Inflation is raging, the world is crashing, and it's the middle of summer. Fourth of July has passed, which means if you're like a lot of military families, you're staring down the tail end of summer wondering where time has gone. And, with school prep just a few weeks away, you might also be considering how to get the heck out of Dodge - at least for a week or so. Mil fams have plenty of options when it comes to vacations, but why not pick a location that has some perks? Many places across the country have discounts or even free admission available just for you. Here are six vacation destinations you should definitely consider for your military family.
1. U.S. National Parks
The U.S. has dozens of National Parks scattered across the country, and they all remain protected federal land for good reason. They contain some of the most majestic landscapes nature has to offer. Visiting these parks makes for enriching family vacations. And for mil fams, the perks are even better. Civilians might have to pay a fee to enter, but you don't! In fact, the US National Parks Service offers free admission to all active-duty military, veterans and their families. What better excuse to explore nature than free entry to the most beautiful parks in America?
2. The Big Apple
This might seem like an odd choice for a family vacation destination, but hear us out. NYC attracts visitors from around the world. That's because it’s a cultural hub so there's fun for everyone to be had in the Big Apple! And, there's no shortage of mil-fam-friendly activities. Take full advantage of the various world-renowned attractions with free or discounted admission for service members and their families. These include the Museum of Modern Art, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the Empire State Building, the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium, and more. And ease the cost of your stay! Many New York hotels offer military discounts as well, so you won’t have to break the bank on your visit.
3. Cocoa Beach, Florida
What's not to love about a beach? Sand, sun, surf, and fun! Beach-loving mil-fams from all over the country are drawn to warm and sunny Cocoa Beach. And if you plan your trip right, you might even witness a rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center. In turn, that might just convince a mil-kid or two to consider joining the Space Force (since they can't keep pulling from the Air Force forever!). Because of its proximity to several military bases in Florida, Cocoa Beach has a reputation for excellent military discounts around the city, at lodging, restaurants and tourist sites. Embrace all that this vibrant region has to offer without breaking the bank!
4. Orlando, Florida
If you're already in Florida, you might as well head onto Orlando. Here, you’ll find some of the most famous theme parks in the world. That's a huge draw for everyone, but especially for mil-fams. Between Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and more, the kids will never feel bored. Visiting these parks gets pretty expensive for normal families, but many of them offer free or reduced admission for military families. For example, Sea World offers military families free tickets for one adult and three children per year. Disney offers a great discount on Hopper Passes for military families as well. Experience the magic of Disney and have something exciting to talk about once you're back home.
5. Williamsburg, Virginia
This one might be better suited for milfams with older kids. That's because Williamsburg is one of the most well-preserved historical sites in America. As a military family, plan a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, and dive into the rich American history the town has to offer. From 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg served as the capital of colonial Virginia, so the town is full of history everywhere you look. Williamsburg’s military roots run deep, making this destination especially attractive for military families. Service members and their families receive discounts on tours, lodging, restaurants, and more. And, since the surrounding area is such a dynamic military community, you'll feel right at home. Even better, Williamsburg's proximity to Washington, DC means that if you get bored of the history there, you can head up the highway to the nation's capital and join the throngs of tourists who come to learn more about our country. (Just don't expect a lot of military discounts in DC - there are too many of us there for them to offer much!)
6. Pacific Beach, Washington
Pacific Beach is the perfect destination for families who are already on the west coast. In the coastal town of Pacific Beach, Washington, you’ll see the vast ocean in front of you and the towering Olympic Mountains behind you. It is a gorgeous hidden gem of the Pacific Northwest that the whole family will enjoy. And, the Navy-run Pacific Beach Resort is a spot exclusively for military families, so that means they have great rates. Think Edelweiss but in America and you'll get a sense of what to expect when you arrive. Onsite, you can choose between an ocean-facing cottage on the bluff, a room or suite in the hotel, or staying in their RV park and campground. No matter where you choose, you'll have a breathtaking view and plenty of peace of mind.
Looking for more great vacation choices? Here are the best travel deals for mil fams.