17 U.S. Military Recreation Facilities to Try on Your Next Vacation

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Great Pond Adventure Center (photo: US Navy)

Whether you’re planning a 2-week vacation or a weekend getaway, sometimes you just want something simple that won’t break the bank. Fortunately, there are military recreation areas all over the country that could be just what you’re looking for. With lodging options ranging from rustic campsites to upscale lodges, the 17 military MWR facilities highlighted below are just a sample of the possibilities!

(Looking for military recreation centers outside the contiguous U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii? Check out these OCONUS military recreation facilities).

This budget-friendly Panama City Beach military resort overlooks St. Andrews Bay. It offers log cabins and travel trailers as well as two RV parks. Amenities include a beach, marina, and children’s playground. You can rent virtually any recreational, camping, or outdoor party equipment you can think of. Of course, there are also plenty of things to do in Panama City Beach!

The log cabins sleep up to 6 people. They also have two RV parks, and they rent travel trailers for on- or off-site use. Contact NAVY MWR Panama City for current rates.

Reservation Policy: Up to 1 year in advance for active duty, 6 months for all others.

Destin Army Recreation Center (Florida)

This military recreation center is associated with Fort Moore (in Georgia – formerly Fort Benning) but is located along Florida’s beautiful Emerald Coast. There are many amazing things to do in Destin, and this facility is the perfect place to stay during your visit!

Destin Army Recreation Center is a 15-acre gated resort that offers a pool, splash park, fishing pier, and boat rentals. Accommodations include 2- and 3- bedroom villas, suites and studios, standard hotel rooms, and a newly-renovated RV park.

| Related Reading: Military MWR Resorts, Cottages, and Campgrounds

Rates vary based on the time of year. Visit Fort Moore MWR for detailed pricing.

Reservation Policy: You can book most lodging, except for the villas, up to a year in advance. Active duty can reserve villas 6 months out, and all others can book them 4 months in advance.

This 52-acre recreational area is part of Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. Although it’s only 30 minutes from Atlanta, come here for the boating, swimming, and other water sports.

They offer 1- to 4-bedroom cottages, camper cabins, RV sites, and tent camping along with boats and other equipment rental. Visit the Kings Bay MWR website for current rates.

Reservation Policy: Reservations are accepted up to 1 year in advance for active duty and Reservists, 6 months in advance for all others.

Lake Martin (Alabama)

Less than an hour from Maxwell AFB, Lake Martin is the perfect place to enjoy an outdoor escape with family. Relax on the beach or rent any type of water sports equipment, from kayaks and water tricycles to jet skis and pontoon boats.

Lake Martin offers cabins, cottages, and trailers, all of which sleep up to six people. They also have RV sites with either full hook-ups or water & electric only. Rates vary by rank and season, and they have great deals for longer stays during the winter months. Check out their website to see the details.

Reservation Policy: Active duty can reserve 6 months in advance; all others, 4 months.

Wateree Recreation Area (South Carolina)

Located in South Carolina’s Olde English District, Wateree Recreation Area is part of Shaw Air Force Base. The 25-acre wooded area offers plenty of opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, and relaxation.

Wateree has 16 fully-equipped cabins ranging in size from one to three bedrooms. They also have 22 RV sites. Facilities include a 3,500 square foot recreation hall that can be rented for group events and various boats, kayaks, and other water recreation equipment. Contact the facility for rates and reservations.

Reservation policy: Active duty assigned to Shaw AFB can reserve 120 days in advance. Reservations are accepted 90 days in advance for other active duty members and 60 days for all other authorized patrons.

Blakeslee Air Force Recreation Area (North Carolina)

This facility is located in Kure Beach, NC, between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. It offers a broad range of lodging options, including: RV, tent, and yurt camping; mobile homes; 1-, 3- and 4-bedroom cottages; and individual rooms in the lodge. Facilities include equipment rental, an outdoor pool, and a recreation building with fitness center.

Rates vary by accommodation, season, and pay grade. Peak Season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The rest of the year is considered Non-Peak.

Reservation Policy: Service members and families stationed at Seymour Johnson AFB can reserve up to 6 months in advance. Reservations are accepted 5 months in advance for other active duty and 4 months out for retirees.

Onslow Beach at Camp LeJeune (North Carolina)

Located on a beautiful stretch of the North Carolina coast, Onslow Beach is a relaxing, low-key destination. Depending on what time of year you visit, you might find shark’s teeth on the beach or see turtles hatching!

Lodging options at Onslow Beach include 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom lodges and an RV park. Visit the website for pricing.

Reservation Policy: You can reserve lodging at Onslow beach for 3, 4, or 7 nights at a time. If you are active duty stationed at MCB Camp Lejeune, MCAS New River, or MCAS Cherry Point, you can reserve up to 20 weeks in advance. Retirees and active duty from other locations can reserve 18 weeks in advance.

Cheatham Annex Recreation Cabins (Virginia)

Cheatham Annex (CAX) in Williamsburg, VA is the perfect family destination because it offers so much to do! The facility itself is on the York River, and guests can enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, and boating. But the area also has many other attractions, including Colonial Williamsburg, a water park, and Busch Gardens (an amusement park).

CAX offers two, three, and five-bedroom condos as well as 50 RV sites and tent camping. Visit their website for rates and reservations

Reservation policy: 12 months in advance for active duty, 6 months in advance for other eligible patrons.

