Memorial Day expected to bring lots of visitors
Don’t look now but Memorial Day weekend could actually be the best it’s been in years, signifying a true kick-off to summer.
Warm temperatures, better travel and a growing economy are all adding up to predictions for the best Memorial weekend since 2000.
In a news release from last Friday, AAA predicted that “36.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year.”
According to the Weather Channel, temperatures for Detroit Lakes expected to hit 77 degrees on Saturday, 74 on Sunday and 79 on Monday. There’s a 30 percent chance of some scattered showers for Sunday as well.
And the best news is that even though the weekend will be beautiful, those temps aren’t going anywhere, with the high 70s predicted for the remainder of next week.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in (web traffic) — even in the last week, the difference between the beginning of May, the week of May 5-6, to last week, May 12-13,” Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce President Carrie Johnston said.
The web traffic for people looking for places to stay and places to eat in the Detroit Lakes area has gone up 20 percent in the last week.
“So I know they’re making plans, whether it’s just for weekends in May or getting ready for Memorial Day weekend, people are starting to think summer,” she said.
Besides the number of clicks on the visitdetroitlakes.com site, Johnston said there has been an increase in people walking through the chamber door as well. Many of the people are picking up the Visitor’s Guide, making plans for when family comes to town.
There are a few events happening in Detroit Lakes this weekend, including the Memorial Day parade and ceremony at the City Park Bandshell.
Johnston said there are a number of restaurants, art galleries, lodging establishments and entertainment facilities, like Go Putt and Bump, opening for the summer.
One other major opening this weekend is Shady Hollow Flea Market, located on Highway 59 South.
“I think in DL, those are big events,” she said.
This weekend is also graduation weekend in Detroit Lakes.
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is beginning its summer programming, which includes movies, photography classes, hikes and programs about wildlife from skunks to frogs to butterflies.
“And there’s live music everywhere,” Johnston said of activities going on this weekend.
“It’s just back to summer kind of feeling,” she said. “All those summer activities are just back into full swing. And the patios are open.”
One of those patios now open is at the Hotel Shoreham, snuggled between the shores of Lake Sallie and Lake Melissa.
Open four days a week since the third Thursday in April, starting today the Hotel Shoreham will be open for business seven days a week.
“Memorial weekend is really the big start,” said owner Rick Lynch.
Tuesday though, Lynch and his crew were working diligently to paint, stain and varnish everything, getting it ready to be filled with customers all summer long.
“Once you get going seven days a week, there’s no time for this stuff,” he said.
Though the physical building may be getting prettied up for the summer, Lynch said there’s no need to change the menu.
“We’ve still got our same good menu. When it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” he said. “Let’s hope it’s a great summer for everyone.”
Dean Miller, who manages the American Legion Campground along with his wife, Karen, said come Thursday the campground will be filling up.
“Some of our seasonals are already in, but Thursday and Friday are big days,” he said.
The activity around the campground is about average this year due to so many graduations going on during Memorial weekend, he said.
With business picking up this weekend, the Millers have been working to get everything ready for their guests.
“We just keep on trying to beautify the place and get it more attractive for the folks to come in.
“We’d like summer to start in May as opposed to June, but...” he said with a laugh, adding that it would have been nice to have the last two weeks as beautiful as it was Tuesday.
For more information on activities going on in the Detroit Lakes area, visit the chamber’s website at visitdetroitlakes.com.
Besides the number of travelers estimated for this weekend, AAA has predicted a few other items:
- More than eight in 10 travelers will be driving to their destinations.
- The 2014 forecast is 2.6 percent higher than the 10-year historical average and the second highest travel volume since 2000.
- Eighty-eight percent of travelers (31.8 million) will travel by automobile, an increase from 31.4 million last year.
- Holiday air travel is expected to increase from 2.4 percent to 2.6 million leisure travelers.
- Travel by other modes of transportation including cruise, trains and buses will see the largest increase, up 6.5 percent (total 1.7 million travelers).
- Travelers will encounter slightly higher prices, with airfares six percent higher, mid-range hotels up two percent and car rentals costing one percent more
- Most drivers will pay lower gas prices by Memorial Day weekend due to rising supplies. AAA expects holiday gas prices to be relatively similar or even slightly less than last year’s national Memorial Day average of $3.63 per gallon. Keep your fingers crossed.
- According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase just two percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $169 per night compared to $166 last year.
The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen three percent with an average cost of $124 per night.
Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.