Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation: MCRD Parris Island

Preparing for Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation at MCRD Parris Island can be very exciting, especially when you have accurate information regarding the schedule of activities, and thus know what to expect. With over 50 years of military experience, Sandboxx has compiled all the information you need to know to make your trip to Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation MCRD Parris Island very rewarding. Before you know it your loved one will be a United States Marine and begin their journey in the world’s greatest Marine Corps.

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When to arrive to MCRD Parris Island

Where to eat on MCRD Parris Island

How to get on base at MCRD Parris Island

Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation Day Weather

Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation MCRD Parris Island Family Day

Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation Day MCRD Parris Island

In most cases, Family Day takes place on Thursday starting very early in the morning. I would recommend arriving the day before, prior to nightfall, to give yourself time to take in some of the historic sites of Beaufort and become familiar with the layout of the base. There are activities on base for families starting on Wednesday, should you choose to attend.

In terms of leaving, most new Marines want to bid good riddance to Parris Island as soon as possible. After 12 long weeks of basic training, they’ll want to leave ASAP, which in this case is Friday after graduation. Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation ends around 10:30 am, and you can often be off base by 11:15am at the latest. We’d suggest booking your return flight for any time after 4pm to ensure you have plenty of time.

MCRD Parris Island offers several restaurants, both casual and fast food. During Family Day, you will be able to visit the Exchange – the mall and food course on base– in addition to the bowling alley, which has a Subway, or Traditions, a family friendly casual restaurant which is relatively affordable. There are pre-paid meals you can purchase, but I would recommend against this option. The portions are small and the food is rather simple. You are better to let your hungry Marine sniff their way to the food!

Most families will reserve a rental car for the occasion, and can drive effortlessly on to the base. Each passenger over the age of 18 will be required to show a government-issued ID. The rental agreement will serve as your insurance, so don’t worry about bringing your personal insurance, but make sure you have this on hand if you’re driving your personal vehicle. Additionally, don’t purchase the additional insurance coverage from the rental agency, as your personal auto insurance will cover your rental.

Family Day starts early with the Motivational Run (no, you don’t have to run!) around 7am. I would recommend being at the gate no later than 6am for both Family Day and the graduation ceremony. The Motivational Run will be the first opportunity you get to see your new Marine, and is often the most anticipated event of the weekend.

If the weather is bad, they will hold graduation indoors, which means there will be limited seating. In this case, make sure you are at the gate no later than 5:30am to ensure you get a seat. Otherwise, you will be in overflow watching on a big screen.

During Family Day, you will get the opportunity to learn more about what your Marine went through during boot camp, hear from the battalion commander, and have your Marine escort you around base showing you where they trained. To avoid accidental knife-handing by your Marine, stay on their left side so they are free to salute with their right hand when passing higher-ranking Marines on base.

Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation day is filled with a lot of emotions, and will be a day you and your new Marine will remember forever. Families from all over the country travel to attend graduation, so expect a big crowd and get there early. Depending on the size of the graduating class, you should be able to get a seat for graduation, but always plan for the worse and wear comfortable shoes in case you have to stand. Graduation will last for an hour, and then your new Marine will be released.

Download the MCRD Parris Island Family Day Schedule.
View the  MCRD Parris Island Graduation Schedule.

The feeling you get when you see your new Marine for the first time will be more than you could ever imagine. It is truly a special day and time to enjoy and celebrate with your Marine and family. There are many other questions you probably have, so please reach out to our Sandboxx Travel Team and ask away.

Ready to book your travel to Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation? Sandboxx Travel can help reserve your hotel and flights for family, friends and your recruits ticket back home with you. View our Sandboxx Travel page.

Happy travels, and congratulations to you and your soon-to-be new Marine!

Curious about what needs to be in your suitcase for boot camp graduation? We have you covered in our blog post, The Ultimate Boot Camp Graduation Packing List.




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50 thoughts

  1. Thank you for the updates.
    Is there any public transportation from the Savannah Ga airport to the Marines Corps.
    Taxi will charge $80 one way. I’ll be traveling from Puerto Rico and I lost my house to hurricane Maria. I need to save as much as possible to afford my grandsons graduation February 2nd. It’s very important for me and my grandson since his dad (my son) died of brain cancer when my gramson was only 9 years old.
    Can you please help?
    Thank you.

      1. Good morning, Sandra. We’re sorry for our delayed response. There are no shuttles to Parris Island from Savannah, GA. A taxi may be less cost effective than an Uber or Lyft ride. Our SANDBOXX Travel Customer Support Team may be able to assist you with this. Here’s the link Click on the Chat button in the bottom right corner to speak with one of our agents. Thank you for using SANDBOXX.

    1. A group of friends and i want to travel to parris island for graduation but one of my friends is a daca dreamer and doesnt know if he is allowed on base? What type of identification is needed to enter on base? Will he have any problems getting in?

      1. Every person entering the base needs a state issued photo ID. A background check is performed if they are not accompanied by someone holding a military ID.

    1. Good afternoon. Sorry for the delayed response. There is no limit to how many family members and friends can attend Family Day and Graduation. Thank you for using SANDBOXX.