This full-service recreation center makes a great getaway for military families stationed in the Washington, DC area. The facility is located on the Patuxent River, just a short distance from the Chesapeake Bay. It offers plenty of outdoor activities, including a beach and marina, fishing, miniature golf, and the Riverside Aquatics Complex. Solomon’s Island is located about 20 minutes from NAS Patuxent River and is also close to restaurants and bars.

Take your pick of the many accommodation options, including cottages, cabins, apartments, campsites, and yurts. Rates vary by season and type of accommodation. Check their website for details.

Reservation Policy: Up to 1 year in advance for active duty, 6 months for all others.

Deer Run Lodging (New Jersey)

This Navy Getaways facility on Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Earle is the perfect base from which to explore popular destinations on the East Coast. New York City and Philadelphia are both about an hour’s drive, while the famous Jersey Shore beaches are only about 20 minutes away. The area also has many outdoor recreation opportunities as well as several golf courses.

Lodging is in 2- and 3-bedroom townhomes and hotel rooms. Visit the website to download their full brochure with rates.

Great Pond Outdoor Adventure Center (Maine)

This U.S Navy recreation center in Maine is an activity of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard MWR. It offers a range of accommodation options, including two lodges designed for groups of eight to 11 guests, cabins, yurts, a “Tiny House,” and RV/campgrounds.

Great Pond Adventure Center is a good option for any season; you can rent equipment for boating, fishing, hiking, biking, ice skating, and other winter activities. There are also plenty of fun things to do in Acadia National Park, which is 90 minutes south.

Visit the website for lodging rates. They offer winter discounts between November 1 and April 30.

All eligible patrons can reserve up to 12 months in advance.

Lake of the Ozarks Recreation Area (Missouri)

This facility is part of Fort Leonard Wood and is located in Linn Creek, Missouri. Set in a beautiful area surrounded by Lake of the Ozarks State Park, LORA offers plenty of aquatic activities, including boating, jet-skiing, swimming, and water skiing. You can also enjoy hiking, biking, and fishing.

LORA has one-, two-, and three-bedroom cabins. They also have RV hookups and a campsite. Visit their website for details and pricing.

Reservation Policy: Up to 1 year in advance for active duty, 6 months for all others.

Joint Base San Antonio Recreation Park at Canyon Lake (Texas)

This year-round recreation area is located about an hour north of San Antonio, Texas. It offers relaxing beaches and a range of outdoor activities, including boating, biking, hiking, and the popular “Neo Canyon” for kids.

There are also many other things to do in Canyon Lake, including SCUBA diving!

The JBSA Recreation Park has various cabins and cottages that accommodate four to eight people. They also have an RV park and camping sites. Visit their website for current pricing.

Reservation Policy: Up to 6 months in advance for active duty, 3 months for all others.

Farish Recreation Area (Colorado)

This Air Force recreation area is a mountain resort that is part of the United States Air Force Academy. Only 23 miles from Colorado Springs, it offers great opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and camping.

Farish Recreation Area has a variety of lodging options at different price points, including cottages, lodge rooms, camper cabins, and RV sites. Check out their website for rates and photos.

Reservation Policy: 90 days in advance for active duty, 60 days for others.

Fort Tuthill (Arizona)

Fort Tuthill, an activity of Luke Air Force Base, is located in Flagstaff, Arizona. In addition to being an affordable launching point for your visit to the Grand Canyon (90 minutes away), Fort Tuthill offers year-round outdoor activities. In the warmer months, you can enjoy hiking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting. Visit during the winter to go skiing or snowboarding in the southern foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Fort Tuthill also provides numerous organized tours, including paddling, hiking, mountain biking, and rafting.

Lodging options include a hotel, cabins, yurts, and an RV/camping area. Accommodations are rustic but have all the necessities. Rates vary depending on the accommodation and time of year.

Reservation Policy: Up to 1 year in advance for active duty, 6 months for all others.

Fiddler’s Cove RV Park and Marina (California)

If you have an RV, you can access some of the best real estate in the country for much less than you would pay for any hotel. Fiddler’s Cove is located on Coronado Island in San Diego, across the Bay from Naval Base San Diego and one exit south of Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Coronado.

| Related Reading: How to Use Military MWR Campgrounds

While you’re there, rent boats from the marina, or, if you have your own kayaks, put them in the water only steps from your RV! You can also take advantage of the nearby bike trails, and the beach at NAB – accessible only to ID-card holders – is the best in the area!

Reservation Policy: Up to 1 year in advance for active duty, 6 months for all others.

This recreation facility is located along the beautiful, rugged coast of Washington, about 140 miles from Seattle. There’s something interesting to do anytime of year, whether it’s beach activities, whale-watching, storm-watching (yes, that’s a “thing” on the coast of Washington!), fishing, or hiking at nearby Olympic National Forest.

Pacific Beach has a regular hotel in addition to three, four and five-bedroom cottages. They also have an RV park and campgrounds.

Rates are the same for all patrons but vary based on the season. For detailed rates, visit the Pacific Beach web page.

Reservation Policy: Up to 14 months in advance for Active Duty, 12 months in advance for all others.

More Ideas!

If you like the idea of a military recreation area but aren’t close to any of the locations highlighted above, find more information about military hotels, resorts, and campgrounds here! You can also try searching Navy Getaways or the Army’s Paths Across America website for more ideas.

A shorter version of this article was originally published on PCSGrades.

Related Reading:

Top 5 Tips for Using Military Campgrounds

Annapolis, MD: The Perfect Military-Style Getaway

10 OCONUS Military Recreation Facilities to Try on Your Next Vacation

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