These are great because they give you free or discounted admission to a number of attractions, meaning you can see a lot but only pay a little. Let’s begin by laying out the various museum, zoo, and garden reciprocal programs out there.
On top of that, some of their season passes include reduced admission to local attractions. Last but not least, we must mention the option of reciprocal memberships for seeing the amazing natural wonders of the USA.
In fact, those with children in fourth grade and families who have special needs may even be able to get one free of charge. In order to take advantage of the museum, zoo, and garden reciprocal programs, you must choose a participating attraction to become a member of.
Kern County Museum: ATC, ARM, ACM, Time Travelers, ROAM Moonshot Museum : ATC, ACM, AZA UNC Nature Center : ATC, AZA The Ringling : ARM, MARP, TERM, ROAM Besides the overlapping reciprocal program aspect of things, you’ll also want to keep prices in mind.
Therefore, it makes sense to shop for the cheapest membership in order to obtain those benefits. Buy Six Flags Gold Passes at the Baltimore or St. Louis location.
For a full-benefit (not just 50% off) AZA standalone pass, go through Ellen Trout Zoo in Ruskin, TX. Additionally, EAA has a free ATC option for kids ages 8–19 and their families.
It requires the student to take part in one of their free “Young Eagles” flights. Most attractions don’t offer free admission to special events, tours, add-ons, or performances to those using reciprocal benefits.
Because many programs allow participating attractions to withdraw at any time, visiting without calling could lead to disappointment. Please comment with your valuable reciprocal membership info below to help other Full time Families keep their travel affordable and educational.
We’ve researched the memberships that give you the most benefits for the price, so you can choose wisely. Many museums, zoos, aquariums, and historical sites that charge an entry fee are part of national memberships.
When you join your local AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium that participates in the reciprocity program, you’ll get free entrance to your local zoo or aquarium for 1 year, and free or reduced (usually 50%) admission to other members of AZA’s reciprocity program. Examples include Ripley’s Aquarium at Myrtle Beach SC, the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas NV, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, CA.
If you join an Ohio member for a great rate but your driver’s license says Austin, TX, you won’t get the discount at any centers within 90 miles of that Ohio location, and you also won’t get the discount at any centers within 90 miles of Austin. If you love visiting historic sites and museums, Time Travelers is the membership for you.
Time Travelers is a reciprocal membership network for historical museums, sites, and societies. Some well-known historical sites do not participate in Time Travelers, such as Gettysburg National Military Park (free to the public), the Paul Revere House in Boston, and colonial Williamsburg (parts are free).
Remember that most reciprocity programs requires the cardholder to be present, and may check photo ID. Always call ahead to verify reciprocity and see how many people are included in admission discounts.
This article is about museums, zoos, and related organizations, but don’t forget the amazing, fun learning opportunities to state and national parks. However, if you’re already traveling full-time or don’t have any local museums or zoos, you may want to scout around for the best deal.
The two I’ve seen mentioned most often as best deals” are the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville NC (family membership has reciprocal benefits for AZA and ATC), and Moonshot Museum of Discovery in Dayton OH (family membership has reciprocal benefits for AZA and ATC; adventurer level membership (and higher) also has reciprocal benefits to ACM). Now that we have been on the road for over 7 years, we have learned some tips and tricks to traveling with a family and getting the most for our money.
One of the ways that we have been able to afford to go to so many great educational destinations is thanks to reciprocal zoo and museum memberships! River otter exhibit at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Each member receives free admission (and often other perks) to the park where they purchased the membership, this park is the member’s ‘home’ zoo /museum.
Also, zoos and museum within 90 miles of your DL address do not have to offer you reciprocity discounts (except your home membership location). With a family of 7 or 8, depending on how much you are going to use it, it may be cheaper to have one membership, then just pay for a child’s ticket (or 2) at each location; also, if you have babies/toddlers, they are often free.
Benefits that come with reciprocity: your reciprocal zoo and museum membership gets you free admission to your ‘home’ zoo or museum location for a full year, and often includes notices of special events and discounts reserved only for members. There is a rare location here and there that does memberships on fiscal or calendar years, so be sure to verify when it will expire before purchasing.
Generally ranging from 10 to 20%, this is a great bonus if you are already buying souvenirs, so don’t forget to ask (more common at AZA than ATC) if you have a local member location, please consider supporting them even if their membership is more expensive than another location. These reciprocal memberships were initially set up to reward families who have supported their local communities, by purchasing a membership to their neighboring zoo and/or museum, to enjoy other zoos and museum in locations they are traveling to.
Buying local also means that your membership won’t be invalid should your neighborhood museum start to check ID addresses. Shopping around to find the best deal on an AZA membership saves us a lot of money on the road (I do try to support a location that I think we will be visiting that year tho!).
Hopefully, these reciprocal zoo and museum memberships will make it easier and more affordable, for your family to experience these fun locations also! Supporting your local zoo /museum is an investment worth more than the few dollars you will save getting a membership somewhere else.