It’s not just work and no play with the military. Military bases around the world are home to truly memorable vacation spots, camping areas, and affordable accommodations. And destinations operated by the services’ Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs or through the military resort system provide spectacular and affordable places to rest and rejuvenate.
Accommodation at a military base
Military bases have their own accommodation system and are only open to military personnel and their families, offering some exclusivity in terms of availability. These hotels are usually busiest during the height of moving season. Summer is therefore generally not the best time to book a vacation. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, though. Army Hotels have their hotels listed on their IHG Army Hotels site. Accommodation on Air Force bases is offered on the Air Force Inns website. Accommodation on Navy bases can be found here. Recreational accommodation on Marine Corps bases can be found here and traditional accommodation here.
The added benefit of base accommodation is that it often has full-size washers and dryers, and sometimes temporary accommodations with full-size kitchens. This keeps you on top of laundry and meal prepping to save time at the end of vacation and money during it.
Are you looking for a campground? Check out this network of RV and RV parks especially for military families.
Military stations and vacation spots by location
Germany: The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort is in the Alps. Yes, you read that right. This Armed Forces Recreation Center is specifically for Military and Department of Defense cardholders 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 holders. It is also an armed forces recreation center. It offers American-sized rooms and appliances in the heart of the city, allowing you to explore with the comfort of familiarity.
Okinawan: The Okuma Beach resort in Okinawa, Japan is specifically for military and government employees. From small cabins where you bring your own linens to a solo cabin with a hot tub, there are a variety of accommodation options to choose from. All just steps from the water and the sound of the soothing waves. Although not on a military base per se, it is a place purposely built with the military family in mind.
Alaska: Want to enjoy the great wilderness of Alaska? The Seward Resort is your place. Accommodation options range 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, depending on rank, season, and room type. If you are an avid fisherman, they even offer fishing charters. Wanting to explore more of Alaska during their stay, their military tickets and tours program on Seward offers tickets for everything from sea tours to air tours.
Arizona: Many military families driving to and from the coasts on military travel have passed or passed through Flagstaff. Fort Tuthill offers camping for military, retirees, and service-related individuals. Accommodation options – from lodge rooms, A-frames, cabins to yurts, in addition to RV hookups and the campground – allow families to stay in whatever level of comfort they want. Rates range from $50 to $365, depending on room size and rank. There are even multi-family A-frames that allow for gatherings. Pet-friendly accommodation is available.
California: The Big Bear Recreational Facility is maintained by the Marine Corps and offers cabins, campsites, and RV parking spots. Outside the accommodation there are cycle paths, hiking trails and playgrounds to explore. Are you looking for camping equipment or DVDs, the campsite office has all the information for this.
Looking for something by the water? There are cottages in Del Mar and San Onofre at Camp Pendleton, and several hotel options in Monterey offer affordable options for vacation-worthy stays. Want to stay on the water while listening to the sounds of freedom? Discover the North Island cottages in San Diego.
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 beautiful 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 happy hour; it’s sure to put a smile on everyone’s face with a full stomach.
Florida: The Florida Keys are a popular vacation spot. Tropical waters and the escape of island life are so popular that they have inspired many songs. Military families can enjoy camping at Key West’s multiple campgrounds.
Hawaii: There are many options for a wonderful stay in Hawaii. Kilauea Army Camp offers 1-3 bedroom cottages and apartments on the Big Island of Hawaii. Even if you don’t want to rent a car, there is a shuttle to and from the campground for $20 per person one way.
Another gem are the cabins at Bellows Air Force Station in Oahu. There are even condos, RV cabins and campsites being set up. The amenities of equipment rentals and proximity to golf and driving ranges are available to all.
If you’re looking for a vacation along Waikiki Beach, look no further than the Hale Koa Hotel. This beachfront resort offers the traditional luau, plus the beach perks of being in the heart of the action. The swimming pool and paddling pool will please all members of the family.
Another option in Hawaii is the Navy Lodge at Ford Island. This lodge is located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor and close to many historic sites. While not the typical beach vacation you see on Pinterest, it’s an affordable option that allows for maximum island exploration.
Maine: There’s a cottage with its associated lighthouse at Gull Harbor in Maine, making for a quaint stay in New England.
Maryland: The Cottage at Greenbury Point in Annapolis is opening soon, according to its website. You can even rent kayaks or enjoy boat access to this location. Enjoy the area with a budget find and gem.
New York: West Point has two campgrounds – Lake Frederick Recreation Area and Round Pond – which offer seasonal RV sites, Adirondacks and tent sites. Fort Drum’s Remington Park also offers cabins in addition to RV sites, Adirondacks, and tent sites.
North Carolina: Fort Fisher Air Force Base has a stellar recreation area. It’s a plus that you can stay there too, with cabins that sleep two, six, or eight people in addition to full RV hookup.
Washington: The beautiful Pacific Northwest is in all its glory at Navy Getaways Pacific Beach. Hotel rooms cost around $50 a night and four-bedroom cottages start from $100 a night. That’s quite the deal, especially since 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 Army and DoD-affiliated families. There’s even a two-bedroom pet-friendly cabin.
Maybe you’re looking for a Virginia Beach getaway. Well, did you know that Navy MWR operates two and three bedroom townhouses on 67th Street (i.e. just a few blocks from the beach)? This means you can expand and have your space, 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 be 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 time there, so you know they’re worth a visit. What is your favorite military accommodation?
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