Day.
Well, at least New York State is! Though there is a long history of cities and states claiming to have started the Memorial Day tradition, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation honoring Waterloo, New York. In this proclamation, signed on May 26, 1966, it says Waterloo had begun observing Memorial Day one hundred year prior. While Waterloo is a little north of NYC, why not come to the state that started it all for Memorial Day?
Are stores open on Memorial Day in NYC?
Because Memorial Day is a federal holiday, certain government institutions are usually closed in recognition. This includes post offices, the DMV, libraries, and public schools. Often large institutions like banks honor it as well. This is more noticeable for those people living in New York than those visiting.
It’s also one of the biggest shopping weekends of the season, with sales events to kick off the summer. If you’re looking to do some shopping and take advantage of the seasonal sales, you’ll also find that most retail stores are also open in NYC.
A good rule of thumb to consider if you are planning an NYC Memorial Day weekend is that you’ll likely find anything you need on Saturday and Sunday. Stores may have more limited hours on Monday, especially local stores or family-run operations, but they’ll still likely be open at some point during Memorial Day weekend.
Are bars and restaurants open on Memorial Day in NYC?
Given the amount of people traveling in and out of the city for the federal holiday and long weekend, the majority of bars and restaurants will be open on Memorial Day in NYC. What’s more, Monday, May 29th, 2023 – the official day for Memorial Day – is often a day off of work. This makes for a 3-day weekend in the US, allowing restaurants and bars to extend their weekend specials.
New York City has endless options for food, but with the holiday of Memorial Day happening and it being the beginning of summer you may see a few unique spots pop up! Smorgasburg is definitely one of the most unique and exciting!
For anyone interested in some of New York City’s most legendary brunches, Memorial Day weekend in NYC is a great time to visit.
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!