I seek to love those around me and expand their vision for a prosperous future. I believe we all have a God-given right to participate in the world around us. I am a career & business engagement coach. Certified resume writer & interview Specialist. USMC Veteran.
Over the past 15 years, I have exclusively provided travel support to the military community. And over these years have saved, on average, $125 per ticket based on military travel benefits not offered by the big online travel sites. This article will explain those benefits and how active-duty, dependents, traveling companions, and family members attending graduation can benefit. Benefits also extend to free installment plans for cruises and vacation packages.
Online sites such as Expedia, Priceline, Cheap-O-Air, and others:
don’t offer access to military class fares (discounts)
don’t provide military waivers for $250 rebooking or change fee if leave dates are changed.
don’t offer refunds for canceled leave orders
don’t classify the traveler as a military member or MIL
Before you book check with one of our military travel agents at 202-915-9195 or email@example.com. Or share your email for more military travel updates.
The fact you are active-duty military qualifies you for travel benefits not offered by the large online travel sites. And why is this? Simple, the military market is tiny compared to the millions of non-military travelers. And for this reason, online travel technology doesn’t take into account the military benefits. But we do.
What is a Military Class Fare or MIL ticket?
The majority of airlines offer military fares, often saving 15%-75% off of regular adult fares. However, these fares are not made public and go unsold. Military savings vary based on the dates of travel and itinerary. And if there is not a military fare available for a flight, it is still better to book as a military passenger to ensure the other benefits.
Military Passengers don’t pay rebooking or change fees.
One of the best perks of booking as a military passenger through an accredited military agency is avoiding paying a $250 change fee. Change fees, or rebooking fees, are incurred when the traveler needs to change their dates of travel based on their orders. In the case of online sites, they won’t offer to contact the airline to have this fee waived, thus passing the cost on to the military passenger.
For example, the other day, a military member was literally on there way to the airport and noticed they had booked the wrong return date. They sent me a text [yes, I take text from my clients], and by the time he arrived at the airport, the ticket was changed with no additional fees.
Free Checked bags and first to board.
Although free checked bags and boarding the plane first is a given with most airlines, I recommend always having your ticket issued as MIL, especially when traveling internationally.
Who is eligible for military fares, and where do you book?
Active-duty, dependents, and traveling companions are all eligible for military fare (class) tickets. But, must be ticketed together on the same record. Secondly, military families attending a military event, such as boot camp graduation, are not eligible for a military fare but do qualify for the waived change fees and refunds.
Example. Family members traveling to recruit graduation are encouraged to book their airline tickets late in training just in case the recruit is delayed medically. Unfortunately, this can result in higher fares and lack of availability. If booked correctly, however, family members can book early (and save) and modify their tickets later without penalty.
And I can’t end without tooting the horn of my excellent military travel agents. Our company is proud to employ active-duty spouses, veterans, and military family members as travel agents. Why? First, their work ethic and dedication is unmatched. Second, we have over 25 years of military experience, yes the ‘been there, done that,’ philosophy goes a long way when working with the military community.
I want to commit to earning your business by offering you the best-in-class customer support, lowest available fares, and guarantee to be booked as a military passenger.
Search fares and book:
Active Duty Airline Tickets: https://www.MilitaryTravelAgent.com
Ed Roshitsh offered to pay for the flights of five service members so they could be with their families for the holidays. That gesture has now inspired others to step up.
“I’ll personally pay to fly five random service members home,” the post read. That was Saturday around noon. Ed waited and waited. Eighteen hours went by with nothing. Then Sunday, it took off.
Roshitsh explained 60 service members from around the world have applied for help. Perhaps what’s more surprising is people have been stepping up and offering to pay for their flights home. Ed and his team wrote names onto slips of paper and then picked the winners out of a hat. (watch original drawing) When the dust settled a week later, over 65 service members had tickets home for the holiday.
