Base Survival Guide Series: MCB Quantico and The Pentagon

Base Survival Guide Series: MCB Quantico and The Pentagon

This Base Survival Guide on MCB Quantico and The Pentagon is brought to you by my friends Amanda Kendrick and Caitlin Womack. Amanda and her husband met in high school over twenty years ago. They have four children and have been living the Marine Corps life since 2008. Their current duty station is in Northern Virginia. Caitlin and her family of 5, about to be 6, are also a Marine Corps family. They're currently stationed at MCB Quantico. Her husband has been permanent personnel at OCS since June 2021 on 36 month orders. They find out this fall if he will go to EWS (Expeditionary Warfare School) or if they will PCS in summer of 2024! This is her husband's second duty station, but their first as a family. 


What's the weather like at this base?

Weather in NoVA/MCB Quantico gives you the experience of all four seasons. The winter can be mild or it can be very snowy. The snow/ice storm of 2022 was wild when it shut down I-95. Spring arrives around March and it gets rainy. Flowers sometimes start to bloom as early as February. Vegetable gardens thrive in Virginia, so if your family likes to garden, you will have great success. The Summer will get hot, and it does get humid. The mosquitoes are terrible! You're going to need bug spray. Fall is very nice. It's cool and crisp, and the perfect season for warm drinks, sweaters, and boots.



What's your favorite time of year there?

Spring and fall!


What's your favorite thing about living at this duty station? 

My favorite part about living in the Quantico/Northern Virginia area is the community on base, and being near so much history. Especially the monuments in Washington D.C.. Living in town also has a lot of perks because you have everything available to you within minutes. We have family here and I’ve involved myself in church, Mom groups, and attended OCS graduations so I have an idea of what my husband does at work.


What's your least favorite thing about living at this duty station?

TRAFFIC. The worst traffic ever. We usually don’t go anywhere on Saturday’s because I-95 is a standstill. It backs up quick and a trip can suddenly take twice as long. Also, my husband’s job is pretty demanding so taking leave is not always an option.


Is there anything you wish you knew about this duty station before your PCS there?

I wish I knew more about the EZ-Pass transponder that goes in your car so you can ride in the toll lanes to get to places quicker. One type of pass is for 1-2 people and you pay the toll, and the other is a Flex pass which has no charge if you have 3 or more people in the car.


What amenities are on base? And what are they like? For example: Is the commissary large or small? Well stocked? Pool on base? Parks? How many? Etc.

Several pools on base but we live off base so never utilized. One covered park on base that is our favorite. For Quantico to be the crossroads, I felt like the base would have been larger with more things.

• On MCB Quantico there is a library with free story time during the week if you have young children.

• There are parks all over the base in the housing neighborhoods, but there is a central park on mainside that is fenced in. Many families meet there for playdates. The base has a community pool with a fee and swim lessons during the summer. It is open Memorial Day thru Labor Day. They also offer lap swim early in the morning.

• Housing has three pools for their residents to use. They are also open Memorial Day and Labor Day.

• There is a movie theater and bowling alley. The bowling alley offers birthday parties. The movie theater shows movies Thursday-Sunday. The theater has a Starbucks kiosk inside of it, as well as typical movie concessions. There are two USO locations on base. One is on the TBS (training) side of base, and the other is on main side. They have events and giveaways regularly.

• The commissary and MCX are next to one another and share a parking lot. Inside the MCX there is a small-ish food court. At the food court there is a Papa John's, Subway, and Greek cuisine restaurant. There is also a Dunkin'. The commissary is a reasonably good size. It offers everything you need to feed your family. It offers fresh sushi made daily, and custom sandwiches are available to order from the deli. Custom cakes are also an option. I find it to be well stocked and most items are cheaper than stores off base.


What tips or hacks would you give a  military spouse who just PCSed to that base?

The commissary offers "Click and Go" where you can order online and pick up without going inside. If you are trying to get to Stafford, VA, and there is a lot of traffic on I-95 you can cut through the TBS side of the base and usually save yourself time. If you're going to Woodbridge, VA from MCB Quantico, you can take a back way to avoid I-95. Use Google Maps or Waze before you leave your house to go anywhere.

Get involved! It’s the only way to survive because you can’t do life alone. Go to movies at Little Hall. Make an appointment at the ID office - don’t walk in.


Do you live on or off base? What is/was your experience like?

Off base. We love living off base because my husband gets a “break” from his very demanding job.

My family lived on base the first time we lived at MCB Quantico, now the second time we are off base. When living on base we had an immediate community of friends, while off base it took a little longer. But, both experiences have been equally wonderful.

For on base housing:

Thomason Park for company grade officers.

Masters Hill for Field grade officers.

For enlisted it was one big neighborhood called Lyman Park.

For off base housing:

Embery Mills in Stafford (22554)

Potomac Shores in Dumfries (22026)

Montclair in Dumfries (22025)

Lake Ridge in Woodbridge (22192)


What are your favorite hang out spots on base? Why?

On MCB Quantico my favorite hang out spot is Dunkin' at the MCX or a playground with my kids and other moms. The covered playground is a great place to find other mom friends.


Did you do a DITY move or military move?

We've always done a military move. I will *never* DITY!


Are there any base specific traditions that take place? What is the culture like?

Usually MCCS hosts a family birthday ball in November that takes place on base.



Are there any base FB pages, bloggers, or accounts/websites people should follow for the base or area?

 Base website can be found here.

Facebook Pages

Quantico Marine Spouses

Quantico Base Mamas

Quantico Mil Spouse Businesses

Stafford Talk

Stafford Talk 2.0

GAMS - National Capital Region Military Spouses

Friendly Marine Wives of Quantico


What is your favorite coffee shop there? Why? What is your favorite order?

