During Memorial Day weekend in New Mexico, cities from Questa in the north to Las Cruces in the south come to life with festivals and ceremonies to honor veterans, as well as usher in the summer. The holiday brings an exciting array of activities, from listening to world-class blue music in Silver City to watching motorcycles rumble through Red River. As you plan a relaxing itinerary, check out New Mexico vacation rentals near these towns and cities — each one offers its own unique twist on Memorial Day.

1. Albuquerque

albuquerque mountain
Source: visitalbuquerque.org

Albuquerque buzzes with activity on Memorial Day weekend. Indulge in your favorite reds at whites at the Albuquerque Wine Festival, which also features live music, excellent food, and fascinating educational sessions. The weekend also marks the end of ABQ Beer Week; join in by touring the city’s breweries and attending Marble Brewery’s annual Memorial Day Fest. If you’re feeling patriotic on Monday, head to Rio Rancho to watch the parade and the honor ceremony at Veterans Monument Park. Be sure to book your vacation rentals early to beat the rush of visitors.

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2. Chama

cumbres toltec scenic rail
Source: cumbrestoltec.com

Escape the heat with a weekend in Chama, a lovely mountain town located near the Colorado/New Mexico border. Memorial Day marks the opening of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad; hop aboard the train and watch the forests roll by as an antique steam engine pulls you through the hills. Feel like a Wild-West explorer as you chug through sheer canyons, across the high desert, and through rich green meadows. Be sure to stop into one of the open-air rail cars for a burst of fresh air.

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3. Red River

red river town
Source: redriver.org

Feel your heart pounding in your chest as thousands of bikers rumble past during the annual Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally. More than 30,000 motorcycles descend on this tiny town each year for a fun, biker-themed event. Shop for a new leather jacket, explore the New Mexico wilderness, and check out some of the most beautiful bikes in the country. While you’re in town, hike the Red River Nature Trail, or take a trail ride through the Sangre de Cristo mountains with Red River Stables.

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4. Silver City

silver city sky
Source: visitsilvercity.org

Head to the arts-oriented Silver City on Memorial Day weekend for a few days of music and relaxing during the Silver City Blues Festival. Head to the open-air stage in Gough Park to listen to a full lineup of the United States’ best blues musicians. Each concert is free, and kids are welcome. When you’ve had your fill, check out the nearby Gila National Forest to see the spectacular Gila Cliff Dwellings. If you want to stay close to town, browse through the many art galleries and pubs in Silver City’s lovely Historic District.

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5. Questa

taos ski valley
Source: Flickr/Kevin Muncie

Remember veterans and loved ones on Memorial Day in Questa, a small town in northern New Mexico. Each year, the city turns red, white, and blue as part of the Healing Fields of Honor event. As you drive through State Road 522, U.S. flags flutter from every imaginable surface to honor veterans and military members. The event culminates on Monday with a special ceremony. Nearby, the gorgeous ski town of Taos offers a huge variety of activities: mountain bike at Angel Fire Resort Bike Park, raft the Rio Grande River, or explore the stunning Taos Pueblo.

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6. Farmington

lake farmington
Source: fmtn.org

By Memorial Day, most of New Mexico is experiencing full-on summer heat. Cool off with a trip to Riverfest in Farmington. Along the Animas River, the town hosts live music, wiener dog races, kids’ activities, and an American Indian market. Take a raft trip down the river, and refuel at the beer and wine garden in town. If you’re feeling ambitious, participate in the festival’s 10K or 5K races. Organizers encourage visitors to get involved in the festival by participating in the rubber duck race, the recycled fashion show, and more.

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7. Ruidoso Downs

golf course pool
Source: playcreemeadows.com

Watch as horses thunder around the track at the Memorial Day horse-racing season opener at Ruidoso Downs. You can bet on the races, or simply enjoy watching the majestic quarter horses and thoroughbreds. This tiny city also features the Billy the Kid Casino, which offers a variety of slots and a fun, casual atmosphere. Between races, explore the beautiful pine-covered hills with a few rounds at the challenging Cree Meadows Golf Course.

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8. Las Cruces

sierra vista trail
Source: Flickr/Bureau of Land Management

Enjoy the late-May sunshine with a glass of wine in Las Cruces. Each Memorial Day, the city brings together wineries and musicians during the Southern New Mexico Wine Festival. Don’t worry if you’re new to wine – the festival is famously relaxed and friendly, so you can come to learn or simply enjoy the tasting experience. While you’re there, pick up a few Southwestern souvenirs at the arts and crafts booths, spend the evening dancing under the stars to live music, or head into the nearby Organ Mountains for a hike.

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9. Santa Rosa

santa rosa clear water
Source: Flickr/frank drewett

Experience small-town New Mexico in Santa Rosa, which hosts Santa Rosa Days over the Memorial Day weekend. The fun centers on Park Lake; take in the scenery with a tethered hot air balloon ride, let your kids loose in the activities area, or take part in a kite-flying competition. The weekend also features a softball tournament and a series of outdoor musical performances that are fun for the whole family. Later, make the most of the early-summer heat with a dip in the city’s famous Blue Hole swimming hole.

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