As the agency, MilitaryTravelAgent.com that supported Ed’s effort, my team of active-duty spouses and veterans were able to communicate directly with the majority of the winners and their families. And although a veteran myself, I was blown away from the gratitude offered by those receiving tickets. In many cases, it made the difference in spending Christmas alone or with their families.
When the dust settled Ed and his generous network of donors had funded over 64 tickets.
As a thanks to Ed a KUDOs board was created for the recipients to share their stories. Be prepared, as Ed would say, ‘your allergies to kick in’
To everyone donating to make this possible, thank you for being a huge blessing for us and all the others that you have been able to help! We were wondering how we were going to afford a plane ticket for my husband to come home from Germany for the delivery of our baby girl, but you guys made it possible! This is the best gift we have ever received, we’ll besides our new addition! Thanks to you, Athena will be able to meet her daddy in person! Many blessings to you and your family! Happy Holidays!!
From Jennifer Delaune-Cain
If you are interested in supporting travel for military service members, let us know. Military members and their families travel year-round based on their deployment schedules. Also, there are over 70,000 graduating recruits every hear from basic training, and in many cases, their families can’t afford to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Thanks to Ed. Thanks to Dude Solutions. And all those who gave their time and financial resources to make 65-holiday miracles. It was a true honor to play a part in this unbelievable and unexpected moment of kindness.
A new 6-week travel career fellowship program for spouses
According to the Department of Defense there are approximately 641,639 spouses of active duty service members that face a 24% – 34% unemployment rate. Military spouses are more highly educated than most working Americans. A survey conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation show that 88% have some post-high school education, 34% have a college degree, and 15% have a postgraduate degree (see full report).
“Military spouses have to get it done or we fail. And we refuse to fail.” – Bonnie Amos, former Lady of the U.S. Marine Corps and Hiring Our Heroes Senior Advisor.
The Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Fellowship Program (MSFP) is a cutting-edge initiative that provides military spouses with professional training, networking, and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce. The professional development and direct connection to local employers offered through the 6-week program enable military spouses to build their networks and gain localized job experience quickly. Participating host companies gain access to a highly skilled and educated talent pool.
As a veteran and business owner, I was excited to learn about the Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Fellowship Program (MSFP).” WorkReady360 is proud to participate in HOH’s efforts to increase the employment of active-duty spouses and veterans. Our goal is to hire and train 100 spouses over the next 6 months, offering them full time virtual and portal careers in the travel & hospitality industry.
WorkReady360’s cornerstone TravelAgent360⎮Engage program offers the military community careers as home-based and salaried travel agent career opportunities.
The travel agency industry is starting to see a significant demand for new travel agents, and over the next five years will begin to affect the bottom line of agencies. From a large scale, online travel sites to corporate travel management companies (TMCs), a primary cost of doing business is the travel agent.
Fifty percent of the current pool of agents are past the age of fifty. And as they start to retire, travel more, and work less hours a chasm for newly qualified agents is widening. Plus, technology and innovation is creating a new type of traveler with specific needs when it comes to booking travel.
“I participated in the TravelAgent360 program two years ago and now work full-time from home for two different travel agencies.”
Military Spouse, Army.
Spouse attributes match the new travel agent.
Are in their prime years of earning potential
Embrace technology as a means of efficiency
Relocate domestically and internationally
Well-versed in travel destinations
High-level of diverse social networking skills
Great communicators, troubleshooters, and logistic experts
The active-duty spouse mirrors the characteristics and attributes of a travel agent. Especially the understanding of how mobile technology increases the efficiencies of their highly logistic driven lifestyle. According to a travel survey conducted by MilitaryToGo.com, spouses plan the family vacations and by default, act as the travel agent. They know the importance of planning travel and have perfected the science of ‘getting it right.’
“I know the importance of ensuring our family vacations are carefully planned and I am up-to-date on our reservations. The military can cancel our leave at any time and knowing how to navigate the airline system is important.”
