Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reciprocal Memberships: Are they Really Worth It?

Next time you visit your local science museum or zoo be sure to ask about their annual pass rates. As my children have grown and we now pay the adult rate for their admission, it has often become more economical if we purchase a season pass; which normally pays for itself by the second visit. And...if your local science museum is in the ASTC passport program, as a bonus, you'll be able to receive free general admission at over 300 science centers worldwide.

If you do a bit of research before you buy, you may find a science museum that offers reciprocal benefits in both the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and the American Zoological Association (AZA) such as Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, Ohio. They offer family memberships that include two adults and up to six children 21 and under beginning at the current rate of $85 (updated 2/23/2012). If you choose to purchase an Adventurer Membership for $100, you will also receive reciprocal benefits to the Association of Children's Museums (ACM).

But, the question is, are the reciprocal memberships really worth it? Well, you tell me. Since last March, we've visited the newly opened, Tellus Science Museum north of Atlanta in Cartersville, Georgia, the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama not once, but twice, the Great Lakes Science Center and the
Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Cleveland, Ohio, the Adventure Science Museum in Nasville, Tennessee, the Southern Museum of Flight and the Birmingham Zoo in you guessed it, Birmingham, Alabama. Bringing our grand total of savings at $484.75 plus tax.

So, what do you think? Is a savings of almost $500 worth it? I certainly think so! And if you're thinking that it's only beneficial for us as a traveling family, would you be surprised to know that we used our memberships much more when we were at home, visiting our local science museums and zoo?

So, whether you are a traveling family, a large family looking for savings, a parent of older children or you're just interested in inexpensive family fun, reciprocal memberships may be just the way to go.

**** Before purchasing your membership, look over the above websites so you can see if the reciprocal benefits will be a good fit for your family. Many of the museums offer limits on the number of children permitted, so large families may not be able to gain free admission to all attractions, and there may also be geographical limitations, but reciprocal memberships should still reduce admission fees.


  1. We get a Pittsburgh Zoo membership and have used the reciprocal benefits a few times. It's been great!

  2. Thank you for posting about the ASTC Travel Passport Program. We at ASTC always recommend that visitors call ahead to confirm their Passport benefit before hitting the road. That way, they will know what to expect when they arrive. Local restrictions may apply. For a list of participants, visit www.astc.org/passport. --ASTC

  3. You said it. I think they are more than worth it. We have a membership pass from the Science Center in Toronto and have been able to use it in the States a few times. It's great, especially for people who do road trips and travel a lot. We are so glad and thankful for it.

  4. Love your blog. We look into reciprocal memberships to see what they offer because my kids have announced they are done FOREVER with history museums. Can't have too many science museums but I guess we overloaded on history along the way.

  5. It's not just science centers and zoos that offer these memberships with reciprocal perks. Be sure to check out your own state's Historical Society and Art museums, too!

  6. I love reciprocal programs!

    I had never heard of them until a couple years ago when we were taking a trip to Florida. I went online to look for things to do during the high heat of the day while we were at the beach. It was from these websites that I learned we had sister museums and zoos in our own backyard. Oh, what we miss in our own backyards. So I spent a few great days with my little man, visiting new local attractions and bought 2 memberships. Then we got into 2 wonderful places on vacation for free! Not all reciprocals are free but so far we have been lucky. This year we are studying early American History and planning a family vacation out east. We have a local, premiere living history museum; I plan on buying a membership which has a reciprocal with the Smithsonian’s for FREE!

    PS: Love your site! We want to start vacationing around the country this year and am gleaning incite from your posts.


I love hearing what you think! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Blessings!:)

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