Childrens Museum usa

Are you looking for absolute best way to save money on museums, zoos, and attractions in the USA? Become a member of a zoo, museum, or institute that participates in a reciprocal program.

Reciprocal museum programs allow members of one museum to receive free or discounted admission to many other museums across the country.

For example, if you purchase a family membership to a zoo for $125, your family can visit that zoo every day for a year for free! However, you can also visit any other zoo or aquarium for half price or free, depending on the benefit.

Please make sure to read the affiliate programs and terms. Some reciprocal museums will only accept guests that live further than 90 miles away from their museum, and other times there’s no distance requirement. It will vary depending on museum and reciprocal program.

There are SO many reciprocal programs but ASTC, AZA and ACM are my personal three favorite for families and their are so many fun museums and family-friendly attractions that participate!

If you head over to the reciprocal map on USA Family Fun you can visually see what attractions participate in a reciprocal program near you or where you are traveling too! Please note that not every reciprocal program is included yet, but ASTC, AZA, and ACM reciprocal programs are all included in the map!

Awesome Money-Saving Reciprocal Programs in the USA:

  • Association of Science and Technology Centers, ASTC Reciprocal Program *many science museums across the US participate, and many are FREE admission. This is great for when you are traveling because many do enforce the 90 mile rule.
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums, AZA Reciprocal Program *many zoos and aquariums for half price admission, some are free, especially depending on your local Zoo
  • Association of Children Museums, ACM Reciprocal Program *many children’s museums offer half price admission across the USA
  • North America Reciprocal Program, NARM Reciprocal Program *many art museums are free or discounted, certain restrictions may apply, especially for special events
  • Time Travelers, Time Travelers Reciprocal Program *history museums, often at a discount
  • American Horticultural Society, AHS Garden Network *many public gardens across the US are included
  • Museum Alliance of Reciprocal Program, MARP
  • Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums, ROAM
  • Southeastern Reciprocal Membership, SERM *membership often for those that live in the Southeastern states
  • Empire State Reciprocal Network, ESMRP *Free admission to New York State museums and attractions
  • Smithsonian Affiliate Membership, Smithsonian Reciprocal Program
  • The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, America the Beautiful Pass *Free admission to all National Parks in a year (If you have a permanent disability, volunteer or have a fourth grader, you can get a pass for free!)

Also, your local state may have state passes for beaches, parks, historic sites, etc. as well as private smaller reciprocal programs, so something to consider too! Some of these membership programs may be tax-deducible, so something to keep in mind as well.

Reciprocal membership are great if you travel a lot of just get out of the house and go to zoos, museums, kid-friendly attractions often! I find that it pays for itself pretty quick!

Also keep in mind that some home reciprocal museums are better than others because you can get access to multiple reciprocal programs with one membership! For example, a lot of museums are only members of one reciprocal membership program so you would get the perks of one, BUT if they are members of more than one, you’d get them both with that one membership.

Here’s a few examples of ways to make the most out of reciprocal programs:

  • Kern County Museum, Bakersfield, CA: $125 for family membership for 2 adults and up to 6 kids and has reciprocal membership for ASTC, ACM, NARM, Time Travelers
  • Boonshoft Museum, Dayton, OH: $155 for standard family membership and participates in AZA and ASTC
  • Museum of Science, Boston, MA: Memberships start at $100, participates in AZA and ASTC
  • The Ringling, Sarasota, FL: $200 for reciprocal benefits, participates in MARP, ROAM, NARP and SERM
  • MOST, Syracuse, NY: $179 for household premier, participates in ACM, NARM, ROAM, ESMRP

You can also find some by looking in the reciprocal map. If they participate in ACM, ASTC and AZA they would be listed multiple times in different colors (ideally) indicating they participate in more than one program. It may help you find a gem in your own area! Also, make sure to pull up the museum websites for more information too!

Some local memberships are really inexpensive too, so for a $65 Zoo membership you may only receive benefits for one reciprocal program but you’d get your home museum as well as free or half price admission to local and national attractions. You’ll need to do the math and figure out which ones work best for you and for your travel plans that year.

Keep in mind that every museum and institute has a different membership fee, programs and rules so take some time to do some research to find the best reciprocal museum for you for that year! Not every membership level may qualify for reciprocal benefits so make sure to clarify with your home membership museum if you have any questions before signing up!

We’ve done a few different memberships throughout the years, and different ones would have different perks! We like switching a lot to discover new things! Also, we’d sometimes get museum membership gifted for Christmas from grandparents which makes for a great gift year round as we explore new places near and far!

Reciprocal membership are a great way to save money on family fun! I find so much value from them! One year we paid less than $100 to our local zoo that we went to frequently and then we went to the Museum of Science and got in for free! If we just showed up to go we would have paid over $100 just for that one visit in admission! Instead we got in for free and that little membership paid for itself with one visit, without even visiting our home zoo!

Are you a member of a reciprocal program? Which one is your favorite? Do you have any tips to share?!

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