3 fantastic road trips for your military family

Jessica Evans Avatar

Great American Ball Park in 2013. (Public domain)

It’s officially summer! It’s also PCS season and the combination probably means you have a restless house of kids and teenagers looking for something to do. Even though gas prices are astronomical this summer, that doesn’t mean you and your fam can’t pack up the ol’ SUV and hit the road. And, to make the planning easy as cherry pie, here’s our top three pics for the best places to road trip it with your military family. The best part? It doesn’t matter if you’re stationed at Fort Drum, Wright Patterson AFB, Quantico or 29 Palms, there’s a road trip close by!  

Stationed Near Norfolk, VA

Lucky you! Not only is Norfolk home to the largest naval installation in the world, it’s also within driving distance of so much history and culture. Take a trek north to nearby Washington, D.C., or head out into the wild and explore the Elizabeth River Trail.

If you love nature, you might love Shenandoah National Park or check out Luray Caverns. Don’t forget that military members get free access to national parks. Registration is required ahead of time, but it’s just a simple form! Some parks will even allow you to show your military ID to gain free access.

For those of us who are less inclined to spend summer outdoors, nearby Cape May offers something for everyone to enjoy. Or head to Chapel Hill and check out what North Carolina has to offer.

Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.

Stationed Near Camp Pendleton, CA

Okay, if you’re stationed in San Diego, you probably have a ton of favorite spots. From the fantastic San Diego zoo to all the great nearby beaches, there’s plenty for everyone. But if you’re ready to get out of town, why not head out to Torrey Pines State Reserve? It’s a state part that includes six trails ranging from easy to advanced, and most trails end at the beach. That’s a double win!

If you’re looking for something else besides fun in the sun, you could easily turn in any direction and find something amazing. Our top pick is heading north to Pendleton, Oregon. Take in the sights along the way and then bask in this cultural center devoted to the confederated tribes of the Umatilla reservation. You can even enjoy some famous whisky and one of the newest viticultural areas in the United States.

And, if you’ve made it all the way to Oregon, maybe you consider driving a little farther north and hitting up Mount Rainier National Park? Who says the folks stationed at JBLM get to have all the fun? Mount Rainier is world famous for its active volcano, rock climbing, and pristine campsites.  

Mount Rainier from above Myrtle Falls.

Stationed Near Fort Campbell, KY

Kentucky’s not all that bad, right? Okay, sure. Fort Campbell might not be on the top of your wish list come PCS season, but there’s a LOT to do in the bluegrass state. In addition to gorgeous nature preserves like the Dunbar Cave State Park, you can also enjoy the incredible bourbon trail or take in the culture and sites of nearby Louisville where you can enjoy a mint julep tour and take in a race at nearby Churchill Downs. Or head to nearby Lexington, the horse capital of the world.

And if you’re heading toward Lex, why not keep going up the highway and hit up Cincinnati while you’re at it? Catch a game at the Great American Ball Park, stay for the famous Skyline Chili and then enjoy some of what the Queen City has to offer.

Dunbar Cave State Park.

After you get your fill of the ‘Nati, head even further north to Chicago! Spend some time on Lakeshore Drive, check out the world-class art museum, and take a ride on the elevated train. The world is your oyster in the Windy City and there’s so much to see and do!

However, you choose to explore this great country of ours, there’s something worth the visit. From east to west, north to south, America has something to offer everyone. If you’re hitting the road this summer, don’t forget to ask your hotel for a military discount!

Looking for more great road trip ideas? Check out this ultimate military history road trip!