What Are the Top Places to Celebrate Veterans Day?
Every year on November 11, Americans celebrate Veterans Day—a day to come together as a nation to give thanks to those who serve and protect our country. Whether you’re a veteran yourself, a family member of a veteran, or a civilian looking to express your gratitude, find here some places and events that you might want to visit this year to commemorate.
1. Arlington National Cemetery | Arlington, Virginia
The most famous Veterans Day event takes place annually in Arlington, VA at the Arlington National Cemetery. As of April 2021, cemetery tours are open to the public. Both the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration and Veterans Day National Ceremony will take place on November 11, with both virtual and in-person events leading up to the ceremonies.
Each year, the Arlington National Cemetery hosts a Veterans Day poster competition calling for artists to submit their rendition of history, legacy, and meaning as it relates to the annual theme. Posters can be downloaded by anyone for printing.
Nearest Airport: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
2. Honoring America’s Veterans Parade | Phoenix, Arizona
The Phoenix Veterans Day Parade is hosted by Honoring America’s Veterans, an organization focused on recognizing veterans through community events. Up to 45,000 spectators gather in the city center to honor U.S. veterans. The parade starts on November 11 at 11:00 AM, heading south on Central Avenue from Montebello Drive to Camelback Road. It will then turn east on Camelback Road to 7th Street, then south on 7th Street. The parade will end at Indian School Road.
Last year, the parade was virtual. The Phoenix community expects the 2021 Veterans Day parade to take place live in the streets.
Arizona high school students are offered the chance to participate in the annual Veterans Day essay competition. Typically, submissions are open from July through September. Winners receive parade participation, cash prizes, commemorative items, and publication of their work.
Nearest Airport: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
3. Veterans Day Events | Boston, Massachusetts
The Veterans Day holiday marks the anniversary of the November 11, 1918 signing of the Armistice, the agreement to end the fighting during World War I, once called the "war to end all wars." While Armistice Day initially honored just those who fought and died in World War I, after World War II and the Korean War, the day was designated as a day of remembrance to honor all veterans.
During a typical year, Boston is home to several Armistice Day events, including two parades on November 11. The community also commemorates through speeches, traditions, and ceremonies worthy of a visit.
In Boston’s North End, you can check out the Veterans Day ceremony, and then visit Plimoth Patuxent to see the famous Mayflower II ship. Of course, runners will want to check out the Freedom Trail Run 5K. Finally, anyone can observe the Remembrance Day ceremony at Old North Church.
Nearest Airport: Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
4. All Veterans Tribute Week | Emporia, Kansas
Emporia is the official founding city of Veterans Day in the U.S., so residents and visitors tend to go all out. Instead of just one day, the community pays tribute to veterans for an entire week leading up to the holiday. You’ll discover a veterans artist exhibit, roundtable discussions, memorial services, and, of course, a parade.
In addition, the townspeople come together for Freedom Fest with run, ride, disc golf events, and more. If you’re an active person, this is where you’ll want to be this Veterans Day. While you’re in the area, be sure to visit some of the town’s striking monuments.
- All Veterans Memorial | 933 S Commercial St
- Civil War Veterans Monument | Fremont Park, 4th Ave & Union St
- Civil War Veterans Monument | Maplewood & 2000 Prairie St
- Mexican-American World War II Veterans Memorial | 205 S Lawrence St
- Spanish-American War Memorial | S Neosho St & Kansas Ave
Nearest Airport: Manhattan Airport (MHK)
5. National Veterans Day | Birmingham, Alabama
While Emporia is the official founding city, Birmingham claims to be the host of the first ever Veterans Day celebration in 1947 - before the U.S. government made it an official holiday. Local patriots are proud of their grand National Veterans Day Parade with a marching band, jets, and more, which is preceded by a National Veterans Award Dinner.
At the annual award dinner, tribute is paid to an outstanding veteran who has made the greatest contribution to veterans and veterans organizations across the country. An award is presented as participants honor the achievements of an individual who deserves special recognition.
Nearest Airport: Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM)
6. Veterans Day Parade | New York City
New York is the home of the country’s largest Veterans Day celebration. Celebrities even join in on the annual broadcast coverage of the city’s Veterans Day parade, which includes 300+ marching units, 25k+ marchers, 30 floats, and 150+ vehicles.
You can attend the parade in-person, watch the broadcast on television, and/or follow along on social media. It takes place along Fifth Avenue starting at 26th Street and the marchers walk the 1.3-mile procession.
Nearest Airport: Laguardia Airport (LGA)
7. Any National Park | United States
If you prefer a quieter way to express your gratitude, or you want to avoid large crowds, there are plenty of options at your disposal. Visiting a national park can be a reminder of the epic beauty veterans fight to protect. Commemorate the day solo or with a small group and gain free entry to any national park in the United States on November 11.
As of Veterans Day 2020, all U.S. veterans and Gold Star military families are granted free access to federal lands across the country. On any day of the year, just bring your Veteran ID, CAC, VHIC, or state-issued ID with veteran declaration when entering a national park. Find more information about free entry for veterans here.
What is the Significance of Veterans Day?
As we mentioned above, Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day, a holiday which marks the day that the Allied Forces of WWI and Germany signed an agreement to stop fighting in 1918. Annual observance of Armistice Day began in 1926. Later, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill presented to Congress that would declare the day a national holiday to honor all veterans of all wars - not just WWI.
In 1968, Congress tried to move the date to a Monday at the end of October so that the holiday would create a three-day weekend. American patriots and veteran groups fought against this change and moved to restore the holiday to its original date.
By 1974, it was settled that Veterans Day would take place on the original date in remembrance of the Armistice of November 11, 1918, and would include all those who had fought as part of the United States armed forces.
The sites listed above host Veterans Day events and celebrations that honor those who have served in our armed forces. Consider visiting one of these places this year to participate in the commemorations yourself.
If you plan to travel to one of these destinations by air, you can save on airport parking with The Parking Spot. We are grateful for the service and sacrifices of those who have served and offer additional savings to veterans and members of the armed forces via The Spot Club.™ Make your parking reservation today.