As we approach the end of May, one of the best long weekends of the year is upon us – Memorial Day Weekend. It marks the tentative beginning of summer, most colleges are done (minus ones on the quarter system like our dear old SCU), and the weather has turned for the better. Memorial Day gives us three whole days to enjoy these things.
Some people might spend Memorial Day with family and friends; barbecuing, swimming, and enjoying time together. For us students not from the Bay Area and surrounding cities, this is not always possible. Often times when the campus empties out on such three-day weekends, us out-of-towners are left in the dust. The best remedy for a situation like this? Grab your friends and hit the road.
Instead of a day trip, make it a weekender. Here are several destinations that will turn Memorial Day Weekend into the highlight of your quarter:
One of my personal favorites, the Santa Cruz and Capitola area lacks next to nothing when it comes to beach entertainment. From the boardwalk and roller coasters to pleasure point and surfers galore Santa Cruz has so much to offer. With it’s great food and unique downtown area, you could easily spend a weekend in this area without getting bored. With all these amenities in mind, what else do you honestly need besides the beach? Rent a board and wetsuit at one of the many surf shops along 41st street and get in the water, or watch the many surfers already out there from above on East Cliff Drive. Santa Cruz provides the perfect opportunity to slow down the pace and relax. A weekend here is never wasted.
Monterey & Carmel
Just an hour south of Santa Cruz you can find the town of Monterey -which boasts an awesome aquarium and Fisherman’s Wharf if you want to play tourist- and in just another 10 minutes you’ll find Carmel. Both towns have awesome beaches, cute shops downtown (if you’re into that kind of thing) and gorgeous views and opportunities to bask in nature’s glow. The hiking here is only a preview of what you’ll find further down in Big Sur, but a great way to dip your toes in nonetheless – Point Lobos is just 3 miles south of Carmel (where this picture was taken). And you can’t forget about the food – there are countless delicious places to eat, from the hole-in-the-wall cafes to the higher end places in Carmel. If you want to do it right, try some fresh seafood, or grab a sandwich from a local deli and head to the beach.
World renown for its beautiful coastline views (like the one above), Big Sur boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in California. Continue past Carmel just another hour south and you’ve hit the jackpot. While Big Sur constitutes the true outdoorsman’s heaven, I think just about anyone would appreciate a weekend away from it all in this natural wonderland. There are countless state parks and camp groups that are reservable for a couple days. Try Pfieffer Big Sur State Park (pictured above) or Kirk Creek Campground which sits on the bluff overlooking the ocean. Any amount of time spent in this area is sure to be time well spent.
While four hours might seem like a stretch to some, once you get close to Tahoe time flies by as you enjoy the amazing scenery. South Lake Tahoe may be known for it’s casinos, but there is much more to it. There are plenty of hikes around the lake, but once the weather gets warm (or you decide you are tough enough to brave the cold water) the beauty of this lake makes water activities unparalleled. Kayaking around the lake is always a staple, but there are plenty of shops that advertise their SUP rentals – stand up paddle boarding. Get a workout in while you take in all that is Tahoe. Lodging in motels is usually fairly cheap, but if you are feeling up to it the camping, here is a great way to really immerse yourself into the true Tahoe experience.
SF is one of the most well known cities in America – and for good reason. While a day trip is doable, making a weekend of it allows you to truly take it all in. From the iconic Golden Gate bridge to the diverse and eclectic downtown, there is something for everyone. One of the best things about San Francisco is the food. Whether you like Italian, Chinese, American, or French, there is probably a section of the city dedicated to it. If you’re going to do it in a weekend, check out Little Italy, where the options for authentic Italian food will make you wish you had a bigger stomach. Also on your list should be Chinatown; if you’re looking for a cheap knockoff of some sort this is also the place to go 😉 We can all agree that authentic Chinese food often puts neighborhood joints – and Panda Express – to shame. However, one of my favorite places in San Francisco is Haight Ashbury. The epicenter of the hippie movement in the 70’s and later on, that vibe still remains. The street is lined with clothing and smoke shops (and good food of course) reminiscent of this free-spirited era. There’s also a Ben & Jerry’s, which is just another reason to get off the main grid and head up there.
With all the incredible things there are to do within a few hours of Santa Clara, it’s hard to ever be bored. So get out, explore, and make the most memorable Memorial Day Weekend yet.