By default, I am a frugal mom.
I will squeeze every last activity out of something if possible. (Except the sand playground at the zoo. My kids still don’t know that exists.)
I don’t remember exactly when we learned about membership reciprocation, but here’s the down-low. Caldwell Zoo and Discovery Science Place pay a fee to be a part of the AZA and ASTC, so that members can get free and discounted admission to other participants! Here’s the breakdown of which places do what, and our favorite places to go. Important tip: always bring your membership cards, and a photo ID.
AZA Participants (Caldwell Zoo membership)
We’ve used this program the most, and had a great time doing it! Our Caldwell Zoo membership has paid for itself several times over, and given us access to several other zoos.
This zoo isn’t too far away, and reciprocates 100% – meaning that it is 100% free! This is a fun little zoo. Nice and shady, and they have hippos! We stopped by on our way back from Houston a few weeks ago, and it’s definitely a trip that we’ll make again.
The Dallas Zoo reciprocates 50%. After the discount, adult tickets are $7.50 and children’s tickets are $6. We’ve gone during the incredibly fun Zoo Lights event during the holidays, and they honor reciprocation during this as well!
The Houston Zoo is probably the most fun zoo we’ve ever been to! It’s shady, and has really fun exhibits. After reciprocation, adult tickets are $9, and $7 for children.
San Antonio and Waco also have zoos that participate. My family hasn’t visited either, but I’m sure they’re well worth a trip! Here is a complete list of zoos and aquariums that participate.
ASTC Participants (Discovery Science Place membership)
The caveat here is that you must have a Premium membership to Discovery Science Place in order to access ASTC participants. The great part is that ASTC participants allow you to visit for free! Here are some of my family’s favorites.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science
You guys. If you haven’t visited the Perot, you need to get here ASAP. There is a great play area for little kids downstairs, a fun water play area outside, and FOSSILS. They have a gorgeous gem collection, and great exhibits. Did I mention it’s 100% free? Yeah. Free.
Children’s Museum of Houston/Health Museum
I put these two together because they’re right across the street from one another. We spent about four hours in the Children’s Museum, and easily could have spent more. So much fun!
Honorable Mentions: The DoSeum (San Antonio), and The Thinkery (Austin). There are 14 different museums in Texas that participate, so check out the list here before you make your next day trip!
We’ve loved visiting different zoos and places and utilizing our memberships.