By Michelle Mady
With five children, I am always on the hunt for a quick, easy field trip with the kids. I was so thankful to my mother, who when my boys were younger, purchased local museum and zoo memberships for my family. She has even gifted my family membership renewals each year for Christmas, so we have had endless trips to our local zoos and museums.
But there’s more to a museum membership than just the admission!
Yes, with a membership you are able to go to these attractions whenever you want to, although be sure to check that they do not require timed ticket entry. But even with some minor planning ahead, a paid for experience is a great way to spend a rainy Saturday. But there are so many underutilized benefits that are included in these memberships as well!
Day of Discounts
If you are like me, you avoid the dreaded gift shop at all costs, but sometimes the occasion calls for a souvenir. Make sure to show your membership card, because many attraction memberships include a discount at their shop. It may be as small as 5% or sometimes as large as 20% off!
I may avoid the cafeteria as much as the gift shop, but even when I have packed a lunch from home, there’s always a water bottle or snack left behind.
Not only do the gift shops offer this discount, but many times the in-house eateries have discounts for members as well. I may avoid the cafeteria as much as the gift shop, but even when I have packed a lunch from home, there’s always a water bottle or snack left behind. So, instead of grabbing a bottle of water at the vending machine, head to the cafeteria and get your discount - it adds up! Parking is often discounted for members too, so be sure to check that out!
My local zoo just created a new gorilla exhibit that is a great experience. Because we are members, we were able to get a sneak peek of the exhibit before it was open to the public! They allowed members to get early admission tickets with early entry to the zoo before it opened. There were animal behaviorists there answering questions and talking about why certain parts of the new habitat were important for gorillas. What a bonus to that membership!
Let’s talk about the real hidden gem of memberships - the reciprocal piece! Many zoos, aquariums and museums have reciprocal relationships with other attractions. My family has been able to visit zoos in 16 states because of this. Look up your reciprocal list in your membership benefits to find out the many new experiences you can visit. Most of the time your membership will get you discounted entry, rather than free, but it is still totally worth it!
Visiting a new place not only helps to keep things fresh with your family, but it also supports the visiting attraction by increasing patrons. Be sure to check out your membership benefits to maximize your experiences.
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.