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For many families, the last Monday in May represents a day to BBQ, hit the beach and embrace the unofficial start of summer. While having a day off of work and school is great, there is definitely more to Memorial Day than just flip flops and hamburgers. Memorial Day is a day to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

However, it has also become a good time of year to also honor those who have served, or are currently serving, in our country’s armed forces. To give a small thank you to military families, there are many deals for active military members and veterans at a variety of merchants. This includes everything from free food and theme-park admission tickets to free checked bags and discounted hotel stays.

Related: Credit Card Benefits for Active Duty Military Members

In This Post

Free Admission to Theme Parks

Many theme parks across the United States are offering military members and veterans free admission to theme parks, with some extending the offer to their family members, too. Here is a sample of many theme parks to spend the day Monday:

California’s Great AmericaThis amusement park in Santa Clara, California is offering free admission for the entire Memorial Day weekend (Saturday, Sunday and Monday included) for all active and retired military members. Discounted tickets can be purchased for friends and family at just $24 each (up to 6 discounted tickets).

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom: Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, all active military, retired military, National Guard, veterans with honorable or medical discharge and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps will receive free admission over two weekends — May 25-27 and June 1-4. Discounted tickets for immediate family members can be purchased for only $29 (up to 6 discounted tickets). 

King Dominion: Located in Doswell, Virginia, all active and retired military members receive free admission between May 25 through May 27. You can purchase additional tickets at a discount for only $29.

Cedar Point: This massive amusement park in Ohio is offering all active, retired or honorably discharged military members free admission to both Cedar Point and Cedar Point Shores Waterpark on May 24 – May 27. They are also extending this offer for July 4th weekend (July 4 through July 7) and every Monday during the summer (May 13 through Sept. 2). During these military appreciation days, you can also purchase up to six tickets at a discount for immediate family members.

Legoland (Florida)Although not limited to Memorial Day, it is good to know that active duty service members receive free admission every single day of the year. Veterans and military families receive discounted tickets. (Here’s TPG‘s Guide to Legoland Florida.)

Legoland (California)Available every day of the year, military members can receive a one-day Legoland ticket for $69 or a 3-day resort hopper for just $84.99.

Colonial Williamsburg: Veterans, active-duty military and up to three direct dependents receive free admission throughout Memorial Day weekend.

Mystic AquariumLocated in Mystic, Connecticut, active duty military receive free admission between May 25 – May 27. Military family members receive a $10 discount.

Silverwood Theme ParkDuring the entire Memorial Day Weekend, this theme park in Athol, Idaho is offering free admission to all military personnel, veterans, police officers and firefighters. Immediate family members (spouse and children) will receive discounted rates ($24.00 plus tax, ages 8-64, $19.00 plus tax, ages 3-7 and 65+),

Crayola Experience: Located in Plano, Texas, all active, retired and veteran military members receive free admission throughout the month of May. Plus, immediate family members receive 25% off admission.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical GardensAll members of the military — active and retired — will receive free admission to the Zoo on Memorial Day, July 4 and Veteran’s Day. Half-price admission tickets can be purchased for immediate family members (up to six discounted tickets).

Birmingham Zoo: All weekend long, the zoo is giving free admission to veterans, active and retired military, and their dependents.

Oregon ZooOn Monday, May 27, the zoo will offer free admission to military veterans families, active military families and families of deployed military personnel.

Edaville Railroad, Thomas Land: Located in Carver, Massachusetts, military, police, fire rescue, veterans or retired service persons receive free admission. Immediate family members are just $20 per person (kiddos under 2 are free). Hero appreciation takes place May 25 through May 27 as well as many other dates throughout the summer.

(Photo courtesy of Edaville)
(Photo courtesy of Edaville)

Free Admission to Museums

Between May 18 and September 2, 2019, active-duty military families can visit over 2,000 museums throughout the United States for free as part of the Blue Star Museums program.

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. (Photo by Benkrut / Getty Images)
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. (Photo by Benkrut / Getty Images)

Free Movies

Military personnel and their families, as well as veterans, can receive discounted or complimentary movie tickets at over 167 theaters across 42 states. This is part of the Blue Star Theater program.

Free Food

Many restaurants around the United States are honoring active military members and veterans by offering discounted or free meals. I suggest calling your local restaurant in advance to make sure they are participating. Some of the more popular chain restaurants include:

Applebee’s: Active duty and veterans, along with their family, will receive 10% off their bill year-round, but veterans get a free meal on Veterans Day — Nov. 11.

Fogo de ChãoOn Monday, military veterans and active duty personnel will receive 50% off their meal (and up to three guests dining will get 10% off their meal).

Hooters: On Monday, current and former U.S. military members will receive a complimentary meal from a special Memorial Day menu when purchasing a drink. Throughout the year, Hooters also offers a 10% veteran discount everyday day and a 20% discount on Tuesdays.

Logan’s Roadhouse: Active duty military members and veterans will receive a free meal from the “$9.49 American Roadhouse Meals” between 3pm – 6pm on Monday (not available in NC, SC, or Augusta, GA locations).

Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub: On Monday, all veterans and active duty military who purchase any meal will receive a free entrée from the “9 Real Size Entrées for $9.99 Menu.”

Outback Steakhouse: Between May 23 and May 27, all servicemen and women, police officers, firefighters, first responders and military personnel and their immediate family members will receive 20% off their meal. Throughout the year, Outback Steakhouse also offers a 10% off Heroes Discount.

