Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kids Activities and Memberships

Any one with children knows that it can get expensive to enjoy fun activities with them outside the home at places like zoos, children's museums, farms and more.

While you can get a lot for your money, just know that many times these places require pay for both adults and children to enter. The good news is that some places do allow children under the age of 2 to get in for free since these tots may not get the maximum use of the facility at this young age.

Also know, in some instances, sites charge the fee to get in the door and then have some activities inside such as pony and carousel rides and petting farms that require an additional cost to participate.

Considering all this, it was great to find out that most if not all of these types of places offer annual membership packages that are especially ideal for those of us who frequent these establishments on a regular basis, or would like to.

Even better, most of these places offer what's called reciprocal membership, where you can visit other locations throughout the U.S. in addition to your home area and get in free or for a lesser admission. This is especially nice if you are out of town with the kids looking for something to do and this is a great benefit to take advantage of. This also works nicely if you have multiple children to entertain.

At first, I was skeptical about these memberships because the total amount to sign up seemed a bit steep. So, I held off on these offerings until I got to know these places better, we experienced the activities being offered, and determined how often we saw ourselves going.

After that, and crunching the numbers, I realized that there is definitely a benefit to some of these memberships. For example, our local zoo where we used to live, had reciprocal membership to two additional zoos near by and across the country that after just four visits to the various locations membership would have paid for itself.

So, I discussed with Daniel and he agreed. We decided to sign up for membership with the local zoo during the spring time through the following spring. And, when we moved to the area we are in now we signed up for the children's museum from this winter through next winter. Both are annual memberships.

Something I didn't consider when signing up, but another great thing to keep in mind when having memberships, is that you can use them as much as you want. You can stay for a short time or a long time. Even more, you can take the kids after school, on the weekends, and during some holidays to let them run around and play especially when you don't have set plans and need an outlet for them to let loose.

Just this past week Sarah asked if she could go to the museum after camp, and my work day, when it was too hot to play outside. I thought it was a great idea and found the museum had late hours in the summer during the week.

So cool.

I was able to take Sarah and my niece for an hour and still be home in time for dinner and bath time. We had a really fun time.

Many places have membership choices.

When we started with our local museum we signed up for the basic service. After time, we realized that it behooved us to sign up for the premium offering so that we can bring four adults or children with us each time at no additional cost. It's a great way to give Sarah the chance to have a buddy when she goes and she loves it. It's especially nice too when we have friends or family in town and they can enjoy the activities too without having to spend the extra funds.

Another thing that I've noticed with places of this nature for children, and I may be the only one guilty of this, is that I often try to direct Sarah to experience as much as possible, to get our monies worth. After the initial visit we go back and Sarah roams and does whatever it is she wants. If she wants to dance on the stage in the theater for the entire visit then she does. She decides what she wants to do and for how long we do it or until I say it's time to leave.

Consider local children's places in your area and weigh the benefits and offerings to see if it's right for you. It's not right for everyone. It may be better to even wait until your little ones are fully walking and talking and can really appreciate what these places have to offer to get the most out of them. We have experienced a great benefit with these kid-friendly places and highly recommend them.


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