From going skiing in the Alps to a dream vacation at Walt Disney World, military families love making memories together. With some amazing opportunities nearby military installations around the world, spring break is a fabulous time to get out there and see what there is to offer… without going too far from home.
A tour of Washington, D.C. is ideal in the springtime. Make sure to visit the Smithsonians and as many of the historic sites as you can such as the Washington National Cathedral, Ford’s Theatre, President Lincoln’s Cottage, the White House, and the Capitol Building. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are all must-sees as well. Beyond regular tourist attractions, pay your respects at Arlington National Cemetery, sneak around the International Spy Museum, and jump on a bus, trolley tour, segway, or bike share to easily get around the city.
This is a spring breaker’s dream. Start your adventure in LA and Hollywood, then visit Universal Studios, movie stars’ homes, and Griffith Park Observatory. After that, head to Orange County for fun at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and the beach. Finish your trip with a visit to the San Diego Zoo or Balboa Park with its museums. Don’t miss out on Coronado Island, a place to walk around and have a tasty drink on of the best beaches in the United States. Plan to take a tour of the historic hotel, built in 1877. If you’re adventurous, take a helicopter ride over the whole San Diego area.
Flights are cheap between the islands, and you can plan a fun getaway very easily. Invite the family to visit during the week off and make some memories together on the islands. Go snorkeling. Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Take in a luau and visit the many fantastic beaches like Waikiki, Oahu, or Lahaina on Maui. Stay at the Hale Koa Hotel–an Armed Forces Recreation Center resort hotel on Oahu–or the Barking Sands Beach Cottages on Kauai–part of the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites–for affordable accommodations. Don’t forget to visit the Dole Plantation and enjoy their fabulous Dole Whips while taking the tour.
Nashville is an easy trip for people stationed in the midwest or the south. Visit Opryland, the downtown area, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Eat pulled pork with a side of sweet tea. Take the kids to the Nashville Zoo and the Adventure Science Center and explore the many lakes, parks, and natural beauty of the area such as Old Hickory Lake, Percy Priest Lake, Stones River Greenway, and Long Hunter State Park. There’s also the Land Between the Lakes, which is just an hour and a half from Nashville.
Plan a trip to visit Garmisch-Partenkirchen, just a few hours from many of the military installations in Germany. There are breathtaking views of the Alps, walking trails, and a quaint German village to explore. You can stay at Edelweiss, the military resort, or on the economy in a German hotel. Want to get out of the country? Explore Italy, Austria, or a number of other European countries easily by train or use a discount airline like Ryanair to see more of the continent quickly. There is so much to see and do when you are stationed in Europe and the train system makes getting around easy. If you want to travel as a group, sign up for a tour with your local USO.
Head to San Antonio for spring break. (And if you happen to be in the area on March 10th, sign up for our very first MilSpouseFest of the year.) Take in the River Walk–15 miles of sidewalks and paths along a picturesque river, filled with sidewalk cafes and cute shops– and visit the Alamo. Take the kids to Six Flags or Sea World. Hungry? The kids will love Beefy’s Backyard, with its indoor play area, soccer field, and an indoor game room so they can play while you eat. Don’t forget to eat at Chris Madrid’s– home of the best burgers in San Antonio. Make sure to visit the San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest church in Texas. This cathedral played an important role in the Battle of the Alamo and is said to be the final resting place of David Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William B. Travis. If you’ve already explored San Antonio, a short road trip will get you to Dallas or Austin, which both have their own unique histories and attractions.
The Carolinas and Florida
Visit the Outer Banks and Wilmington in North California for chill beach fun. In South Carolina, explore Charleston, Hilton Head Island, and Myrtle Beach. Want to go further south? Head to Florida. Disney always makes for a memorable vacation and remember to take advantage of their Shades of Green and Armed Forces Salute military discounts.
New York City is within a few hours’ drive of a lot of military installations. Visit Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, walk through Times Square. You should also check out the High Line which is an elevated freight railway turned urban park with benches, bushes and a track that weaves throughout the meatpacking district. This is a prime location to take in a New York City sunset. New York City is also known for its food and restaurants. The American Girl Cafe, Big Daddy’s Diner, Serendipity 3, Franny’s, Ninja Café, and Action Burger can all be a lot of fun for families. If you’re looking for a unique breakfast location, check out the Kith Treats Cereal Bar with 23 different types of cereals to choose from. If your children are old enough, take them to a Broadway show or a concert. (Make sure to visit your local MWR for special pricing on tickets.)
If you are stationed in Japan, spend the week exploring your host country. Visit Kyoto –the capital of Japan until the 1870s– with its temples, palaces, and gardens. Visit Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial and museum. Plan to spend a few days exploring Tokyo. Visiting in the spring means you can catch the blooming cherry blossoms as they will be in full bloom at the end of March and the beginning of April. Before you head home, make sure you visit one of the many cat cafes located throughout Japan, many of them in Tokyo.