    1. Good afternoon. Sorry for the delayed response. Your new Marine receives 10 days of leave following graduation and they can return home with their families. The Marines are responsible for their transportation home and to their follow-on-schooling. Our Travel Customer Support Team is amazing at helping answer any questions you may have. Here’s a link to get you started. If you have any questions you can simply click the Help tab in the bottom right corner and someone will get with you as soon as they can. Thank you for using SANDBOXX.

    1. Good morning, Veronica. That’s a great idea. The new Marines definitely want to change out of their uniform after graduation and get into something more comfortable for their trip home. Thank you for using SANDBOXX.

      1. Can they wear their dress uniform home.I know that I was extremely proud and wore mine.

      2. Hello, Dennis. Thanks for reaching out. Your Marine can wear any uniform other than cammies. If he wears his dress blues it has to be with ribbons. The preferred dress for most new Marines is in civilian clothes. We hope this helps. Thank you for using Sandboxx.

  2. Im coming from orlando could i drive all the way to the camp or i have to take flight to get to the graduation place…

    1. Good evening, Yolanda. You can drive from Orlando. I would make sure to drive up on Wednesday so that you have plenty of time to get to Family Day bright and early on Thursday morning. If you have any other questions, please reach out to our customer support team at Thank you for using Sandboxx.

  3. Hi I am coming from Tennessee. I have 12 family members from age 5 to 70. We were gonna rent a passenger van for the trip. Do I do that with Enterprise or do y’all have a specific rental place to rent from?? My new recruit just started a week ago, when should I book my van and rooms??
    Thank you for your help!!

    1. Good morning, Amanda. We would love to help you with that. Please reach out to our Travel Customer Support Team with this link: and click on the Help button in the bottom right corner. One of our Travel Customer Support Team members will help you from there. Thank you for using Sandboxx.

  4. You said, get there by 6 a.m., and they do a run at 7 a.m. 9n family day,
    So, what do we do while they are running ???
    And why do we have to be there at 6 a.m. ???

    1. Hi, Ray. The gate can get backed up in the morning with many families coming aboard the base so that will give you plenty of time to get through the gate, park and find your spot along the parade route. Once the motivational run begins, the families watch as some of the Marine Corps Band members lead the parade. You will get a chance to get a glimpse of your Marine during the run. Many family members bring posters, banners, etc to wave as their Marine runs by. The run lasts for approximately 15-20 minutes and then the Family Day ceremony kicks off promptly at 9:30 a.m. at the All Weather Training Facility. The Marines will be released to spend the day with their families after the Family Day ceremony ends at 10:00 a.m. You will have until 3:00 p.m. to spend the day with your Marine. He then needs to be back to his platoon to prepare for Graduation the next morning. Let us know if you have any more questions at Thank you for using Sandboxx.

  5. Hello. My daughter is United and won’t be allowed to do the motivational run. I know the recommendation is to arrive at 6am for the run, but what would be a reasonable time to show up for family day to the base, sans observing the run?

    1. Good morning, Troy. The Family Day Ceremony kicks off promptly at 9:30. In order to get on base, get parking and get seated for the ceremony, we recommend arriving at 8:30. The ceremony only lasts for approximately 30 minutes and once it’s over your recruit can spend 5 hours with you touring the base and spending quality time together. 🙂 Thank you for using Sandboxx.

  6. Autocorrect is bad. What it meant to say was my daughter is injured and won’t be allowed to do the motivational run.

  7. Does the 10 day leave start on the Friday of graduation at Parris Island or Sat. the day after? Looking at a previous post, my Marine is responsible for making his travel arrangements for combat training after the 10 day leave?

    1. Hi, Charity! The 10 days of leave starts the next day, Saturday. Yes, your Marine is responsible for his travel back to SOI. We have competitive pricing at Sandboxx Travel. Here’s a link that can get you started. Please reach out to our customer support team at for further assistance.

  8. We are coming in an RV, if we can’t reserve a space for our RV on the base what is the closetst place to the base we can park the RV?

    1. Hello, Cassondra. Thanks for reaching out. Driftwood RV Park would be the closest RV park to Parris Island. The address is: 2558 Trask Pkwy, Beaufort, SC 29906. The phone number is Phone: (843) 812-1902. Please reach out to for any further assistance. Thank you for using Sandboxx.

  9. These questions and answers are incredibly informative. Most of my questions have now been answered. Thanks 😀

  10. Okay, my boyfriend just went to boot camp a few days ago. For graduation I hear there is only 1 vehicle allowed per recruit. If his family doesn’t let me ride with them is there any way that I could still attend the ceremony?

    1. Hi, Kelsey. We don’t believe there is a rule about one vehicle per recruit. We have multiple family members and friends that come to Grads with multiple cars so don’t worry about that. There are taxis available if you need to get on base, however. We hope this helps.

  11. Thank u for always giving us update.. I can’t wait to see my son on his graduation day this coming November 9.. so excited! Thank u

  12. Hi, my daughters graduation is on December 16 when should we arrive, and what’s the closest airport?
    Thank you

    1. Hi, Orlando. We recommend arriving on Wednesday, December 14th, if possible so that you can be there for Family Day on the 15th. The closest airport is the Savannah International Airport which is about an hour drive from Parris Island. Charleston International Airport is about an hour and a half drive from Parris Island. We hope this helps.

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