Before my accident we were very active hiking, bike riding, almost anything that kept us outside. Besides keeping us in good shape, these activities were free. We also liked history exhibits and museums and we tend to do a lot more of that stuff now but the admissions can be expensive. However by shopping around it's possible to buy passes for a minimal amount of money and then get free admission to hundreds of different attractions around the country.
It's easy to buy the memberships on-line or at one of the museums but either way you will have to wait about three weeks for your official membership card to come in the mail. Plan accordingly. None of the museum membership programs have a way to get a card at the museum or over the internet. National Parks and Texas Parks pass cards are issued at the park when you buy them. Entertainment book memberships can be applied for on-line and do not require a card.
Listed below are the museum passes that we bought and use but you may find better options for your type of travel and museum preferences so check around before you buy a pass.
Garden and Art Museums Pass - This one is a little expensive -$150.00 for two people but with the membership you get free admission to over a hundred gardens - http://ahsgardening.org/gardening-programs/rap/find
and free admission to hundreds of art museums - http://narmassociation.org/
Buy it here- http://www.winterthur.org/?p=717
Zoos , Aquariums and Science Museums Pass - Another good bargain - $47.00 for two people. The pass gives you free admission to hundreds of science museums. These vary a lot. Some are geared towards small children , others are full science museums and some are a combination of science and history. http://www.astc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/May-Oct-15-28pg-12pt-font.pdf
The pass will also give you free or half price admission to zoos and aquariums. http://www.zoosociety.org/Membership/Reciprocal.php
Buy it here- https://wildwnc.org/membership
History Museums - This is the most varied pass as far as benefits and types of museums. Included are state and county history museums , gardens , houses and living history villages. http://timetravelers.mohistory.org/ Sometimes the ticket sellers do not know anything about the pass program so it's a good idea to carry a copy of the list. The pass is $45.00 for a family. http://historical-museum.org/hmsf/membership/members.htm
Nova Scotia Museum PassAt $45.00 a person this one is a little expensive but it's good for unlimited admission for one year to 27 museum. https://museum.novascotia.ca/our-museums/museum-pass
National Parks Access Pass - I think that most people are familiar with the national parks pass but just in case - anyone 62 and over or disabled can get a lifetime pass which gives them and anyone in the same vehicle free admission to all national sites. It also can be used for a 50% discount on camping and other fees. Everybody else can purchase a annual pass for $80.00. The pass gives free admission for four adults in the same car (kids are always free) to all federal sites. http://store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html
Canadian National Parks PassA Discovery Pass can be bought at any Canadian National Park or Historic Site that charges a fee. It's good for a year's free admission to almost 100 sites. The family pass at $136.40 is probably the most economical choice for most people. This is a lot more expensive than the US pass but can still save you quite a bit of money because unlike the US, children older than six are charged a daily fee, there are no seven day passes, each pass is good for one park only and if you camp at any of the national parks each member of the party will be charged a daily fee on top of the campground fee. http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/index
State Park Passes- Many states have a pass which covers daily entrance fees. They're all different so read the information before buying one - http://usparks.about.com/od/usstateparks/tp/State-Park-Passes.htm Sometimes the fee is not charged if you're camping, sometimes it's only charged for the first camping day, sometimes it's tacked onto every day which may make camping very expensive. Some states have daily fees at all of their parks, some even charge fees at state run overlooks and pullouts to access fishing spots.
We tried the Texas State Park Pass - http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/parkinfo/passes/ - which is good for free admission into more than 90 state parks. Admission varies from zero dollars to five dollars per day per person even if you pay for a campsite. We found that we didn't use it enough to make it worthwhile. On the other hand the Washington Discover Pass- http://discoverpass.wa.gov/
looks like a winner for us.
The attractions where passes can be used are marked on my Google Maps with different colored place marks and push pins. Please check before visiting any of these attractions to make sure that they are still in one of the pass programs.