Texas de Brazil: Get 50% off lunch or dinner between Memorial Day Monday and May 29th. Bring up to eight guests and they’ll receive 20% off their meals.

Discounted Hotel Rates

US military personnel are offed discounted rates at many hotels throughout the entire year.

Best Western: Veterans, military and government personnel enjoy discounts at or below per diem at Best Western Hotels & Resorts throughout North America.

Choice Hotels: Active duty/retired military personnel, federal employees, cost reimbursable contractors and employees of foreign governments are eligible for the Choice Hotels military discount and government hotel rate program at over 2,700 participating properties. You can also take advantage of the Feed a Vet program and save up to 20% by booking in advance with the Pay Now and Save Rate.

Hilton Hotels & ResortsState, federal and United States military employees can take advantage of the Government/Military rate box and receive discounted hotel rates. The hotel chain also offers 10% savings for active and retired military, veterans and their families on leisure stays.

InterContinental Hotels GroupWith the IHG Military Appreciation Rate, active or retired US or Canada military personnel, or dependent family members, will receive discounted rates at participating IHG hotels across Canada, the United States, Central and South America.

Wyndham Hotels GroupMilitary members, veterans and their families receive up to 20% off the “Best Available Rate” at participating Wyndham Hotel Group locations.

MarriottDiscounted federal, state and local government rates are made available to government and military personnel.

Motel 6All active and retired military personnel and their families can receive up to a 10% discount at over 1,400 locations.

Red Roof Inn: Government, military, vets and retirees receive 10% off for government and military official travel as well as leisure travel.

The Beach House, A Holiday Inn Resort. (Photo courtesy of IHG)
The Beach House, A Holiday Inn Resort. (Photo courtesy of IHG)

Airfare Discounts and Benefits

Similar to discounted hotel rates, military personnel can also receive discounted airfare on select major air carriers. Just keep in mind that these discounts are typically not in addition to promotional or web fares, where you might actually find less expensive prices. Many airlines will also extend free checked bags or other benefits to military personnel.

Alaska AirlinesActive duty personnel and their dependents get up to five checked bags for free. Active duty members will also receive a discount of just $150 plus tax when shipping their pet (normal price is typically between $250 and $350) as well as other benefits including pre-boarding privileges and a 15% discount on food purchased in-flight.

American Airlines: Government or military fares are offered in some markets, but you will have to call to book. Active U.S. military personnel traveling on orders can also check five bags for free; those traveling for leisure can check three bags for free. Active military members can also receive special perks such as early boarding and access to the Admirals Club. TPG has even been told that American Airlines allows active U.S. Military members (and their family members traveling on the same reservation) to receive complimentary access to Preferred Seats and Main Cabin Extra Seats from an airport agent if available.

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Delta Air LinesFor active members of the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, Delta provides exclusive military discounts on travel. Just for active-duty U.S. service members, Delta also offers military discount flights not available to civilian customers. To book for personal travel or travel on military orders, call the Delta Military and Government desk at 800-325-1771. On military orders, you can check up to five bags for free and two – three bags for personal travel (two bags if traveling on in Basic Economy, Main Cabin, or Delta Comfort; three bags if traveling in First Class, Delta Premium Select, or Delta One). Active duty military personnel will also receive pre-boarding access.

Frontier Airlines: U.S. military passengers with active duty status will receive one free personal item, one free carry-on bag and two free checked bags.

Hawaiian Airlines: U.S. military personnel will receive waive bag checked fees — travelers on military orders (including qualified dependents) will receive up to four bags for free while those on personal travel will receive up to two bags for free.

JetBlue: U.S. Active Duty Military, Retired Military Veterans, National Guard and Reserve members can receive a 5% discount on all JetBlue flights. There are two different offers: Veterans Advantage and Active Duty Military Personnel. Active duty traveling for duty (and dependents) can check up to five bags for free. Active duty traveling for leisure (and dependents) can check up to two bags for free.

SouthwestSouthwest offers special tickets for Military and Government, but you must call to book. All Southwest passengers receive two checked bags for free, but military passengers traveling on active duty or permanent change of stations orders will not be subject to excess, oversize, or overweight baggage charges (as long as none of the pieces exceeds 100 lbs and 80″).

Spirit AirlinesFor active duty military, Spirit will provide two free checked bags and a free carry-on, in addition to the already free personal item.

United AirlinesU.S. military veterans, active duty military, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families will receive up to a 5% discount on tickets purchased on United.com (must be operated by United or United Express). You must register with Veterans Advantage first to take advantage of this discount. Active duty military personnel traveling on official orders or for pleasure can also check extra baggage free of charge. In some cases, military dependents will also be included. Additionally, active duty members will receive pre-boarding and access to United Club locations.

Returning soldier greeting girlfriend in airport. (Photo by Mark Edward Atkinson/Tracey Lee/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Edward Atkinson/Tracey Lee/Getty Images)

Bottom Line

If you are an active military member or veteran, first and foremost, thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do for our country. Now, go ahead and enjoy your perks. If you come across any great perks or deals for military families, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Jennifer Yellin covers family travel deals for TPG and blogs at Deals We Like. Follow her family’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured image by Caiaimage/Chris Ryan for Getty Images.

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