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.
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1. Annual Membership
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.
2. Save with 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!!!
3. Get your 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.
4. 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).
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!
5. Find a free day!
Most organizations offer a free day or evening each month. Sometimes it’s just for local residents but often anyone can go. Definitely worth checking out.
Most of the museums in our area offer this, and for those that don’t, they are sometimes free on some holidays or promo days throughout the year.
Bonus Tip … #6
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.
This was a fun benefit we enjoyed one year when we didn’t go on vacation during fall break. Instead, we visited two local museums we’d never been to before and then had a lovely dinner nearby.
Conclusion: save money on your next museum visit
Don’t let the high cost of visiting museums stop you from enjoying some of the interesting and educational opportunities they offer. Use one (or more) of these tips to save a little money, learn something new and create a fun family memory!