Survive and Thrive: Scott Air Force Base


Scott Air Force Base (SAFB) is located in Illinois, just 30 minutes outside St. Louis with access to all the perks that come with a big city. A plethora of restaurants and retail stores can be found both in the heart of St. Louis, as well as the surrounding cities. Eureka, a city neighboring St. Louis, offers a Six Flags theme park. There’s historical attractions, including museums and attractions dedicated to the Arch as well as Lewis and Clark’s expedition that went through St. Louis.

There are lots of great housing options available in St. Louis, as well as the cities and towns on the outskirts. Some of the great neighboring towns that are within a ten minute drive are: Lebanon, Mascoutah, Swansea,  Summerfield, Belleville and many more depending on the commute preferred.

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Endless options of churches and organizations to get involved in

For the service members and family who desire a church home there are hundreds within a few short miles of base, as well as a chapel located on Scott. There are also multiple organizations you can join to make you feel connected.

There are excellent school systems with many extra curricular activities. For the families that homeschool–there any many homeschool co-ops. Illinois also happens to be one of the more homeschool-friendly states and has very few laws to restrict families from doing so. For the military spouses there are fantastic women’s groups on base, as well as MOPS groups, too!

Great for families or single service members

The single service members will have plenty to keep them busy. There are museums, theaters, clubs, and bars. There are also major sports leagues for the avid sports fan including soccer, hockey and baseball.

Appealing to both the families and single service members, there are many farmers markets and public farms to enjoy, as well as large flea markets in the nearby towns.

St. Louis and other nearby cities have endless opportunities for the family. With a jump zone getting ready to open in Fairview Heights and one located a little farther over the Mississippi River. The St. Louis Zoo is a free exhibit and was recently voted as the top free attraction in the U.S. The children’s museum and science museum are located within a few miles of each other, and there will also be an aquarium opening inside the St. Louis Union Station soon.

So, what about the base?

SAFB is a decent size installation with many comforts and amenities. There are a few restaurants located right on base including McCalisters, which just opened. It also features a nice size BX and Commissary. It has a dog park, airman’s attic, thrift store, and library. The base also includes a community outdoor pool and bowling alley. On-base housing has a few different neighborhoods and schools for families to call home while stationed there.

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Scenic places nearby

While Scott may not have mountains or beaches, it does have some scenic places within a few hours that are worth visiting. From amazing hiking trails like Pere Marquette and beautiful lakes such as Carlyle Lake, the outdoor person will have plenty to do, but will have to drive an hour or two to enjoy them.

The downsides

There are some things that we don’t love so much about being stationed at Scott. One of which is the lack of outdoor things to enjoy–nearby mountains, beaches, and other beautiful things just aren’t there. Since Scott is not next to any major bodies of water, there seems to be little explanation for the constant and sometimes overwhelming humidity. But the largest and most common complaint people have with SAFB is the medical group. Many have reported that they are slow and unorganized. Those who live on base often complain the housing isn’t as nice, or as durable as other housing they have lived in, and sometimes dealing with maintenance can be a challenge.

Final Grade

Many families enjoy living at Scott. While it’s often not their favorite installation, it isn’t the worst. Many retirees enjoy SAFB so much they come back here to stay. There is much to enjoy in St. Louis as well as neighboring towns and on Scott. Just keep expectations reasonable when dealing with the medical group and this Air Force installation will feel like home in no time.

Has your family ever been stationed at Scott Air Force Base? What would you add to this list?

mandi-verlanderPosted by Mandi Verlander, NMFA Volunteer and military spouse

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