Benefits of Having an Annual Family Membership

Have you ever wondered what the perks are and what an annual membership fee runs? We break things down for six local kid-friendly spots.

Looking for a way to spend a family day out? Southeast Michigan is filled with options. From museums to zoos, there are plenty of local sites perfect for a day spent exploring and learning.

It’s easy to get hooked on your favorite museum or science center – so much so that many families have found themselves visiting the same popular sites every weekend.

However, paying admissions prices and giving up a little extra for special exhibitions can add up. Nevertheless, for families who are super fans, most institutions offer annual membership packages.

Melissa Foster, media and film relations manager of The Henry Ford, says annual memberships effectively cut costs while maximizing fun.

“If you’re planning on coming more than once a year, the membership is going to save you money,” she says.

While these offers differ place by place, families will typically receive free general admission along with a variety of other perks when it comes to special programs or exhibitions, plus discounts on amenities – like food!

Foster says memberships also mean getting first access to tickets for family focused events, meaning kids are far less likely to miss out on memory making programming.

“It’s definitely an investment, and its more budget friendly,” Foster says.

Pamela Marcil, public relations director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, says families should consider an annual membership because of the experiences that come along with it.

“The basic reason is there is a wealth of opportunities for families to enjoy,” she says. “We hope with a membership they can take advantage of more when coming.”

Here are six local institutions whose annual family memberships come with a bulk of perks:

Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

  • Address: 220 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-995-5439
  • Annual membership packages: $75/family, $100/family plus, $125/family plus travel

An annual family membership comes with free admission for a year, which covers up to three generations. Members will get early access and discounts to special events, programs, exhibit openings, birthday parties and the Museum Store – plus invites to members-only exclusives. Plus, because the Hands-On Museum is a part of the Association of Science and Technology Centers, members get free or reduced admission at over 300 other science centers and 165 children’s museums around the world. Peruse the different membership packages on to see what upgrades are available. With Family Plus and Family Plus Travel, two free guests are also welcome to tag along to any visit.

Detroit Institute of Arts

  • Address: 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-833-7900
  • Annual membership packages: $65/individual, $80/companion, $110/family plus, $180/affiliate, $300/patron, $600/contributor

Aside from free general unlimited admission for four adults and children age 17 and under, an annual family membership includes: four free member tickets for all special exhibitions and even previews of the exhibits prior to public openings. While the 2010 millage awarded discounts to residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, discounts are also given for the Detroit Film Theatre and convenience fees are waived. Hop on board to 20 percent off on gift memberships, 10 percent off at the Café, Kresge Court and the Museum Shop, get two membership cards, plus free audio tours. Members are also privy to a monthly e-newsletter, letters from Director Salvador Salort-Pons and the opportunity to join special interest auxiliaries.

Detroit Zoo

  • Address: 8450 W 10 Mile Rd., Royal Oak
  • Phone: 248-541-5717
  • Annual membership packages: $53/individual, $75/individual plus, $75/dual, $75/single parent, $75/single grandparent, $89/family, $160/supporter

Don’t go another day without your daily dose of vitamin Z. An annual membership includes free Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center admission with parking, plus access to Wild Summer Nights concerts and MemberFest. Also on the table are discounts on zoo merchandise and classes, advance ticket sales to Summer Safari, Wild Beasts Wild Wine, Wild Lights, Zoo Brew and Zoo Boo, a free subscription to Habitat, the quarterly member magazine and Zmail, the monthly email newsletter, plus members-only entry at the seasonal Rackham Fountain Entrance. Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents will also get $10 off of membership costs by providing zip code verification.

Michigan Science Center

  • Address: 5020 John R St., Detroit
  • Phone: 313-577-8400
  • Annual membership packages: $55/individual plus, $75/family, $95/family plus, $170/premium family

Blast off towards great deals with an annual family membership. Free general admission for the entire year means access to hundreds of experiences, like hand-on exhibits, live shows, presentations and demonstrations in the DTE Energy Sparks Theater and Chrysler Science Stage. Plus, free planetarium and IMAX shows at the Dassault Systemes Planetarium, Chrysler IMAX Dome Theatre and Toyota Engineering 4D Theater. Expect invites to special member events and previews, discounts on special workshops and camps, plus 10 percent off at the Explore Store and Cosmic Café. As a member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers, Michigan Science Center members also enjoy free or reduced admission at over 300 affiliated science centers.

SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium

  • Address: Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, 4316 Baldwin Road, Auburn Hills
  • Phone: 866-622-0605
  • Annual membership packages: $60/individual, $57.50/person for family pass (4 or more individuals ages 3-plus)

These annual passes to SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium give families the chance to visit for 12 months unlimited, plus enjoy express entry through the fast-track lane. Pass holders will enjoy exclusive events, “Bring-a-Friend” days, discounts on Adult Night events and 10 percent off birthday parties and the retail shop.

The Henry Ford

  • Address: 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn
  • Phone: 313-982-6001
  • Annual membership packages: $65/individual, $125/companion, $195/companion flex, $185/family, $260/family flex, $350/Innovator Member Society, $550/Visionary Member Society

Membership includes unlimited admission to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village and the Giant Screen Experience – plus discounts on all food, retail and parking. Discounts are also added for the Ford Rouge Factor Tour, Museum Insider’s Tours, guest speaker events and events like Salute to America, Hallowe’en and Holiday Nights. Invites are sent for members-only events and they even toss in a free subscription to The Henry Ford Magazine. Families also receive tax benefits along with the satisfaction of supporting The Henry Ford. The family package includes all adults, children and grandparents, but the family flex package means two guests can join in too.


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