The 5 Best Memberships For Families In Southeastern Connecticut

I know that’s a super long title, but I actually wanted to call it The 5 Best Memberships For Families In Southeastern Connecticut And How To Get The Most For Your Money (Also One Is Technically In Rhode Island But Just Ignore That). Brevity has never been my strong point.

Visiting these places is definitely worth it – they’re all fun, educational, and make a great day trip. Having a membership carries the added benefit of your day not getting ruined if it’s crowded, raining or your kid’s just not into it – you can just come back later. These spots are all approved for many repeat days of fun by me and my gingers:

the 5 best memberships for families in southeastern connecticut mystic aquarium

Mystic Aquarium

the 5 best memberships for families in southeastern connecticut mystic aquarium

Mystic Aquarium

1. Mystic Aquarium – I’m not sure how the aquarium got a reputation for being a must-see tourist attraction, but it’s a relatively small place and is totally packed in the summer. Luckily, once school starts (literally, the day after Labor Day) it’s deserted in the mornings and kids can have a private audience with belugas, penguins and a whole rainbow of fish. The inside building is carpeted (good for crawlers or early walkers) and very open (good for strollers). My 3-year-old and 1-year-old love the Titanic exhibit and the sea lion show too, although they’re a little young for the Sponge Bob 4-D movie. Since tickets cost $29+ a membership is definitely worth the price. Tip: If you have little kids, get a single membership with the add-a-guest option. Kids under 3 are free so you can bring your spouse OR a friend who also has small kids. I did that when Caroline was a infant and it made a great winter playdate. Another tip: They open at 9 am, which is GREAT for moms with kids who get up early.

the 5 best memberships for families in southeastern connecticut mystic seaport

Mystic Seaport

the 5 best memberships for families in southeastern connecticut mystic seaport

Mystic Seaport

2. Mystic Seaport – The mini boat playscape and children’s building make visiting worth it even if you never board a single vessel (although you should, since they’re really fun!). My kids love the horse carriage despite never having ridden on it. There’s also a fantastic play room hidden on the 3rd floor of the Stillman Building, so we visit even in less-than-ideal weather. It’s a big place, so unless they’re holding one of the extra-popular events (avoid antique boat weekend!!) it’s never too crowded. And the normal events – Dog Days, Chowderfest, etc – are really fun. Children under 5 are free, so a dual membership can get you in if you have pre-k or younger kids. Membership also includes coffee, hot cocoa and lemonade in the Member’s Building, discounts in the store and the chance to visit Santa in December.

the 5 best memberships for families in southeastern connecticut children's museum

Children’s Museum

the 5 best memberships for families in southeastern connecticut children's museum

Children’s Museum

3. Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut – Full disclosure: we don’t actually have a membershipto the museum yet. We’ve been twice – once for an awesome birthday party – and it is full of creative play spaces and experiences for the kids. There’s an outdoor space for good weather and plenty of space inside for bad/hot/snowy/New Englandy weather. Their little gift shop is pretty amazing too, with lots of cool educational toys perfect for birthday gifts. We’ll be joining this winter, to add another indoor play space to our rotation.

the 5 best memberships for families in southeastern connecticut roger williams park zoo

Roger Williams Park Zoo

 

the 5 best memberships for families in southeastern connecticut roger williams park zoo

Roger Williams Park Zoo

4. Roger Williams Park Zoo – OK, so Providence isn’t in Connecticut but it’s only 40 minutes from the border and the drive is totally worth it. During the hot summer months the water features in Hasbro’s Big Back Yard were a huge hit with the kids and the tree house is really fun. The zoo is a great size for kids to walk, the animals are all close enough to enjoy and the staff has always been super nice and helpful. Did I mention there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts IN the zoo? Membership is pretty affordable and the add-a-guest is only $10 more, so it’s a great place to bring friends. In the summer we aimed to be there at 9 when they opened and left around noon for naps and it was never crowded.

5. Your local library! – I know all these memberships can add up really fast in a tight budget. The good news is many of the local libraries offer free or discounted passes to these locations. That’s the link to my town library but the ones in other towns have similar or better options. It would be worth checking these places out for yourself to see if you like them before springing for the full cost – and if you see us while you’re there, say hi!

Am I missing anything, friends? Where should we go next?!

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14 Responses to “The 5 Best Memberships For Families In Southeastern Connecticut”

  1. MommaExpat says:

    Hee hee, take them to the Slater Museum at NFA at least once. They might get a kick out of the big statues. http://www.nfaschool.org/page.cfm?p=360

  2. Amanda says:

    I completely agree with all of these. We used to hit them all up regularly! Bonus- many of them offer a military discount on memberships too.

    I am not sure what Evan’s school schedule is like but if you have a chance to take Caroline to a class at the children’s museum they are super fun and cheap, Madison LOVED them!

  3. sarah says:

    Old Sturbridge Village! It’s no further than the zoo, and there are lots of animals (often wandering free thru the streets) to check out and pet, lots of outdoor and indoor play spaces, a playground, a historic house that’s entirely please-touch with dressup and cooking and toys, and a really cool indoor playspace with lots of dressup and role play and farming stuff in the visitor’s center. Membership is reasonable, too. I think we’re going with OSV and MSM for our memberships this year, trying to decide if we should add the zoo back in too.

    • bebehblog says:

      I can’t believe I haven’t taken the kids to OSV yet! We have pictures of me there as a baby & I remember visiting in elementary school too. I loved it! I’ll check out the membership but we’re definitely going soon. Like, maybe next week :)

      • sarah says:

        We don’t have a +1 there (groupon membership last year was a super good deal, but couldn’t add a guest) so I can’t bring you, but it’s totally worth it. All of my kids love it, and Aa and I have even gotten a sitter so we can go by ourselves!

  4. Audrey says:

    I love the add a person option. Makes memberships so much more affordable. Unfortunately here it seems like you have to ‘add a family member’ more than a “guest” so while still making the membership more affordable it means you can’t bring friends in without paying for the stupid expensive family + guest membership.

    • bebehblog says:

      Ours vary on how strict they are – the add a guests can always be anyone but if we have a family membership they usually insist on ID’s for me and E. The zoo is the nicest, my family membership gets in 2 adults and my guest is one extra, so when I took a friend & her husband they let us all in. The Children’s Museum actually has an “add your nanny” option, because it’s in THAT part of Connecticut.

  5. merin says:

    Yes to all! Bonus on the Children’s Museum membership: if you spend the extra dollars for a reciprocal membership, you can get in free at children’s museums across the country. They are everywhere and make for a great morning excursion during a vacation or obligatory visit to the in-laws.

  6. Amy says:

    I have a placecrush on Mystic Seaport. I’m obsessed.

  7. Fionnuala says:

    You forgot the best part about a Children’s museum membership, it includes ALL children’s museums in the country! Seriously. We had a KidCity membership for two years, (freaking loved it.) Used it in NY, RI, CT (3 locations) and MA. It is the best one of this bunch in my opinion.

    O is almost 5 (I still am denying this) and we are now out of the home working parents, with soccer and dance on Saturdays, but I want to get one membership somewhere for the winter months, I think you resold me on the Aquarium.

  8. […] Southeastern Connecticut peeps (you know who you are) – fun things to do with kids @ Bebehblog […]

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