Jun 26 2012

Getting the most out of our zoo and park memberships

Our family has two annual passes to area attractions: Conner Prairie and the Indianapolis Zoo. The former was a Christmas gift and the latter I purchased with my birthday money.

We want to get the most out of our memberships, so we’re going to…

  • Go often! Hah! We’ve been to the zoo once already and are planning another trip today while the weather is still nice. Later in the week, ugh. Here comes summer. We’ll have free parking and THIS time, I’ll bring snacks and our own water to enjoy in the picnic area instead of paying inflated convenience prices. $3/bottle of water? Really!?
  • We’re spreading around the fun stuff so we’ll have new things to see and do on each trip. We haven’t done any of the train rides, carousel, roller coaster, or any of those extras. We haven’t seen all shows or all exhibits yet.
  • It would take like 3.5 visits of just me and the kids (Vivie would be free until her birthday in 6 months) or 2.5ish visits of all four of us to equal the price of membership (plus we’d have to pay for parking at $5 or $6 per time). Not bad. I’m hoping to go a few times per month in the summer and then a few more times in the fall when the weather cools off. We should be able to go on reasonable winter days, too, because there are several indoor exhibits and some brisk air might do us some good.

The Indy Zoo doesn’t have a reciprocal membership which is a bummer. But, we can get into the White River Gardens next door for free so that’s something. We can also get a $5 off discount on a new membership to another area museum, so we might do that later.

They do have one discounted day per month if we wanted to go then, without a membership in future years. I’m not sure if it’s crowded then, but I’d expect so.

We went to Conner Prairie for the first time as a family over the weekend. I wasn’t sure how the kids would react, but they had fun walking around and seeing the sights. We’ll go at least once more this summer, but perhaps twice and maybe a time in the fall when the weather cools a little.

Conner Prairie has a reciprocal program with the Smithsonian affiliates and also the Time Travelers which would get us free or discounted admission to other attractions. I’m not sure if local attractions are excluded or if they’re eligible, but I’m looking into it.

I love the idea of memberships because they help support these organizations and the work that they do for the public. Plus, having a membership somewhere does indeed encourage me to go more often than I otherwise would. When I shared a Carnegie Museum membership with my friend in Pittsburgh, we went to all four museums together and again separately with our families. It was an awesome deal and I’m so glad we did that. It only worked because all of our children were under 3 at the time.

There are a LOT of museum attractions here in Indianapolis and over the next decade I hope to go to all of them with my kids. I wish there was some sort of passport program where you can go to a lot of different museums just once each, but there doesn’t seem to be anything like that.

I haven’t looked over Entertainment Book (or similar) offerings to find discounted tickets yet. Locals, know of any way I can save?

How do you save on museums and attractions in your area?



2 Responses to “Getting the most out of our zoo and park memberships”

  1. I live in St. Louis and thankfully the zoo and a lot of attractions are free. I save on parking by walking a good mile though!

  2. For the past 13 years I have had memberships to places. I tend to rotate between science museums, zoos, aquariums and sometimes art museums. I usually just have 1 at a time, although sometimes they do overlap a bit. It was always a great way for us to save money and provide entertainment as my kids grew. Now that they are older (14, 11, 9 & 7) I think I am going to let them lapse for a bit. The kids interests are so varied and we rarely have time to go places all together so I don’t know if it will be worth it. They have outgrown (at least 2 of them) some of the places local to me.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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