3 famous fort towns worth visiting

Military installations are a critical part of nation's defenses, dedicated to training and housing our servicemembers. But the towns that hold our best and biggest posts have more attractions than just the barracks. From museums to nightlife to beaches, you should keep these three towns in mind when considering your next trip. You'll find that there's lots for friends, couples or the whole family to enjoy.

"Enjoy your days on in the waters and on the shores of the Susquehanna River."

1. Aberdeen, Maryland
If you love the beach, you'll find plenty to enjoy in Aberdeen, Maryland. Home to the Aberdeen Proving Ground Army facility, the town is located right on the coast of the Chesapeake Bay.

Whether you like to fish, water ski, swim or just soak up the sun while you lie in the sands, beach-lovers will be able to indulge in their favorite activities here. Like freshwater better than saltwater? You can enjoy your days on in the waters and on the shores of the Susquehanna River instead.

Sports enthusiasts can catch minor league baseball games at Ripken Stadium, home of the Aberdeen Ironbirds. The nearby five-star Bulle Rock Golf Course is the No. 1 golf course in Maryland and frequently ranks among the top 100 courses in the country. If you're looking to stay active you can also spend your days rock climbing or exploring the area's hiking trails.

In the mood to relax? Stop by a local restaurant for some famous Chesapeake Bay crabs or swing by The Odyssey Spa for a massage or facial. 

2. Fayetteville, North Carolina
Fayetteville is closely tied to Fort Bragg, the nation's largest Army base. There's a plethora of natural beauty to see here, like at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Lake Rim Park and the J. Bayard Clark Park and Nature Center. You'll be able to walk through hiking trails, bike along scenic paths, see native wildlife and explore the natural flora of North Carolina.

If the weather decides not to cooperate with your outdoor plans, then that just means you have more time for the area's museums! Whether you're interested in learning about history at the Museum of Cape Fear, the military at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum or art at the David McCune International Art Gallery, there's plenty of cultural centers to spend your afternoons in.

Don't forget to try some North Carolina-style barbecue at one of the area's famed restaurants, and get in a day of shopping while you're downtown.

"Take a boat out on the water at the Alligator Lake Recreation Area"

3. Vernon Parish, Louisiana
Located northwest of New Orleans, Vernon Parish is a quaint town that's home to Fort Polk. Go camping, fishing, hiking or visit the wildlife museum at the South Toledo Bend State Park if you're up for the outdoors. You can also take a boat out on the water at the Alligator Lake Recreation Area, or grab your rackets and use one of their tennis courts.

If you're looking to learn a little history you can stop by the Museum of West Louisiana or the Museum of the New Llano Colony

A number of clubs and bars in the area provide nightlife options if you're looking to grab a meal or a drink and go dancing. 

When you're looking at fort towns and other military installations, be sure to look at what else the town you're in has to offer so you don't miss out on a lot of fun and some great attractions! You'll find that there are some great places to visit.