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4 unexpected places to visit during Memorial Day weekend

We have some fresh ideas for you.
Memorial Day travel ideas
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/ Source: TODAY

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer season. It’s when millions of people hit the road. So bring out the bathing suit, slather on the sunscreen and get ready to see something new, something old and something a bit unexpected.

Travel + Leisure travel director Jacqui Gifford stopped by Megyn Kelly TODAY to help pick four destinations that are off the beaten path.

Memorial Day travel
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Denver, Colorado

Sure, you might think this capital city is perfect for ski buffs. But there’s just as much to do in warmer weather. Denver has a bustling dining scene and a slew of outdoor activities, including its proximity to the Rocky Mountains.

Stay at the Oxford Hotel, a landmark in the downtown area. The hotel is close to great destinations including Larimer Square and Union Station.

Spend some time in the Plaza Beer Garden for local brews and pretzels on the patio. And though there's plenty to do in town, you won't want to leave Denver without taking in some of the outdoors and its spectacular hiking in the nearby foothills. If the weather turns (as it is known to do on short notice), check out the Clyfford Still Museum for a look at the abstract impressionist's work. And don’t forget to stop by the Denver Art Museum, a complex known for its collection of indigenous works, and the mansion that belonged to Titanic survivor Molly Brown.

Sarasota Memorial Day travel

Sarasota, Florida

Beach bunnies, you’re going to love Sarasota. The city, located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is home to miles and miles of gorgeous shores. Stay at the Siesta Key Palms Hotel, which is a short walk to Crescent and Siesta Key beaches and a short drive from Lido beach, a 3,000-foot stretch of powder-soft sand.

Sarasota was originally an 18th-century fishing village but has evolved into a fully modern beach town. Carve a few hours for Southside Village, with a buzzing food scene, historic bungalows and vibrant arts community. Don't miss St. Armands Circle, just across the bridge from town, with a cluster of elegant boutiques. And stop by the Ringling Museum of Art, which showcases both modern work and old masters paintings. Foodies may want to swing by the Sarasota Farmers Market, which has glowing reviews.

See more: 5 unexpected places you need to visit in 2018

Chicago Memorial Day travel
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Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City can get cold during winter. So spring happens to be a great time to check out its rich history, delicious food scene and gorgeous architecture.

Stay at the newly renovated boutique Silversmith Hotel, located downtown.

You'll want to spend as much time outside as the weather allows, so we recommend visiting Millennium Park, the 25-acre space downtown that hosts various events and concerts throughout the summer, and is home to "Cloud Gate" (aka The Bean), a massive sculpture by British sculptor Anish Kapoor that reflects the city skyline on its mirror-like finish. Cool off in the renowned Art Institute Chicago, the city's top art museum, and end the day with a rooftop drink and bite at Cindy's, the rooftop restaurant of the Chicago Athletic Association, with some of the best views of Lake Michigan in the city. And Chicago Cubs fans can swing by Wrigley Field, which happens to be the second-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball (after Boston's Fenway Park).

Berkshires Memorial Day travel
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The Berkshires, Massachusetts

Known as one of New England's top vacation spots for culture-driven travel, the Berkshires region in the western part of the state has a lot more going for it than just the famed Tanglewood music venue. The region's earnest farm culture and collaborative community have also made it a top destination for country cuisine and arts, but there is also an increasing focus on the outdoors.

Take in the setting at the Red Lion Inn, a historic hotel in the village of Stockbridge.

Just a short drive away are all of the incredible art museums, which range from Mass MoCA to The Clark, and a variety of bike trails. And if you want an outdoor picnic? Load up on gourmet edibles at Cricket Creek Farm or one of the many artisanal shops in the area. Round out your Berkshires weekend with a show at one of the area's many accomplished local theater groups, like Barrington Stage Company or Berkshire Theatre Group, and hang out over cocktails at the hip Methuselah Bar & Lounge.