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Whether you are looking for a membership to just zoos, just museums or one that covers both (yes, they do exist!) I have some tips for you. These tips apply whether you are looking for a single membership (just for you) or a family membership.

Last year (2010) I bought our family the best membership deal I knew of  and it covered both zoos and museums because its part of the AZA and ASTC Passport reciprocal program.

Update: See my 2013 post here about buying the best Zoo membership.

Living in Ohio did not exempt us from purchasing and using this great family membership from CuriOdyssey (in California). It is still the best deal I am aware of so if nothing changes I will likely be renewing our membership later this summer when it expires.

Finding these kinds of deals don’t always “just happen” and they can be hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for or what search terms to use on the internet. Below are some tips for you to consider when looking for the right membership deal for you or your family.

Tip: Sign up with Groupon (its free!) and watch for discounted offers to zoos or other fun places.

Tips to finding the best zoo and museum memberships for you or your family.

1. Ask around- ask family, friends, co-workers, call your museum or zoo of interest and search online.

I actually found out about the two deals I was considering through family and a Facebook-friend.  Read here for the family zoo and science museum membership we bought. (Its the best deal I know of- even now).  You’ll get more bang for your buck if you buy a plan that includes the zoo and science museum reciprocal plan.

2. Compare prices and benefits (not all memberships offer the AZA and the ASTC reciprocal program for both zoos and museums).  Does the zoo OR museum you are considering offer a reciprocal program at all?

3. Before I bought, I made a list and called a few places here in Ohio to be sure they were still participating in the reciprocal program that was part of the membership plan I was considering buying. I wanted to know if admission would be free or only be a percentage off at a few “choice” locations.

*The reciprocal program is not valid for places within 90 miles of where you live unless its been waived. For example, I called the Museum of Natural History in Cleveland and found out that we would not get free admission there through our CuriOdyssey membership because we live too close. However, when we had our McKinley Museum membership we DID get free admission because the “distance clause” had been waived between the two museums.

You’ll find the links to our reciprocal programs brochure in this post. That is where I found what zoos and museums in the program would be applicable to our family. There are hundreds across the USA and maybe some outside the country.

We live in NE Ohio, I found out that we will get free admission to Cosi and McKinley Museum/Discover World. This is  a great deal for our family!

*Affiliate link is shared in this post.