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Over 37 Million Americans Expected to Travel this Memorial Day

Friday, May 08, 2015


With the economy stronger and gas prices lower, AAA Northeast projects 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during this Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 4.7 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year, and the highest travel volume in a decade for the holiday.

Kicking off the summer driving season, 33 million travelers will be driving to their destinations.

More than 831,000 Massachusetts residents will be among the expected travelers, 755,000 by car, also the highest volumes in ten years.

Holiday air travel is expected to increase 2.5 percent to 2.6 million leisure travelers.

Travel by other modes of transportation including cruises, trains and buses, is expected to decrease 3.6 percent this Memorial Day, to 1.64 million.

Travelers will encounter higher average daily car rental and lodging costs this year, while airfares are down slightly compared to Memorial Day 2014.

 “Following a harsh winter, many Americans are trading in their snow boots for flip flops and making plans to start the season with a vacation getaway,” said Lloyd P. Albert, AAA Northeast Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs.

“AAA is expecting more Memorial Day travelers this year than any time in the past 10 years as confident consumers come out of hibernation ready to explore national parks, beach destinations and America’s great cities.,” Albert said.

With approximately 1,676,000 travelers, New England is projected to be up 5.1 percent over last year, slightly higher than the national average. More than 1.5 million New Englanders are expected to travel by car. Following the national trend, these figures are the highest they’ve been in ten years.

Tips for drivers

AAA expects to rescue nearly 350,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists inspect their vehicle and check battery and tire condition before heading out on a holiday getaway. Members can download the AAA mobile app (AAA.com/mobile), visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown.

Hotel and car rental rates increase, airfares fall slightly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, the average daily car rental rate this Memorial Day is $19 higher than last year. The average nightly stay in a Two Diamond hotel is 16 percent higher this year at $144, while Three Diamond hotels will cost seven percent more, averaging $182. Average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes are two percent cheaper this year, falling to $222.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays.


Related Slideshow: 25 Fun Things To Do For Free In New England

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Beavertail: Jamestown, RI

Beavertail State Park in Jamestown, RI is a must for a free day of beautiful coastline views and marine life education. Explore the tide pools and look for little creatures, walk on the rocks and admire the lighthouse. It’s a great place to bring kids, a dog, or even just a lawn chair and a book. 

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WaterFire: Providence, RI

Providence WaterFire has grown to be an iconic Rhode Island event. Starting out in 1994 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of First Night Providence, it has grown to run continuously, once a month, from May-November and boasts over 80 blazing fires in the middle of the Providence River. WaterFire is a not-for-profit organization that aims to creatively transform Providence – and they do! Each event is accompanied with music by artists from around the world, varies food stands and art stands to browse as you stroll along the river. 

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Worcester Art Museum: Worcester, MA

On the first Saturday of every month, enjoy free admission to the Worcester Art Museum from 10am-noon. If you’re a member or a child under 3, you have free admission all the time. Take a trip to the museum to check out the popular Arms and Armor collection, Chinese Art or Islamic Art and much more. A great destination for a free, fun and educational family trip! 

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Blackstone River Bikeway

The idea behind the Blackstone River Bikeway was to create a bike path running 48 miles, from Worcester to Providence along the National Heritage Corridor. It links the Blackstone River and the Blackstone Canal and will eventually connect with the East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island. The path isn’t completed yet, but riders can enjoy the segment that is, free of charge.

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Ninigret Refuge: Charlestown, RI  

Ninigret Park in Charlestown, RI is open to the public every day, year-round. Hours of operation are 8am-sunset. Depending on the time of year you explore the park, you may find festivals and other various special happenings. Otherwise, you can enjoy free access to tennis courts, a bike course, basketball courts, and A Kid’s Place Playground. Most exciting, though, is the free, 18-hole Frisbee Disk Golf Course.

