No travel for Memorial Day this year? No problem. You and your family (those in your household) can still turn the holiday into a memorable staycation — and we do mean staycation, as social-distancing rules remain in effect. Here are ways to turn the long weekend into more than just a streaming movie marathon and truly find meaningful connections with each other instead.
1. Thank a vet
First celebrated to mark the deaths of soldiers in the Civil War, Memorial Day (May 25, 2020) became a federal holiday to celebrate the sacrifices of all Americans fallen in war. If you have an active or retired member of the military in your life, there’s no better time to pick up the phone or hop on a virtual call and thank your honored veteran for their service. You can also send cards or short videos to your local veteran’s home or hospital to brighten their day. Bonus points for organizing your own neighborhood parade to honor your local service members, as long as everyone follows social-distancing rules.
2. Have a backyard campout
If you’ve got a tent and sleeping bags, set them up for the night or the weekend, and spend time playing cards and singing around the campfire, whether it’s real or pretend. (Or make it a faux campout and head back to your own bed to sleep.) The luxury of being just outside the house is that you can run inside for supplies, and the likelihood of bear encounters is low. Check out Portland-based outdoor rental outfitter Xscape Pod, which offers a new “Patio Pod” that ships straight to your door complete with tent, sleeping bags, camp chairs, hammock, cooler, Biolite fire pit and a 4-serving gourmet s’mores kit from fellow Portland-based 1927 S’mores Company. Serious chocoholics can source some of Portland’s finest bean-to-bar chocolates from their online shops as well, and feel great about supporting local artisans. (Note: Oregon State Parks will reopen campgrounds on a limited basis starting June 9.)
3. Bring on the barbecue
Whether it’s hot dogs or burgers, smoked brisket or ribeye, salmon or portobello mushrooms, it’s tradition to up your grill game for Memorial Day and enjoy a family feast. If you’ve got a quarantine-cooking overachiever in the house, order a copy of “Around the Fire” from Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, chef/owners of Portland’s Latin American Ox Restaurant, for dozens of sizzling recipes. Find lots more side-dish, dessert and celebratory-beverage inspiration in our roundup of Oregon’s top cookbooks.
4. Check out virtual museum exhibits
Tune in for weekly virtual educational talks for families on topics like the history of maritime tattoos and maritime slang from the Astoria-based Columbia River Maritime Museum. During the shelter-in-place order, Oregon Historical Society has been sharing fascinating bits of historical trivia with followers in the form of virtual photo exhibits, weekly Q&As, and stories of iconic places and events in Oregon’s history. Looking back at the past always helps put the present in perspective.
5. Get outside and play — keeping your distance, of course
Spring and early summer in Oregon is too pretty to miss, and you can enjoy lots of it via an easy family bike ride or an epic hike at a nearby trail. You can also take a short day trip to one of the Oregon State Parks that have reopened for day use only, including Tryon Creek State Natural Area in Portland, Willamette Mission State Park in Gervais, State Capitol State Park in Salem and Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint in Bend (pedestrians only) and others. Try heading out in the early morning or late evening to avoid crowds, wear your face mask and bring your own hygiene supplies, prepare for limited restroom facilities and stay home if you’re sick.
Younger children might like a scavenger hunt, and now’s the time for the whole family to take up birding so you can finally identify those feathered friends outside your window. If you have an outdoor space, try a round of lawn games in the sun, a picnic or jam session, or whatever it is that brings your loved ones together. The kids just may remember it forever.