8 American Landmarks and Museums To Visit For Memorial Day

US Freedom Pavilion interior Museum

With Memorial Day weekend around the corner, cultural landmarks that pay tribute to those who have died while serving in the military are worth visiting. As vaccines continue to roll out, and Covid-19 cases decrease, traveling safely is on the rise, and many states will honor traditions with events and activities. Travelers can take short drives or flights to these 8 American landmarks and museums worth visiting for Memorial Day.

8 American landmarks and museums to visit for Memorial Day


  1. Fort Adams – Newport, Rhode Island
Fort Adams state park
Credit: Visit Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island will host the dramatic and acclaimed Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial, which is on display for the public Friday, May 28 through Monday, May 31 at Fort Adams.

The historic Fort Adams is also open for self-guided tours for visitors looking to explore one of the most complex fortresses in the country. During its years of active service Fort Adams housed generations of soldiers, families and their pets. During the Ground for Heroes Memorial, the moving display features nearly 7,000 military boots, each affixed with an American flag and bearing the name of an American service member killed in action in the Global War on Terror.

The first of its kind, the display grows in size each year as the names of the most recent Service Members Killed in Action are added.

Stay at the Hammets Hotel perfectly situated on Newport’s waterfront. The property offers deals year round including a special military appreciation discount.

2. The National WWII Museum – New Orleans, Louisiana

The National WWII Museum Campaigns of Courage
Credit: The National WWII Museum

Located in the up-and-coming Arts/Warehouse District, an alternative to the major tourist draw of the French Quarter, The National WWII Museum explores the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.

The Museum has put a number of guidelines in place, including timed ticketing and capacity control, for visitors to enjoy exhibits safely. This spring, special exhibits include Dimensions in Testimony: Liberator Alan Moskin, produced in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation, which allows visitors to ask questions that prompt real-time responses from pre-recorded video interviews with Holocaust liberator Alan Moskin for an interactive experience. Also recently opened in March, the Soldier/Artist: Trench Art from WWII exhibit focuses on the decorative and often functional works of art produced by service members and prisoners during the war.

History-enthusiasts can additionally book their stay at The Higgins Hotel & Conference Center, an art deco-style property located on The National WWII Museum’s campus that sports WWII artifacts, a full-service restaurant, a rooftop bar called “Rosie’s on the Roof” that offers sweeping views of the city and more.

3. Maritime Museum – San Diego, California

Just in time for Memorial Day, the Maritime Museum in San Diego has officially reopened, allowing visitors to learn about the country’s maritime history and heritage. Outdoor experience includes a walking, top deck ship tour that takes guests back in time as they stroll the upper decks of the historic fleet, including the world’s oldest sailing ship, Star of India, Navy frigate replica H.M.S. Surprise, and California’s official state tall ship, the Californian.

In honor of Memorial Day, guests should be sure to check out the “History of the Naval Presence in San Diego” exhibit to learn more about the Navy’s history in the region and view photos and artifacts.

Visitors to San Diego can stay at the historic US Grant Hotel, which was the host of the annual reunion dinner of the “Great White Fleet Association” for 35 years, bringing together a wide range of military officials and guests from all over the world. Famous guests of the hotel have included aviator and military officer, Charles Lindbergh, as well as Woodrow Wilson and countless U.S presidents.

4. National WW1 Museum and Memorial – Kansas City, Missouri

To celebrate the true meaning of Memorial Day travelers should head to Kansas City, MO, home of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. It is the only museum in the country fully dedicated to preserving and remembering the stories and objects of World War I, making it one of the best American landmarks and museums to visit.

Visitors of the museum will find the most diverse collection of World War I historical materials  in the world and visitors will be able  to traverse through an epic journey of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice. At the start of the museum, guests will first walk over the Paul Sunderland Bridge, a glass bridge suspended over a symbolic field of nine thousand poppies. Each poppy represents 1,000 deaths to serve as a reminder of the nine million lives lost on the western front.

In the main gallery, visitors can find a walk-through crater showing the effects on a French farmhouse that was struck by a 17-inch howitzer shell and life-size trenches with actual objects in place and relevant war-time sounds. After a truly impactful visit, travelers can explore the rest of Kansa City and enjoy the destination’s world famous barbecue, jazz music and its many delightful water fountains.

