Here in Denver, we are fortunate to have many cultural institutions, a lot of which cater to kids at least in part. It’s not particularly cheap to run a zoo, or an art museum, and frankly they get plenty of business one way or another, so tickets to these places aren’t cheap.
If you look hard enough, you can find a Denver zoo coupon or discounted art museum admission here or there. In Denver, several organizations have Free Days as part of their association with the Denver Scientific Cultural and Facilities District, known as SCFD.
Another option for a more reasonably priced way to enjoy local attractions is a membership.
At first glance, a membership often just seems like a different way to donate money to an organization, and in some ways that is true. However, if you look closer, the benefits of a membership are often greater than the price.
This was especially true when my kids were younger. Before they started going to school and preschool, we would often go to the Denver Zoo at least once a week. We’d go to the art museum regularly as well.
One of the most recent favorites, especially for the youngest is the Colorado History Museum. Being members and getting free admission was a no brainer. As they got older, however, we started to wonder if it was worth it. I mean, we only go to the zoo a few times each year now.
Membership Cost and Benefits
As it turns out, most places have a family membership. A family membership gives free admission to both parents and all the kids of the family. Sometimes, the kids may be limited to 4 or something. The more kids you have, the better that admission deal is obviously. But for a family with just two kids like ours, the math still really works out.
Consider the Denver Zoo Family Membership which costs $155. In addition to free admission, you also get 20 percent off the gift shop (they have some good T-shirts, and we also ended up buying some Christmas gifts there as well.) We also get 10 percent off food and rides on the train and carousel. But getting $155 out of those discounts would be tough.
On the other hand, regular admission tickets cost $15 each for adults and $10 each for children (age 3-11). That works out to $50 per visit. If we go just three times during the year, we break even on our membership. Considering we go at least once to Denver Zoo Lights, and once for trick-or-treating at Halloween, odds are fairly good we’ll make it there once or twice just because. The end result? We’d be dumb to not be members.
And, it’s not just non-profit organizations either.
The local amusement park Elitch Gardens offers season passes as well. On the one hand this sounds really dumb for my family. It’s only open during the summer, and we only go a few times. But tickets to get into Elitch’s are expensive, and the season pass offers free parking which is also expensive. We break even on just TWO visits.
When it comes to local attractions, always be sure to check out the cost of membership, especially family memberships. The pricing will always seem high at first, but if you add it up, chances are that it is a good deal, especially if you do take advantage of parking or concessions.
For things that you only visit once per year because of distance, then the math won’t add up as well. Just get your single admission tickets and try and bring in your food to keep costs down.
Otherwise, never pass up a chance for an in-depth day of fun with your family at your local cultural attractions.