Veterans Day Free: Find Meals, Tours, More

The "Grey Ghost" of WWII welcomes those who have served aboard (with no admission required).

First published in 2015

Where will you spend Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015?

Parades, speeches, music presentations, and more happenings dot the Southern California calendar on Veterans Day, but a few places around the region will also waive admission for those who have served as well as people currently in the military. As for restaurants? A number are offering free dishes or menus designed specifically for the occasion.

If you have served, and are spending the day with family and friends, or just taking it as a quiet day to reflect, revisit history, and take some time on your own, consider making for one of these area locations, including...

The Queen Mary: As it does each and every year, the Long Beach landmark will "offer free admission to active service members of the armed forces, retired military personnel, and veterans." If you are a veteran and plan on touring the ship with family, they'll be able to request a special discount. As for what's to see onboard the world's most famous ocean-liner? Plenty, including a look back at its time as the "Grey Ghost" of World War II. It really did transport thousands of soldiers in the '40s, and the recreations of soldiers' quarters are some of the most fascinating parts of the self-guided tour.

Restaurants: Applebee's, Golden Corral, Chili's Grill & BarCalifornia Pizza Kitchen, Olive GardenDenny's, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Outback SteakhouseBonefish GrillBaskin-RobbinsBuffalo Wild WingsChipotleKrispy KremeRed Robin and IHOP have special menus, free appetizers or entrees, or free meals or drinks for veterans on Nov. 11. Be sure to check the hours at each, and what the offer is, before finding the location nearest you. Portos bakery is offering a free pastry gift box to veterans.

Knott's Berry Farm: Made a jaunt over the Buena Park to hop on a coaster lately? Then you know that we're in the middle of Military Tribute Days, when "all U.S. veterans, retired and active military personnel and one guest" receive free entry into the theme park. Additional discount tickets are available, as are dates beyond Nov. 11; this offer is good through Dec. 20.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: There are a number of events throughout the morning at the Simi Valley institution, including an appearance by U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne (he'll be signing his new book). Visitors can also observe several military vehicles and a Civil War encampment. Are you a veteran? Show your ID for free admission to the library on Wednesday, Nov. 11. For the day's full schedule of to-dos, click.

The National Parks: Our vast system of national parks number into the hundreds, some 408, to be exact. Just over a fourth of those — 127, to be exact again — ask for a fee at the entrance gate. But on Veterans Day, that fee disappears for the day, as a way to show gratitude to our veterans. That's for everyone, too, but if you do see someone who has served while you're at Yosemite or Joshua Tree or the Channel Islands, be sure to say thank you.

Aquarium of the Pacific: If you happen to call upon the Queen Mary, and you're looking for more gratis go-outs near the beautiful harbor, make for this fish-fantastic favorite, which is just a short drive from the big boat. Veterans and military personnel pay nothing to enter the Long Beach-based aquarium on Nov. 11. Want to know what's there, what shows, what times? Here's where you start. 

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