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11 Original Gift Ideas For The Holidays: Think Membership Gifts

by | Nov 18, 2021 | Fall, Family Life, Holiday, Kids Activities, Winter

Looking for an original gift idea while holiday shopping? We have the perfect “gifting” suggestion that is loaded with culture, adventure, and plain old fun! Give the gift of a membership to a local museum, zoo, or arboretum, and the gift will naturally keep on giving all year long. 

Select the favorite place your family likes to visit each year. Now multiply the number of times you can visit your favorite place annually by presenting a membership gift under the tree. A year long membership allows you to enjoy the museum, zoo, or arboretum while saving money on multiple visits.

Much Ado About Museum Memberships

Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia

This might be the coolest museum ever – a place where you are invited and encouraged to touch everything! The Please Touch Museum brings loads of fun year round with exciting traveling exhibits, so you will definitely want to give a membership for the entire year. In addition to your own free admission, members can bring guests for a discounted entrance fee, park for free, and have discounted admission to over 200 children’s museums nationwide. Did we mention invitations to exhibit previews, member only events and early openings, and, oh by the way, free carousel rides? Yippee! Currently Dorothy’s Ruby Red slippers are on display but only until January 16.

Penn Museum, Philadelphia

Take time to visit this wonderful museum which truly offers a global experience for the entire family. The Penn Museum can transport everyone in your group into an Egyptian experience on one visit while moving you to ancient Greece the next time you head there for a cultural and educational encounter. The Friends and Family membership level provides the most bang for your buck including admission for 4 adults and any children under the age of 18 plus discounts on family programing such as 40 Winks With the Sphinx sleepovers and Anthropologists in the Making summer camps. Check out which membership package is best suited for your family.

The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia

Avoid the lines and the stress by giving the gift of The Franklin Institute for the entire year! There are a plethora of advantages to becoming a member including unlimited free admission to both the Science Museum and Fels Planetarium as well as the refurbished Science Park, special pricing on ticketed exhibits such as the upcoming Harry Potter:  The Exhibition, opening February 18, 2022, and reciprocal free admission to more than 250 ASTC Science Museums. So skip those lines by securing your tickets in advance without a service charge and take advantage of more time inside the doors of this hallowed institution.

The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia

If your family is nuts about nature, this is the perfect place for you to discover and explore. The Academy of Natural Sciences encourages curiosity and questions while providing the opportunity for everyone in the family to learn and enjoy through extensive member benefits. Not only will you experience unlimited admission but additionally members receive members-only access from 9-10 am every day, free or discounted tickets to special exhibits such as Permian Monsters, access to exhibit previews and the annual Member’s Night, and a membership to Kids Club for children ages 12 and under, which comes with its own slew of benefits including their own membership card and hanging out with Eddie the T.rex. Discover what all the excitement is about by giving the gift of discovering nature year round.

The Philadelphia Art Museum, Philadelphia

There is always something to engage in at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (click on Become a Member Tab), and with changing exhibits and programs throughout the year, there will be something new to experience each time you visit. There are varying levels of memberships to purchase but all levels include unlimited admission with no advance registration required. Plus members get discounts on dining, shopping and parking; there is also the advantage of access to members-only programs, tours and previews. Your kids can take this opportunity to enjoy the Art Kids programs which include studio time and tours and Little Kid art programs as well.

Make the Most of Menagerie Membership Gifts

Adventure Aquarium, Camden

Looking for a family adventure for the entire year? Look no further than the Adventure Aquarium where your membership can gain you an up close and personal view of some rather spectacular hippopotamus not to mention a daring walk over Shark Bridge. You will have unlimited access for an entire year to 15,000 aquatic animals and fascinating educational experiences, and your membership will pay for itself in just 2 visits! Additionally, membership at the aquarium provides you with discounts on parking, shopping, and dining in the Marketplace. Sign on for this adventure so you can start saving on all of your visits year-round.

The Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia

Lions and tigers and bears for an entire year? Oh my! It is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the zoo during all four seasons as the animal habits will change with the weather so you can come back again and again…and again to watch them grow and evolve throughout the year. The Philadelphia Zoo offers six different plans for members to choose from but all plans will give you access to the zoo with some special discounts available once you are inside the gates. Additionally, membership entitles you to exclusive members only hours and events, free parking, and discounted admission to over 100 zoos and aquariums throughout the country. 

Elmwood Park Zoo, Norristown

This endearing zoo is taking the experience of annual membership to a new level – a multi-generational level – by offering a Grandparent Membership level! The various membership packages at the Elmwood Park Zoo includes this inspiring idea to include  two grandparents and six grandchildren under the age of 18 to participate in membership benefits for the entire year! Some of the perks include discounts to animal feedings, special events, and reciprocal admission to other zoos around the country. There is even a special opening for members only on the first Wednesday of the month where members can stroll leisurely without the crowds and have their own Giraffe feeding experience.

Marvelous Membership Gifts for the Nature Lover

Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia

Make it your mission to provide this worthwhile gift to the plant lover or budding botanist in your family. The palettes and displays at Morris Arboretum change throughout the year, so the recipient of this annual gift will witness the development of plant life winter, spring, summer, and fall. The levels of membership start at General Membership and build to Premier Membership levels where the perks become grander. No matter what membership level you choose to “gift,” all benefits include admission to the gardens for a year, discounts at local garden centers, educational classes and field trips, and reciprocal admission to more than 300 gardens and arboreta.  

Tyler Aboretum, Media

‘Tis the season to make this seasonal treasure nestled in Delaware County a gift for someone who enjoys and respects the combination of nature, education, and land preservation. So give the gift of a year-long membership to Tyler Arboretum where the recipient can escape to the 650-acres of natural lands dating back to the era of William Penn. It is a peaceful place where members will not only enjoy admission to this arboretum but over 300 additional gardens as well. Additionally, guest passes and discounts to the Tyler Gift Shop are included with membership. 

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square

The benefits of being a member at Longwood Gardens is limitless, or so it seems, so do not give it another thought but go ahead and gift this perennial favorite! Who knows? Maybe the recipient will include you on a visit with their complimentary guest passes! There are five levels of membership, all of which include year-round membership, 2 guest passes, free reservations for select events, discounts to various area attractions and businesses, discounts within the gardens themselves, and Membership Appreciation Days, to name a few. The list of benefits continues as does the splendor of the many seasons enjoyed from a Longwood Gardens membership. 

Keep in mind, membership has its perks. Purchasing a membership gift to a museum, zoo, or arboretum often comes with the bonus feature of providing behind the scenes education and advancement as well as conservation efforts worldwide. 

So, be generous this holiday season. Stuff a stocking or tuck a membership gift to your favorite zoo, museum or arboretum under the tree. It is truly a gift anyone on your list will enjoy for the entire year. See our article on the best subscription box gifts for kids, too! 

Photo used with permission courtesy of the Penn Museum