Memorial Day honors the men and women who risked their lives to fight for our country's freedom. It's also the unofficial start of the summer season, which means it's time to fire up the grill, stock the cooler, and enjoy a nice long weekend. Whether you want to hit the road or just chill in your own backyard, there are lots of options for you to celebrate with family and friends. But there are some Memorial Day activities you need to start planning now, to make sure you aren't left totally disappointed.

Getting tickets to a game or a concert, securing a rental car or hotel, and even shopping for the perfect holiday weekend wardrobe is best when done in advance. That way, you have time to budget and coordinate the details with the rest of your group. And while you can't always predict everything (especially the weather), the more details you take care of ahead of time, the more time you have to chill.

So take a little time and some inspiration from this list to put your Memorial Day weekend plans together now. When you're relaxing with your favorite drink of choice, it will all be totally worth it.

1. A Beach Getaway


If Mother Nature is on your side, why not hit the beach? If you're planning to stay overnight, check hotel websites and Airbnb for available options at your destination so you can secure yours ahead of time. Then, pack up your suit and a blanket, and soak up the sun.

2. A Road Trip


A long weekend is the perfect time to travel to a nearby town and do some exploring. But if you're renting a car, you'll want to make sure to do it now. There'll be plenty of other people with the same idea, so if you don't plan ahead, you may find yourself without wheels.

3. Go Up And Away


If you prefer to travel by plane, holiday weekends can be expensive. Check airline and bargain travel websites now for last-minute Memorial Day weekend sales.

4. Go To A Baseball Game


There's no better time than Memorial Day weekend to enjoy America's past time. Get your tickets now to make sure your sitting in the perfect spot to catch a foul ball while you root, root, root for your home team.

5. Check Out Some Really Fast Cars


If you've got a need for speed, Memorial Day weekend is the time for one of the most exciting auto races. Head to the Hoosier state to watch the Indianapolis 500.

6. Plan A Picnic In The Park


Having a large group of friends and family in the park can be great, but you may want to check with your local park district now to make sure you don’t need to have a permit for your party.

7. Go To A Concert


Use the long weekend to rock out. Beyoncé, Billy Joel, and the Country 500 music festival at the Daytona International Speedway are just a few of the awesome Memorial Day shows around the country. Check out the website Bandisintown to see if one of your favorite artists is playing nearby.

8. Watch A Parade


Memorial Day is all about parades, and the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington DC is one of the largest in the country. If you're planning to go to the nation's capital to see it up close and personal, you need to arrive early to get the best view.

9. Race To The Finish


If you're the active type, you may want to celebrate the holiday by lacing up your sneakers and going for a run. Check out Running in the USA for a list of Memorial Day races in your area. Do it now, so you have time to shop for a cute race day outfit.