There are times in the year that are jam-packed with things to do and other times where it feels like we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for things to do. The kids have colored and crafted their hearts out and have watched every movie five time over. What’s a family to do to mix things up?
What I’ve discovered is that a few carefully-considered family memberships can help guide our lulls. Memberships are an investment that pays off for my family in the longterm. Family memberships can be cost-effective sanity-savers for families on the go throughout the summer and year round.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden — The Arboretum is the first place my family purchased a membership to when we moved to Dallas seven years ago. If you haven’t been, it’s the perfect place to spend your spring days, enjoying the tulips. But it’s also beautiful any time of year! And The Rory Meyers Children’s Garden is a super fun, engaging place for kids to explore and learn about life science. Family memberships begins at $148 annually.
Dallas Aquatics Season Pass — If your family loves to visit the pool during the summer, I highly recommend a Dallas Aquatics Season Pass. It allows you to visit various neighborhood pools throughout Dallas County without paying a per visit fee. Where you live and how many pools your family is interested in visiting, will determine the type of pass that is right for you. Passes range from $24 – $56 per person depending on pass type.
Dallas Museum of Art — After one visit to the DMA, my kids were begging for a membership. While children 11 and under get into the museum for free regularly, my kids were especially interested in the children’s programming and camps. A Kid’s Club membership option is available for purchase a la carte for $50 per person, and it gives Kids Club members access to six events annually as well as pre-sale access to DMA summer camps. Regular membership pricing starts at $120.
Dallas Zoo — We love a zoo! There’s so much to see and do at the Dallas Zoo, and even if you’ve been before, each experience is slightly different. The carousel and T-Rex mini-train are also fan favorites. A Dallas Zoo membership will also earn you discounts at other zoos and aquariums across the country. Family memberships starts at $149.
Hawaiian Falls — Beat the heat this summer at Hawaiian Falls. There’s something for everyone with a wave pool, lazy river, and a number of twisting and turning water slides. At the Garland and The Colony locations, season passes currently start at $64.99 per person. At the Mansfield location, season passes are on sale for $59.99 per person.
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary — This 289-acre nature preserve and museum is the perfect place to escape the pace of the city and get in touch with nature. There are nature trails to explore, wildlife to spot, and ropes courses for older children (and adults) to test their courage. The basic family membership is the white-tailed deer, which is $85 annually.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center — If you have a LEGO lover in your house, this is a must-see. Build, play, ride rides, and see how LEGOs are made. Your kids will love their time at LEGOLAND and want to go back again and again. Annual passes start at $44.99 per person.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science — The Perot Museum is a definite favorite in our house since there’s something for all ages and interests, whether it’s learning about dinosaur bones, space, robots, or gems. Because it’s such a large and highly interactive museum, I feel like it’s difficult to make it all the way through the museum in one day. With a membership, you have the flexibility of coming back whenever you want. A Basic Family membership is $130 per year.
Six Flags Over Texas & Hurricane Harbor Arlington — This family membership is geared towards families with slightly older children. But there is tons of fun to be had at Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor with roller coasters, rides, and a water park all in one pass! Membership passes start at $89.99 per person. The Platinum Pass is the mid-level pass, and is more family-friendly in my opinion. It is $80.00 per pass, and also gets you into all Six Flags Parks across the country.
Texas Discovery Gardens — This is a 7.5 acre sprawling garden, teeming with native and adapted plants. There’s also an incredible butterfly house that will charm your children. With a membership to Texas Discovery Gardens, you get discounts on birthday parties, plant sales, gift shop and workshops. And get this – another perk of membership is one day of free admission to the State Fair of Texas for up to six family members! Family membership starts at $75.
Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Family Membership
Cost per visit: If you’re considering a membership at a particular location, add up the total cost it will take your family to visit that location, including parking and food (if applicable). Often the cost of a year long membership will be less than the total cost of visiting the location two or three times. If it is a destination your family plans to visit multiple times, a family membership will be well worth your investment.
Benefits: Read the full benefits offered with each membership. Some offer discounts on parking, food, gifts, or even at other locations. A lot of membership passes include members-only events or access. The benefits could be even greater than you realize, so make sure you take full advantage of all that you’re paying for.
Camp access: If your family does a lot of summer camps for you kids, consider memberships that give you discounts on camps or early access to camp signups.
Caregiver options: If you have a nanny, babysitter, or grandparent who will frequently take your children to the place of membership, make sure they are allowed to use your membership. Some places have caregiver pass options, but others are more stringent with their rules.
No matter which pass or passes you end up purchasing, get ready for some core memories to be made!