Living in the PNW: A Post About Being Stationed at JBLM

So happy to have this guest post on being stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) by Selene!

Please let me know if you would like to write your own guest post about where you have been stationed during military life!

Living in the PNW: A Post About Being Stationed at JBLM

Fort Lewis is one of the largest military installations in the U.S. With two posts for Army servicemembers you get Main Post and North Fort, and for the Airmen, they have McChord Air Force Base.

Main Post has your commissary, PX, Burger King, and few other eateries, along with the MWR, the bowling alley, theater, and a splash pad for the kiddos. Rumor has it the Wahlbergs are opening their famous Wahlburgers restaurant on Fort Lewis come 2020!

North Fort is woodsy, quieter and not as crowded. That is where you can find a beach where you can fish and hang out. You can also rent cabins and boats on North Fort.

Housing on Main Post is like most others- the further up the chain you go the nicer they are. North Fort is where you can find the upgraded houses, unfortunately you won’t find yourself living there unless your servicemember is an E-5 or above.

Stationed at JBLM

If you cross Freedom Bridge you will find yourself entering McChord Air Force Base, and let me tell you, the grass is definitely greener on the other side! The BX is slightly larger than the PX on Fort Lewis. There’s an indoor jungle gym for the kids with your basic food court. Bonus, you can utilize the CDC, housing, and Dr.’s on both posts! The commissary on McChord is amazing! So open and not as crowded as the one on Fort Lewis. My favorite thing about McChord are the retired Air Force planes they have on display. You can park your car, walk around and read about some of the planes history.

A few popular towns surrounding base are Lacey, Olympia, Dupont, Puyallup, Tacoma, and Yelm. Dupont is made up of mainly military families. It’s directly outside of post and is quite expensive. Lacey and Olympia are south of base, a lot of families choose to live there because it’s quieter and they claim the commute south is faster than traveling north of base. Yelm is out in the backwoods. If you like feeling like you’re in the woods then that’s your place! Puyallup is further from base so not as many military families. It’s a decent city and moderately priced, but the commute is further from everything! Lakewood is 15 minutes north of base (on a good day) and is centrally located.

Lakewood and Tacoma are what I like to think of as the Hot Spots. Newly married couples often choose these cities because they’re close enough to base but still close enough to all the fun. 6th street in downtown Tacoma is where the nightlife lives. A local burger spot that we absolutely loved is SHAKE!SHAKE!SHAKE!

Stationed at JBLM

If you find yourself in the Stadium District of Tacoma try and stop there. They’re home to my husband’s favorite red licorice shake. Stadium district is also home to Stadium High School. Have you seen 10 Things I Hate About You? Remember the Massive castle like high school with the football field overlooking the water, the one where Heath Ledger serenades Julia Stiles? Well, that’s where it was filmed! And if you’re up for watching a football game there bring your walking shoes because those stairs are steep!

If you’re thinking of adding to your family while stationed in Washington I cannot recommend the hospitals surrounding base enough! They are incredible! We welcomed our first born at a hospital in Tacoma, and no hospital has lived up to the standards they set there.

I-5 can take you anywhere you need to get, whether it’s Portland, Seattle, or even Canada, with that being said; traffic can be a nightmare between 3-6pm. Learn the backroads and learn them well, because you will need them to navigate you during those hours.

There are so many parks and places to explore! Chambers Bay Park is a favorite place of mine. It’s on a golf course which hosted the U.S Open in 2014 so if you have a golfer in your life they’ll love it. Fort Steilacoom park in Lakewood has a really big and open dog park for your furry ones to run wild. Point Defiance is in Tacoma and is another favorite because there is so much to do there! Seattle is the big city.

Stationed at JBLM

You can purchase a City Pass on base and enjoy discounted tickets for quite a few attractions. Pikes Place is open 7 days a week from 8-5 so if you want to see it get there early because it is a main tourist spot. If you’re not a Seattle Seahawks fan, let me apologize now. The 12th man does not care if you like another team. Seahawks will be played on every station at every restaurant during football season. The Olympic Peninsula is breathtaking! Mt. Rainier is also so beautiful and offers hiking trails for the advanced hiker and family friendly trails. You wont regret making the drive up there!

Sure, it rains almost every day, but the summer months and the Fall really do make up for it. I have never lived in a place where you can experience all 4 seasons as they’re meant to be or be able to drive 15 minutes in any direction and get to enjoy a beach or the mossy woods. Washington is a wonderful state if you don’t let the rain distract you from the beauty. I promise you wont regret living there.

Hi everyone! My name is Selene. I’ve been Married to my Soldier for a little over five years now, and we have two toddler boys. I am currently a stay at home mom, an active Teen Mom watcher, lover of my boys, and currently taking advantage of the MYCAA and furthering my education. Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram (@seleniiee) with any other questions you may have about JBLM.

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