Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend 2021 in the Northwest

Festivals, Road Trips, and More Long-Weekend Ideas in Seattle and Portland
May 25, 2021
There are still tickets for this Saturday's outdoor concert with the Marshall Law Band and Tres Leches (pictured) at the Museum of Flight. (Courtesy Museum of Flight)

There's something to be said for spending a long weekend doing as little as possible, but if you want to take advantage of the extra 24 hours of leisure time afforded by Memorial Day (Mon May 31), there's still time to plan. We've cherry-picked a few noteworthy events in Seattle (like Northwest Folklife) and Portland (like the Rose Festival Porch Parade), plus some road trip destinations in Washington and Oregon to check out. For more options, peruse our roundup of Memorial Day food & drink specials in Seattle

Jump to: Seattle Events | Portland Events | Road Trips


The Campfire Festival
Commissioned by Ryan Guzzo Purcell's local theater ensemble the Williams Project, this festival embraces old-timey storytelling with half-hour original works presented in pairs (to audiences of 10 or fewer) by resident playwrights, followed by talkbacks with the artists. The program includes Justin Huertas's acoustic musical "Hell Here" (performed by Rheanna Atendid), Aaron Martin Davis Norman's "Storytime: Good Grief" (also a musical!), Dedra D. Woods's "30 Minutes," which explores "life, loss, Blackness, joy, and family," and Maggie L. Rogers's autobiographical "Untitled." 
Rainier Arts Center, Columbia City (through June 6)

Marshall Law Band with Tres Leches
Bombastically blending the tenets of funk and hip-hop, Marshall Law Band strives to play across all genres, resulting in a kaleidoscopic explosion of taste and color. They'll head up this outdoor concert bill with support from local power trio Tres Leches.
Museum of Flight, Tukwila (Sat May 29)

Northwest Folklife Festival
This gigantic Memorial Day weekend hippie fest is known for its lively atmosphere—lovely people dancing, performing world music from yodeling to beatboxing and everything in between, and leading workshops in arts and crafts. The overwhelming aspect of weaving through crowds of people won't be an issue at this year's virtual event.
Online (May 28-31)


The Stranger's Charles Mudede once wrote, "Here is what you have to do: drive down to the ferry dock, drive onto a ferry, cross the bay on this ferry, exit the ferry, drive across the island, cross some bridges, stop at a gas station for something fried, salty, and not good for you, eventually enter Port Townsend, and, before heading to Fort Worden State Park, admire a number of the town’s Victorian-style homes." He was talking about the Jazz Port Townsend festival, but this schedule of activities for a trip to the Olympic Peninsula town holds up for any occasion. The echoing chambers of the aforementioned Fort Worden State Park, the former United States Army Coast Artillery Corps base constructed to protect the Puget Sound from invasion by sea, are always fun to explore while practicing your a capella skills. If you plan ahead, you can even book a stay on the park's charming grounds. Otherwise, head to the right when you exit the forts, follow a short trail down to the rocky beach, and bust out the snack provisions you picked up from the co-op. Then, head into town to warm up in William James Bookseller, the most charming purveyor of used and out-of-print books in all the land, before treating yourself to a slice of pizza from the counter-service Pizza Factory to enjoy by the water. Hit up the Port Townsend Antique Mall for some souvenirs before swinging by Cafe Tenby for a strong cup of tea and a pastry to go before heading on your merry way. 
(Two hours north)

Whether you're taking the ferry from Fauntleroy (West Seattle) or Pier 50 (downtown), the journey to Vashon—the Puget Sound's largest island, nestled between Tacoma to the south and Seattle to its northeast—gives you an eyeful of the Sound, and the weather this weekend looks just right for some time on the water. If you've had both your shots, tickets are still available to see Drive-By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood in concert at the Vashon Center for the Arts on Sunday—just don't forget your vaxx card. Otherwise, you could pick up picnic provisions from the Country Store and Farm en route to the Point Robinson Lighthouse, which boasts a stellar view of the Cascades and Mt. Rainier in the distance. Back in town, the Vashon Bookshop, the Vashon Island Baking Company, the Vashon Island Coffee Roastery (are you sensing the small-town vibes?), and Camp Colvos Brewing are all solid stops, with more substantial fare on deck at The Hardware Store and The Ruby Brink
(One hour south)

