Travel Picks: Top 10 Memorial Day beach destinations

Fri May 20, 2011 10:52am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - To celebrate the official start of summer in the United States, online travel adviser Cheapflights ( has searched coast to coast for the top beach destinations to check out the Memorial Day weekend. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Renowned for its East Coast vibe, Hilton Head offers quintessential beach activities for couples and families alike. Spend your days biking the 100 miles of cycling trails throughout the Atlantic island -- breaking only to catch waves, soak up the sun and savor the area's fabulous restaurants. For cheap grub, head to the Sea Shack and roll up your sleeves for affordable shrimp, crab and blackened fresh fish. At night, check out The Salty Dog Café. A $5 admission is required to get in the restaurant, situated on a resort plantation, but the nightly live music and souvenir T-shirt you're bound to buy make it well worth it.

2. Hermosa Beach, California

The year-round beach destination pulls out all the stops every Memorial Day weekend for Fiesta Hermosa. Hundreds of vendors set up shop along Hermosa Avenue, Pier Avenue and Pier Plaza in downtown Hermosa for three days of great food, drinks and live music. Kids can switch between amusement park rides and sand castles until 6 p.m. nightly as parents peruse local shops and the ever-popular beer garden.

3. The Gulf Coast, Mississippi

Sailboats, casinos and spectacular beaches await you on Mississippi's Gulf Coast this Memorial Day weekend. The recovering seaside region has made wonderful strides in the past few years, and is burgeoning with festivities the whole family will enjoy. Mosey over to the Gulfport Dragway for the 29th Annual Gulfport Memorial Day Blowout, a four-day event of racing, flea markets and live music. After the awards ceremony, set sail on a chartered boat and play fisherman with one of the many charter companies in the area. By night you can check out one or all of the 11 casinos for a game of roulette or swanky dinner out.

4. Nantucket, Massachusetts

For the ultimate in New England living, put your Nantucket Reds on and head to Figawi Race Weekend this Memorial Day to watch the finest sailors in the country race wondrous yachts from Cape Cod to the island of Nantucket. The preppy vacation spot, just a few hours south of Boston, offers some of the finest beaches in the nation. Simply hop a ferry, bring a good book and umbrella, and take in the intoxicating salt air for hours each day.   Continued...