If you are planning on spending some quality family time for the upcoming vacations, then a museum or zoo getaway can serve as the best choice. These adventures on a budget can set the fun times rolling for your entire family. For taking the enjoyment a notch higher, we have collated a variety of ways by following which you can avail of free entry tickets to museums and zoos. Read on to know about how you can make the most of different attractions for free with just a bit of planning and research.
- Enquire with your local library – Often local libraries have a plethora of offers apart from a rich collection of books, events, and media. You can get adventure passes from your local libraries offering free admission to museums and zoos. In cities like Boston and Seattle, you can avail of free passes to local museums via the public library system. Valid library card holders might be required to visit the library’s website or place a quick phone call to get the entry passes.
- Free admission Days – Zoos, museums, and similar attractions offer free admission on certain days. Some popular dates are Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, and during the off-season when the footfall is already low.
- General admission to the de Young and Legion of Honor museums in San Francisco is free for the city residents on the first Tuesday of every month provided they can show a valid ID.
- Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. are always free.
- Detroit Institute of Arts is always free for residents of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties.
- Museum of Contemporary Art Chicagois free on Tuesdays for Illinois residents.
- National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis is free from 3 p.m. until closing on Mondays for Tennessee residents.
- Oregon Historical Society museum and library, Portland is always free for Multnomah County residents.
- San Diego Museum of Manis free on the third Tuesday of every month for San Diego County residents
- Check out income-based programs – You might qualify for lucrative discounts if your family falls in the lower income bracket. Various cities and countries offer supplemented programs where families can qualify for free or discounted admissions to local attractions.
- Redeem rewards – If you collect airline miles, Coke Rewards, or points for another program, then you can redeem them to get free admission to aquariums, theme parks, zoos, and similar attractions.
- Take advantage of the credit union or bank benefits – Often financial institutions offer free or discounted museum and zoo entry to their customers. You can take the example of the “Museums on Us” program for credit and debit card holders of the Bank of America, S. Trust, and Merrill Lynch which allows free admission to select museums during the first full weekend each month.
- Special Events – There is a special event called “Museum day Live” in the fall where the museums offer free admission. The Museum Day event is hosted by Smithsonian Magazine on 21st September wherein the participating museums offer free admission to anyone who prints a free ticket from Smithsonian Magazine’s website. You can keep an eye on the website from mid-August for ticket availability offering free admission for two people.
Next comes the Art Museum Day event sponsored by The Association of Art Museum Directors every May 18th. All the participating museums are listed on the website as the date approaches out of which some offer free admission whereas others offer discounts.
Austin Museum Day happening on 22nd September offers free access to museums in Austin, Texas. Last but not least, the Museums Free-for-all event held in February allows free admission to South California museums.
- Flexible Pricing Policies – You can pay less for the museum entry by booking your tickets in advance. For example, you can save $3 per ticket to Boston’s Museum of Science by buying the tickets at least one day in advance of the visit. While museums have a suggested retail price, they often offer the opportunity to “pay what you wish.” This happens at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
- Military, senior, and other discounts – Just like retail shops and movie theatres, some museums offer discounts based on the job, age, and similar criteria. However, you might be required to show proper verification documents such as a military ID or driver’s license upon entry. You can take the example of Blue Star Museums which is a network that started in 2010 and comprises nearly 2000 institutions offering free admission to active-duty military personnel (including National Guard and Reserve) and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- Reciprocal membership programs – If you join an institution that is part of a network, then you can visit the other institutions in that network at discount rates or for free. You can take the example of the North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association comprising more than 1000 institutions including arts, cultural and historical institutions alongside children’s museums, botanical gardens, and science and technology centers. By joining any one of those institutions at the NARM membership level, you can enjoy free admission to other institutions. Some other examples of museum-related reciprocal membership programs include:
- Association of Children’s Museums’ ACM Reciprocal Network
- Association of Science-Technology Centers’ ASTC Travel Passport Program
- Southeastern Museums Conference’s SERM Reciprocal Membership Program
While a trip to the museum can offer your entire family a much-needed dose of culture and history, a zoo visit can light up a smile on your child’s face as they feed the giraffes and ostriches with their own hands. The tips mentioned away can serve as an excellent way of expanding your family’s horizons while adding more activities to your family calendar without a lot of expense.