Access to attractions comes with different benefits, depending on your children’s ages. Reciprocal memberships are usually free for kids under the age of 12 or younger.

You may have free access to different attractions with your reciprocal membership if you’re traveling with kids. If you plan to bring kids with you on vacation, this is a great way to explore new attractions without paying extra fees. Sometimes it can even be cheaper than buying tickets online!

For example, if you have a reciprocal membership at one place, you’ll have free access to other locations in the program. You’ll receive discounts and additional benefits at these locations when you visit on vacation too! Let’s look at some different benefits that come with these memberships.

What Are Reciprocal Memberships?

Reciprocal memberships are standard with museums, zoos, aquariums, and other entertainment venues. These memberships require you to pay a single annual fee and then enter the establishment as many times as you like.

Reciprocal memberships are purchased annually and give you access to a network of places. In return, the other locations let you in for free or provide discounts on your family members who already pay yearly dues elsewhere.

These memberships exist nearly everywhere with:

  • Museums
  • Science centers
  • National Parks
  • Art galleries, and more!

These are available just about anywhere that is educational or fun! With prices typically around $50-100 annually, it pays off quickly.

The Benefits of Reciprocal Memberships

There are many benefits for individuals or families that purchase a reciprocal membership. The biggest perk is that you can get into places for free! It also means that you don’t have to pay extra fees if your kids are under a certain age.

These benefits come with reciprocal memberships:

  • Free admission – it’s always exciting when you can see everything that interests you without having to wait in line and pay fees! 
  • Accessibility – don’t have time to fight traffic? Reciprocal membership gives you access all year round, so no matter how busy life gets, there is still an opportunity for fun activities together as a family.
  • Additional Discounts – some venues offer additional savings if they are not offering any free admission opportunities
  • Limited Time Offerings– many museums will only be open on certain days of the week; make sure before purchasing these passes that they are open on the day you’re interested in going!

Many museums offer reciprocal memberships where when one museum member visits another participating institution within the same geographical area up to 50% off adult admission prices (and sometimes children).

Where Can I Find Reciprocal Memberships?

To ask if the institution offers reciprocal memberships, the ticket desk or information booth should have your answer! A list of institutions that offer reciprocal memberships can also be found on each museum’s website. Visitors should always inquire about the possibility of getting free admission before paying full price.

There are two ways to find out about reciprocity programs: directly from the organization itself or purchasing a reciprocal membership from the organization’s website. Reciprocal memberships are commonly offered by:

  • Museums
  • Art galleries
  • Zoos
  • Aquariums, and
  • Science centers

The first step to taking advantage of this benefit is asking for a reciprocity program when purchasing tickets. You’ll be able to give your information and sign up there. Most institutions will allow you to sign up online as well!

Reciprocal benefits often apply only to general admission prices, so it’s essential that you ask about any possible discounts before making your purchase. This allows you to know exactly what kind of savings are available.

Some organizations have tiered levels for reciprocal membership depending on how much access they offer, so again – before buying, ask if there are different options available based on level. If not all locations allow reciprocal memberships, consider asking if there is a way to purchase an upgraded membership that does allow for reciprocity.


If you’re traveling with kids, check to see what reciprocal membership programs your family has access to. With these memberships, you may be able to get into attractions for free or at a discounted rate. For most memberships, child admission is included for no additional cost!

This can be very helpful when it comes time to plan all the activities and sights you want your family to enjoy while on vacation. You should also check if there are any offers that will help make visits more affordable – sometimes buying tickets online can end up being more expensive than getting them from home (and cheaper than paying full price)!