NYC Memorial Day traffic, parking rules, best and worst times to travel: Forecast

ASBURY PARK, NJ - MAY 26: People visit the beach during Memorial Day weekend on May 26, 2019 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and this year New Jersey has banned smoking and vaping on nearly every public beac

Going away for Memorial Day weekend? 

AAA said 2.8 million travelers are expected to hit the road this year in New York. The AAA also projects that 43.8 million travelers will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday travel period. 

This year's total number of travelers has increased by 4% compared to last year, nearing the 2005 record of 44 million Memorial Day travelers.

"We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years," said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel. "We’re projecting an additional one million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means we’re exceeding pre-pandemic levels but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead."  

RELATED: Memorial day flights, hotels: What will it cost you?

Here's everything you need to know before the weekend, including parking rules, airports, and the best and worst times to drive. 


Real-time NYC traffic map

Best and worst times to drive in New York City for Memorial Day weekend:

AAA projects that 38.4 million people will drive to get to their destination on Memorial Day weekend. The number of drivers this year is 1.9% higher than in 2019, according to AAA.

"As far as the worst times to drive, it is hard to say. In general, I would say Thursday will be a big getaway day combined with people going to work. After 12 p.m. it will be worse," FOX 5 NY's Ines Rosales said.

"Roads like the Long Island Expressway in Queens, the Cross Bronx Expressway in the Bronx, and the Garden State Parkway South of the Essex Toll plaza will be busy earlier – around late morning," Rosales added.

May 23:

  • Best times: Before 11 a.m., after 7 p.m.
  • Worst times: 12– 6 p.m.

May 24:

  • Best times: Before 11 a.m., after 8 p.m.
  • Worst times: 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.

May 25:

  • Best times: Before 1 p.m., after 6 p.m.
  • Worst times: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

May 26:

  • Best times: Before 1 p.m.
  • Worst times: 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.

May 27: 

  • Best times: 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Worst times: After 7 p.m.

The MTA said bridges and tunnels will suspend daytime scheduled maintenance requiring lane closures beginning at 12:00 p.m. on May 24, through 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 28.

There will be no scheduled temporary roadway closures in any direction during the evening rush hour periods to maintain maximum roadway availability during the busy travel weekend.

Parking rules

The parking meters will not be in effect on Memorial Day. 

In New York City, you can park without paying for the meter on Sundays.

If you try to pay on Memorial Day, your payment will be rejected. The meter will display a "Meter Off, Read Posted Signs" message, according to 311

Alternate side parking is suspended on Memorial Day, according to NYC 311.

"Stopping, standing, and parking is allowed on major legal holidays [like Memorial Day] except in areas where these rules are in effect seven days a week," NYC 311's website reads.

Bracing for crowds in airports

This year, AAA projects 3.51 million air travelers this holiday weekend. The number of air travelers has increased by 4.8% over last year and a 9% jump compared to 2019, according to AAA. 

RELATED: JFK Airport's $19B redevelopment to create traffic nightmares and travel woes this summer

AAA said that this will be the most crowded Memorial Day weekend at airports since 2005.

On Tuesday, JFK Airport announced they are undergoing a $19 billion redevelopment which will transform the airport into a state-of-the-art travel hub, but the massive road construction that comes along with the redevelopment is expected to create record traffic jams in and around the airport. 

Are there delays or cancelations at NYC-area airports?

Check the status of each airport below:

LaGuardia Airport status 

  • For more information from FlightAware, click HERE.

Newark Airport status

  • For more information from FlightAware, click HERE.

JFK Airport status

  • For more information from FlightAware, click HERE.

Planning on taking the bus or train?

AAA said nearly 2 million people are expected to travel by bus, cruise or train. 

AAA projects 1.9 million people will take these other modes of transportation, which is an increase of 5.6% compared to 2023. 

The MTA said buses, subways, LIRR, and Metro-North will run on Sunday schedules for Memorial Day. On Saturday and Sunday, buses will operate on a normal schedule, the MTA said. 

To view a map of Memorial Day weekend service changes from the MTA, click here.

The MTA encourages travelers to check or to download the MTA app for updates.