Active Duty Spouses, and part-time travel agent.
Travelers are booking their travel in non-traditional ways and expect a high level of customer support. Mobile travel apps, such as Hopper.com, enables customers to save money and travel more through their predictive airfare tracker.
According to Hopper, travel agents are the face of the company. “We want people who genuinely love going above and beyond to keep customers loyal and happy.”
The Hiring For Heroes has allowed WorkReady360 to expand our footprint in the travel industry. Our focus is to prepare spouses and veterans to be entry-level travel agents. Our curriculum prepares them to be of immediate value to travel agencies, both as GDS and customer support agents. The online and mobile travel market is growing significantly, selling millions of airline tickets and hotel nights each year. And behind every reservation is a travel agent.
Our ability to train and outsource travel agents in 6-weeks brings extraordinary value to travel agencies. According to HOH, their program saves, on average, $5,000 in training and onboarding costs per new hire. The narrow profit margins in the travel industry demand work-ready agents that can immediately bring value, day one.
Don Buynack, owner and President of OptionsTravel explains, “we spend triple the hourly wage to pay after-hour agents to monitor reservation. We are beginning to transition to hiring Andrew’s team of spouses located in various time zones to cover our evening hours.”
WorkReady360’s focus is not only on travel agent system training but on foundational and soft skills. Troubleshooting, communication, customer service, and attention to detail can reduce misspelled names and incorrect entries, eliminating refunds or fines from the airlines. Our goal is to save the agency money by providing them access to extraordinary talent. And at the same time creating great careers to the military community. It is a win-win.
To learn more about how a spouse or veteran can register with Hiring Our Heroes visit, WorkReady360.com/hoh for more information.
The top 6 hidden museums and memorials in DC & VA.
Tourists and even locals commonly visit the more traditional military museums and memorials located throughout Washington DC and the connecting states. And for good reason. As a country, we have taken extraordinary steps to ensure our military heroes (and families) is not only recognized for their service, but never forgotten.
Museums are like the quiet car of the world. It’s a place you can come to escape, where there’s authenticity, there’s uniqueness, there’s calm, there’s physicality. Thomas P. Campbell
As a veteran, I have a passion for history, specifically military history. I am blessed to live in a city that offers so many venues honoring the men and women of our armed services. I want to share a few hidden nuggets displaying a unique, and often original exhibits of our great military history.
The National Museum of the United States Navy
The National Museum of the United States Navy, or U.S. Navy Museum for short, is the flagship museum of the United States Navy and is located in the former Breech Mechanism Shop of the old Naval Gun Factory on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
The National Museum of the U.S. Navy collects, preserves, displays, and interprets historic naval artifacts and artwork to inform, educate, and inspire naval personnel and the general public.
The Marine Corps Museum
Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful – a phrase synonymous with U.S. Marines and their legendary contributions in every clime and place. Here at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, we’re faithful to preserving and telling the material history of this elite fighting force.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps is the historical museum of the United States Marine Corps. Located in Triangle, Virginia near MCB Quantico, the museum opened on November 10, 2006, and is now one of the top tourist attractions in the state, drawing over 500,000 people annually.
The Museum already tells more than 200 years of the Corps’ rich history, but we’re certainly not finished yet. In cooperation with the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, we have completed construction and design on an additional 115,000 square feet where we’ll tell more of this amazing story. We’ve already opened the Marine Corps Combat Art Gallery, the Medal of Honor Theater and the Children’s Gallery. Lin Ezell, Museum Director
Since its inception in 1790, the USCG has tirelessly answered the call to duty, saving lives, enforcing maritime law, combating terrorism, facilitating commerce and protecting the environment. The vital responsibilities of the USCG are carried out by highly trained men and women who perform these missions with honor, respect, and devotion to duty Coast Guard
Yet, the Coast Guard is the only branch of the armed services without a national museum to celebrate its role in the life of our Nation and to honor the men and women who serve. The public is generally unaware of the scale and scope of the Coast Guard’s missions. We have come to expect the MOST from the Coast Guard, but there is no place for the USCG to share with the public its history, to demonstrate its critical role in protecting us, and to highlight its relevance to the greatest issues facing our Nation.
