Newport, Rhode Island
Known as the City by the Sea, Newport, Rhode Island, offers groups a picturesque seaside getaway near the Naval Station Newport and the U.S. Naval War College. Many veterans who were stationed at the naval base enjoy returning to their old stomping grounds and visiting sites like the Naval War College Museum, which commemorates the rich history of the college.
Another popular stop is the Newport Officer’s Club, a classy dining venue overlooking the shoreline of Narragansett Bay. Just inside Gate 1 on the naval base, the restaurant features a grand ballroom as well as several smaller spaces for private luncheons, receptions and other events.
Groups can discover many of Newport’s most colorful attractions by exploring on foot, from boutiques and restaurants along the wharf to Gilded Age mansions on Bellevue Avenue. One of the most famous landmarks is the Breakers, an 1895 mansion modeled after a Renaissance palace.
“There’s something that appeals to every part of the group,” said Anne Roberts, destination expert at Discover Newport. “Some might want to go sailing, and others might want to just sit on chairs, look over the harbor and just enjoy the view.”
Some of Newport’s most spectacular scenery can be viewed along a 3.5-mile Cliff Walk, which passes several mansions and towering rock bluffs by the ocean. At some points, the cliffs rise over 70 feet above the water.
Many military groups request a hospitality suite in their hotel so that they have a designated place to reconvene throughout the day.
“That is a huge hot-button issue for them, to have an area where they can go at any time, grab a drink, have a few snacks and just really be able to go down memory lane. They just love it,” said Roberts.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Frequently listed as one of the top 10 destinations for military reunions, Colorado Springs, Colorado, has everything groups need for a relaxing, fun-filled trip. The region boasts 300 days of sunshine each year, and many military groups enjoy visiting from August to October, when the pleasant climate coincides with breathtaking fall colors.
There are several military organizations based in the area, including Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Groups can stop by the U.S. Air Force Academy to see the exquisite 150-foot Cadet Chapel on campus or schedule a tour of the National Museum of World War II Aviation.
“We have a lot of military headquartered here, which makes it very attractive for military groups,” said Pam Sherfesee, vice president of sales at the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. “All branches of the military love to bring their reunions here because they feel so comfortable.”
Colorado Springs is also home to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, one of three official Olympic facilities in the nation. Planners can organize a reception or a meal function on-site, and occasionally coordinate a meeting with one of the Olympic athletes. Just minutes from downtown, the Garden of the Gods is a National Natural Landmark that features spacious, paved walking trails amid towering red-sandstone rock formations. Jeep and Segway tours are available.
For an immersive dining experience, visitors can grab a bite to eat at the Airplane Restaurant, an aviation-themed restaurant built around an authentic World War II aircraft.
In many cases, military groups prefer to stay near their headquarters hotel, and there are many affordable hotel properties in the area that provide flexible meeting space and hospitality suites.
“Some groups want to do tour after tour,” said Sherfesee. “The rest of the time, people just want to be together and reconnect.”