Guest post from Riley Kennedy at Right and Up
Riley is an active duty US Army Captain and the Founder of Right and Up; a website that helps veterans and their families discover the best things in each military town. She’s currently stationed in Washington, DC, and you can typically find her eating embarrassingly large amounts of food in local restaurants, or exploring her military town with her husband, Sean and her dog, Gus. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!
Writing this article was actually much more difficult than I expected. How do you narrow a bucket list down to 5 things when you’re stationed in the National Capital Region (NCR)?! There are amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities everywhere you turn around these parts. To assist in my daunting task, I focused on bucket list activities that are especially meaningful for military families, as the title suggests.
There are amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities everywhere you turn around these parts.
So, with that being said, below are the top 5 things that military families must do while stationed at Fort Belvoir. All of these are perfect for the kids (in fact, highly recommended!).
1. Arlington National Cemetery
There are very few places you can be stationed that present such a valuable opportunity to honor our fallen. Not only this, but a trip to Arlington National Cemetery allows us to reconnect with what it means to wear a uniform and defend our nation. I urge you to take your loved ones of all ages here at any time, but at a minimum you should visit over Memorial Day weekend and/or participate in the wreath-laying over the holidays.
2. Mount Vernon
Right out the back gate, about a 10 minute drive, is George Washington’s “pleasantly situated” home on the Potomac. Spend a few hours touring the grounds and museum, walking through the historic home, visiting Washington’s tomb and attending the traditional market (complete with actors in period clothing). The kids can let off some steam by running around and you can take in the history.
3. Old Town Alexandria
You could easily be stationed at Fort Belvoir and live in Old Town. For those who live elsewhere, Old Town is an iconic and beautiful town that is brimming with military and national history. Check out Robert E. Lee’s boyhood home and eat at Gadsby’s Tavern where George Washington attended his Birthnight Ball. Walking along King Street and the surrounding blocks provides you with hours of entertainment, good eats, and eye-goggling Victorian architecture.
For those who live elsewhere, Old Town is an iconic and beautiful town that is brimming with military and national history.
4. Visit Civil War Battlefields
You’re in the prime location for Civil War history! Some notable battlefields that are within range for a daytrip are Manassas, Harpers Ferry, Chantilly, and Ball’s Bluff. There are many others relatively close to these. Gather up the kids and the dog and spend a few hours outside enjoying the history. For a real treat, drive north to Gettysburg and stay the night at one of the many campgrounds in the area.
5. Be a DC Tourist
Our nation’s capital is so close, and you would be remiss to not pay it a routine visit. I can’t tell you how many people I know who were stationed in the NCR and never visited the monuments, memorials or the Smithsonian museums. Aside from those standard touristy sites, consider taking the family to watch a Supreme Court or Congressional hearing. Hearing schedules can be found online and most of them are open to the public.
While there are many, many more items for your Fort Belvoir bucket list, these 5 are what I consider to be the essentials for military families.