“Our family is proud to contribute to this important National project and naming the Polar Explorations Gallery in recognition of our father, J.D. Power, III is a real honor.”
Susan J. Curtin Chair, National Coast Guard Museum Association Board of Directors Partner, Power Family Enterprises
The National Guard Memorial Museum is a military museum hosted by the National Guard Educational Foundation. It is located in northwestern Washington, DC, near the National Postal Museum, Union Station and Georgetown University Law Center.
The National Guard’s story transcends all eras of our nation’s history, encompassing millions of citizen-soldiers past and present. Now, more than ever, Guardsmen are being asked to do more, both domestically and abroad. Today there are nearly 470,000 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen comprising the Army and Air National Guard in 54 states, territories, and the District of Columbia, spanning more than 3,300 American communities.
Members of the National Guard serve both their states and their nation, making the National Guard the only U.S. military service that handles domestic and international missions in a unique state-federal partnership. Honoring their service and heroism for present and future generations is our duty and calling.
Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. 8th & I
Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., also known as “8th & I,” is the oldest active post in the Marine Corps. It was founded by President Thomas Jefferson and Lt. Col. William Ward Burrows, the second commandant of the Marine Corps, in 1801.
Located on the corners of 8th & I Streets in southeast Washington, D.C., the Barracks supports both ceremonial and security missions in the nation’s capital.
The Barracks is home to many nationally recognized units, including the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Marine Band, the official Marine Corps Color Guard, and the Marine Corps Body Bearers. It is also the site of the Home of the Commandants, which, along with the Barracks, is a registered national historic landmark.
Enjoy one of the evening parades which are free to the public (Reservations). The parades require reservations and can quickly sell out. You might also choose to see the drill team during one of their Tuesday parades located at the Lincoln Memorial (no reservations required).
Blue Star Museums
Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America. Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve.
Blue Star Families is an all-volunteer military community making unprecedented sacrifices to serve our country. Blue Star Families was founded by military spouses in 2009 to empower these families to thrive as they serve. We’re committed to strengthening military families by connecting them with their neighbors – individuals and organizations – to create vibrant communities of mutual support. We believe we’re all stronger when we take care of one another.
For more information on Blue Star Museums, please see the Frequently Asked Questions. The 2019 Blue Star Museums program began on Saturday, May 18, 2019, Armed Forces Day, and ended on Monday, September 2, 2019, Labor Day.
Let me know of other great military museums and memorials that might otherwise go noticed.
“A picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the notion that complex and sometimes multiple ideas can be conveyed by a single still image. As we celebrate the millions of service members and their families this Veteran’s day let us remember the unspoken words related to the complexities of serving our great country.
The very first war photographer was an American. While the particular artist’s name has been lost to history, we do know that he was attached to the U.S. forces fighting in the Mexican War in 1846 and 1847. And since then we use images to tell the stories often too hard to articulate in the spoken word.
Photographer Devin Mitchell, however, created a touching photo project called “The Veteran Art Project” that examines what lies on the other side of the uniform. Using Photoshop, Mitchell has created images of uniformed servicemen and women whose mirrored reflections reveal who they are – and vice versa.
Mitchell explains, “What viewers get to see is unabashed joy and unrelenting pain. There is pride, diversity, and there are Americans free to be whatever. And while the photos are very different, the format is the same. On one side of the mirror, the veteran is in uniform, on the other is an image the veterans choose themselves.
Too often our attention is captured by the heroic recruiting ‘posters’ and images displaying the glamorous side of the military. These images deflect our attention from the realities of long deployments, loss of life, and increasing cases of PTSD.
