5 Local Family Memberships That Are Worth the Money
These museums and attractions are magnets for kids — and a membership can probably save you money.
Some days, fun is about location, location, location. Others, it’s about savings, savings, and more savings. So much like having a friend with a pool, we have combined the best of both worlds to bring you the top family attraction memberships in Philly and the surrounding ‘burbs. Guaranteed to get you out and about with less out-of-pocket, here are our top five favorite and financially favorable family memberships:
Season passes at Sesame Place benefit your family and all your other sunny-day loving friends. Don’t skip this park thinking your kids are too old! Though the little ones will definitely love the adorable daily and nightly Neighborhood Street Party Parades, the exciting rides ensure that teens can have fun too. A Big Bird pass offers unlimited visits, a whopping 30 percent discount on food and merchandise, and free parking, while the Super Grover pass gives all that plus 50 percent off single-day admission for guests, advance seating for select shows, and (drumroll please) unlimited admission to SeaWorld (and its Florida water park, Aquatica), Busch Gardens, and other national faves. In other words, if you’re planning a trip to Orlando in the next 12 months, you should consider this option.
National Constitution Center
Forget what you remember about boring history lectures. This is the place where America’s most important document comes to life, making a day at the Constitution Center as engaging as it is educational. Interactive and digital exhibits meld nicely with visual displays while impressive Town Hall speakers (combined with a glass of wine after) amount to a stimulating grown-up date night. Though there are memberships at many price points with admission savings and kids’/guest passes, spend $125 or more and receive reciprocal admission benefits at dozens of national – and wonderful local – museums (including the Tyler Arboretum in Media, National Museum of American Jewish History in Philly, and Penn’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, just to name a few). Discounted parking begins at the $250 level. Visit constitutioncenter.org.
The Philadelphia Zoo
Just like BOGO offers, it’s difficult to resist a membership that pays for itself in two visits. America’s First Zoo is constantly updating its exhibits and playing host to memorable family- and community-focused events. While free parking and discounts to zoos across the country come at every level, a $135 Family membership gives you admission for two adults and all children in the household. For $175, the Family Plus membership lets you bring two guest each time, too. Invest at the $350 Contributor level to add admission for up to four guests, free rides on many of the most sought-after attractions at the zoo, and invitations and complimentary admission to members-only events (think Summer Ale Festival in July or Boo at the Zoo in October). The zoo is also an outside-the-cage setting for corporate team building, weddings, parties, and charity events. Visit philadelphiazoo.org and go to the green membership bar.
You have to commit to a 45-minute drive from the city, but the wows are so worth it! Longwood Gardens, located in Kennett Square, is a year-round sight to behold. From dazzling fireworks and fountain displays to exhibits and plantings to excite your “scents-abilities,” this trip is a horticultural must for city kids. Along with admission discounts, memberships provide savings on food and merchandise, classes and workshops, performing arts concerts at the Gardens, walks and talks, and Branching Out Lecture Series for budding gardeners and horticulturists. Family passes start at $120, then climb to the Rose Arbor level at $250 for additional admission for two guests per day and complimentary admission to members-only exhibit previews. Visit longwoodgardens.org and go to membership.
Please Touch Museum
One look inside the jaw-droppingly kid-centric Memorial Hall site in Fairmount Park tells you you’ve arrived at a place like no other. A joyful setting focused on play, exploration, and Philly past and present, the Please Touch Museum is where music, art, movement, and exhibits come together in a toy box-like mix of color and community. A mid-level Discover Membership at $240 offers the free admission you’d expect (for up to 6 people, and 3 cardholders). Also included? A 10 percent discount for birthday parties and Kids Store purchases, 10 percent off at the Café, discounted admission for members’ guests, additional discounted admissions to museums in their reciprocal network, and invites to exclusive members-only events. And did we mention free carousel rides and parking? If you really want to up your fun, consider bumping your bucks to the Museum’s Imagine Membership and Giving Program, Centennial Guild, and enjoy all the benefits of a Discover Membership PLUS private VIP entrances to the museum on busy days like Countdown to Noon and the popular Monster Mash, Halloween event, plus exclusive entrance to the museum before and after hours. Visit pleasetouchmuseum.org/ and go to membership.
Did you see a membership that caught your eye? Go for it! Sure, you’ll save money in the long run (pssst – many memberships are tax deductible…be sure to ask!) but more important, you’ll support a local organization that helps us grow our kids’ minds while disguising it as simple fun.
Photograph by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia.