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6 Mar 2023
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Events & Holidays

Even though it's not technically summer until after Memorial Day, this is usually the day that signals the beginning of summer activities, especially since schools all over the country are getting ready to go on break and the weather is starting to get warmer for good! And by beach tourism standards, Memorial Day definitely marks the beginning of the busy season! Warm weather, blue skies, ocean waves… what’s not to like? In fact, going to the beach on Memorial Day is a Great American Tradition!

In Memory And Honor

With all the travel, cookouts and holiday sales, it’s easy to get caught up in the festive holiday spirit and overlook that Memorial Day is a very important day meant to honor a heroic group of people – men and women who have died while serving for the United States military. As of last year, over 45 million men and women have served in our country's military throughout history and over 1.3 million of these soldiers have lost their lives.

The history of Memorial Day dates back to the 1860s following the end of the Civil War. Due to the outrageously high number of casualties suffered on American soil, it became common practice for small towns to hold tributes and ceremonies, often during the Spring months, in honor of the soldiers who had passed. This tradition soon became a recognized day known as “Decoration Day,” with the first occurring on May 30, 1868 by order of General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic. His order read:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

New York was the first state to adopt the holiday and many states quickly followed. By WWI and WWII, Americans had been involved with so many other military conflicts involving large scale fatalities that it became necessary to honor those who had fallen on a unified, national scale. Overtime, “Decoration Day” became known as “Memorial Day” and in 1968, a law called the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed by Congress that would declare that the holiday be celebrated on the last Monday in May. Despite some opposition to this change, particularly since it was fueled by the creation of a 3-day weekend, the purpose of the holiday remained the same and the date stuck so two years later, the first “Memorial Day” was officially observed as a federal holiday on Monday, May 31, 1971. In 2000, Congress designated the National Moment of Remembrance which occurs at 3:00 PM (local time) in which we are all asked to take a unified minute to remember our fallen troops.

Today, many Americans carry on the tradition by placing flags and flowers in military cemeteries. Buying a red poppy from a local organization that will serve as a donation or displaying a flag are other ways to properly honor those lost. Regarding the proper way to display a flag at home, the US Department of Veterans Affairs says: “On Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes.”

Memorial Day Weekend Itinerary

Whether you're coming to the beach for a week, or driving into town for the weekend, there's no shortage of amazing things to do during your stay! Take a look at our 4-Day Memorial Day Weekend Itinerary for some ideas on how to get the most of the start to your summer!

Friday: Take a Corolla Wild Horse Tour!Two brown horses walking on the beach 

Whether you checked in last night or last week, or you're waiting to get settled into your vacation rental this evening, why not spend the morning trying to get a glimpse of the famous Corolla Wild Horses by taking a Corolla Wild Horse Tour? These tours run about 2 hours and give you the opportunity to explore the 4x4 in an open-air jeep. Listen to the sound of the ocean waves and search for the descendants of the Spanish Mustangs that call these wild beaches home! And since everything should be open for Memorial Weekend, enjoy one of the amazing restaurants on this end of the island for lunch and/or dinner! Enjoy some delicious seafood at Mike Dianna's Grill Room or take advantage of delicious, upscale dining at Red Sky Cafe or Aqua Restaurant in Duck. 

Saturday: Set Sail on Roanoke Island with the Aquarium, Dinner, and Kayaking!

Spend Sunday on Roanoke Island where you'll find plenty of fun and exciting things to do. A trip to the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island is always a day well-spent. Enjoy learning about the plants and animals that call the Outer Banks home while enjoying the chance to get up-close and personal with stingrays, urchins, and starfish. Head on over to the Roanoke Island Festival Park and Island Farm for the some living history and when you're ready to work those muscles, a kayak tour around the sound is perfect for making memories. You'll find plenty of amazing eateries in Manteo, including The Lost Colony Tavern and Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar, where you can grab a bite to eat after a fun and exciting day of exploring.

Sunday: Explore America's History at Jockey's Ridge & the Wright Brothers Memorial

What better way to celebrate the "great American tradition" than to visit the place dedicated to the first motorized flight! The Wright Brothers Memorial is an unforgettable celebration of flight and the human desire to push the limits of gravity. Enjoy plenty of walking trails and beautiful landscapes overlooking the rest of the Outer Banks. When you're ready for an adventure of your own, make your way down to Jockey's Ridge State Park! Explore the hiking trails in the dunes and near the soundside where you'll be able to see many different types of animals and feel free to consult our guide to Plants of the Outer Banks and see how many different types of trees you can find and figure out which animals may call these places home. Experience your own aerial adventure with a hang gliding lesson from Kitty Hawk Kites and bring a picnic lunch with you to the park and enjoy a relaxing mid-day meal of sunshine and sand!

Monday (Memorial Day): Beach Day!Kids Playing at the Beach

Make sure you take today to spend time with your family, head to the beach, and enjoy all the best of the Outer Banks. Consider spending some time at one of the local fishing piers for the chance to catch your own fresh seafood and don't forget to take a moment to remember what the day is for. 3:00 PM is the traditional time for taking a moment of remembrance for the people who died while serving in the U.S. Military. So whether you're planning to enjoy a bounteous feast of hot dogs and fresh local seafood, or you're enjoying the surf, sand, and sun on the shore, be sure to spare even a few moments to be thankful for the people who gave their lives in hopes of making the world a better place.

Book Your Dream Vacation Now

We think that any trip to the Outer Banks is worth staying a week, especially during the summer! And if you're looking for the perfect home-base for your "start of summer" fun, we've got the perfect place for you to stay while you're in town. Keep an eye on our specials and deals and book now before your dream Outer Banks beach house fills up for the summer. Give our wonderful Guest Services Team a call today at (866) 884-0267 or take a look at our available rentals to get started planning your next historic adventure to the Outer Banks. And don't forget about our layaway plan, which makes booking your dream vacation easier than ever.