The third Monday of February is what we formally celebrate as Presidents Day (although it was originally observed as Washington's birthday). This year, it falls on February 20 and gives many companies and their employees the chance to observe a day (or even several days) off. According to an independent survey conducted by travel site Orbitz.com, 56% more hotel rooms are being booked on Presidents Day weekend, compared to the weekend before. Whether you choose to do something "presidential" or just hang out with family and friends, there is no need to get out of town and go overboard on the spending. Here are some of the more affordable yet innovative things to do in and around your hometown this holiday. (For related reading, see What Exceeding Your Holiday Budget Really Costs.)
Visit a Presidential Landmark
Many parks and outdoor recreational centers feature monuments and fixtures in memory of our greatest Presidents. Choose to find a destination near your home that celebrates a great leader of this country, and spend an hour or so taking pictures, enjoying an outdoor lunch and documenting what the United States is like in 2012. Just because you can't travel far, it doesn't mean you can't create this mini "state of the union" to keep for years to come. It can be a fun thing for your kids to look back on 20 years from now, and the price tag is negligible.
Have a Presidential Potluck
Every president had a favorite food fixation; some even invented new treats to enjoy. Roundup your friends and request that they each bring a dish that represents our leaders' fondest feasts (or a loose interpretation of something symbolic). Examples could include a cherry pie for Washington or cheeseburgers for Clinton. Spend some time researching the best treats for a well-rounded meal and assign each guest a component to provide.
Meet up at a Museum
Many cities are celebrating the holiday by offering free activities throughout the weekend before the big day. Many of these complimentary admission opportunities will be for museums. Whether you choose a war, art or natural history museum, if they have a display honoring our great leaders, they will likely give you a hefty discount. Be sure to call ahead to see if your museum of choice is participating. Some won't offer the freebie an a la carte, and instead will offer the admission as part of a weekend celebration package.
Find a Festival
Depending on the weather in your area of the country, outdoor parades and parties may be happening in the days surrounding the holiday. Popular events include marathons, historical re-tellings of classic presidential speeches and activities just for the kids. The focus of these celebrations are almost always family-friendly, and can last way into the late hours of the evening. To get an idea of special events in your area, give a call to your closest convention and visitors bureau. (Washington, D.C. will no doubt be offering a multitude of festivities again this year.)
Kick the Ball
It's prime soccer season come mid-February, and events are held especially for the presidential holiday. Whether a game is televised, you attend in person or you simply recreate a great game at your local field, soccer fans have a chance to unite and enjoy a day together again this year. For an extra-special soccer event, consider organizing a charity soccer day with local teams facing off for a great cause. With the holiday in full swing, and proceeds helping those in need, there really are no losers!
The Bottom Line
Whether you get into politics or not, Presidents Day is a great opportunity to celebrate our country and the time we have together as a community. Take a moment to learn all that is going on around you on this special day. You likely won't need to jet across the country to appreciate the holiday. (For additional reading, check out 6 Tips For Avoiding A Holiday Spending Hangover.)