All marriages have their ups and downs, and being married (or in my case, engaged) to a service member is no different. You still get into the same petty arguments (honey, why can't you put your towel in the hamper just once?), still juggle work, kids and everything in between. But, unlike most marriages, being a military spouse comes with a few extra perks. No, I don't mean government healthcare - I'm talking about active duty and military spouse discounts. The Lowcountry and Coastal Empire are chock-full of wonderful establishments that express gratitude to our hard-working service members and their families through free or discounted admission prices. I was first introduced to this phenomenon not long ago while touring some historic Savannah houses with my fiance. I wondered how many local attractions offer discounts, and soon was hard at work on a project to see just how far I could stretch my military-spouse buck this summer.
I figured military-related sites would likely offer discounts, so I was surprised to learn that many of the area's historic forts have no special pricing for military. However, Old Fort Jackson, located off the Islands Expressway in Savannah, has a discounted military price of $3.75 compared with $4.25 regular admission. If you're lucky enough to visit at the beginning of the summer, as I did, you can catch an authentic civil war cannon firing by a costumed guide. Or, visit the fort Aug. 30 for their auction and Lowcountry boil event, which will feature a barbeque, auction, music, and kids' games. The event's free entry will fit nicely into your budget, and all proceeds from the auction benefit the fort.
I also uncovered one other useful nugget of information: Admission prices are the same at all sites operated by the Coastal Heritage Society, which include the Savannah History Museum and the Roundhouse Railroad Museum in addition to Fort Jackson.
Seeking lighter entertainment, I headed over to the Savannah Theater. The military discount price for all shows is a mere $29.95, a steal compared with the regular $33. Until Nov. 2, you can catch their production of "Return to the '50s," a high-energy salute to the music of that decade. Also playing until Aug. 30 is "The Beat Goes On," a musical tribute to songs from the '60s, '70s and '80s.
Not too far from the theater are the Andrew Low House and the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, both of which offer military discounts. Juliette Gordon Low was the founder of the Girl Scouts and today, you can tour her house for $7 instead of the regular price of $8 with a valid military ID. Her husband's home, the Andrew Low House, is free to all active military and spouses.
Leaving Savannah and heading north, I found that one of my favorite Lowcountry attractions, the Tybee Island Lighthouse, offers a military discount price of $5, down from the regular $6 admission. As an added bonus, I didn't need to hit the gym after visiting - the lighthouse has a 178-step climb to its magnificent view at the top. If you'd rather stay at ground level, check out the restored Head Keeper's Cottage next door.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but with military discounts, I saved a total of $14.05 off the regular ticket prices at seven different locations. It may not be enough to buy a tank of gas these days, but for military spouses and families on a budget, I'd say it's a pretty good bang for your buck.