I have been in complete purge mode in the last few weeks, knowing that shortly my kids' rooms will soon need to accommodate more toys.
Their Christmas haul isn't huge. But our house isn't huge either. And all of those little trinkets and toys can add up over time. That's why I love when they get museum memberships for holidays and birthdays.
My father, never sure exactly what to get my girls, is always happy to skip the toys and give an annual membership to a local museum. And, when he comes to visit, we usually take him so he can enjoy watching the girls have lots of fun.
Museum memberships come with more benefits than free admission. Members often get discounts on birthday parties, early registration for summer camps and invitations to members-only events. Also, in many cases, all or a portion of your membership dues are tax deductible.
I wrote this post a couple of years ago and it proved really popular. So I'll update it this year. Follow the links for more information about all of the membership levels.
Marbles Kids Museum: Memberships start at $100 for a Marbles Family membership, which is equal to five visits by a family of four. Admission is $5 per person. Members get free general admission, discounts on parties and camps; early registration for camps; member-only events; discounts; buy one get one free tickets to IMAX documentary films and more. As a long-time member to Marbles, I've found that, in addition to the free admission, my family really enjoys the BOGO deal for documentary movies. We also really like the Family Premier level at $150 a year, which allows us to bring another friend or family member in for free.
Museum of Life and Science: Membership is $135 for four people, which is equal to about three visits for two adults and two children. Admission is $14 for an adult and $10 for a child. Annual membership gets you free admission; discounts and advanced registration on camps and other programs; invitations to members-only events; discounts in the gift shop and for birthday parties; members-only early admission at 9 a.m. weekdays and Saturday; and more. The early entry and advance camp registration comes in handy for a lot of families out there.
N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences: An annual family membership is $70. Admission to the museum is free, but membership does give you free admission to special exhibits; invitations to museum and members events; discounts on birthday parties and most classes, workshops, trips and special museum events; discount and priority on summer camps; and more. We are members here and have found the free admission to special exhibits and the priority registration for summer camps very useful. It's great to go to a special exhibit like the current Birds of Paradise as many times as you want!
N.C. Museum of Art: An annual family membership is $75. Admission to the museum is free for everybody, but membership does give you a free ticket and discounts to special exhibitions such as the current Porsche by Design exhibit; discounts to concerts, the museum store and restaurants; invitations to special preview parties; free or discounted admission to children's programs, activities and events; and more. We are members of the art museum. The deals on children's programs and special exhibits are great.
N.C. Museum of History: An annual family, or Patriot, membership is $100. Admission to the museum is normally free. Membership gets you discounts and special sale days at the museum's shop; discounts at Pharoah's, a soda shop-style restaurant on site; special invitations to exhibit openings and events; and early sign up and discounts on summer camps for kids.
Kidzu Children's Museum: An annual family membership is $75, which is equal to about four visits for two adults and two kids. Admission is $5. It's $2 for kids 12 to 23 months. (Admission is free for everybody on Sundays). This membership level gives you free admission; a discount on birthday parties; invitations to members-only events and exhibits; and more.
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center: A household membership is $70. A family of four will spend $79.50 to watch three planetarium shows together. Tickets are $7.25 for adults and $6 for kids. Membership gets you free admission to the shows; priority registration and discount for camps; discounts at the gift shop and for birthday parties; discount to the N.C. Zoo; and more.
N.C. Zoo: It's about 90 minutes from the Triangle, but lots of Triangle families have a membership to the popular destination. A family membership starts at $74. A family of four with kids ages 2 to 12 will spend $80 for two visits to the zoo. Membership gets you free admission to the zoo, invitation to special members-only hours, a discount at zoo gift shops; and more.
In some cases, a membership to one of our local museums or the zoo will also get you admission deals to museums and zoos around the country. That's another plus if travel plans are in your future for 2014.