As Memorial Day fast approaches, there seems to be so much pressure to make some sort of celebratory plans for the extended weekend.

After all, Memorial Day kicks off the summer season. Following a long winter and a so-called spring, you want to start enjoying summer the right way at the first opportunity. Even for our friends in the Sun Belt who are already sick of the heat in their locales, a three-day weekend is nothing to waste.

But for better or worse, many of us have been conditioned to believe that fun costs money. Deep down, we know that’s not necessarily true, but it’s a tough notion to shake.

That said, this Memorial Day is as good a time as any to relearn how to make simple activities enjoyable.

Embrace the Summertime

Memorial Day weekend is a great time to gently ease yourself back into the nature around you now that it’s finally not snowy, rainy, or so windy you’ll get blown into the next county.

Enjoy the local nature, starting with trips to your local parks and forest preserves. What’s more, May is National Bike Month, so don’t hesitate to take a spin in the sun. You can also go looking for an affordable local pool or a free local beach. Hopefully, it won’t be too crowded!

For more of a “getaway” feel, you could try to find a local campground or even set up a tent in your own backyard. It might be the start of vacation season, and we’ll all be itching to get out of our bubbles, but you can get the same experience going a few miles away in an unfamiliar direction as you can travelling halfway around the world.

Actually, speaking of vacation season…

A Metropolitan Mood

Despite the desire to go somewhere vacation-y, you can be a tourist in your own city or a city nearby. Memorial Day weekend is a time for festivities, and the municipal governments know it, so there will be plenty going on, much of which you might not know about.

For example, many cities and towns host Memorial Day parades, much like Veteran’s Day parades. They may also offer art shows, farmers’ markets, charity events, walking tours, food and music festivals, fireworks, and more. All you need to do is search a bit to find out what’s going on right down the street.

If you want to get more of a “vacation-y” feel to your activities (or if the closest city is a drive away), be sure to look for special deals on hotels and attractions. Many major cities’ tourism sectors offer Memorial Day discounts to encourage people to come on over and enjoy the fun. You may even find things like museum admissions may be free or discounted during the weekend.

The American Classic

What’s Memorial Day without a barbecue?

It may seem tempting to pass on hosting a cookout for monetary reasons and perhaps you don’t even own a grill yourself. But this is where the community aspect comes in: get a bunch of people together and have everybody pitch in to have a cookout. You don’t even need to be the one to host it.

If you’re not one for outdoor cooking and barbecuing (or if it always seems to rain on Memorial Day like it does here at NAN World Headquarters), you can have an indoor dinner party with a similar potluck setup. Be sure to remember the theme of the day and add red-white-and-blue flair to your dishes.

A Memorable Memorial Day

No matter what you do, recall that Memorial Day is meant to remember the fallen veterans. If you wish to spend the holiday visiting a cemetery or remembering a loved one, then by all means do so.

But if you choose not to, that’s fine as long as you maintain a quiet respect for the history of the day and the reason why everyone is off of work and school.

Having fun without money is something we all were good at when we were young, but as we got older, we lost that knack. On the weekend that marks the beginning of summer – every kid’s favorite season – let’s recapture that youthful virtue of simplicity.

This Memorial Day, let’s remember how we were.