Culture on a Budget

August 20, 2015

Recently, the local and national news has covered the shock of the Wild Animal Sanctuary raising their prices for admission from $15 to a whopping $50 per person. This angered Colorado residents who liked to visit the sanctuary in Keenesburg with their kids. What many people don’t know is when people donate $200 or more a year, they have free access year-round and they’re welcome to bring friends and family. To me, this is equivalent to a year membership. It may be a bit more costly than a zoo, but the money goes to an amazing facility that does a lot of thankless work. Having access to the sanctuary can bring a lot of guests who will leave educated about the cause and potentially bring in more donors.

I have a family of five. A single visit for us would be $250 at the individual rate. Clearly, it’s worth it for us to donate and get access whenever we want. It made me start thinking about what other places are worthwhile with our family size and our potential guests around Colorado. Plus, who do I want to give my money?

*Most of the places below offer a student or senior discount. These weren’t factored in for this post but you can find the information about admission on the individual sites. I’m also calculating this with my own children who are ages 7-11.

Zoological Adventurers
Denver Zoo (Denver)
Membership: $130 Family membership/$160 Family Plus (Family plus one addition guest at every visit)

Individual Admission: $17 adults/$12 kids

Family of five total for one visit: $70 (a Family membership is paid off in two visits, Family Plus is paid off in three)

Extra details: The Denver Zoo has a new giraffe exhibit where you can feed the giraffes and get close as well as a reptile house/aquarium. They also have the usual added perks of discounts on food and retail items. I’ve enjoyed the year-round access having gone there on warm winter days when the zoo was practically empty. With a membership you can also get a nanny pass for when someone else is watching your kids.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Colorado Springs)
Membership: $147.50 Family membership/$190.50 Family Plus (family plus one addition guest at every visit)

Individual Admission: $14.25-17.25 adults/$10.25-12.25 kids

Family of five total for one visit: $71.25 (a Family membership is paid off in almost two visits, Family Plus is paid off in three)

Extra details: I grew up in Colorado Springs and this is a completely different zoo than what I grew up with. It is lovely and expansive. It’s not a part of Colorado that you are able to see driving down the road so taking a trip there is a must. Not only do you get discounts inside the zoo with their membership, you get free or discounted admission to events, and discounts on camps, classes, and parties.

Butterfly Pavilions (Westminster)
Membership: $75 Family membership

Individual Admission: $11 adults/$6 kids

Family of five total for one visit: $40 (a Family membership is paid off in two visits)

Extra details: The Butterfly Pavilions offers a slew of discounts in their memberships. Not only do you get a discount in the gift shop, you also get it on camps, classes, events, and parties. You can gain access before the general public and some special members-only events are featured.

Extra option: Butterfly Pavilions and Children’s Museum of Denver have partnered to offer a dual membership for both venues. $142 will get you admission to both places for two adults and up to six children. For a family of five, it would be $90 to visit both places so you would have the membership paid off in two visits to each place.

 

For The Budding Botanist
Denver Botanical Gardens (Denver/Littleton)
Membership: $90 Friends and Family membership (6 people-adults or kids)/$175 Gardens Plus (8 people-adults or kids)

Individual Admission: $12.50 adults/$9 kids

Family of five total for one visit: $52 (a Friends and Family membership is paid off in two visits, Gardens Plus is paid off in four-if you only take the family)

Extra details: If you get the bigger package, the Gardens Plus, you also get a free Caregiver pass (for a nanny or grandparent that might be watching the kiddos when you aren’t there) and with both memberships you gain early access to tickets for the Summer Concert Series and summer camps, plus discounts on other events. An added bonus: you also have access to the Chatfield Botanical Gardens in Littleton.

 

Art Aficionados
Denver Art Museum (DAM) (Denver)
Membership: $85 Family membership/$150 Sustaining membership (up to six adults at every visit)

Individual Admission: $10 adults/kids 18 and under are free

Family of five total for one visit: $20 (a family membership is paid off in five visits)

Extra details: Clearly, if you get a membership to the DAM, you want to bring your adult friends along to make it worth it. Considering you get discounts galore and free (or super cheap) tickets to ticketed events, it may be worth it. An added bonus to the Sustaining membership is access to 70 more art museums nationwide.

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (FAC) (Colorado Springs)
Membership: $90 Family membership/$150 Contributing membership (family plus one addition guest at every visit)

Individual Admission: $20-27 adults/kids 12 and under are free

Family of five total for one visit: $40-54 (a Family membership is paid off in two visits, Contributing is paid off in three-ish)

Extra details: The FAC has so much to offer! It’s a theater, art museum, and art school all in one. A membership gives you discounts and some free access to the above. If you get the Contributing membership you will also receive free access to 15 other museums including the DAM.

The Art Center (Grand Junction)
Membership: $50 Family membership

Individual Admission: $3 adults/kids 12 and under are free

Family of five total for one visit: $6

Extra details: This facility has a lot to offer. There are classes for adults and kids alike and the discounts are plentiful with a membership. If you’re a local it’s a great opportunity to take in the culture on a budget.

 

History Buffs
Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) (Denver)
Membership: $90 Family membership/$135 Family Plus membership (up to seven visitors at every visit)

Individual Admission: $14.95 adults/$9.95 kids

Family of five total for one visit: $59.75 (a Family membership is more than paid off in two visits, Family Plus is paid off in two-ish)

Extra details: Considering a Family Plus membership covers seven visitors (kids OR adults), you may pay off the membership in one visit depending on the size of your group. This membership offers early or special access to events as well as discounts on classes, workshops, lectures, field trips, day camps, and more.

History Colorado Center (Denver)
Membership: $80 Family membership/$150 Explorer membership (family plus two addition guests at every visit)

Individual Admission: $12 adults/$8 kids

Family of five total for one visit: $48 (a Family membership is paid off in two visits, Explorer is paid off in three-ish)

Extra details: The Explorer is a great way to get together not only with your kids but your friends. Since you can have four adults anytime, make a date of checking out the regular exhibits as well as the travelling ones that are included in admission. It’s a unique way to not only check out Colorado history but also more unique things like the current Toys exhibit.