Frugal and Fun: Save Money with Family Memberships

The Oklahoma Aquarium, Tulsa Zoo and Tulsa Children's Museum memberships offer perks beyond free admission.

Where can you find 300-pound loggerhead sea turtles, reef sharks and an alligator gar all in one place? The Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. Sea Turtle Island opened this year, so if you haven’t been to the OK Aquarium in a while, pick a hot summer day to stroll through the cool marine environment.


Speaking of new and cool, the Tulsa Zoo just opened its Lost Kingdom area, a habitat inspired by the ruins of Asia, which houses a Tiger Exhibit, Snow Leopard Habitat, Komodo Dragon Exhibit, Siamang Habitat, Chinese Alligator Exhibit, Red Panda/Binturong Exhibit and Aviary as well as an upscale dining area and a canteen.


And, there’s always something new going on at the Tulsa Children’s Museum’s Discovery Lab, whether it’s a science experiment or a dance party. Traveling exhibits and on-going activities make the Discovery Lab a unique experience with every visit.


How often do you visit these local treasures? Twice a year? Three times? What! You don’t have a Family Membership? You could save so much money! And, it’s not just about the cash. Imagine being able to jump in the car and spend a leisurely day at the zoo, aquarium or children’s museum any time you feel like it. Not only will you save on admission, you’ll get some added perks as well. Let’s just look at basic family memberships to each of these destinations.


OKLAHOMA AQUARIUM: $135, two adults; four children; non-member admission $15.95 adults; $11.95 children 3-12. If you only visit one time with two adults and four children, you’re spending almost $82, so your membership would pay off in two visits.

Here’s what you get with all annual membership levels:

  • Unlimited general admission
  • Discounts on special events including Sleep with the Sharks and Hallowmarine
  • Savings on admission for additional guests, $2 off up to 4 per visit
  • Discounts on purchases in the Oklahoma Aquarium Gift Shop
  • Invitations to members-only sneak previews of new exhibits


TULSA ZOO AND LIVING MUSEUM: $75, two adults and four children under 18; non-member admission $10 adults; $6 children ages 3-11. A basic family membership will pay off in two visits. Zoo statistics show that families typically visit five times per year.

Here’s what you get with a basic membership:

  • Unlimited admission during zoo hours
  • Free entry to Mohawk Park
  • Discounts on all zoo purchases like food, drinks, train and carousel rides and more
  • Discounted express entry to HallowZOOeen
  • Express zoo entry in peak times like spring break
  • Discounts on events like WALTZ on the Wild Side
  • Discounted admission to hundred of zoos and aquariums nationwide. For a list, go to


DISCOVERY LAB ( $81.39, two adults and two children under 18; non-member admission $6 for ages 2 and up. It only takes a couple of visits for your membership to pay off.

Here’s what you get with membership:

  • Unlimited Discovery Lab admission for one year
  • Express entry during peak times
  • Free admission to “members-only” events
  • Admission to members only Discovery Lab hours (excluding special event days)
  • Discounts on programs, facility rentals, and birthday parties
  • Invitations to special events.

Do you plan to travel in the next year? If so, you might want to purchase the Family Plus Membership for $135.65. You’ll get free admission for two adults and up to four children under 18, and you’ll receive 50% off admission for up to six people to nearly 200 children’s museums nationwide. For a list of participating Association of Children’s Museums reciprocal museums, go to


Once you no longer have to worry about how often you can load the kids up in the minivan for a visit to your favorite kid-friendly museum, you can spend your energy coming up with creative ways to enhance your visits.


Tips to Extend the Learning

  • Have children do a zoo or aquarium animal scavenger hunt.
  • Ask them draw their favorite animal, reptile or sea creature when they get home, or take sketch pads and sketch them plein air.
  • Have them write poems or stories or put on plays about what they saw.
  • Talk to them about their favorite part of the zoo/aquarium/children’s museum.
  • Encourage your child to do more research about something that interested him or her when you get home.
  • Go to a websites with science experiments for kids and try some together.
  • Research the effects of climate change on a particular animal, or learn more about conservation efforts of zoos and aquariums.
  • Find picture books for young children or chapter books for older children about animals or topics that interested them on your visit.


These are just three examples of how you can save money and support your favorite non-profits with family memberships. There are so many others. For example, if your family enjoys art, invest in Philbrook or Gilcrease. Music? What about the Woody Guthrie Center? Summer is the perfect season to have some family fun and expand your child’s world at the same time.



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Living the empty nest life, and loving it.

About This Blog

Betty Casey has been editor of TulsaKids for over 20 years – her youngest child was 3-years-old when she started working for the magazine. She and her husband Wes have three young adult children. Betty’s blog ranges from writing about current issues or information of interest to local parents, reflecting on her life without kids at home, and posting a few recipes now and then. (Cooking and running are two or her favorite past-times.) Betty is the author/illustrator of three children’s books, "May Finds Her Way," "That is a Hat" and "The Prince of the Prairie" (The RoadRunner Press). She was named Blogger of the Year in 2014 by The Great Plains Journalism Awards, was a finalist in 2015 and won again in 2016. Most recently, she was named the 2017 News Blogger of the Year. She has also won numerous writing awards from the Parenting Media Association.

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