Saving Money with a Museum Membership

Cold weather giving you the blues? Save money on family outings with a museum membership!

Kids are expensive. Everyone knows that. Even after they’ve outgrown diapers and sippy cups, and the proverbial pile of “baby crap” jammed into your too-small living room, they still have all these “hidden costs” you don’t think about pre-parenthood. Like, who thinks about how many pairs of shoes you’re going to have to buy over a child’s lifetime? They grow like weeds, and it seems like the smaller and cuter the shoe is, the more expensive it is. And forget keeping this winter’s boots for next year, they won’t fit. Same with clothing - that $30 licensed t-shirt your tween wants is NOT going to be cool in six months and she will act like it physically hurts her if she HAS to wear it.

Beyond all the material things, kids want to DO stuff. Doing stuff also costs money (well, not always but a lot of the really cool stuff does.) However, I’ve found that just a little bit of research can save some bucks when it comes to doing stuff.

We live somewhere between-ish Philadelphia, PA and NYC. It’s roughly the same amount of time in either direction, which makes it a great place for day trips. The kids know this, and in the spring and fall we’re inundated with requests to hit zoos and museums. As a family of five, we even avoid going to the movies more than a few times a year because of the way it adds up. Attractions like museums can do the same thing - unless you’re smart about it.

Did you know most museums and zoos have a membership program? It makes so much more sense to join and  save money on family outings with a museum membership!

What does that mean? Well, as an example, the Philadelphia Zoo (which is awsome, btw) ticket costs are $20 for an adult (children 11+ are adults) and $18 for each child 2-11. For our family that comes to $96, plus another $12 for parking — $108 for the day (yikes!). To join the zoo as a family, it costs $115 for the entire year, which includes free parking. That’s an entire year of llamas and lizards and elephants for only $7 more. Annnnnndddd…. they have a reciprocal deal with our local game preserve (and many other places), which means we can get in free there all year as well.

Obviously this wouldn’t be a great deal for every family, but it’s worth checking out if your crew likes “doing stuff.” Which, we should enjoy.. because pretty soon they’ll be way too cool to spend time with us.



  1. 'Becca says

    Yes! We are members of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh (art, natural history, and science museums plus Andy Warhol Museum) and it’s a great bargain and gets us to go to the museums more often because we don’t feel like we can only go when we can stay all day.

    One tip for a specific location: The Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley in Wheeling, West Virginia, is every bit as much fun as most children’s museums anywhere but is much less expensive!! Here’s my account of a family trip to Wheeling, which is an affordable place in general and has plenty to do for a day or two.
    ‘Becca recently posted…Cute and Thrifty Kitchen Scouring Powder

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