Museums & Zoos: are they affordable?
When we first moved to California last year, lots of families were buzzing about the Academy of Sciences in SF, a museum that had undergone a 5-year, $500 million reconstruction project. When I saw the the $29.95 price tag (per adult), my jaw dropped. For my family, a day at the Academy $100. I realize that this is probably on the high end of any museum.
Many eons ago, when we had just moved to Portland, we wanted to frequent the Oregon Zoo. With a newborn and preschooler happy to gawk and animals any day, I was a mama on a 4-month maternity leave, lots of time to spend at the zoo! When I looked at the prices, I wasn't sure if we would take the leap. Then, we got to talking with another parent, and ended up sharing a family "plus" membership, which would allow me one free guest every visit (perhaps my spouse, or a friend) and my kids were still free at that time. The "plus" membership also came with passes to Zoo lights and other special events. Score!
Admittedly, we were working the system, but - gosh - at the time, it seemed like a reasonable thing to do. I have a single parent friend looking to partner with another single parent to "share" memberships to a couple of institutions that were perfect for her kids ages - the zoo and children's museum.
Now, there are museum passes at many libraries that are available to borrow: the Children's Museum pass at Multnomah County Libraries and - now, in the east bay area - we find passes for a multitude of museums via the libraries of Contra Costa County, Alameda County, Berkeley, Oakland and many more through the "Discover & Go" program. Without such a program, going to the zoo, zoo, zoo could amount to the sort of thing that is reserved for special occasions.
Do you frequent museums & zoos? Do you find them affordable? When has it made sense to join certain institutions?