Getting Real With Veronica Ibarra

In my quest to keep my kids entertained for the summer I have been on a hunt for anything with the word FREE listed in the price. Through the local arts council I have found the free Sunday in the Park series of musical performances, First Fridays downtown, Wednesday lunchtime music in Center City Park, and Monday & Wednesday morning Fitness by the Fountain. All that here in Greensboro, NC, but I know that if you check with your local arts council you’ll find similar activities, many family friendly.

While FREE is my preferred method of entertainment, I like cheap, thrifty, and low cost, too. However, sometimes I forget the big picture value of memberships due to the high up-front cost. Recently as part of a summer gift for my kids, their grandparents gave us some money to purchase a family membership to our Natural Science Center. I was very excited about this because the Natural Science Center has two floors of exhibits with exploration theaters, play areas, the Omnishere Theater, Animal Discovery Zoological Park, and all manner of educational programs and workshops throughout the year. I mean, best gift ever, right? Well, let me tell you, this is the gift that keeps on giving!

I’ve never paid enough attention to the membership spiel before to know this, but the old adage is true. Membership does have its benefits. Other than newsletters and advance notice of special events, there is this little thing called reciprocal admission to affiliates. I’m talking up to a 50% discount on admission to other zoological parks, discounts at gift shops and in some cases FREE admission, like in our case, to the NC Aquariums. But the list includes over 300 science museums nationwide as well as other Association of Zoos & Aquariums accredited organizations.

Let me put it mathematically.  One trip to the Natural Science Center would currently cost my two kids and me $22.  A family membership for two adults and ALL the children in the household under 18 costs $70. (we got a $5 discount for being local residents – who knew).  If I take the kids just twice more the membership will more than have paid for itself, and that doesn’t even account for my husband if he wants to come along.  Now we can make plans to visit the NC Aquariums, and other museums that had previously been off our list of consideration this summer.

This is a total win!