Looking for a quick escape this fall? Plan a fun getaway by staying on an Air Force base!
That’s right! Military bases can also serve as excellent “bases” for exploring a part of the country you’d like to visit. When traveling for leisure, eligible patrons can stay in military lodging on a space-available basis. Many Air Force Inns are a great value, especially outside of the summer months, when rates at locations with seasonal pricing are lower.
Staying on base puts you in close proximity to other faciliies, such as the Air Force Exchange, movie theater, fitness center, and golf course, plus other great MWR activities, including tours through the base Information, Tickets, and Travel (ITT) office and equipment rental through the Outdoor Recreation office.
Here are seven ideas for fall vacations that take advantage of the beautiful season!
Please contact the facilities directly for current room rates and to make lodging reservations. Some bases may temporarily restrict space available reservations due to mission needs.
1. Fairchild Inn, Fairchild Air Force Base (Washington)
Fairchild Air Force Base is only 20 minutes west of Spokane.
The Fairchild Inn has two locations. One is on the main side of the base, and the other is near the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) School, about 5 miles away. They have Visiting Quarters (standard hotel rooms) as well as 1- and 2-bedroom Temporary Lodging Facilities (“TLFs” – family-friendly suites with a living room and kitchen), including a limited number of pet-friendly TLFs.
What to See and Do Near Fairchild AFB
Spokane is an easy drive from the base, and while it is an urban area, it has plenty of nature to balance it out. The 90-acre Manito Park has five distinctive gardens, including the incredible Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese garden.
Spokane Falls is another must-see attraction, with great viewpoints throughout the city. Don’t miss the SkyRide gondola to see the Falls from the air!
Check out the Visit Spokane website to see all the other cool things to do in Spokane.
A short distance from downtown Spokane (and only 30 minutes from the base) is Riverside State Park. It’s host to a 40-mile paved trail that extends all the way to Idaho and 600 acres of terrain for off-road vehicles.
Fairchild’s Outdoor Recreation program does a great job of helping patrons take advantage of the many outdoor recreation opportunities in the local area. They have an extensive list of equipment rentals, including numerous sizes and types of boats. Organized trips include kayaking, ziplining, skydiving, and horseback riding.
2. The Sagebrush Inn, Mountain Home Air Force Base (Idaho)
Mountain Home Air Force Base is an hour southeast of Boise.
The Sagebrush Inn offers Visiting Quarters and 1- and 2-bedroom TLFs. They have 12 pet-friendly rooms.
What to See and Do Near Mountain Home AFB
If there’s something you like to do outdoors, you can probably do it here. Mountain Home Air Force Base (MHAFB) is surrounded by nature, including various state parks, national conservation areas, and wildlife refuges. It offers opportunities for climbing, hiking, fishing, camping, mountain biking, rafting, horseback riding . . . you name it! The area also has numerous hot springs.
Right on base, MHAFB has a Trap & Skeet range and is home to the 18-hole Silver Sage Golf Course, plus an 18-hole mini golf course. Check out their Outdoor Recreation offerings, including rental equipment and seasonal outdoor adventure trips!
Boise, known as “The City of Trees,” is a great day trip from the base. Rent bikes and tour the city along the Boise Greenbelt, a 25-mile path that follows the Boise River. For a greater challenge, visit the J. A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation Bike Park, and test your skill on the marked trails!
Boise also boasts many great cafes, restaurants, and breweries along with museums and other cultural activities.
3. Pike’s Peak Lodging and Rampart Lodge, Colorado Springs, Colorado
You can stay at Air Forces Inns on two Air Force installations in Colorado Springs.
Pikes’s Peak Lodging at Peterson Air Force Base has several different room options, including Visiting Quarters (some with shared bath) plus 1- and 2-bedroom TLFs.
Rampart Lodge, located on the beautiful campus of the Air Force Academy, has standard Visiting Quarters, Suites, and 1- and 2-bedroom TLFs.
What to See and Do in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is an outdoorsman’s paradise, with endless opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, river rafting and other adventures. Surrounded by forested mountains, it’s the perfect fall destination.
While you’re there, hike, cycle, drive, or take a train to the top of the iconic Pike’s Peak, aka “America’s Mountain.”
If you’re up for a real challenge, climb the Manitou Incline, a trail on Pike’s Peak that runs along the track of an old cable car line. With over 2000 feet in elevation gain in less than one mile, it’s an extremely difficult trek that will test your endurance.
Visit the Outdoor Recreation offices at Peterson AFB and the Air Force Academy to find out what equipment rentals and adventure trips they offer to help you take advantage of the opportunities in the area.
If you’re a golfer, bring your clubs and play the Air Force Academy’s Eisenhower Golf Course. It has two 18-hole courses, one of which has been named the top Department of Defense golf course and a top 100 course in the U.S.!
Finally, don’t miss the #1 indoor attraction in Colorado Springs: the United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum!
4. Wright-Patterson Inns, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Ohio):
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is located in western Ohio, 20 minutes east of Dayton and about an hour from both Columbus and Cincinnati.
