Here’s how we’re celebrating the traditional start of summer in a year when we need that fun in the sun more than ever. It’s Best of the West, Memorial Day edition.

Sand castle on the beach seagull in background
Thomas J. Story

An Old-Fashioned Beach Day

Business and Pleasure Beach Tent

Courtesy of Business & Pleasure

It’s been 18 years since I’ve lived in New York and—for the most part—I’m happy with that decision. But every Memorial Day weekend I have a strange form of homesickness for a place that really knew how to cherish a great summer day. People are spoiled by weather in Southern California, so much so that they’ll let a glorious 3-day weekend pass them by without a proper celebration. I’m going to get nostalgic this weekend with a really long, East-Coast-style day at the beach, the way we used to do it when we knew those perfect sunny days were numbered. I’m talking books and chairs and a cooler of drinks, some (inevitably sandy) snacks and a frisbee. And because I know better now, I’ll set up a fabric tent for shade, like this one from the beach day masters at Business & Pleasure—Christine Lennon, home and design editor

Keeping Cool

Wanderlust Creamery Pints

Max Milla, Courtesy of Wanderlust Creamery

My dear friend Stephanie and her sons Sam and Jake are heading west for the ultimate road trip experience: Highway 1. They’ll be rolling through L.A. sometime over Memorial Day weekend. I’m staying free, flexible, and at home in west L.A. so we can get together for however much time they can spare. We’ll definitely plan to stop by Wanderlust Creamery in Venice. There is simply no artisanal ice cream match for it in Pittsburgh. Offerings are creative takes on travel destinations near and far. Signature flavors such as Japanese Neopolitan, Sticky Rice + Mango (redolent of Thailand), and Smoky Road (a Pacific NW tribute) are stellar standbys. Their monthly seasonals keep me wondering what’s next. For May I’m loving the Lychee Almond Sorbet. It doesn’t have to be a one and done visit to the Creamery for Stephanie and her children though. Wanderlust ships pints nationwide. So no need to leave your Wanderlust behind. —Christine Bobbish, photo editor

Flags for Veterans

Gravestones with Flags

Chip Somodevilla/Staff/Getty Images

It used to be that Memorial Day was just the opening day of grilling season to me. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m no more of a fan of war than I ever was, but I have at least come to appreciate the conviction of men and women who would lay their lives on the line for a person like me who has never fought so much as a traffic ticket. For that reason, a Memorial Day offer from Ace Hardware caught my eye: All locations are giving away free lawn flags in-store on Saturday, May 29. While my own lawn is secure enough in its nationality not to necessarily need a flag, I am intrigued by the second part of the offer: For every flag given to customers, Ace will donate another to the VFW to place on veterans’ grave sites. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Grateful Reflection

More Videos From Sunset

Memorial Day is certainly one of the more somber days of my calendar year. A 2004 to 2008 enlistment in the Marine Corps and three trips to Iraq inevitably yielded its share of untimely tragedies, both during and after. And yet, with each passing year, it has become a day geared more toward grateful reflection of fond memories, impactful friendships, and the sharing of unique experiences. This weekend I’ll be celebrating the lives of a number of friends whose sundown came too soon—notably, Hugo Lopez-Lopez and Francisco Ramirez. These two men left a distinct impression on me and those fortunate enough to call them friends, and while their time on this Earth was short, their indelible legacies will continue to ripple outward in the years to come. I look forward to sharing a beer (or four) in their memory. Cheers, and Semper Fidelis. —J.D. Simkins, WildLands editor