Many local museums have “free admission days” courtesy of their corporate sponsors or for members of certain banks. You might have figured out that I’m a bit of a Frugal Fannie, so I always put these days on my calendar.
However, they never seemed to work out with our schedule and the kids’ activities. What if you could pick the day to take your whole family to a local museum for free? I’m not kidding!
Did you know that you can check out museum passes to local museums from your library just like you can check out a book? I had no idea they did this until we joined the library in our new town in 2016.
I guess I should have been paying better attention because getting Library Museum passes for free entry is right up my alley! PS – If you’re local to the NYC region and are looking for more no-cost activities, check out Bev & Shams Adventure’s Free Things to Do in NYC guide.
While the passes that each town library offers are different, there are a lot of common places in the museum pass program. For a nearly complete listing of NJ Libraries and their passes, check out this article. Here’s a sampling of the participating museums that our library and other Bergen/Passaic County libraries offer free entry to their members.
- Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey
- Boscobel House & Gardens
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Children’s Museum of Manhattan
- The Frick Collection
- Guggenheim Museum
- Grounds for Sculpture
- Imagine That!
- Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum
- Montclair Art Museum
- Morris Museum
- Museum of Modern Art
- Museum of the City of New York
- New York Historical Society
- New York Transit Museum
- Newark Museum
- The Paley Center for Media
- Storm King Art Center
- Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park
- Yogi Berra Museum
How to Find Library Museum Passes from Your Public Library
To find the list of library museum passes that your town offers, go to your own Library’s website and look for the link for “Museum Passes.” Our Library puts it under the “Card Benefits” section, so look for something similar.
If you’re having trouble finding it, go to Google.com and search “The Name of Your Library Museum Passes.” That should pull up a direct link for ya! If you still can’t find it, I’m sure your local library staff can tell you about their museum pass program. My local library has both an in-person pass registration and an online option to reserve these passes.
Reserving a library museum pass is very easy, and you can do it five weeks in advance! If you are already a member of your library and have a website log-in for your library card number, you’re golden! From your library’s Museum Pass page, you will likely be directed to MuseumKey.com to see pass availability and reserve museum pass for your chosen day. I’ve even done it on my phone!
♥Planner’s Tip♥ If you know you want to go on a certain day (special occasion, kids off of school), put a calendar reminder on your phone for exactly five weeks to the day. That way, a robot can remember and remind you first thing in the morning! #Delegate
There are so many different ways to use these library museum passes! Have family visiting from out of town? Look for passes that cover 6 people. Looking to plan a special outing for a birthday, Mother’s Day, date night, etc.? Or maybe you’re trying to fill Spring or Summer Break without breaking the bank? This is an economical way to explore somewhere new in the Tri-State Area.
We’ve been to the following places from the list, and I absolutely recommend them!
INTREPID AIR, SEA, AND SPACE MUSEUM (Manhattan, NY)
This is one of the places where the library museum pass really provides A LOT of value as this pass includes tickets for 6 people. Boy, I had no idea that visiting “The Big Boat” was so expensive. Kids tickets are $24, and adult tickets are $33. We took my father-in-law, a former pilot, with us too, so the library museum passes were worth $147. We packed lunch and ate in the cafeteria, so our only big cost to visit was parking ( I love the ParkingSpot app for NYC!)
I really have no idea about boats and airplanes, and my kids aren’t necessarily into them, but they had a blast! The Intrepid is a decommissioned aircraft carrier from WWII that is now the base for this combo air, sea, and space museum literally in the Hudson River. It used to be the floating home for 50,000 sailors, so you can imagine the size of it!
A visit to the West Side of Manhattan just scratches the surface of things to do in NYC. Plan on spending the whole day here exploring what WWII life was like on the boat, learn about some very famous airplanes (The Concord and the A-12 spy plane), and checking out the Space Shuttle Pavilion featuring The Enterprise. Or my personal reason to come – – it gives you an excuse to sing “I’m On A Boat” most of the day.
IMAGINE THAT! (Florham Park, NJ)
My kids LOVE this place! IMAGINE THAT! is a play place focused on pretend and imagination and best for the preschool and under 8 set. This place is smaller than the bigger museums and is very manageable for one adult to go with multiple kids. It’s the size of 5 Starbucks—to give you an idea. They recently renovated it to make it one big open space with different areas, making it easy to keep your eye on kids in multiple play areas.
My kids work their way through every section of the place – grocery store, nursery, pet vet, fire truck, train table, dress up/dance studio, pirate ship, castle, indoor playground! It’s an enjoyable day. Even though it is kind of far from our house, we go a lot, so I ended up buying a book of passes, and they have a coupon in the KidStuff fundraising book. However, you can also go for free if you can check the museum pass out from the Clifton Library. ( Go ahead, check your phone for Clifton friends and family, I’ll still be here)
STORM KING ART CENTER (New Windsor, NY)
Kids at an art center? I said it! It’s not your typical art museum, that’s for sure. Storm King Art Center is a 500-acre outdoor museum featuring oversized sculptures where my kids can be super loud, run like wild animals, and not break anything!
I’ve seen couples having a romantic picnic here as well as larger groups gathering. It’s a gorgeous place with multiple picnic areas, and they do have a lovely cafe that serves sandwiches…. and adult drinks:) I like to describe this place as Art in Nature with Beautiful Hudson Valley Views. You really can’t go wrong here!
They have some paths for strollers, but my three-year-old could walk /hike most of the day, so we kept the stroller parked. We did give her a couple of piggyback rides, and they have a shuttle to different areas of the park for those who need a lift.
We went for an entire day to celebrate Father’s Day and didn’t even scratch the surface of what you can do there. We plan on going back in the fall to take in the Fall Foliage – with our library museum passes, of course! COVID NOTE: Even with these public library free entry passes they have a limited number of spots a day. Call or email to reserve a time slot for your family!
Have I piqued your interest? Check out what passes your library offers and make a shortlist of places you’d like to go!
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Monica Fish helps her fellow adventurers live a financially savvy life so they can travel and explore our beautiful world no matter their budget. She writes about smart timeshare ownership, vacation tips and tricks, NYC Metro Area trips and activities, and frugal, yet rich, living at PlannerAtHeart.com.