Washington's Bavarian village is known for its winter festival, but it retains it's whimsical—if not cheeky—existence all year round. There's no shortage of places to stay if you're looking to do an overnight visit, but there's plenty of fun to be had on a day trip, too. Start your day with something sweet from Danish Bakery to eat while you stroll along the Wenatchee River, or level up with a hike at Wenatchee State Park, whose views will make you think of Switzerland. Once you've worked up an appetite, stay true to the town's German roots by tucking into brats and beers at Rhein Haus.  
(Two hours east)


Live at The Lot: Federale
If you're into Spaghetti Westerns and Giallo horror movies, you'll dig the stylings of Portland's seven-piece ensemble Federale, who draws inspiration from European soundtracks from the 1960s and '70s.
The Lot at Zidell Yards, Southwest (Sun May 30)

Live at The Lot: Rosé and Roses with Jacob Miller
Guests can enjoy cans of Union Wine Co. rosé while singer-songwriter Jacob Miller (a former contestant on The Voice) plays his "minimalist pop." 
The Lot at Zidell Yards, Southwest (Mon May 31)

MUSIC + MOVIES at The Lot at Zidell Yards
Hollywood Theatre has partnered with the Lot at Zidell Yards for a summer filled with socially distanced outdoor live music and film pairings. This weekend brings E.T.: Extra-Terrestrial and the Portland Cello Project (Fri May 28, sold out) and Love and Basketball and Karma Rivera (Mon May 31).
The Lot at Zidell Yards, Southwest (May 28 & 31)

Rose Festival Porch Parade
The traditional Rose Festival Parade and fireworks display are on hold until 2022, but this year Portlanders can decorate their front porches, street-facing windows, yards, and/or walkways with decorations that fit one of four themes: Grand Floral Parade ("All things grand and floral"), Starlight Parade ("A sparkly, illuminated display for a nighttime celebration with lights"), Junior Parade ("Creative concepts and decoration for our kids, done by kids"), or Rose Garden ("Showcase your beautiful flowers for all to see"). Use the site's map to go on a self-guided tour of all the participating locations.   
Various locations (May 31-June 13)


Once you get yourself on Highway 30, it couldn't be easier to get to Astoria, the coastal city whose association with The Goonies is giving way, we think, to its top-notch breweries, hikes, and museums. Park in town and wander toward the water for a local brew and a tuna melt from Buoy Beer Company, which hovers on a Columbia River dock that provides shade for sleepy barking sea lions. After lunch, you could walk to the Oregon Museum of Film, which is located in the former Clatsop County Jail and explores the Beaver State's role in Hollywood cinema, from the aforementioned '80s adventure film to Stand By Me and The Shining. If that doesn't interest you, head to the Columbia River Maritime Museum to watch a short film about the history and perils of the Columbia River, sail a model boat on the newly opened Warnock Model Boat Pond, walk the bridge of a World War II warship, and marvel at a 44-foot motor lifeboat. We also recommend hitting up the Astoria Coffee House & Bistro for your second wind, along with the trove of antique shops along Commercial Street. 
(Two hours west)

Just an hour's drive from town, Hood River is an ideal day trip destination for outdoorsy and artsy folks alike. The county's newest park, Punchbowl Falls Nature Park whose breezy trail clocks out at 2.1 miles, is a scenic place to start your day, complete with oak woodland, wildflower meadows, and a couple of waterfalls in a picturesque gorge. For something a little more challenging, try the Gorton Creek Falls hike, which, while half the length of the former, offers a steeper elevation that leads to a 115-foot secluded waterfall. If you're an art lover but don't want to spend the sunny weekend indoors, opt for the self-guided, 4.5-mile Big Art Tour, which takes you through the town's 22 outdoor sculptures. Come snack time, the Hood River Farmers Market (open Saturdays from 9 am-1 pm) offers your standard spate of fresh provisions, or head over to the nearby Pine Street Bakery, the sustainability-focused Sixth Street Bistro and Loft, Mike's Ice Cream, or pFriem Family Brewers.
(One hour east)