Location: About 15 miles north of downtown San Diego, California, near the town of Mira Mesa.
Military Population: 11,202 active-duty service members, 918 reservists and 319 civilian personnel
This former cattle and citrus ranch was once used by both the Navy and Marine Corps for advanced pilot training during World War II. After the war, the Navy turned it into “Fightertown USA,” home to F-14 squadrons and TOPGUN during its 50-year occupation of the base. Today, Miramar houses the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, an aviation element of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Temperate weather, water activities galore, top-notch Mexican restaurants and more — congratulations if you are currently stationed here. Check out a few recommendations for your time beyond the base.
- Spot a wild seal or sea lion along the La Jolla beach shoreline — from the sea caves to the Children’s Pool Beach (also known as Casa Beach).
- Learn to fly a stunt plane at Sky Combat Ace, created by an Air Force veteran fighter pilot who wanted to bring the thrill of flying fighter jets to everyone.
- Take advantage of free admission to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. Active-duty service members receive a complimentary one-day pass, while spouses and eligible dependents get a 10% discount.
- Catch a wave the right way with San Diego Surf School, offering daily lessons, camps, retreats, rentals and more.
- Indulge in traditional Mexican street food such as slow–cooked beef shank tacos at City Tacos or head to Lola 55 for a more upscale south-of-the-border experience.
- Encounter a dolphin up close at SeaWorld San Diego. The Waves of Honor program offers free admission to active-duty service members and their families.
- Hike often at Joshua Tree National Park and never trek the same trail twice.
- Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the aircraft carrier at the USS Midway Museum. See side-by-side replicas of the first and the newest class of aircraft carriers.