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Royalston Falls

If you want a little bit of an outdoor adventure, hike to Royalston Falls in Royalston, MA. The hike itself isn’t too long, but it can be challenging. It leads you to a remote gorge created by prehistoric glacial meltwater and 45 foot plunging waterfall within a half-hidden ravine. If you’re up for the adventure, the destination is far worth the trek. 

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Blackstone River Valley National Historic Corridor

One of Newport’s most famous attraction is its gilded age mansions lining the coast. Entry to the mansions will cost a small fee, but with the Cliff Walk, you can enjoy views of the mansions with breathtaking views of the water for free. The 3.5 mile long path runs behind the mansions on the eastern shore of Newport. It is a National Recreation Trail – the first in New England! The majority of the walk is easy, but be sure to wear good shoes; the sand can make the path slippery. 

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The Sprinkler Factory, Worcester

The Sprinkler Factory in Worcester is not actually factory, but rather a gallery. Though, its namesake does come from the real-life sprinkler factory started by Howard Freeman in WWII. Why? Because he embodies “the spirit of innovation.” With the aim of providing the public with a place to display and enjoy the visual arts, the Sprinkler Factory hosts exhibitions once a month, and they’re always free.

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Independence Trail: Providence, RI

For Rhode Island’s own version of Boston’s Freedom Trail, follow the painted green line for the Independence Trail. The 2.5 mile tour of historic Providence “takes you over four centuries of history, architecture, culture, and folklore.” Don’t worry about where to begin, the route is circular so you can start anywhere! Along the painted green trail on the sidewalks you’ll find red emblems with a phone number and a location number. If you want some more historical context or to know what it is exactly you are looking at, call the number and punch in your location to hear fun facts and stories about that particular point of interest. You’ll see sights like St. John’s Cathedral, historical cemeteries, and the oldest continuously published newspaper in the country.  

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Dinosaur Footprints - Holyoke

This is exactly what it sounds like – a place to see real dinosaur footprints! In Holyoke, MA, Dinosaur Footprints is home to more than 130 fossilized dinosaur footprints, available for you to check out up close. Scientists think these prints were the tracks of small groups of carnivorous, two-legged dinosaurs that may have been up to 15 feet tall! The larger prints were likely from an ancestor of the T-Rex. You can find fossils of fish, plants, and more. Don’t miss the group of 20 plus tracks at the site, which helped form the theory that dinosaurs travelled together in packs. 

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East Bay Bike Path

If you’re looking for a dose of natural beauty and healthy activity, try going for a spin on the East Bay Bike Path. The first bike facility to be under the State, it is a 13.8 mile trail that connects 8 different parks from Providence to Bristol. Do the whole thing or just a stretch and cross over bridges and by coves on the Narragansett Bay shore. The bike path is open year round. 

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Watch Hill, RI

Watch Hill was once inhabited by the Niantic Indians in 1600s and later by the colonists. Its historic lighthouse was built in 1806 and the peninsular town became a resort destination in the early 1900s. Over the years it has housed the summer homes of the rich and famous and boasts beautiful beaches and fabulous shopping and dining. Walk around the quaint little town, check out the waves at East Beach and find Taylor Swift’s property.

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Central Mass Rail Trail

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Purgatory Chasm: Sutton, MA

Take a hike at Purgatory Chasm and see the unique landmark that formed naturally approximately 14,000 years ago. Theory has it that the chasm was formed near the end of the last Ice Age with the sudden release of glacial meltwater that had been dammed up. Pretty neat! The chasm is ¼ mile long and runs between giant granite rock, sometimes standing at 70 feet high! You do have to pay to park ($5 MA residents, $6 for you out-of-staters), but exploring the reservation is completely free. 

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The Providence Athenaeum: Providence, RI

Located on Benefit Street in Providence, the Athenaeum is a unique independent library and cultural center. It was founded in 1836 as an independent library supported by its members, but open to the public. The building itself is impressive- a Greek Revival building finished in 1838. The only building in New England to be designed by William Strickland. The Providence Athenaeum doesn’t call itself a public library, or an academic library, or a community center, but instead a combination of all of those things. 

