Growing up as a military child, you get to see different parts of the country and sometimes the world. Each place is different and unique, and brings with it opportunities to see the sights in the time you’re there. Read on to see where you can take your family this summer and this year in Lake County, Chicago and Milwaukee as part of the Blue Star Museum program. Blue Star Museums offer free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Moving to the Midwest, I was very excited because I would finally have a chance to live close to my family in Michigan and Indiana. I also have a few cousins that live in Chicago who are always fun to go see as well because they know the best places to eat and they get to see their city from a tourist’s viewpoint. When we moved here our children were five and seven, so I was on high alert for children’s museums.
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago | (312) 939-2438
Another must for us is anything aquatic, so we went to the Shedd Aquarium during the Blue Star months and got in free, with the option to pay for the extras like shows.
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago | (312) 443-3600
We visited the Art Institue of Chicago, where my daughter finally got to see a Jackson Pollock painting in person!
Here are other area children’s museums and play places that are free to anyone with a military ID all year long; just show your military ID at the entrance:
If you’re looking for a vacation, Disneyland, Disneyworld, Disney Cruiseline, Legoland (California, Florida and Schaumburg), Country Springs and Great Wolf Lodge all offer military discounts all year long, and I’m sure you know someone that lives near one of those that you can stay with to make it an even better vacation!
Moving on to shopping, these stores offer military discounts:
Green Kids Resale
833 E. Rollins Road, Round Lake Beach | (847) 986-6232
Green Kids offers a 10 percent discount to military families.
6170 W. Grand Avenue, Gurnee | (847) 263-7500
Select stores offer year-round military discounts with military ID.
Select merchants in downtown Libertyville offer discounts and special offers with military ID. Please check the website for current listings.
Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets
11211 120th Ave, Pleasant Prairie, WI | (262) 857-2101
If you’re off for a day of shopping at the outlets in Pleasant Prairie, head over to the information desk and show your military ID to get a free discount book
Other local stores that offer military discounts include Disney Store, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Gap, Forever 21, Express, and Timberland.
If you’re taking a trip to Milwaukee, the following places offer special military discounts. Also check out Little Lake County writer Loralie’s take on a Gas Tank Getaway to Milwaukee.
Some Culver’s restaurants (check with the manager) offer a military discount all year long, and don’t forget to use your military ID at The Home Depot and Lowes to get 10% off.
If you’re looking to get your Active Duty member(s) in free and are ok with paying for the rest of the family, there are plenty of sight-seeing locations and hotels that offer free Active Duty admission and discounts all year long. If you’re going to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) soon, or are wanting to plan a summertime visit to another state, here is a list of all the Blue Star Museums across the country.
Moving every few years can be the pits, but getting to live somewhere long enough to take the time to see all the attractions will help take the sting out of knowing that PCS season is just around the corner.
Do you have suggestions for military families? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.