When I was a child, going to the zoo, museum or aquarium was something we did on our birthday or on a school field trip. Those were special places and not something we did regularly just for fun. When I became a stay at home mom, we started visiting different attractions to help avoid being bored. But, buying a membership wasn’t an option because I assumed it was too expensive and I wasn’t sure if we’d even use it.
Last year we decided to splurge and purchase memberships to the Phoenix Zoo, i.d.e.a. Museum, and OdySea Aquarium. We took advantage of some membership sales, so we spent a lot less than anticipated. I’d like to share some of the things that factored into our decision, in addition to how these memberships have benefited our family.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Cost – How many times do you need to visit for the membership to pay for itself? Do you believe that you’ll make that many visits in a year? For me, a membership price equal to two to four visits is ideal – any trips after that are free!
- Interests – Where does your child ask to go again and again? Would you enjoy going there as well? As much as it warms a mom’s heart to see her child having fun, the visit needs to be enjoyable for everyone.
- Child’s age and schedule – My little one isn’t in school full-time yet, so we have more “free” time on our hands and we’re able to visit places on weekdays when it’s less crowded. For those who would only be able to visit on weekends, make sure that you’d be willing and able to go enough times to make the membership worthwhile.
- Location – Will it take a very long time to travel to the location? Is this a commute you’d be willing to make on a regular basis?
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the perks of membership:
- Flexibility – Early entrance times give members a head start at the zoo & help to beat the heat during the summer. At the aquarium, we can arrive whenever we want instead of having to reserve a specific entrance time. Being able to bypass the lines and use a member entrance is great, especially with an excited preschooler.
- Member only events – Before a new show, exhibit, or feature is open to the general public, members are able to preview it for free or at a discount. It’s a great way to have fun in a less crowded setting.
- Discounts – Members receive discounts on classes, special events, and birthday parties. In addition, members often receive reciprocal benefits at zoos and museums in other states. So, the membership can help save money while on vacation.
- Prepaid entertainment – Whenever we need to find something to do, we have a few places where we can go without having to pay any admission costs. The memberships really come in handy on school breaks and during the summer.
Our memberships have been incredibly enjoyable and affordable, and it’s something I’d recommend. Of course, you should do what’s best for your family. If you’re interested, here are some tips for finding the best deals:
- Membership sales are often announced via email or social media, so sign up to receive updates.
- If you visit an attraction, ask on-site about applying the price you paid for admission towards a membership.
- Look for deals near holidays and toward the end of the school year.
Hopefully you’ll be able to utilize a membership to help create fun and lasting memories with your family!