[UPDATED: September 7, 2012]
We've previously let you in on the best museum memberships for families, and now we're exploring more of New York City's great institutions--gardens and zoos. Learn about membership options, what perks and extras are offered, and everything else you need to know to figure out if it's worth it for you and your family.
The Bronx Zoo/NY Aquarium/Central Park Zoo/Prospect Park Zoo/Queens Zoo
Regular Admission $: General Admission, $16.95/adults, $11.95/children (ages 3-12); Total Experience Tickets, $29.95/adults, $19.95/children (ages 3-12) (for the Bronx Zoo)
Membership $: $129 or $164/year
What you get: This is more of a “what don’t you get?” Two adults and the children in their household get free unlimited admission to: The Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo. Yup, all 5, all included. For the premium level, there's unlimited access to many Bronx Zoo attractions including Congo Gorilla Forest, JungleWorld, Wild Asia Monorail, Children’s Zoo, Butterfly Garden, Zoo Shuttle and Bug Carousel, the NY Aquarium's 4-D Theater and free parking to the Bronx Zoo and NY Aquarium. All membership levels get a free wildlife t-shirt, invitations to members-only events, newsletters, 10% discount at select restaurants and gift shops at the Bronx Zoo, NY Aquarium and Central Park Zoo, discounts on education programs and courses, and priority entry at all 5 places.
Worth it?: Heck yeah! If a family of four visits all of these places just once, you save. And with all you get to see with this kind of a membership, once just might not be enough.
The Staten Island Zoo/Staten Island Children’s Museum Combo
Regular Admission $: $8/adult, $5/children 14 and under (Zoo); $6/person (Museum)
Membership $: $140/year
What you get: Free admission to both the Zoo and Children’s museum for two adults and five children in their household, members-only programs and special events, discounts to 100+ other zoos, discount on birthday parties at both places, sneak previews of new exhibits, and 10% discount on “Zoovenirs” and discounts in the Museum shop.
Worth it?: If a family of four visits each place 3 or more times you save; plus the offered perks.
NY Botanical Garden
All-Garden Admission $: $20-$25/adult, $8-$10/children
Membership $: $120/year
What you get: Unlimited admission (to the gardens and special exhibits/events) for 2 adults and 5 children (under 16), invitations to member-only events, 4 guest passes and 8 parking passes.
Worth it?: If a family of four with two children under 16 visits 3 or more times, you save. Since the Garden has so many different seasonal events, 3 or more visits is very possible.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Regular Admission $: $10/adult, children under 12, free
Membership $: $85 or $100/year
What you get: Unlimited admission for two adults and for their children (under 16) in the same household, 10% discount at the Garden shop, gift shop and café, discounts on adult classes, trips and tours, library borrowing privileges, 4 parking passes, newsletter and 4 guest passes. $100 option can bring 1 extra guest with them always
Worth it?: A family of four with two kids under 12 would have to go 5 or more times to save; plus the offered perks.
Regular Admission $: $8/adult, $2/children 6+, 6 and under, free
Membership $: $75/year
What you get: Unlimited admission for two adults and their children under 18 (at same address), 4 guest passes, 3 parking passes, 10% discount at the shop and café, discounts on concerts, lectures and workshops, members-only sales, event and picnics, invitations to openings, newsletter, and admission discounts to regional cultural institutions and regional nurseries and garden centers.
Worth it?: A family of four with two kids 6+, would have to visit 4 times to save; plus the offered perks.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden
Regular Admission $: $8/adults, free/children under 12 (gardens and galleries combo)
Membership $: $60/year
What you get: Unlimited admission for 2 adults and 4 children under 18, two free guest passes, invitations to special events.
Worth it?: A family of four with two kids under 12 would have to visit four times to save. The membership is good for the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, Building C galleries and the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, so four visits is reasonable.
Remember, these memberships are also at least 50% tax deductible (See the websites for more details) and joining your favorite gardens and zoos supports the institutions that make our city great.
Find more tips for NYC art and kid shows in our Culture Guide.