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Entertaining the Young and Young at Heart

Jun 3, 2017, 07:40 AM

Attending a military graduation at Fort Leonard Wood is an exciting time for military families and friends! However, once the big ceremonies are over, you may find that you have quite a few hours of “free time.”

Though some Soldiers and families might prefer to pass the time quietly or  enjoy a nice long lunch or dinner, others, especially those with young ones (or maybe those just young at heart) are left looking for things to do. Great news: we have some fun suggestions!

If you’d like to stay on post, here is a short list:

  1. Visit the museum complex. There are great exhibits indoors, but you can also explore the military equipment across the street from the museum and then continue to the World War II Building Museum Complex. Walking through buildings that were used in World War II and imagining what life was like at Fort Leonard Wood during that time can easily soak up a few hours.
  2. Especially if your Soldier has branched Engineer, CBRN, or Military Police, you’ll want to walk through the Memorial Grove area that sits just south of the WWII museum buildings.
  3. If the weather is nice and your family likes to be outdoors, head out to Happy Hollow*. This fun outdoor area sits on the Big Piney River and there are usually (unless it has been impacted by flooding), shallow areas to stick your feet in the river and do a little splashing around. There’s also a playground area and picnic tables. We spent many summer afternoons here with our family! Click here for directions.

    You can also take advantage of the Fort Leonard Wood MWR Rec Plex, if it’s open. The area offers go-karts, a swimming pool, and a miniature golf course. The Rec Plex is centrally located between the Main Post Chapel and the Exchange.

    If you aren’t worn out yet, head over for a family hike on the Engineer Trail*. This 2.5 mile trail is fun for all and (unless impacted by heavy rain/flooding) can be a great way to expend some energy and have fun exploring the outdoors. The start to the trail is located in a parking lot across from the Fort Leonard Wood library.

  4. If you happen to hit a rainy day or you visit during the colder weather months, don’t forget to take advantage of the on-post movie theater at Abrams Theater. You can get info on the theater here. If you’ve never been to an on-post movie theater, be ready to stand for the national anthem before the movie begins.
  5. Cold or rainy days can also mean lots of fun if you stop by Daugherty Bowling Center. Have fun bowling, grab a snack, and check out the arcade and gaming lounge.

If your Soldier has seen enough of Fort Leonard Wood for a while and you want to explore off-post, we have you covered there, too!

  1. Catch the latest release at the Waynesville Patriot 12. This is also a great idea if your Soldier is just exhausted and wants to relax. Bonus for those over 21 – the theater has a bar and grille attached to it, so you could knock out dinner and a movie in one location.
  2. Don’t miss exploring Waynesville’s Square. You’ll find history and museums mixed with great antique shops, gift shops, and wonderful restaurants, including the winery Cellar 66. If you have little ones that get bored easily, you can easily walk them down the street to the Waynesville City Park* that includes a splash pad and a great playground.
  3. Once you’ve completed your shopping in the square, take a few minutes to walk the Trail of Tears exhibit that starts from the Waynesville City Park. You’ll learn how the area was part of the Trail of Tears and be able to view the beautiful Roubidoux Creek and see the spring that feeds it.
  4. If you’re a big history buff, you’ll want to stop by the numerous Veterans memorials you can find throughout the Fort Leonard Wood Region, especially the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery

*Unfortunately, these areas are often impacted by flooding. Please obey any signs that are posted around these areas.

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