Stay at Crossroads Hotel, a quick 5 min drive from the museum and offers up an expansive onsite gallery as well as lively rooftop bar –  Percheron – with sweeping city views. For family travelers the hotel offers a bunk bed room that is perfect for the kids to enjoy their night together.

5. The War Memorial – Detroit, Michigan

Located on the shores of Lake Saint Clair in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, visitors will find the Grosse Pointe War Memorial (more commonly known as The War Memorial).

An innovative, unique, dynamic and forward-thinking hub, the War Memorial serves 250,000 individuals with over 3,000 events annually, including programs to honor veterans. Following its dedication by the Grosse Pointe War Memorial Association in 1949, the War Memorial has served as a perpetual memorial to the 3,500 Grosse Pointers who served, as well as the 126 who died, in World War II. Visitors can see a variety of bronze plaques near the grand staircase that preserve the names of those who served and died in World War II, as well as plaques for those who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and in Operation Desert Storm.

While in Detroit, visitors can also see the Michigan War Veterans Memorial that was dedicated in 1939 to honor Michigan’s military veterans of all wars.

Stay at Detroit Foundation Hotel. Located just 20 minutes away from both The War Memorial and Michigan War Veterans Memorial, the Detroit Foundation Hotel brings together world travelers and neighbors to showcase Detroit’s legacy through incredible spaces designed for socializing, eating, drinking and relaxing.

6. Veteran Memorials – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Throughout the Capitol Mall in Minneapolis, visitors can walk, pay their respects and learn about the memorials that honor and preserve the memory of Minnesota’s veterans. These tributes include the World War II Memorial, Minnesota Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial and Monument to the Living, among others.

Minneapolis is also home to the Minnesota Air National Guard Museum, where visitors can see historically significant aircraft and ancillary artifacts, historical documents, photographs, manuscripts and books.

Travelers can stay at the Hewing Hotel in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis, just 20 minutes away from the Capitol Mall and museum, and enjoy a one-of-a-kind local experience while taking in the city skyline from a rooftop oasis six floor above Washington Avenue.

7. South Dakota Air and Space Museum – Rapid City, South Dakota

Air & Space Museum
Credit: Travel South Dakota

Home to an abundance of world-renowned national monuments and historic landmarks, South Dakota boasts authentic pieces of history at all corners of the state. Visitors can start their journey on the western side of the state just outside of Rapid City and walk through aviation history at the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, which showcases more than 30 vintage military aircraft ranging from World War II bombers to the modern-day B-1.

While in Rapid City, travelers can stay at Hotel Alex Johnson, a proud member of the Historic Hotels of America that was built in 1928, and check out the City of Presidents, a collection of life-size bronze sculptures of past presidents placed along the city’s streets and sidewalks.

Heading east along Interstate 90, travelers will come across the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, where a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles were placed during the Cold War. Located just outside of Badlands National Park, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site consists of three sites and offers visitors access to the Delta-09 missile silo as well as daily tours of the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility.

As travelers continue east to the nearby capital city of Pierre, they will find a collection of sculptures dedicated to the U.S. Armed Forces in a plaza between the Capitol Building and Capitol Lake, as well as the South Dakota National Guard Museum. Visitors can stay at the Quality Inn Pierre where they’ll be minutes away from the Capitol building and Missouri River.

8. National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg – Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg is located in the Texas Hill Country in Central Texas. The city is celebrating its 175th anniversary beginning this May with a year long celebration to honor their heritage and all individuals who have made the community what it is today.

The Museum of the Pacific War located in town is dedicated to all those who served in the Pacific War, and recently went under extensive renovation to make it the world’s premier museum about World War II’s Pacific Theater. As a part of the city-wide celebration, the museum will host an art exhibit featuring more than 50 original pieces of artwork from artists from the Fredericksburg region.

The Art of Fredericksburg: 175 Years will open Saturday, May 8 and run through September, showcasing artists from Fredericksburg’s founding to present day. Among the early artists include Seth Eastman, an Army officer who was stationed at Fort Martin Scott, German-born Hermann Lungkwitz and Richard Petri. Beyond Fredericksburg, travelers can road trip to beloved historical destinations such as Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World and Lockhart, the Barbecue Capital of Texas timely with National Barbecue Month in May, all while enjoying the beautiful wildflowers throughout the hilly and scenic drive.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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