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ArtWorcester is a unique space for artists and art enthusiasts alike in the Worcester community. Their main goal is to “exhibit and promote local contemporary artists, free of charge to the public.” They also open their doors for anyone to participate in the gallery exhibits, including first-timers! The exhibits and openings are always free, and you can see a wide range of artists and creative works. 

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The Fantastic Umbrella Factory: Charlestown, RI

Down in Charlestown, RI on Old Post Road you will find The Fantastic Umbrella Factory. No, they don’t actually make umbrellas. Instead, you will find yourself on a 19th century farmyard “shopper’s paradise and international bazaar.” The old buildings are now inhabited by little shops and cafes and the grounds are covered in interesting and beautiful gardens. As you meander around the property, you’ll see a handful of chickens running around, 2 goats, 3 emus and a lot of ducks. Buy some trinkets while you’re there, or some feed for the animals, or just have fun walking around and seeing everything they have to offer. 

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Worcester Historical Museum

If you’re interested in the history of Worcester, where better to go than the Worcester Historical Museum? It’s the only institution in the city dedicated solely to local history. The museum offers exhibitions, programs and tours to take you through the history of the city. If you’re under 18, it’s free! It is also free for members. 

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Gallery Night Providence: Providence, RI

If art is really your thing – or not, and you want to give it a try – check out Gallery Night Providence. From March to November, galleries in Providence will open their doors for free tours on the third Saturday of the month. What started in 1996 with just 9 galleries has grown to include museums and historic sites. You have the option of parking at One Regency Plaza (for free!) and hope on one of their themed buses for a 2 hour long tour of approximately 4 galleries. Buses leave at 5:20, 5:40, 6:00, 6:20, 6:40 and 7:00 pm. 

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By the Canal Tour

Worcester’s Canal District is home to eleven buildings that originate from the early 1800s. Preservation Worcester wants you to enjoy the history available to you, for free! They offer a Canal District Walking Tour, By the Canal, to expose you to the stories of the people and historical events that created Worcester. You can pick up a free tour brochure at the Preservation Worcester office on Cedar Street, download a printable version of the tour and tour map, or download audio files to phone to do an audio tour. 

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Benefit Street: Providence, RI

Outside of the Providence Athenaeum, the rest of Benefit Street has much to offer. The mile-long stretch is often referred to as “Benefit Street’s Mile of History” and displays beautiful and original Colonial homes, restored churches and museums. If you head to the Providence Preservation Society, you can embark on a self-guided walking tour of the street and its architecture for free. 

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RISD Museum: Providence, RI

The RISD Museum in Providence, RI is free to the public every Sunday! You can wander the various buildings and explore their seven different departments, from Ancient Art to Contemporary Art to Prints, Drawings, and Publications. The museum also features special exhibitions. 

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Colt State Park: Bristol, RI

Colt State Park, located in Bristol, RI, is another beautiful and coastal park open for free public access all year. The property contains 464 acres complete with 4 miles of bike trails, countless fields to run in, a historical museum and over 400 picnic tables. Enjoy a family day at the park or a romantic picnic for two. 

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Cliff Walk: Newport, RI

One of Newport’s most famous attractions is its gilded age mansions lining the coast. Entry to the mansions will cost a small fee, but with the Cliff Walk, you can enjoy views of the mansions with breathtaking views of the water for free. The 3.5 mile long path runs behind the mansions on the eastern shore of Newport. It is a National Recreation Trail – the first in New England! The majority of the walk is easy, but be sure to wear good shoes; the sand can make the path slippery. 

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Tour of RI State House: Providence, RI

The Rhode Island State House is home to the nation’s 4th largest self-supported marble dome – and you can get an inside look for free. All year, except holidays, the State House offers free hour-long tours Monday-Friday from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm. On the tour you’ll see things like the Bell Room, where RI has its replica of the Liberty Bell on display, and of course, the rotunda, where you can look up at the dome. 


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