In image number 130 Craig Millward, an Army veteran, stands with his wife, Deva. It is a story of love and triumph. In the reflection, Craig is in his uniform leaning over the sink. Deva stands behind him with her hand on his arm, supporting her husband. Unlike most images, Deva, who is not a veteran or active-duty soldier, is in both images.
“We had a lot stacked up against us,” Deva said. The image’s message, she said, is that they “beat the system.” When Millward returned from deployment to Afghanistan in 2006, his reintegration process was difficult. It was hard to find a stable job, he was diagnosed with PTSD, and the two were newlyweds. But Millward said his wife’s conviction helped him become the man he is today. See their Interview on CBS.
Mitchell’s goal is to take 10,000 images of veterans and active duty service members from across the country.
As we celebrate our military service member heroes we need to appreciate the images that not only celebrate our countries freedoms, but the visual remembers of what was lost after the end of the welcome back parade.
I enlisted when at age 27 and it was one of the best decisions of my life. As Marine Corps enlisted I served as a crew chief on UH-1Ns, and then later became an accounting & communications officer. I am honored to be part of such a great community. And yes, I was a Hollywood Marine. 🇺🇸
The space available travel program, or Space-A, is a great transportation option for service members and immediate family that allows them to fly free or at a reduced cost across the country or world. Even if you’ve taken advantage of this benefit before, here are seven tips – gleaned from the experiences of other military travelers – to help you make the most of the Space-A travel program.
A quick review of the basic Space-A travel process
Before diving into specific tips, here’s a quick recap of the Space-A process, formally known as Military Airlift Command or MAC. If it’s been more than a few months since you last flew Space-A, the basics can help you plan for future trips.
Now that you have learned all the tips and tricks, it’s time to start planning.SIGN UP
Sign up: Air Mobility Command maintains a list of terminal contact information you can use for Space-A travel planning. Sign up for Space-A flights at all potential terminals – arrival and departure – as soon as 60 days out from your expected date of travel. Most retirees and dependents try to sign up 50-55 days before their planned travel date, as those who are on the list for longer will board before others in the same category.
Double check: Closer to the date of travel, call the terminal to double check your status on the list. Give them the day and time you signed up, while taking notes of your conversation to create a paper trail to avoid potential miscommunication later.
Mark yourself present: On your intended departure date, check in at the terminal – luggage in hand, paperwork signed, car parked and all dependents corralled – at least an hour before your desired flight’s roll call for passengers. Check your terminal’s online schedule frequently, as flight schedules and roll call can change without notice.
Wait: Space-A passengers will board according to their travel category, not rank. If there’s still space on your requested Space-A flight, terminal staff will help you board and prepare for takeoff. If you’re bumped from this flight, you’ll still have “sign-up” time seniority – though your category remains the same – for future Space-A flights. Ask the terminal attendant to be considered for all flights going to your desired destination.
Space-A travel tips
Once you have signed up, you can take advantage of these in-depth tips and tricks used by other military travelers to fully leverage the Space-A travel program.
Plan to trade your time for the discounted ticket. The lower your category, the more likely it is that others in higher categories will take available seats on popular flights. Give yourself three-day buffers on each end of your travel plans to catch flights – and remember that more Space-A flights tend to be scheduled on weekdays, Mondays through Fridays.
Avoid drill weekends and school breaks. Drill tends to fill military Space-A flights, and many families schedule vacations around school breaks. To avoid these, call the terminal’s base to ask if the local Guard or reserve unit will be drilling the weekend you intend to leave. Then, check the Department of Defense Education Activity, or DoDEA, school calendar for seasonal school breaks.
Be willing to take Space-A flights that get you close – but not directly to – your final destination. If you’re traveling from the U.S. to a European destination, for example, consider grabbing a more open flight from a convenient local base to a country close to your destination, then take local civilian transportation.
Plan for every climate. You might be on a flight initially scheduled to go to Hawaii, but have an emergency reroute to Alaska to fulfill the military Space-A flight’s primary mission. Don’t be caught with just flip-flops in your luggage.
