Reciprocal Museum Passes

If you are like us, and enjoy spending time at local museums, zoo's, and other cultural institutes, you really should check into a reciprocal museum pass, and if you are lucky a local museum may even offer a multiple reciprocal pass for multiple institutes across the nation.
I first learned about these passes while looking through the roadschool link at the Families On The Road (FOTR) website. They even listed a couple of the cheapest ones nation wide. We have chosen to support institutes that we frequent more often because of the in house discounts and programs.
In Tucson, these memberships made our stay really fun and educational. I can't imagine our stay without the zoo and desert museum memberships. These places also get bonus points because the curriculum we use, Oak Meadow, has curriculum ties to the natural world, which means I can set up the weekly plan, take the kids to the museum or zoo, and let the experts do the teaching :) And most weeks we visited both places, so we could also talk about ethical and global best practices as well.
I blogged about The Desert Museum the last time we were here, but it is so worth another recap. The Desert Museum is a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, children's museum, and natural history institute all rolled into one. A most stop for children of all ages - including the adults kids.
Once again it was cheaper for us to buy the family membership pass, and go several times, than to make a one time trip. One of the nice things about the membership is you also get a free coffee or ice tea and discount at the reasonably priced food court every time you go.
We visited the beautiful outdoor museum a total of 6 times, and each time we seen and learned new things. Our favorite activity was the Mineral Madness Weekend. When the kids arrived they each got an empty egg carton and then walked around to various stations to participate in mineral themed activities, and earn a mineral to put into their egg carton. Now, 4 weeks later, the kids are still analyzing their minerals, and can even identify minerals like Micca and floridite in found rocks.
I know there are a lot of reasons to not love a zoo ethically, and I am sorry if I offend anyone, but we love a nice zoo. Tucson is a big city zoo with a small hometown feeling. We spent several days at the zoo and enjoyed all aspects. We were even lucky enough to hook-up with my grandparents for the day, so the kids got to spend time with Grandma and the Greatparents :)
Our zoo membership from back in Iowa expired in 2014, so we opted to buy our reciprocal zoo membership for the Tucson Reid Park Zoo, and we will be able to use this pass at different zoos all over the nation. This allows us to spend our time lollygagging around and not rushed because we know we can always come back. The other nice thing about buying into a membership pass is that by the second visit to any zoo it has usually paid for itself.
Each kid has their favorite attraction at the zoo but one we all enjoyed over and over was the elephant exhibit. There is a relative group of elephants with Mom, Dad, Sisters, Brother, and a new 6 month old little female. The activities around the elephants are very hands on and cultural. Some of the kids watch the elephants as the zoo keepers train and work with the elephants, while other kids play on drums, and others climb giant ant hills. The elephant exhibit is a total experience.
Another add on to the zoo is one of Tucsons Aquatic centers shares the parking lot with the zoo, so bring your suit and you can go swimming when it gets too hot at the zoo. We did this on several occasions, and it is only $1 for children and $2 for adults. The twins chose the zoo and swimming combo for their birthday - nothing better on a warm Feb. afternoon than playing in the water after running around the zoo.

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