As some of you know, I try to avoid paying retail on anything. It's rare that we use coupons (they are rarely available on non- processed foods and all natural toiletries, when they are I do a happy dance) but I'm a huge proponent of taking charge of your finances and getting a deal. I find memberships to be the most efficient way to do this.
Most every local attraction will offer a membership! In fact I haven't seen a zoo, aquarium or museum that hasn't! Currently we have a membership to Colorado State Parks, Denver Zoo, Downtown Aquarium, Children's Museum and ski passes.
That may seem like a lot but we have an activity for every kind of weather and don't need to find a deal each time we go. (Or when your daughter gets sick on the way to the FREE day at the Nature and Science Museum- it's no sweat. You can go when they feel better.)
*One time cost
*Will generally break even on costs within 2-3 visits.
*Members only hours at some places.
*Gets you out of the house for free on a random day.
*Discount on food, gift shop and other programs (Trick or treating, holiday events and summer camps) most of the time.
*Some memberships allow you to bring a guest for free.
*Memberships are great for working families because it always works around your schedules.
*Feel obligated to use the membership (I've never felt this way)
*Spend more money because you go more often (I haven't done this either)