It's not all work and no play with the military. Military bases worldwide are home to some truly memorable vacation spots, camping areas and affordable lodging. And destinations managed by the services' Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs or through the military resort system make for spectacular and affordable spots to rest and rejuvenate.
Military Base Lodging
Military bases have their own lodging system and are only open to military and their families, offering some exclusivity in availability. These hotels are usually the busiest when it is the height of moving season, so summer isn't usually the best time to get a reservation for a vacation. That doesn't mean it cannot be done, though. Army hotels have their hotels listed on their IHG Army Hotels site. Lodging on Air Force bases is offered through the Air Force Inns website. Lodging on Navy bases can be found here. Recreational lodging on Marine Corps bases can be found here and traditional lodging here.
The added bonus with on-base lodging is that it often has full-size washers and dryers, and sometimes temporary housing with full-size kitchens. That allows for staying on top of laundry and preparing meals to both save time at the end of the vacation and money during it.
Looking for a campground? Check out this network of camping and RV parks specifically for military families.
Military Resorts and Vacations Spots by Location
Germany: The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort is in the Alps. Yes, you read that correctly. This Armed Forces Recreation Center is specifically for military and Department of Defense card holders so they can stay, relax and enjoy the local beauty. During the winter season, ski and snowboard lessons for all ages are offered.
Korea: The Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, South Korea, offers luxury and relaxation for military and DoD ID card holders. This is also an Armed Forces Recreation Center. It offers American-sized rooms and appliances in the heart of the city, allowing for the ability to explore with the comfort of familiarity.
Okinawa: The Okuma Beach resort in Okinawa, Japan, is especially for military and government employees. From small cabins where you bring your sheets to a solo cabin with a hot tub, there are a variety of lodging options from which to choose. All of which are steps away from the water and the sounds of the calming waves. While this isn't on a military base, per se, it is a location purposefully built with the military family in mind.
Alaska: Wanting to enjoy the great wild of Alaska? The Seward Resort is your spot. Lodging options span from motel rooms, townhouses, log cabins, RV and tent sites and yurts (a portable round tent). At the time of writing, the cost ranges from $60 to around $260, based on rank, season and room type. If you are an avid angler, they even offer fishing charters. Wanting to explore more of Alaska while there, their military tickets and tours program on Seward offers tickets to everything from sea tours to air tours.
Arizona: Many a military family driving to and from the coasts on military moves have driven past or through Flagstaff. Fort Tuthill offers a camping resort for military members, retirees and service-connected individuals. Lodging options -- from lodge rooms, A-frames, cabins to yurts, in addition to RV hook-ups and campground -- allow for flexibility for families to stay in whichever level of comfort they desire. Rates range from $50 to $365, depending on the room size and rank. There are even multi-family A-frames that allow for gatherings. Pet friendly lodging is available.
California: Big Bear Recreational Facility is maintained by the Marine Corps and offers cabins, campsites and RV parking locations. Outside of lodging, there are bike paths, hiking trails and playgrounds to explore. Looking for camping equipment or DVDs, the office on the campground has all the information for that.
Looking for something along the water? There are cottages at Del Mar and San Onofre at Camp Pendleton, and several hotel options at Monterey offer affordable options for vacation-worthy stays. Want to stay on the water while listening to the sounds of freedom? Check out the cottages at North Island in San Diego.
The Coast Guard Lake Tahoe A-Frames make for a relaxing and enjoyable vacation. Kayak, hike around Emerald Lake and breathe in the forest air in this stunning location. It's off the beaten path and affordable.
Heading to San Francisco? Check out the Marines' Memorial Club. It's an affordable hotel option in the heart of the city that includes breakfast and a happy hour; that's sure to put a smile on everyone's face with full bellies.
Florida: The Florida Keys are a popular vacation spot. The tropical waters and escapism of the island life is so popular, it has inspired many songs. Military families can enjoy camping at the multiple campgrounds on Key West.
Hawaii: There are many options for wonderful stays in Hawaii. The Kilauea Military Camp offers cottages and apartments from 1-3 bedrooms on the big island of Hawaii. Even if you don't want to get a rental car, there is a shuttle to and from the campground for $20 per person, one way.
Another gem are the cabins on Bellows Air Force Station on Oahu. There are even condos, camper cabins and campsites on installation. The amenities of equipment rental and close location to golfing and driving ranges are offered to all.
If you are looking for a vacation along Waikiki Beach, look no further than the Hale Koa hotel. This beachfront resort offers the traditional luau, along with beach-side perks of being right in the action. The pool and splash pad appeal to everyone in the family.
Another option in Hawaii is the Navy Lodge at Ford Island. This lodge is located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor and is in proximity to many historical sites. While it isn't the typical beach vacation that you see on Pinterest, this is an affordable option that allows for maximum exploration of the island.
Maine: There is a cottage with its associated lighthouse at Gull Harbor in Maine, which makes for a picturesque New England stay.
Maryland: The Cottage at Greenbury Point in Annapolis is opening soon, per its website. You can even rent kayaks or enjoy boat access at this location. Enjoy the area with a budget find and gem.
New York: West Point has two campground areas -- the Lake Frederick Recreation Area and Round Pond -- that offer seasonal RV sites, the Adirondacks and tent sites. Fort Drum's Remington Park also offers cabins in addition to the RV sites, the Adirondacks and tent sites.
North Carolina: Fort Fisher Air Force Base has a stellar recreation area. It's a bonus that you can stay there as well, with cottages that sleep two, six or eight in addition to a full RV hook-up.
Washington: The beautiful Pacific Northwest is in all of its glory at the Navy Getaways Pacific Beach. The hotel rooms are around $50 a night, and four-bedroom cottages begin as low as $100 a night. That is quite the deal, especially as many of them are pet friendly.
Virginia: If the colonial period is your family's jam, Cheatham Annex in Yorktown near the Historic Triangle in Virginia offers two-, three- and five-bedroom cottages for military- and DoD-affiliated families. There is even a two-bedroom, pet-friendly cabin available.
Maybe you are looking for a Virginia Beach getaway. Well, did you know that the Navy MWR operates two- and three-bedroom townhomes on 67th Street (aka, just blocks from the beach)? This means you can sprawl out and have your space, all while paying a reasonable price.
Many of these lodging options open a year in advance for active duty and six months for retirees or government employees, so make sure to read and understand the fine print for a reservation.
The best part about these amazing sites is that military families have recommended them after their stay there, so you know they are worth the visit. Where is your favorite military lodging?
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