Believe it or not, Wawa gas station has really good coffee. They have a coffee bar where you can choose you creamer flavors and sweeteners.


What are your favorite spots for date night?

The Alamo for a movie. 

Occoquan, Virginia is a quaint little town with lots of shops and restaurants. I highly recommend it.

This restaurant has probably proven itself to be my favorite date night spot. Appetizer: Gateau de Crevettes; Shrimp Cake with fennel puree

Entrée: Chilean Sea Bass and Filet Mignon

Dessert: If you like lemon, the Lemon Meringue Tart is really good. Also, the Fresh Berries Gratin. 


What are your favorite restaurants? What is your go to order?

Feng's Garden Chinese in Dumfries. It's outside the main gate about 2 miles away. Their family dinners are the best deal.

Kobe (Japanese), Jin’s (Chinese), El Gran Charro (Mexican).


Are there any fun things to do in the area or close to base like amusements parks etc?

The closest amusement park is Kings Dominion and it is about an hour drive south from MCB Quantico. The next closest would Great Wolf Lodge and Six Flags in Maryland, and next is Busch Gardens and another Great Wolf Lodge location near Williamsburg, Virginia.


What are some of the things you would put on a bucket list for other military spouses coming to that base?

Take advantage of the Waves of Honor deal. Use your free admission for Busch Gardens, Sea World in Orlando, or Sesame Place in Pennsylvania.


Are there any cities you recommend for weekend getaways? Why? What did you do there?

Virginia Beach!


Best places or activities for kids? Why?

The National Park Junior Ranger books are great for the kids when you're touring any of the National Park locations. You can get stamps and sometimes badges. 

• The Marine Corps Museum has camps during the summer.

D&G Expressions (This company comes on MCB Quantico for classes.)

Novaks Gymnastics in Dumfries, VA 

Youth Sports Virginia Training Center 

• Paint Your Heart Out in Occoquan


Any local festivals/traditions held for the holidays in that area?

• Octoberfest in Fredericksburg
• In the Spring, the Cherry Blossom Trees bloom and it's such a cool experience. Washington D.C. has a festival to celebrate and thousands of people attend. It's a little chaotic, but it's cool to experience it at least once.
• The NPS hosts annual Fourth of July fireworks at The National Mall in Washington, D.C.. It's beautiful!!
• The White House has an annual Easter Egg Roll that is lottery based entry. 
• Same goes for The White House tree lighting

Local Recommendations:

Nail Tech

Dumfries, Virginia: Escape Day Spa

Woodbridge, VA: LaVannie Nails 



Vagaro with Gigi in Stafford, Virginia.

Hair Cuttery in Woodbridge, Virginia. The stylists who won't let you down are Taylor, Kelly, and Mae. 



Letham at Mary Washington OBGYN.

Ft. Belvoir OB/Labor and Delivery is fantastic, also Stafford Hospital - Mary Washington.



Loving at Pediatric Partners of Stafford.
Dr. Melissa Gilmore on the Blue Team at Naval Clinic Quantico.


Primary Care Doctor

Melanie Wiest, NP with Sentara on Pond Way in Lake Ridge, Virginia.

For pelvic floor care, I highly recommend Dr. Alok Desai with Potomac Urology. Spine care: Anderson Orthopedic Clinic.



Dunbar at Dunbar Smile Center.

Dental Spa in Woodbridge, VA

Dr. Holmes at Potomac Pediatric Dentistry in Dumfries



ER: Inova HealthPlex Lorton, Inova Fairfax Children's and Adults, Stafford Hospital. 

Urgent Care: KidMed in Stafford, PM Pediatrics in Woodbridge, NextCare and Patient First locations.



Pets R Family in Woodbridge, VA.

VCA in Woodbridge, VA.

Dumfries Animal Hospital in Dumfries, VA.

Emergency Vet: MedVet in Manassas, VA.


Dog Parks

MCB Quantico has a dog park on Purvis Ave.



• If you live on MCB Quantico Liberty Housing has a gym in the basement of the housing office.

Barber Gym on MCB Quantico 


Kids Tutor/Babysitter

MCBQ Quantico Babysitting Facebook group.

Moms of Stafford: Babysitting/Daycare.



Mount Ararat Weekday Preschool or Living Hope CDC. The Child Development Centers on MCB Quantico offer good care. There is also a program called Childcare Aware that can assist with the cost of off base childcare if you qualify. You'll want to look into this before you arrive.



Crossroads Elementary School on MCB Quantico.

Quantico Middle/High on MCB Quantico.

Lake Ridge Elementary School in Lake Ridge, VA.

Lake Ridge Middle School in Lake Ridge, VA (zip code 22192)



Fred Marcellus 

Samantha Meyer 



Chelsea Heath with Chelsea Lauren Images


Grocery Stores

Commissary, Lidl, Aldi, Food Lion, Walmart.



Parkway Automotive is a trustworthy and good mechanic. They're in Woodbridge, VA.


Shops + Boutiques

Occoquan: Paint Your Heart Out, Leaf and Petal, Mill Street Sweets (ice cream).



In the NoVA region travel options are aplenty. The Metro is the subway system that provides transportation around Washington D.C. The Amtrak has a station in the middle of Quantico base. The Megabus will take you straight to NYC. The closest airport is Reagan, next is Dulles, and then Baltimore or Richmond, VA.


Overall I would rate this base at a... (1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best)

Amanda: 8/10

Caitlin: 7/10


Photo Slideshow Quantico



If you'd like to learn more, have any questions or just want to follow Cailtin's journey you can find her over at her Instagram here or her Facebook here!  

You can also get a PDF version of this guide here!

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