Save money on museum visits

5 Ways to Save Money on Museum Visits

Do you love to visit museums but find the admission to be cost-prohibitive? Especially if you aren’t sure how great the museum will be. Then let’s learn how to save money on museum visits!

One of the things that we love to do when traveling, or even just keeping busy around our own town is to visit museums. I always like to know of a few in the area in case the weather is bad, we need something to do, or just feel like checking someplace new out. However, since we visit them often, for a family of four, the cost can really add up.

Here are five of my favorite ways to save a little money while still enjoying museum visits:

Annual Memberships

  • Look into annual memberships. This is my all-time favorite tip. If you know you’ll visit a museum more than once, it’s often less expensive to buy a membership and you often get additional benefits like free parking, discounts on food and shopping, etc. When my kids were little, we had memberships to the zoo, children’s museum, and Conner Prairie. In addition to saving on admission, we never felt like we had to spend the whole day there – we could just visit for a few hours and then head home for naps or something else.

Museum memberships are a fantastic gift too, so if the Grandparents don’t know what to get your family for Christmas, this would be an excellent suggestion.

Museum memberships to save money

Save with coupons

  • Coupons. Ever seen the Entertainment Books? How about deals on Groupon or Living Social? I’ll often find buy one get one free deals for museums so I’ll check these places out when planning a visit. Another great option for larger cities is to check out CityPASS. For example, the Chicago CityPASS offers over 51% savings!
  • Pro tip: use Rakuten to purchase ANY of these options and save even more with cashback!!!

Get your tickets online

  • Purchase tickets online. Some locations offer a better deal if you purchase your ticket online. Or they might have some kind of special going on. Always a good idea to check the website before you visit.
Save money on museum tickets with membership referrals

Reciprocal Memberships

  • Reciprocal Memberships. Closely related to tip #1 is reciprocal memberships. There are several programs out there that allow for reduced or even free admission to hundreds of museums and/or zoos if you belong to one of the organizations in your area. There are often stipulations such as they have to be 90 miles away from your membership site, or only allow for basic admission, but regardless this is a FANTASTIC way to save a lot of money when you travel.

Thanks to our membership to our local Indiana State Museum, on our recent trip to Chicago, we got free basic admission to Adler Planetarium, The Field Museum, AND The Science and Industry museum. Those three visits more than paid for our local membership.

The five programs that I’m aware of are ASTC (Association of Science & Technology Centers), NARM (North American Reciprocal Museum), Smithsonian Affiliates, Time Travelers, and AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums).

Chicago musuems

I always check out the listing for any of these organizations that we belong to and see if there are museums located where we are headed for vacations. Not only is it low-cost entertainment, but we’ve also discovered some really cool places that we would never have visited on our own.

Since I know that these organizations are often non-profit and struggling to make ends meet, if we’ve visited for free, I’ll often put a bit of money in the donation jar and/or be sure to spend a little in the gift shop or cafeteria. That way it’s a win for both of us!

Find a free day!

  • Free Days. Most organizations offer a free day each month. Sometimes it’s just for local residents but often anyone can go. Definitely worth checking out.

And now for a bonus option: If you are lucky, your local library might have memberships you can check out – mine offers a family membership to two Indianapolis Museums. We can check out the membership for one week and visit for free.

Do you have other ideas on how to save money on museum visits? Do you like to visit museums? Any favorites to share?

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Save Money on Your Next Museum Visit!

Ready to save money on your next museum visit? Use these 5 Easy tips to help you do just that. You can enjoy more on your vacation for less! #savemoney #museumvisits #ouradventureiseverywhere
Save money on your next museum visit with one of these 5 easy tips! No need to pay full price - enjoy the museum and still have money for other fun things to do! #savemoney #museumvisits #ouradventureiseverywhere

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76 Comments

  1. Living in DC I never had to pay for museums, but these are really helpful tips if I ever move away from the city!

  2. I LOVE reciprocal memberships! We really enjoy going to museum and have seen quite a few that we otherwise would have visited by doing this! Thanks for the great tips!

    1. Cathy, I saw it on our library website when I was putting some books on hold and it was a great benefit – saved us $50+ per museum. Even if your library doesn’t do it, it would be worth suggesting.

  3. These are great tips. We always look for free times at museums when we travel as buying tickets for 5 can get a bit pricy. Thank you.

  4. Great ideas! We were in Chicago over the summer and hit the museums offered in the CityPass. We really enjoyed the perk of VIP entry. Saved us TONS of time. Also, if anyone works in education, many places offer free or reduced admission with valid school I.D.
    Thanks for the other ideas!

  5. Great advice! We too used to love having the annual zoo membership when our kids were little, so we didn’t feel obligated to spend a whole day there. It was great!

  6. I really like memberships amd reciprocal use. Our zoo and our children’s play museum do them.
    Also, Bank of America card holders get some free museum days. I’m not sure if other banks do this too?
    Great tips!

  7. Love all of these tips! I am always watching for free days at our local museums, zoos, and aquariums so I can take the whole family 🙂

    1. Thanks – I’m with you! We like to do a lot as a family, so if we can save some money along the way, that just means we can do more!!

  8. I’m definitely a fan of the free days! Though they tend to be crowded, it opens up the chance to try out new places.

  9. it’s such a good idea! I love going to museums but it does gt real expensive real quick when you are with a family. super helpful post.

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