Museum Memberships Often Cheaper Than Buying Tickets

We recently spent the weekend in San Francisco, safely ensconced in our two bedroom vacation rental, with its own “free” parking space.  (   But that is not the subject of this latest entry, the subject is memberships.

We were in San Francisco primarily to attend the a special exhibit, “The Masters of Venice”, at the De Young Art Museum and to also see the Pisarro’s People Exhibit at the Legion of Honor.  The Legion and de Young Museums are both a part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.  Since we planned to attend the exhibits on different days, we would be required to pay for two admission fees, but wait, there is another option, membership.

If your trip will include museums, zoos or aquariums, before you walk to the window and buy a ticket, check out the membership options.  It’s best to do this ahead of time, so you can see which membership will best meet your needs, but you can also inquire at the ticket window.  Also, most memberships are considered charitable donations and so they are tax deductible.  Tickets aren’t tax deductible.  Below are some membership options.

  • Bringing the kids or grand kids?  Buy them a Koala Pass.  The annual pass is only $7.00 or $11.00 more than a child’s one day admission ticket.
  • Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco:  If you live outside California, an out of State membership is only $70 and includes free admission for the member and a guest.  There are other membership options if you are a California resident.  We purchase one Senior membership and that gets us both into the museums and exhibits and also gives us a discount on museum store purchases.
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium:   One day tickets for two adults and two teenage granddaughters would cost $125.80.  An unlimited membership for two adults, plus all children and grandchildren is $175.00.  It is pretty much impossible to see the Aquarium in a day, so we’ll buy the membership and get the other member benefits.

I hope you can see the advantages from these few examples.  When our daughter and granddaughters lived in San Diego, we bought them zoo memberships each year as a gift, so they could go as often as they liked.   And don’t forget that the memberships are a donation and are tax deductible, while the tickets are simply an out of pocket expense.


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