If your kiddos are always clamoring to visit the same places over and over again, then consider a family membership to one of these local jaunts (and two worth-the-drive destinations)! A family membership provides the necessary funding these organizations rely on to carry out their mission with one awesome benefit to you: a discounted experience. In just a handful of visits, these memberships basically pay for themselves. Scroll down for the best places to visit on repeat.
National Building Museum
Three words. Plan. Work. Build. And one more. OPEN! We've all been waiting for this hands-on museum experience to re-open and that day has finally arrived. With a family membership, you can make the National Building Museum your go-to place on a rainy day or beat the heat on a hot one.
Annual family membership: starting at $90
Compare that to: $10/adults, $7/youth, seniors
Safety regulations: Masks are required for unvaccinated guests.
401 F Street NW
College Park Aviation Museum
If the National Air and Space Museum leaves you wanting more, more, more (or less; the space can be overwhelming for young children and those needing a sensory-friendly space), head to the College Park Aviation Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian museums, where aircrafts and exhibits are housed in an airy 1.5 story space and crowds are limited. Take flight with a picnic after your visit: this museum sits on airport grounds, so you can watch airplanes take off and land while you eat! In addition to unlimited visits, membership includes VIP access to Santa at the annual fly-in, a special meet-and-greet with Baron for Baron's Club members and more.
Annual family membership: starting at $25/one adult & one child; $50/up to 6 people
Compare that to: $5/adults, $4/seniors, $2/children, free/1 & under
Safety regulations: The museum accepts both reservations and walk-ins.
1985 Corporal Frank Scott Dr.
College Park, MD
The Lane Social Club
While the space is designed for kids 6 & up, all are welcome at this uber-cool city hang out. Younger kids will enjoy the cozy reading nook and ball pit. Bigger kiddos can hang (literally!) by the rock climbing wall or on the mini rope course. There is even a giant slide large enough to accommodate parents and caregivers. We're excited to mention the cafe has reopened (service is limited, but they still stock beer and wine and juice for the littles). The best part? Memberships are baaaaaaaaccccckkk!
Monthly family membership: starting at $95/1-2 kids, $110/3+ kids
Compare that to: $20/child
Safety regulations: In an effort to be abundantly cautious, masks are required for all guests 2 & up.
1408 Okie St. NE
International Spy Museum
Let your favorite sleuth indulge in a day of espionage at the newly re-opened International Spy Museum. This glossy new building is home to the largest collection of espionage artifacts in the world. You'll learn how some of the greatest spies of all time stole secrets and get a glimpse of the gadgets and gears that they used. Go on your own covert mission and learn to crack codes and analyze gathered intelligence to make informed decisions. If an afternoon of the ultimate Escape Room sounds like family fun, nab this membership for unlimited access.
Annual family membership: $199 for 2 adults and up to 5 children
Compare that to: $24.95/adults; $16.95/youth 7-16
Safety regulations: Masks are still a requirement. Admission is not at full-capacity, but those wishing to avoid crowds may want to consider returning post-summer.
700 L'Enfant Plaza SW
George Washington's Mount Vernon
With a family membership, you can stroll the grounds of Mount Vernon for an entire year, grab audio books, tour guides and get advanced notice of popular sure-to-sell-out events for no additional cost. If you have a large family, this membership is particularly cost effective (there is no cap on children included). With over 500 acres to explore, the grounds and mansion offer a great place for hands-on learning.
Annual family membership: $159/year for two people plus unlimited children under 18
Compare that to: $28/adults; $15/youth 6-11 for both grounds and mansion tour. Children 5 & under are free.
Safety regulations: Masks are required for unvaccinated visitors indoors and outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy
Mt. Vernon, VA
The National Zoo
If you plan to drive to the National Zoo, consider investing in a zoo membership. Not only does it go towards helping animal conservation, it will also save you on parking! Memberships start at $64; spring for the 2-adult pass for $84 and you also score 8 free tickets for kiddie rides. Sign up today and spend more time ogling the animals and less time searching for street parking.
Annual membership: starting at $64
Compare that to: Parking $30/visit
Safety regulations: Parking must be reserved in advanced (check here on how to use your free perking when signing up). Pedestrian passes are also available in advance.
WORTH THE DRVIE
They had us at “Giant Waxy Tree Frog” and “Fairy Basselets”—really, the menagerie of animals at the National Aquarium is one-of-a-kind. And, with a family membership, you’ll be able to stomach the (admittedly considerable) expense a bit easier. Get reduced prices on food while you’re there, and receive a free subscription to their magazine, Watermarks, to continue your aquatic adventure even after you’re back at home.
Annual family membership: $195 for two adults, four children (ages 3-21)
Compare that to: $39.95/adult and $29.95/child
Safety regulations: Tickets are by timed entry-only, unless you are a member (another perk!). Masks are required for unvaccinated guests, including children 12 & under.
Museum of The Shenandoah Valley
For the average family of 4, this membership can pay off in just 2-3 visits. Museum of The Shenandoah Valley (MSV) is a day trip from DC (it is a 1.5 hour drive), but with so much to see and do both in the galleries and on the grounds, a single visit will leave you longing to come back. You don't have to be a kid to enjoy the miniature doll house and furniture collection housed on the second floor. Also worth exploring are the full-scale representations of Valley life 100+ years ago (think log cabins and country kitchens). The grounds feature hiking paths and ornamental gardens. Current exhibits include an outdoor sculpture show in the formal gardens (now-Oct. 31, 2021).
Annual family membership: $90/2 adults and all children under 18
Compare that to: $15/adult; $10/senior and youth (13-18); free/12 & under
901 Amherst Street
Winchester, VA, 22601
—Meghan Yudes Meyers and Katie Brown