The best vacations offer quality time to relax, make memories, try new things, see new scenery and escape from the daily routine of work and homework.
But if getting away from it all is going to cost you on average $1,145 per person, according to an American Express survey, then sticking to the familiar might feel more like a real vacation.
You may already know that military lodging provides temporary, space-available and affordable rooms. Although they are geared toward service members traveling on orders or families PCSing, often you can find a comfortable, spacious place to stay at a fraction of the cost of a regular hotel room. Even for the thriftiest of travelers, taxes and fees added on to hotels and resort stays can boost travel costs by 50 percent.
What may surprise you about military lodging are the dreamy destinations – comfortable places to stay situated in some of the top vacation spots on the planet. Although reservation policies vary between service branches and facilities, and you should call ahead for information, the time it takes might save you a bundle.
So, if like mine, your Facebook feed is already filling with images of toes in the sand, breathtaking sunsets and memorable family fun, it might be time to plan a grand getaway of your own.
Here are some ideas, from sea to shining sea, to get you started.
1. Eglin AFB
Destin Beach, Fla.
Only 20 miles from Eglin lodging, the white sandy beaches and warm blue waters of Destin attract visitors from all over. And when you’re not up for a drive to the beach, Eglin’s outdoor recreation services offer golfing, swimming, horseback riding, camping and a marina.
2. Joint Base Charleston
A short 14-mile drive from Joint Base Charleston will get you into this port city with all its Civil War history, charming gardens and parks, an aquarium and scenic boat tours.
3. Joint Base San Antonio Lackland
It’s only 12 miles from base into downtown San Antonio where you can tour the Alamo and the San Antonio Riverwalk. When you’re ready for thrill rides and respite from the Texas heat, you can go a little farther to reach SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme parks.
4. U.S. Air Force Academy
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Area attractions just a short drive from the scenic U.S. Air Force Academy — and all that it offers visitors — comprise the outdoor lover’s dream vacation: Pike’s Peak, Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, the Olympic Training Center and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
5. Hill AFB
Salt Lake City
Downtown Salt Lake City is a 30-mile drive from Hill and where you can tour the picturesque 10-acre Temple Square and a highly acclaimed zoo. There are miles and miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the region’s parks and canyons.
6. NWS Yorktown Cheatham Annex
The Historic Triangle, Va.
Situated on a scenic coastline, the Annex gives you easy access inland to all the settlement and Revolutionary War history of Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, as well as outdoor recreation at Busch Gardens and Freedom Park.
7. Pacific Beach and Recreation Center
Pacific Beach, Wash.
Family fun at this Navy Getaway recreation spot near several Navy stations include hiking and camping in the Olympic National Forest, beachcombing, fishing, bird-watching, whale-watching, golfing and more.
This military site provides policies, booking instructions and links to all Department of Defense lodging facilities.
Directory of Quarters
For an up-to-date list of all government quarters, go to this comprehensive online document.
Military Base Guide Map
Oh, the places you can go! Pick a place on the map and start exploring your next vacation destination.
Armed Forces Recreation Centers
Check out this site for a list of Armed Forces Recreation Centers, in places like Hawaii and Orlando, Fla.
USAA Mobile App
Make planning easier with a new app extension for iPhone and Android that provides to-do lists and reminders when preparing for a trip.
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