Looking for something different to do with the kids this summer? I have some great news for you – your library might have just what you’re looking for… and for free, of course!
Many public libraries have partnerships with local museums, parks, zoos, or aquariums – places that can sometimes cost an arm and leg to bring the entire family – and are able to offer free or discounted tickets to library card holders. You often have to plan your visit ahead of time – sometimes weeks in advance, particularly for the more popular venues… but, hey, when I can save the $20 per person admission, and have a fun-filled afternoon with my toddler, it’s worth it. (That being said, I think supporting your local museums is important… but I also like to save some dough when I can 😉 )
Here are a few of the major cities that currently offer museum passes or tickets (for free!!!):
- Seattle: http://www.spl.org/library-collection/museum-pass
- King County Libraries: http://www.libraryinsight.com/mpbymuseum
- Sacramento: http://www.saclibrary.org/Services/Museum-passes/
- Bay Area:
- Alameda County Libraries: http://www.aclibrary.org/content/discover-go
- Berkeley Public Library: http://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/explore/discover-go
- Oakland Public: http://discover.oaklandlibrary.org
- San Francisco Public: https://sfpl.discoverandgo.net/
- Chicago: http://www.chipublib.org/faq/kids-museum-passports/
- Boston: http://www.bpl.org/general/circulation/museum_passes.php
- Miami-Dade: http://www.mdpls.org/museum-pass/museum-pass.asp
- San Diego: http://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/services/specialresources/
- Portland (Multnomah County Libraries):http://passes.multcolib.org/
- Clackamas County Libraries: http://www.clackamas.us/lib/cultural.html
- Washington County Libraries: http://www.mdpls.org/museum-pass/museum-pass.asp
(Note: if your library system isn’t listed here, particularly if you live in a smaller city or outside one of these bigger cities, I recommend you check out their website, visit in person – and pick up some summer reads while you’re there!! – or give them a call and ask if they offer anything. I came across many library systems with excellent programs in my search!)
And, while not all libraries have a full-blown pass program, some still offer specific passes for specific places. For example, when you check out a certain zoo DVD as a Georgia Public Library cardholder, you get a free family pass to the Zoo Atlanta upon return of the DVD. (They also offer state park passes): http://www.swgrl.org/pass.php. And St. Paul, Minnesota has a “Passport to Play” pass for the Children’s Museum there: http://www.sppl.org/services/museum-passes.
Even if your library doesn’t currently offer free museum passes, many do provide lists of where you can find free or discounted tickets (I know Philadelphia and District of Columbia both have many always-free museums, or museums with regular free days!). And your local librarian can most definitely help you find more information about family-friendly activities in your area… just ask. I swear, they are sitting at that reference desk for a reason — to help you!
Does your local library have a museum pass program that you’ve used? Share it below!!