It's not too late to make last-minute vacation plans — and you don't need to spend thousands of dollars. Good deals are available right under your nose, with Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard installations near you offering discount tickets to theme parks, concerts and other activities. Here are just a few examples:
• The Coast Guard's Lake Tahoe, Calif., Recreational Lodging features four A-frame cottages, with rates as low as $25 per night for a one-bedroom for an active-duty couple in paygrades E-1 to E-5.
• The Navy's Pacific Beach Resort & Conference Center in Washington state has 23 three- and four-bedroom cottages, motel rooms ($45 a night in the peak season), suites, 43 RV sites and tent sites, with beach access, hiking, a fitness center, a bowling center and a restaurant. Visit http://www.navylifepnw.com/">www.navylifepnw.com and click on "Pacific Beach" on the left.
• The Navy's Cottages at Dam Neck, Va., has 16 oceanfront cottages and three others within walking distance of the ocean. In peak season (through Sept. 11 this year) the military rate is $812 weekly for a two-bedroom cottage.
• Randolph Air Force Base's Canyon Lake Recreation Area in Texas has RV sites, a marina, a fishing pier and a beach.
• The Coast Guard's two-bedroom Point Betsie Recreation Cottage on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan is surrounded by sand dunes, with access to the lake 200 yards from the back door. Reservations are required and must be made by phone at 231-352-9151.
Various discounts also are available around the country. For example, Anheuser-Busch is letting service members and as many as three direct dependents enter SeaWorld, Busch Gardens or Sesame Place parks with a single-day free admission. For more information, check out http://www.herosalute.com/cavatx/index.html">www.herosalute.com/cavatx/index.html.
Some discounts are available only through military morale, welfare and recreation offices (in the Air Force, they're called Services Agency offices; the Marine Corps has Marines Corps Community Services). These discounts are generally found at tickets and tours offices. You can visit some installation websites for MWR information, or check with your local installation's MWR office to get information about discounts available at locations near where you'll be traveling.
Here are some places to hunt for deals, all open to members of any service:
• Government Vacation Rewards, through your exchange online store. For example, at http://www.aafes.com/default_s.aspx">www.aafes.com, scroll down to the exchange online mall pull-down menu on the left, and click on "Government Vacation Rewards."
• http://old.armymwr.com/portal/travel/recreationcenters/default.asphttp:/old.armymwr.com/portal/travel/recreationcenters/default.asp">Armed Forces Recreation Centers: Resorts in South Korea, Honolulu, Germany, Orlando, Fla., and Fort Story, Va.
• http://www.armymwr.com/recleisure/outdoors/paths.aspx">Paths Across America: Campgrounds across the U.S. on military installations and recreation areas.
• http://www.armymwr.com/travel/default.aspx">Army travel: Both official travel and recreational lodging; information on discount tickets and tours.
• http://www.usmc-mccs.org/itt/index.cfm">Marine Corps Tickets and Travel.
• http://www.mwr.navy.mil/mwrprgms/itt.html">Navy Information, Tickets and Travel.
• http://public.afsv.net/Travel/">Air Force Services Information, Tickets and Travel.
• http://www.usmc-mccs.org/lodging/index.cfm">Marine Corps Recreational Lodging.
• https://www.navy-lodge.com/">Navy Lodges.
• http://www.mwr.navy.mil/mwrprgms/cabin.htm">Navy Cabins and RV parks.
• http://www.uscg.mil/mwr/lodging/Lodging.asp">Coast Guard Recreational Lodging.
• Air Force and Navy official lodging (available on a space-available basis for other MWR-authorized travelers).