Historically, Memorial Day is a holiday to honor military personnel who have given their lives in the line of duty. Since many employers and almost all schools have a three-day weekend, a lot of people choose to celebrate this weekend with sale-hopping, camp-outs or barbecues. Whichever suits your fancy, here are some last-minute ideas for spending your Memorial Day Weekend around Portland.
1. Rose Festival
- City Fair on the waterfront opens Friday, May 25 at 5 p.m. and goes through Memorial Day evening with rides, vendors, and family fun.
- Fireworks over the Willamette mark the start of the annual festivities Friday, May 25 at 8 p.m. (or dusk).
While it’s rarely dry on this weekend in Portland (even though we’ve been having great weather luck so far this month, so keep your fingers crossed!), Memorial Day weekend is very popular with the campers. Didn’t reserve ahead of time? No problem! Many state and privately-owned campgrounds allow first-come-first-served reservations. But, get there early on Friday, or better yet, Thursday!
- Oregon State Parks No Reserve Campgrounds
- Tillamook State Forest No Reserve Campgrounds
- Lost Lake Resort
- Green Canyon
- Jones Creek
3. Memorial Day Veteran Celebrations (Monday, May 28)
- Willamette National Cemetery has their annual Memorial Day Program with patriotic music, flag displays, a rifle salute and fly-over at 10 a.m.
- Memorial Day program at the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Reading of names, fly-over, and guest speaker, Randy Shierman (my dad!!!) with a tribute to Oregon Vietnam War hero, Monte Pitner, his friend who was killed in action on the first day of the TET Offensive in 1968. Starting at 10 a.m.
- Washington County Memorial Day ceremony honors veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice. 2-3 p.m.
- The Oregon Zoo is offering ALL military veterans (active or not!) AND their families free zoo admission on Memorial Day!
4. Shop ‘Til You Drop
Feel like shopping? Many stores have fantastic Memorial Day sales with some of the best discounts of the year online or in store, many of which have already begun!
Who doesn’t love a Memorial Day barbecue with grilled meats, the first fresh veggies of the season, beer, and of course all-American favorite strawberry shortcake! Go shopping on Friday and take advantage of Memorial Day grocery store sales, too!
6. “Flags In”
I grew up putting flags on the area graves with my war veteran father and grandfather. While you will certainly see flags covering the cemeteries of military veterans, it’s also a nice time to visit and place flags or flowers on the graves of other loved ones. Here are some of the bigger cemeteries around town:
- Willamette National
- Mount Calvary Catholic
- Metro’s 14 Historic Cemeteries
- Rose City
- Finley-Sunset Hills Memorial Park
- Historic Columbian
- River View
- Greenwood Hills
7. Road Trip
It’s the last long weekend before school’s out; why not head out of town for a pre-summer road trip? Pack up and stay at the beach, Mt. Hood, wine country, Central/Eastern/Southern Oregon, Mount St. Helens, or even Seattle. We live in a great place with lots of stuff nearby, the possibilities are endless!