Please note: Contact each destination’s website before visiting, as there could be changes due to COVID-19, and remain updated on any travel limitations. Despite the pandemic, consider planning a bucket list of sorts for exploration when able.
Military families get to play local and tourist at the same time as orders bring them to unfamiliar zip codes around the U.S. and world. We are always the new kids in town — usually in a place just long enough to get to know the local attractions. Exploring duty stations is one component of this unique lifestyle, and the added bonus of a military discount leaves little room for reasons not to get creative with family outings.
California and the Pacific Northwest are home to some of the largest military bases in the country, including Camp Pendleton in California and Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State. Throw in some smaller installations like NAS Whidbey Island, Camp Polk, Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, and Coronado and you can find military families up and down the West Coast.
Information, Tickets, and Tours (ITT), Leisure Travel Office (LTO), or MWR Tickets and Travel offices are a one-stop-shop for discount tickets in the local area at your local base. Tickets are available for purchase on installations and these offices also provide a list of what other discounts are available.
Travel discounts for military families stationed in California and the Pacific Northwest
The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage offers a $4 military discount to all active-duty military or veterans at the ticket booth.
If you are looking for a getaway within Alaska’s wilderness, the Princess Lodges offers a 10% hotel discount as well as a 10% rail tour packages combining both hotel and rail tickets for both the Denali Princess and Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodges.
Looking to explore Alaska by rail? The Alaska Railroad offers 20% off the published retail price of rail fares to the military.
Get your ski on at several places.
- Squaw Valley Alpine offers free lift tickets to active duty.
- China Peak has discounted tickets for active-duty military, veterans, and military dependents, including holidays!
- Dodge Ridge offers discount daily lift tickets for veterans, active-duty military, and their dependents.
- Mt. Shasta Ski Park offers a $35 lift ticket on any day of the week for active and retired military with ID.
- The Sierra Resort at Lake Tahoe offers free skiing or riding on Sundays in 2021 with the presentation of a CAC card at the ticket office.
The Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel is a full-service hotel that requires membership, and active-duty members pay $35 in fees vice $200. This membership affords offers a special rate at their hotel, and you can book a room at the member rate and establish membership upon check-in.
There are several Napa Valley wineries that offer free tastings for active-duty military. Some of these tastings cost upwards of $65 per tasting, so a free tasting is quite the offering. Most of these wineries require reservations for tastings, so make sure to check the website or call for reservations prior to going. Free tastings for active duty are offered at:
- Peju Province Winery
- St. Supery Estates Vineyards and Winery
- V. Sattui Winery
- Joseph Phelps Winery
- Mumm Napa
- Hall Rutherford
- Black Stallion
- Valley of the Moon
- Sutter Homes
- Sequoia Grove
- Pine Ridge
- Rutherford Ranch
- Cakebread Cellars offers up to 4 free tastings.
- Free tastings for active duty and dependents are offered at Grgich Hills Estate
The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach offers $3 off adult admission and $1.50 off child admission at the ticket window. However, check ITT or MWR ticket offices first — they often have tickets with heavier discounts.
In San Diego, there is a bevy of discounts on offer for the city that is home to several military bases. Birch Aquarium offers $2 off admission tickets at the door. The San Diego Zoo offers free admission to active-duty military all day, every day they are open. At the door, tickets for military dependents are offered at a 10% discount. Sea World San Diego participates in the Waves of Honor Program, offering free admission to active-duty military and up to three military dependents. The USS Midway Museum offers free admission to active-duty military and veterans.
In Balboa Park, military families are offered free admission on a rotating schedule:
- San Diego Model Railroad Museum free every 1st Tuesday
- San Diego Natural History Museum free every 1st Tuesday
- San Diego Museum of Us (Formerly Museum of Man) free every 3rd Tuesday
- San Diego Museum of Art free every 3rd Tuesday
- San Diego Air and Space Museum free every 4th Tuesday, active duty always free
The Japanese Friendship Garden offers $2 off admission to military families.
If you are headed to a movie theater throughout California, consider checking with your base ticket office for 50% discounted tickets at Cinepolis. This theater offers luxury experiences with reclining chairs and dine-in food at some theaters. Most base ticket offices also offer discounted tickets for AMC or Regal Cinemas.
If skiing is more to your liking, check out Big Bear Mountain Resort, which offers 25% off the rate for one-day lift tickets at the ticket window. They also offer discounted season passes and have specials for “uniform days,” so make sure to ask.
The popular Disneyland park offers military discount admission at the park’s ticket booths on both their Magic Your Way and Military Salute tickets. The best deal is at your local base ticket office, as you also get the benefit of not paying taxes on the tickets.
If checking out wineries is on your to-do list, Temecula Valley is worth the visit. Wiens Family Cellars offers a two-for-one tasting coupon. Wilson Creek Winery offers two-for-one wine tasting coupons on their website and a 20% off military discount on bottles of wine purchased. LongShadow Ranch Winery is owned by a Marine and offers coupons on their website for tastings.
Boeing Future of Flight in Seattle offers a $5 discount for the factory tour and $2 off tickets to the gallery/sky deck to military members with ID.
The Northwest Museum offers $1 ticket admission to active duty and retired military.
The Tacoma Art Museum offers free admission to active duty, reservists, veterans, and their families.
The Museum of Glass in Tacoma offers a 15% discount to active military personnel and their families all year long.
Active duty military personnel and their families are offered free admission to the Nutcracker Museum.
The Point Defiance Zoo offers 10% off admission to military family members. Veterans get in for free over Veterans Day weekend, and half-off admission is offered to veterans’ immediate family members over Veterans Day weekend.
The Washington State History Museum offers $3 adult admission to active-duty and retired military with ID.
The Washington State Fair offers free admission to all active, reserve, and retired military and their dependents on Military Appreciate Day every Monday that the State Fair is open.
Whatcom Museum offers $2 off admission for the military with valid ID.
The Portland Children’s Museum offers a $2 discount on tickets for the military and their families.
The Oregon Zoo offers $2 off admission for military and their dependents. They also offer free admission for active-duty military personnel and veterans on July 4 and Memorial Day.
Alaska, California, and the PNW
Throughout the Pacific Northwest, military personnel save 10% on the lowest available rail fare and get ahead of the ticket line on Amtrak, and military children save 10% on top of the 50% discount rate offered to children.
Current U.S. military members and their dependents in the Armed Forces are offered a free annual pass to the National Parks, which can be used at National Parks across the United States, including the North Cascades National Park in Washington state, Crater Lake in Oregon, or the Kenai Fjords in Alaska.
Blue Star Museums offers free admission to many museums from Armed Forces Day through Labor Day. While the program did not run in 2020, it may be available in 2021. Museums like Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene participated in the past.