Be flexible. Make the delays and alternate routes an adventure, rather than an inconvenience. You may not have expected to go to Germany instead of France, but it’s an opportunity for spontaneous sightseeing.
Don’t expect a traditional civilian flight unless it’s Patriot Express. Sometimes, the military contracts with a civilian airline for troop movement, making a Patriot Express flight available for Space-A. Other Space-A flights will be on large – and loud – military cargo planes, complete with five-point harnesses for passengers during lift-off and landing. Patriot Express flights also charge a $20-35 fee per passenger, so plan accordingly.
Bring supplies for a comfortable flight. Consider taking a small sleeping bag, pillow, blankets and even a yoga mat if you think you’ll want to sleep during Space-A flights on large military planes. While some crews provide military-issue earplugs for the noise, you may want to bring your own or some noise-canceling headphones. Winter hats and gloves might help, too – some planes get very cold.
Looking to start your own home-based travel business. Training starts this week. Learn more.
Always have a back up plan by reserving a MIL Fare Airline Ticket.
Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year in the Washington DC area as fall colors of red, yellow, purple, and brown start blanketing everything from the National Mall to charming neighborhoods. The beginning of fall offers an assortment of opportunities to enjoy the uniqueness of the nation’s capital.
For some, fall brings the spookiness of Halloween, for others the perfect tailgating weather, or early evening meet-ups at local restaurant patios. Regardless of the tradition, it seems the phenomenon of autumn brings a particular excitement. To make the most out of your fall experience Rachel Cooper from TripSavvy offers some popular places to enjoy fall foliage in the capital region.
Rock Creek Park
One of the largest parks in Washington, D.C., and the third-oldest in the nation, Rock Creek Park stretches 30 miles from Montgomery County, Maryland, to downtown D.C. Here, you can enjoy some leaf-peeping and a picnic, take a hike, bike, or horseback ride, or attend a park ranger program.
Throughout the year, you can explore the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, the historic Peirce Mill, or Old Stone House. Popular annual fall events include the Rock Creek Park Day in late September and the Heritage Festival in mid-October. Admission to Rock Creek Park and all attractions within the park is free.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Starting in Georgetown in Washington, D.C., the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park spans over 184 miles to Cumberland, Maryland, and offers guests breathtaking vistas and plenty of opportunities to hike, bike, fish, boat, and horseback ride along the towpath.
Access to the park boasting more than 20,000 acres is free, except for the Great Falls Entrance Station, where you can purchase passes near the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. Popular events this time of year include the Dulcimer Music at Great Falls series, “A Very Retail Georgetown” historic walking tour, and Scary Stories on the Canal at the Great Falls Tavern.
United States National Arboretum
The United States National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., is a living museum that showcases 446 acres of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. You can tour the gardens on your own by foot, car, or bicycle or take the 40-minute tram ride and hear an informative taped narrative about the Arboretum, its history, and the display gardens and collections.
The National Arboretum offers a variety of hikes and public education programs throughout the year, but they typically wind down for the winter season. In October, you can catch the annual Under the Arbor: Chile Pepper Celebration in the National Herb Garden or try some full moon forest bathing in the middle of October.
Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens
The 500-acre estate of George Washington, located along the shores of the Potomac River in Mount Vernon, Virginia, is exceptionally beautiful during the fall foliage season. You can tour the estate while you’re there, but make sure you spend plenty of time outdoors exploring the gardens and taking in the natural scenery, too.
Fall Harvest Family Days, Fall Dried Wreath Workshops, and Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon are among the most popular annual events on the estate.
Great Falls Park
Stretching from Great Falls, Virginia, to Potomac, Maryland, Great Falls Park has some of the most spectacular views in the region. At various overlook points spread throughout the 800-acre park, you can witness all of the vibrant fall colors from 50-foot cliffs overlooking the Potomac River. Great Falls also offers hiking and biking trails, and picnic areas.
