Armed Forces Day is this Saturday, May 21. I think that day carries more meaning here in “Military City, U.S.A.” One of the things I appreciate most about San Antonio is how our city embraces our military members and their families. San Antonio is home to three active military bases: Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, and Randolph Air Force Base, known collectively as Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA). Even the Alamo was once part of Fort Sam Houston, so it’s no surprise that San Antonio is a city filled with military discounts, deals, and special offers.
JBSA supports a population of more than 250,000, making it the largest base in the Department of Defense. That explains why it’s rare to make it through a day here without seeing someone in uniform. And I love it! I’m an Army brat turned Army spouse, which means the military has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. The military is somewhat of a family business for us: while my husband is now retired, as are both his father and mine, my brother-in-law is active duty, and I’m proud to say my nephew is being commissioned this weekend, while my niece is half-way through her military training at West Point.
May is also Military Appreciation Month. One of the ways that businesses show their support for our military community is by offering special discounts and deals for military members. The world of military discounts can be interesting to navigate, but it’s definitely worth it. Sometimes programs change or end, or they’re only offered on certain days of the week or on specific holidays, but it never hurts to ask. The worst that can happen is they say no, right?
Also, some offers only apply to active duty personnel, not veterans or retirees. Others only apply to service members, while many include immediate family members. Usually, a military ID card is all you need, but lacking that, some offers allow service members to show their DD214. (I would explain that, but if you’re related to the military in any way, you know the crazy world of Department of Defense documents, acronyms, and jargon!) But most stores and restaurants only need to see your ID to honor the discount policy. And it’s important to note that in most cases, you must purchase your tickets in person and show a military ID to receive a discount—online purchases are usually not an option, and when they are, expect to show ID when you arrive at the hotel or attraction with your military tickets/reservations.
I admit I often forget to ask about discounts—and am surprised at how many military discounts there are. Both national chains, like Lowes, Home Depot, Michaels, and local businesses offer them, as do many tourist attractions, restaurants, and service providers. From dry cleaning, oil changes and hair cuts (Supercuts offers a 10% military discount) to movies, barbecue, SeaWorld and more, you and your family can enjoy a wide variety of discounts to thank you for your military service.
And yes, I do mean to thank YOU for your military service. As much as our service members are celebrated and appreciated, I am also thankful for military spouses and children. The families behind the terrific people who wear a uniform to serve our country deserve to be celebrated too. Your dedication, caring, and sacrifices make it possible for your service member to serve hard days, tough duties, and long deployments. Without you, our country couldn’t benefit from their unique talents and skills, so please know how much you are appreciated as well!
To help our military moms and families take advantage of all of the deals around San Antonio, we’ve compiled a list of offers you might want to check out. While this includes as many of the military discounts that I could find, please remember that it may not be current and there are so many offers that it’s impossible to compile a complete list. A business could change or end their discount at any time. I’ve also learned sometimes online information is out of date or not completely accurate, so please keep that in mind.
To celebrate Military Appreciation Month, Yelp San Antonio compiled a terrific list of local military discounts, including food and entertainment. It’s the most comprehensive list I’ve ever seen and one I’ll definitely refer to often. Thanks, Yelp, for saluting our troops (and their families)!
The San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau lists some of the military discounts available around the Alamo City; however, I know the information is out of date, as some of the pricing is not current and it includes the San Antonio Children’s Museum, which is now The DoSeum, our world-class children’s museum. However, The DoSeum does offer a discount for active duty personnel. And the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa offers a terrific discount for active duty military. The rate varies, but with the waterpark, it’s a great staycation option.
Almost every local attraction offers a discount, including the Witte and the San Antonio Zoo, which is offering SAZoo Salutes this month, giving military personnel free admission and their immediate families half-price tickets. The San Antonio Botanical Garden offers a discount just for active duty personnel, not immediate families. The Tower of the Americas, McNay Art Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and Morgan’s Wonderland also offer military rates (possibly up to 75% off at Ripley’s, so be sure to ask!). Rio San Antonio Cruises, the river boats that give great tours of the River Walk, offer a military discount too.
SeaWorld San Antonio features the Waves of Honor program, giving active duty military and their immediate family members one free pass to the park annually. (Things to know about Waves of Honor: it varies by park. In San Antonio, it’s only for active duty members, and you need to pre-register to receive the tickets. No discounts are available for veterans or retirees, and Aquatica is not included. The program changes annually, so be sure to visit the website. )
Of course, one of the best ways to get military discounts is to visit the ticket offices on any of the JBSA installations. To give you an idea of what’s available, check out the ticket offers at Fort Sam Houston ticket office. Local attractions with ticket offers include Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Schlitterbahn, Natural Bridge Caverns, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, and Splashtown. You can even get discounted movie tickets. Some of the prices are better than military discounts available at the individual attractions and, in the case of Disney, are amazing discounts that can truly save your family quite a bit.
If you’re into camping, fishing, and lake fun, be sure to check out JBSA Recreation Park at Canyon Lake. Open to ID cardholders, the park offers lake access for fishing, boating, and more, as well as cabins and campsites. It’s a great way to enjoy a day or a weekend close to home. For details, check out the brochure and add it to your summer fun list.
Many movie theaters offer military pricing, like Creekside Cinemas in New Braunfels, where you can see a movie for matinee prices all day. Regal Theaters also offer military discounts.
Active duty military members can also receive a free National Park Service annual pass. An $80 value, the pass gives you free access to national parks that charge a fee. You have to pick up the pass in person at parks that issue passes. One of our favorites is Padre Island National Seashore.
Shopping is another area that offers a wide variety of military discounts, especially here in the San Antonio area. Many of the stores at both Tanger Outlet Mall and Premium Outlets in San Marcos offer military discounts. Old Navy, Columbia, Adidas, Eddie Bauer, Crocs, The Gap, and Nike are among those that offer deals. Once again—ask! The discounts can really add up. Many of those stores also offer discounts at their regular locations. For instance, Old Navy offers the discount on certain days of the week.
Then there’s the area of food. Dining deals are pretty easy to come by, though not all restaurants offer the discount at all locations—especially when the restaurant is a franchise location—nor do they advertise the offers. (That’s the case for almost all military offers—they’re not always advertised or listed anywhere.) All Taco Cabana locations offer a 20% discount to military members and their families, and Rudy’s offers a 10% discount. Hard Rock Cafe offers a 15 percent% to active duty military. Nothing Bundt Cakes offers a 10% discount at the Forum location, as does Orange Leaf in the Forum. Raising Cane’s in Schertz offers a discount, too.
And don’t forget to ASK. There are so many service providers that provide military discounts: oil changes, car repair, tree trimming, air conditioning repair, dry cleaners … the list is endless. Be sure to ask your provider—you may be surprised to find out that they offer a discount.
Military Connection also offers an extensive list of discounts. Though the information included regarding SeaWorld and Aquatica is out of date, you’ll see many national retailers and restaurants included. The list includes special Veterans Day offers, when many deals are offered for a limited time and are heavily advertised or promoted.
If all of that isn’t enough to help you feel appreciated, check out San Antonio’s Armed Forces River Parade on Armed Forces Day (Saturday, May 21). Make a day of it—see some of San Antonio’s great attractions (at a military discount!), enjoy the parade, then eat dinner on the River Walk (with more discounts, of course!).
So tell me—what are your favorite military discounts? Let us know what we missed, and we’ll update our list so that all of our military families can take advantage of the deals.