7 Patriotic Places to Explore U.S. Military History

June 21, 2022

When camping in the great outdoors, it’s hard not to feel a sense of freedom. Visiting a monument or museum dedicated to honoring one of the seven military branches, including the newly created Space Force, helps us understand the price of this freedom. Learn the stories behind our military’s astounding achievements as they safeguard the homeland.

1. National Museum of the United States Army, Fort Belvoir, VA

The National Museum of the United States Army opened in 2020 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, celebrating 245 years of invaluable service and sacrifice. Life-size displays depict heroic scenes of Army soldiers loading a Civil War cannon, World War I trench battles and World War II shore landing inside a Higgins boat landing craft to detail the evolution of warfare. Through soldiers’ stories, military equipment, and artifacts of innovation like melted solar cells, the museum shows how the Army protects the nation at home and overseas and contributes to technological advances.

Nearby KOAs
Washington DC / Capitol KOA Holiday
Fredericksburg / Washington DC South KOA Holiday

2. National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Virginia

Located within the contemplative grounds of Semper Fidelis Memorial Park in Triangle, Virginia, the National Museum of the Marine Corps pays tribute to the Marines who serve our country. The story of the Marine unfolds upon entering the museum, from amphibious assault, sandbag bunkers, to the skyward glass ceiling encasing multiple levels of aircraft. Portraits of servicemen and women along with powerful quotes, hang in a place of honor. The Legacy Walk exhibit takes visitors through 240 years of Marine Corps history, from battles with pirates and slave traders on the high sea to combating the war on terror. The Making Marines experience gives visitors a feel for what it’s like to be a new recruit going through boot camp, complete with drill instructor motivation, carrying a loaded pack and testing their aim with an M-16 laser rifle!

Nearby KOAs
Fredericksburg / Washington DC South KOA Holiday

3. USS Midway Museum, San Diego CA

Across the San Diego Bay from North Island Naval Air Station is a towering statue of the iconic Victory over Japan Day kiss between a sailor and nurse and the aircraft carrier that made the kiss possible—USS Midway Museum. The retired warship is now a museum with living history and interactive exhibits introducing visitors to the life of Navy sailors. The Flight Deck and Hanger Deck display 30 restored aircraft spanning World War II’s Battle of Midway, the Korean and Vietnam wars to modern tactical airplanes and helicopters. Below deck, rows of sleeping berths, the galley’s chow line, and sick bay give visitors an idea of what life was like on board. Flight simulators create a vivid feel of piloting a Navy airplane through combat.

Nearby KOAs
San Diego Metro KOA Resort

4. National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

Massive aircraft hangers at the National Museum of the United States Air Force house aeronautical history dating back to the Wright Brothers’ wood-framed Wright 1909 Military Flyer to sleek Cold War reconnaissance drones. Take a free tour of the museum or go it alone to view 350 aircraft and missiles. Colorful World War II bombers with morale-boosting nose art pinup girls and fierce shark jaws soar and swoop on display. A haunting collection of ballistic missiles and space boosters used to launch the first satellites loom tall Inside a 140-foot silo structure. Inside the Space Gallery, a replica of NASA’s space shuttle payload bay allows visitors to explore the cockpit and mid-deck. Retired Boeing VC-137C, aka Air Force One, the actual aircraft used by eight presidents, is open for a walk-through.

Nearby KOAs
Dayton KOA Holiday

5. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

The newest military branch, Space Force secures rocket launches Cape Canaveral where the countdown to lift off is always ticking. Nearby Kennedy Space Center is the place to watch rockets launch or to see out-of-this-world exhibits like the space-flown Space Shuttle Atlantis. The Delta II rocket used to launch Mars rovers and GPS missions into outer space looms in the Rocket Garden. Moon exploration, Hubble Space Telescope discoveries, and life aboard the International Space Station come alive through interactive exhibits and artifacts. Astronaut training simulators and the Shuttle Launch Experience, a ride that feels like ascending into orbit, create an authentic feeling of journeying into space. Kennedy Space Center Bus Tours take visitors into restricted areas to see working space flight facilities where moon launches once took place.

Nearby KOAs
Titusville / Kennedy Space Center KOA Journey

View of Baltimore Harbor with USS Constellation Ship and office buildings

6. Historic Ships in Baltimore, Maryland

What better way to show support for the U.S. Coast Guard than to visit one of their most storied ships, the USCG Cutter 37 at its watery home on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Historic Ships in Baltimore is a collection the country’s finest military vessels, including the USS Constellation, a Civil War-era sailing ship, and the USS Torsk Navy submarine that torpedoed enemy Japanese ships. USCG Cutter 37 is docked next to the red, round Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse used by the Coast Guard to help ships navigate tricky seas. Aboard the Cutter, visitors explore the ship’s deck and bridge and go below deck to see how the crew lived. Over its long career, the ship engaged Japanese planes during Pearl Harbor, tracked the weather as a hurricane hunter, and undertook various maritime patrols to keep the U.S. safe from threats.

Nearby KOAs
 Washington DC / Capitol KOA Holiday

Beautiful autumn afternoon at the Minute Man Historical Park.

7. Minute Man National Historical Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts

Since the first colonies were established in what was to become the United States of America, ordinary citizens have participated in local militias, defending their communities against invasion in what has become the National Guard. Minute Man National Historical Park commemorates the 4,000 Colonial militia members who fought against 1,700 British regular troops during the Battles of Lexington and Concord, kicking off the Revolutionary War. Battle reenactments and volunteers wearing period clothing bring the time period of the Minute Men alive. The eleven 18th century “Witness Houses” situated along “The Battle Road,” where sixteen miles of intense fighting occurred during the war, are the original backdrop to these dramatic events.

Nearby KOAs
Boston / Cape Cod KOA Holiday

Eva Barrows

Eva Barrows is an accomplished San Francisco Peninsula freelance writer and book editor. She writes for regional magazines like PUNCH and Edible Silicon Valley and was editor-in-chief of Live&ThriveCA magazine. She founded the online literary journal Imitation Fruit in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since. Read more of her travel writing at




Enjoy a Greater Slice of the Great Outdoors

Discover even more room to enjoy outdoor living with a KOA Patio Site®. These spacious sites offer your very own patio equipped with outdoor furniture and the perfect place for a fire. Wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee with the sunrise and spend an evening relaxing with family and friends.

Learn More