When you are juggling deployments, moves, and job changes, finding time to take a family vacation can be challenging. But research suggests that spending time and money on experiences with your family is well worth the investment. Our four kids often reminisce about their favorite vacations we’ve taken over the years. Not only do kids remember the time together as a family, moms and dads get a break from everyday stressors.
Armed Forces Recreation Centers
Nestled in the majestic Bavarian Alps, Edelweiss Lodge and Resort is a haven for adventure and relaxation seekers. Located in the charming town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, this recreation center for military members and dependents offers a getaway to one of the most charming corners of Europe. Schedule a tour through the hotel to see architectural wonders like Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Palace or take time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors with hiking, biking, or skiing depending on the season. If you feel like venturing a little farther, we thoroughly enjoyed Mike’s Bike Tour of Munich and visiting an authentic German beer hall.
If you’ve always dreamed of staying on property at Walt Disney World but shudder at resort prices, look no further than Shades of Green in Orlando, Florida. Rooms are spacious and can accommodate larger families. While there, you’ll enjoy two pools and multiple dining options on site. We especially loved the daily bus to and from Disney to avoid the parking lot crowds. You also can purchase theme park passes at military rates.
If your ideal vacation involves toes in the sand, beautiful sunsets, and an island breeze, consider Hale Koa on Waikiki Beach, Oahu for your next big vacation. The Hale Koa is a 72-acre oceanfront oasis catering to military members and their families. Rent a kayak, snorkel gear, or enjoy some shade and relax under a beach umbrella. When you’ve had enough of the beach, take in a classic Hawaiian Luau on the property. Tours to visit the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor also are available.
Located in Seoul, South Korea, the Dragon Hill Lodge offers guests an American style hotel in Asia. During your stay, you can book a tour to visit a variety of sights including taking in Korean architecture and customs while seeing the Royal Palace Downtown. You can also experience traditional Korean arts and craftsmanship on the cultural insight tour that visits the Changdeok Palace, Insadong Street shops and boutiques and Namdaemun Flea Market. Take advantage of seasonal events like the spring cherry blossoms and a spring and fall wine festival.
Military Recreation Areas
In addition to recreation centers, various military bases also have recreation areas nearby for military members and their families to enjoy. Here are a few locations you might want to consider for your next vacation:
One of our personal favorites, the Lake of the Ozarks Recreation Center (LORA) is run by Fort Leonard Wood and is located in the Missouri Ozarks. Campsites, RV sites, and various air-conditioned, fully-equipped cabins are available for a reasonable rate. While there, you can rent a boat and jet ski, or you can fish off the dock. Nothing says vacation like a day on the water and a relaxing campfire.
Beautiful Fourth Cliff Recreation Area is run by Hanscom Air Force Base and is located on a peninsula in Humarock (Scituate) on Massachusetts’ South Shore. Various accommodations are available including cottages, RV sites, and campsites. Take in the historic sites of the northeast including nearby Plymouth Rock, Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod. Our daughter loved nothing more than wading into the water from the rocky shore.
Located in the Rocky Mountains in Woodland Park, Colorado, Farish Recreation Area is a mountain retreat for anyone looking to escape the summer heat and humidity. At 9,000 feet, it’s ideal for the outdoor adventurer. Farish has a variety of accommodations and rentals including pedal boats, bikes, tents, and fishing poles. Hike or bike the miles of trails on site or in the adjoining national forest. Venture down into Colorado Springs and visit the United States Air Force Academy while you are there.
Kids are only little once, and we have a limited number of years to show them the world. Take advantage of the vacation opportunities that the military offers while you can. Your kids will thank you for it.