The Wright-Patterson Inns have Visiting Quarters and 2- and 3-bedroom TLFs, some of which are pet-friendly.
What to See and Do Near Wright-Patterson AFB
A visit to Wright-Patterson makes for a great getaway in the central region of the U.S.
The city of Dayton is known as the “Birthplace of Aviation,” and Wright-Patterson is home to the very popular National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
You can also visit the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, which encompasses several different sites in and around Dayton, including the Wright Brothers Museum.
If you’re a golfer, make sure you bring your clubs! The base boasts two courses: Prairie Trace, which has an 18-hole and a 9-hole course, and Twin Base, an 18-hole course that is located outside the installation and is open to civilians. Both courses have a driving range and practice facilities.
This region is also a great area to view fall foliage, and you can enjoy it at Dayton’s many metroparks, several of which are very close to the base. These parks offer opportunities for cycling, walking, and fishing.
5. Razorback Inn, Little Rock Air Force Base (Arkansas)
Little Rock Air Force Base is located about 25 miles northwest of downtown Little Rock.
The Razorback Inn offers Visiting Quarters along with 1- and 2-bedroom TLFs. including a limited number of pet-friendly TLFs.
What to See and Do Near Little Rock AFB
The Little Rock area is full of amazing places to enjoy the great outdoors, all within a couple hours of the base. If you enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, biking or rock climbing, it’s the perfect destination for a fall getaway. It’s also a fantastic place to view autumn foliage.
Petit Jean State Park is about 75 minutes from the base and has the state’s highest peak.
Little Rock AFB is less than a 90-minute drive to Hot Springs National Park, where you can visit the thermal pools, tour the historic Fordyce Bathhouse, or hike the many trails throughout the park.
Ozark National Forest is also within 2 hours by car.
Little Rock AFB’s Outdoor Recreation office rents all types of equipment, including boats and kayaks, mountain bikes, fishing rods, trailers, and camping equipment. Check out their schedule online to see upcoming trips and tours!
6. Niagara Lodge, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (New York)
Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is in Upstate New York, less than 5 miles from the famous Falls and right next to Niagara Falls International Airport.
The Niagara Lodge has more than 200 guest rooms, all of which are Visiting Quarters.
What to See and Do Near Niagara Falls ARS
Needless to say, the main attraction is Niagara Falls State Park, where you can view the Falls up close in the Cave of the Winds or by taking a boat tour on the Maid of the Mist. The Park also has miles of trails for hiking and biking, and they offer guided tours of Niagara Gorge from mid-May through October.
Other area attractions include Old Fort Niagara, an historic fort that was, at various points, occupied by France, Great Britain, and the United States. The Niagara Falls area also boasts an aquarium, an aerospace museum, an outlet mall, and many other fun attractions.
If you want to relax and let someone else do the driving, the Discover Niagara Shuttle is a free hop-on/ hop-off bus that covers 21 popular destinations over a 14-mile route.
Finally, don’t miss the nightly illumination of the Falls and the fireworks that take place every night through early October!
7. Carolina Pines Inn, Shaw Air Force Base (South Carolina)
Shaw Air Force Base is located about an hour east of Columbia, South Carolina’s capital city.
The Carolina Pines Inn has Visiting Quarters along with 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom TLFs, some of which allow pets.
What to See and Do Near Shaw AFB
You can take full advantage of South Carolina’s natural beauty while staying at Shaw. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, or golf, you’re in the right spot!
Manchester State Forest and neighboring Poinsett State Park are only a short drive away. Both parks have miles of unpaved trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. They also contain sections of the popular Palmetto Trail, which connects the mountains of South Carolina to the coast.
Slightly farther afield is Congaree National Park, where you can hike through the old-growth hardwood forest and canoe, kayak, or fish in the Congaree and Wateree Rivers.
The capital city of Columbia is less than an hour from the base. Known for its southern charm, it has plenty of boutiques and restaurants along with its own nature sites, including the Columbia Canal & Riverfront Park.
If you enjoy learning about US history, head up to South Carolina’s Olde English District to see important sites, battlefields, and monuments from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars as well as the Civil Rights Movement.
(Fun fact: Shaw AFB also runs a military resort called Wateree Recreation Area that is located in the Olde English District. It’s one of many military recreation facilities throughout the U.S.)
While on base, enjoy the beautiful greens at Carolina Lakes Golf Course and take advantage of everything the Outdoor Recreation office has to offer.
What Part of the U.S Would You Like to Visit?
There are dozens of locations around the U.S. for great fall getaways. When staying on an Air Force base, you get a spacious, comfortable room, access to free laundry facilities, and the convenience of other base amenities. Also, if you are traveling with multiple family members (or pets), the TLFs are an especially good deal.
Take advantage of your access to military bases and plan a fun family vacation that won’t break the bank!
For more fun vacation ideas using your military benefits, learn more about military recreational lodging, including resorts, cabins, and campgrounds!