Due to flooding during the hurricane season (September through November), some trails and locations may be inaccessible. Swimming and entering the river are prohibited at the park due to deadly currents and flood possibilities, though kayaking with safety measures taken is allowed. Admission costs depend on if you are entering by vehicle or on foot, bike, or horseback, and grant access for seven consecutive days.
Seneca Creek State Park
Located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Seneca Creek State Park spans over 6,300 acres alongside 14 miles of Seneca Creek. During October and November, you can spend an entire day hiking through the park, snapping pictures of the fall foliage reflected in the water.
The park is also home to the 90-acre Clopper Lake, hiking trails, a disc golf course, playgrounds, picnic areas, and a restored 19th-century cabin. You can witness all the brilliant fall foliage from the lake by renting a boat, canoe, or kayak (or bringing your own), and there are also plenty of opportunities to fish from the shore. There is a charge for Maryland residents and a higher charge for out-of-state guests to enter the park.
This small mountain in Dickerson, Maryland, is a National Historic Landmark with an elevation of 1,282 feet and a vertical height of 800 feet above the surrounding farmland. In addition, Strong Mansion on Sugarloaf Mountain is a popular destination that hosts events year-round.
Hikers can enjoy striking views of foliage along the trails, including several well-marked loops ranging in distance from 2.5 to 7 miles. Horseback riding and picnicking are additional recreational possibilities. Those driving can also pull up to the Sugarloaf Mountain lookout point get equally stunning views. Access to both is free year-round.
Cunningham Falls State Park
In the Catoctin Mountains near Thurmont, Maryland, Cunningham Falls State Park has a 78-foot cascading waterfall, a lake, and hiking trails ranging from 0.5 miles to 8 miles long. The park is a great place to enjoy outdoor recreation all year, featuring swimming, fishing, canoeing, camping, and events throughout the summer and fall.
Costs at the park are slightly higher if you are from out of state. You can rent camping and hiking gear from the park store.
Black Hills Regional Park
Covering over 2,000 acres in Boyds, Maryland, Black Hill Regional Park offers a wide variety of activities, including hiking, picnicking, boating, and guided nature programs. Visitors can enjoy spectacular views over Little Seneca Lake, and hikers, bikers, and horseback riders can explore miles of trails in the park. There is also a visitor center that hosts nature programs and offers interpretive tours throughout the year, which are child-friendly.
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is located about an hour outside of Washington in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and was the site of a famous battle in the American Civil War. The park covers over 2,300 acres and also crosses into Maryland and Virginia. Visitors can enjoy a variety of scenic hiking trails and exploring the historic town, ranger-guided tours, craft shops, museums, and restaurants.
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is open year-round, but some areas may be inaccessible in the winter months. Admission costs to the park are higher if entering per vehicle than if arriving on foot or bicycle, and you can also purchase an annual pass to save money.
Burke Lake Park
Burke Lake Park is located in Fairfax Station, Virginia, and offers a wide variety of recreational activities, including camping, hiking, fishing, and boating on the 218-acre lake within the park’s 888 acres. There is also a miniature train, a carousel, an 18-hole, par-3 golf course, disk golf horseshoe pits, an amphitheater, and a miniature golf course onsite.
Burke Lake Park is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, depending on the weather, and then on weekends until late October. There is no entrance fee for Fairfax County residents, but non-residents must pay on weekends and holidays only (weekdays are free).
Special events at Burke Lake Park include a sunset cruise, the annual Fall Family Campout, and the special Halloween campfire in October, as well as several fall foliage boat tours offered throughout November (until the leaves fall).
As we enter the fall season, take the opportunity to acknowledge the many blessings we enjoy in our lives. Don’t let the noise of our busy world distract you from the beauty of nature’s transition. Take a few minutes and stand still and take in the sights, the smells, and the feeling of life. (Andrew Appleton)