Museum of Science (favorite family museum memberships in Boston)
Photo by Michael Malyszko for the Museum of Science

As a mom, I like to have easy access to fun and engaging activities for my children. Getting out of the house for a few hours is even better — and there’s no shortage of things to do with kids in Boston. Each year, I consider the locations in and around Boston we will choose to visit — and then determine if a family membership is a worthy investment for us. Family memberships to many of Boston’s museums, play spaces, and other educational centers are not only cost effective, they often offer added perks. Here are nine ideas for family memberships (for kids of all ages!) in greater Boston!

Museum of Science

1 Science Park, Boston

This is my favorite membership and the one I prioritize over others when deciding what to spend money on. In addition to entry to the Museum of Science exhibit halls, a basic membership will get you two planetarium tickets, two Omni theater tickets, and two guest passes; a premiere membership will get you four Omni theater tickets, four planetarium tickets, four guest passes per year, two hours free parking, and priority treatment for select member events! Both the basic and premiere memberships can be purchased for groups of two, five, or eight, and the prices range from $100-235 annually! (The museum also offers a 10% discount on automatic renewals.)

One of the best parts of an MOS membership is the reciprocity with other museums. There are more than 500 other museums and zoos on this list, which means you can visit a ton of other wonderful places for a steep discount — or for free. Locally, you get 50% off at the Roger Williams Park Zoo and free entry to the Providence Children’s Museum, Buttonwood Park Zoo, Springfield Museums, Ecotarium, Capron Park Zoo, and more. Whenever we travel, we check if there’s a reciprocal museum or zoo to visit — and there usually is!

Puppet Showplace Theater

32 Station Street, Brookline

Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline was founded in 1974 — that’s 50 years of puppet magic for Boston families! The theater is a great place for kids of all ages, as the various shows each month target different age groups — from infants to teens. In addition to shows, the theater has puppetry classes for adults and kids as well as programs during school vacation weeks and summer. The “family and friends” membership costs $125 and includes four complimentary tickets plus discounted tickets for other shows, priority seating, exclusive season presales, and discounts on classes, birthday parties, and vacation week programs.

Zoo New England

1 Franklin Park Road, Boston
149 Pond Road, Stoneham

A Zoo New England membership gets you access to two zoos — the Stone Zoo in Stoneham and the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston — plus discounted tickets for special events like Zoolights and Boston Lights. This membership also gives you discounts on food and gift shop purchases, access to members-only events, express entrance on busy days, and discounts on education programs. The zoos not only offer opportunities to learn about wildlife, they also have nature play spaces, special shows, and rides like a train or carousel.

A family membership costs $125 and includes free admission for two named adult cardholders plus up to four children under 18, while a “family plus” membership costs $150 and includes the same benefits as the family membership plus up to two accompanying guests (adult or child) who may enter with the member adults. This membership also offers reciprocity for 140 zoos all around the country, with free entry or great discounted rates!

Mass Audubon

Boston museum memberships - Boston Moms Blog

This is another membership we make sure to renew each year! A Mass Audubon family membership ($70) gets you free access to wildlife sanctuaries throughout Massachusetts. These sanctuaries offer hiking trails, classes, special events, and even CSAs! One of the best places to visit with this membership is Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, which offers plenty of space to run around, trails for hiking, lots of farm animals to visit, a farm stand, seasonal activities like hay rides, and education about sustainable crops, birds, and other local wildlife.

There are many other Audubon sanctuaries within a short drive of Boston that also offer kid-friendly trails, nature-based playgrounds, and opportunities for education and exploration like the Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont, and Broadmoor in Natick. Don’t forget to take advantage of this membership year round with special activities like snowshoeing, winter birding tours, and wildlife tracking using footprints.

Boston Children’s Museum

308 Congress Street, Boston

Boston museum memberships - Boston Moms Blog

The Boston Children’s Museum is beautiful, fun, and full of engaging activities for little explorers. In addition to admission to the museum, a membership offers special members-only hours on the weekend that are less crowded, plus music classes, special events like a maker faire, and theater shows.

There are multiple levels of family memberships. The “big” level ($200-250) includes unlimited free admission to the museum and half-price admission to more than 100 other museums through a reciprocal network. The “bigger” level ($400-450) includes the above plus half-price admission for your guests and two single-use admission passes you can give to your friends. Each level also allows a choice between 4 and 6 members. As much as we love the Children’s Museum, we have to mention that parking can be tricky — even with a validated ticket, garage parking is still very expensive, and metered spots are hard to come by. SpotHero can be a lifesaver for parking in the city, though!

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

465 Huntington Avenue, Boston

A museum of “fine art” may not sound like a place for children, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The MFA has wonderful drop-in art-making activities for families each week, plus other gallery activities and tours. There are also studio art classes and workshops for children, teens, and families! A “friends and family” membership is $140 and includes free admission for two adults and four children (ages 7-17 — younger children are always free). You will also receive four free tickets to special exhibits, plus free or discounted admission to lectures, programs, and classes.

New England Aquarium

1 Central Wharf, Boston

The New England Aquarium has protected and cared for ocean and marine life for more than 50 years. With exhibits ranging from the Amazon rainforest to the penguin colony to (my personal favorite) the shark and ray touch tank, this spot has something for everyone. A standard aquarium membership costs $159 for four people and includes free “express” admission (no need to reserve tickets), free members-only hours throughout the year, and discounts on admission for guests, dining and shopping, whale watch tickets, animal encounters, and parking. My kids love visiting the aquarium, and there is so much to do in the area!

Indoor play spaces

Many of the indoor play spaces in and around Boston offer families yearly or monthly membership options. If you’re like me and dread Boston winters, you probably plan to play inside a lot during the coldest months, which makes it worth investing in an open play membership! The Golden Chickpea Center, Jam Time, VinKari Safari, Jump On In, and Children’s World Indoor Playground all offer monthly or yearly membership options. Some of these play spaces also offer classes that include free open play times!

Rock climbing

Families with older kids may be looking for more adventurous family memberships! A variety of rock climbing gyms in the Boston area offer monthly family memberships.

The Rock Spot Climbing has three locations in in the state (Malden, South Boston, and Boston/Dedham) with family memberships starting at $169/month. Memberships include various other perks, ranging from discounts to free classes.

Central Rock Gym has 12 locations in Massachusetts and also offers a family membership. (Membership prices vary based on location.) Central Rock is not limited to rock climbing, though — a membership includes full access to all CRG locations for both climbing and fitness classes. Membership perks vary based on location, and some locations offer youth programs (starting at age 4!) and summer camp options as well!

This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for 2024 with contributions by Sarah Casimiro and Allison Margolies.



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