Are you looking for the absolute best way to save on zoos, aquariums, museums, and all of the other fun (but sometimes expensive) attractions? Well, one of my favorite ways is to become a member of your favorite zoo, aquarium, etc. and to make sure they participate in reciprocal museum admission!

If you are unfamiliar with Reciprocal Memberships, basically if you are a member of a zoo that’s part of a reciprocal network you can visit all the other zoos and attractions that are part of the network for either half-price or even free admission!

For example, I paid $79 for an annual membership at a local zoo that is part of the AZA reciprocal program and then I showed my membership card to that zoo at the Museum of Science in Boston and our family of 4 got in to the MoS for $0!

As you can see my zoo membership actually paid for itself in one visit without even visiting my local zoo.

Keep in mind that you will probably need to actually activate your membership by visiting your attraction of choice first and getting your membership card– but you can see my zoo membership easily paid for itself right off the bat!

Every participating reciprocal attraction and program is a little different and the benefits will vary. For instance, when we used the same zoo membership card at the Philly Zoo, we only received 50% off admission but we still saved $45 on entry. We were planning on visiting the zoo on vacation anyway but it was just such a nice perk to spend less!

Make sure to check the reciprocal program terms of your individual membership because the terms and prices can vary depending on the attraction and what membership you may have. You can find that info right on you attraction page to see what your benefits may be.

I’d do some research before joining a reciprocal program for a local attraction because pricing and perks varies a lot. For example, if I became a member of the Museum of Science, it would be a lot more for a membership than my small zoo membership BUT I would have access to both the AZA and ASTC membership program as well as perks like 10% discount on food, parking, and gift shop. If I lived in Boston and visited the MoS frequently, it may be worth it to me because the perks would be worth it. However, if not, it may be better to do a cheaper attraction depending on what my preferences are.

Keep in mind that some reciprocal programs will have location limits meaning you can only visit some museums and attractions that are over 90 miles from your house, so basically, those you’d likely visit on vacation.

However, nearby museums are the best ones to get your membership from, since you are close and can visit often! Make sure to do some research before you purchase a yearly membership and check several attractions to see what the best fit for you and your family is.

There are so many great memberships for family fun but AZA, ASTC, and ACM are the three biggest reciprocal programs in my opinion, especially when you have kids. There’s a lot of reciprocal programs so don’t feel limited to those.

However, USA Family Fun a reciprocal membership map with the AZA, ASTC and ACM Reciprocal Programs. It is easy to see what organizations and attractions participate in reciprocal memberships.

Please remember to look at your own membership organization for the most accurate information but the map will give you a great starting point and idea of what attractions participate in the program.

Some museums and attractions will also participate in more than one reciprocal program so it may be listed twice under both colors, which means you can use any attractions with those colors listed. Twice as many attractions to visit!

Participating in the reciprocal museum is an awesome and easy way to save money at attractions all over the country. This is a great program when you are traveling as well and can help keep those vacation expenses down.

Don’t forget you can also get library museum passes from you local library depending on what they offer– but this gives you a lot more flexibility and offerings, and some of the most popular attractions aren’t always available. My current library doesn’t even offer library passes, so being in a reciprocal program is great for me.

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