Memberships are the gifts that literally keep on giving – for at least one whole year! 😉 These family memberships to these amazing Columbus institutions have been life savers for my family!
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Giving the gift of “experience” has become popular over the past decade or so. Kids pile up toys until you can’t see a clean spot on the bedroom floor! (Or is that just my house?)
Giving your family or a family you love the gift of one of these Columbus Memberships is one of the best ways to give a gift of experience because they can be used up to 365 times throughout the entire year – and they don’t take up any space on the floor!
I’ll be honest though, in the moment, my kids wouldn’t be too thrilled to receive a plastic card with a bow on top! Over time, they would understand the gift of membership, for sure, but I’ve also included a small gift idea that would go with the theme of each membership in case you want a little something for the kid in your life to open on the spot!
5 Columbus Membership Gifts that give the gift of experience all year round:
A membership to Ohio History Connection is one of the most affordable memberships in Ohio! If you live in Columbus or Central Ohio, you’ll have year round access to Ohio History Center and Ohio Village and their many events, but you also get access to over 50 historical sites all around the state of Ohio!
There are lots of activities for kids inside the museum including a play area, mounted animals, a 1950’s house to explore, 2 cabin areas where kids can play with historical tools and household items. During the summer, Ohio Village is a fun place to explore with your family. The village is based in the late 1800’s and you can visit shops and businesses to meet the residents and learn about their way of life.
Cost for membership: Household memberships are just $65 and apply to 2 adults and all children 18 and under. For an additional $20 you can upgrade to the Plus membership and you can bring 2 additional guests any time you visit!
If your kids are 3 and under, consider getting an Individual membership for $45. Kids 3 and under are free and with the Individual membership, you can bring an additional guest at any time.
Discounts available: Discounts are available for adults over 60, active educators, active duty military or local history organization, Ohio Farm Bureau members, and to households who relieve WIC or have an Ohio Direction Card.
Perks: Throughout the year, several fun events are held at Ohio Village (an outdoor historical village included with your admission to Ohio History Center) such as Storybook Village, All Hallow’s Eve, vintage base ball games and more! Discounts are also available to members in the gift shop!
Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: Columbus and the State of Ohio: Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know – learn all the cool facts about Ohio, including about Ohio Village Muffins base ball!
A year or so ago, I would have recommended this membership with a little bit of reservation. Franklin Park Conservatory is amazing, no doubt, but when it comes to kids, there was just a small part of the museum where they could really be hands on. My kids loved all parts of the museum, especially the butterflies, so we’ve always had a membership.
HOWEVER, with the opening of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden, a membership to Franklin Park Conservatory is a MUST HAVE for Central Ohio families!
The Conservatory offers activities for families on most weekends, special holiday events, special exhibits and the ever popular annual Blooms and Butterflies exhibit where you can walk amongst hundreds of butterflies! The Children’s Garden, opened in 2018, is an amazing outdoor garden with several different themed areas for kids to explore. The garden is open year round and there are special story times and events throughout the year. It’s an entire exhibit in itself!
Cost for membership: The Family membership is $135 and includes two adults and all children 18 and under. Add an additional $50 to be able to bring 2 additional guests each visit.
Discounts available: a 10% discount off of memberships is given to full time educators and active or retired military personnel. An Access Family Membership is available at a significant discount ($35) for families in eligible programs such as CareSource, Ohio Directions Card, Medicaid, or WIC.
Perks: Members get a 10% discount in the cafe and gift shop! Your membership card will get you free admission to over 300 gardens throughout North America and the Cayman Islands!
Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: Butterfly Garden – kids can watch their own caterpillars become butterflies just like at Franklin Park Conservatory!
COSI is a must have membership for Columbus families! COSI has something for every age and even adults are sure to have fun! Even if you have littler kids (5 and under), a membership to COSI just to play in little kidspace once a week beats the cost of any other indoor play area in town!
Toddlers and babies will start out in little kidspace, a huge play area that includes an art studio, water tables, ride on vehicles, slides and climbing and so many opportunities for imaginative play! As they grow, they will progress to the other areas of the museum including tinkering with robots, exploring the ocean, learning about their bodies and visiting the permanent dinosaur exhibit!
Cost for membership: Family memberships at COSI range from $139 – $359/year depending on how much you would like to add on! The Basic Family membership is $179 and is a great starter membership! If you’d like to regularly attend Planetarium shows or bring an add on guest, consider upgrading to the Premium Family membership! Purchase a Gift Membership here!
Discounts available: A $10 discount on memberships is given for active, reserve and retired military. There is also a discounted membership for Teacher Families and Single Adult Families. The Family Access membership is available for $49 for families participating in WIC, Ohio Directions Card or Ohio Medicaid.
Perks: Members get access to special events, early entrance to new exhibits and discounts in the gift shop and cafe! Members also get discounted parking and free or discounted admission to over 350 participating science centers.
Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: My First Mind Blowing Science Kit – get kids interested in science through hands on experiments! A perfect way to continue the learning at home!
- Related Reading: Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Columbus Ohio
LEGO lovers will be in heaven at the newest Columbus attraction! Housed in Easton Station at Easton Town Center, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus offers 10+ LEGO building areas, 2 rides, a 4D movie theater and a cafe! If your kids love playing with LEGO bricks, you will get tons of use out of this membership!
An Annual Pass to LEGOLAND Columbus is one of the pricier memberships listed here, but if you live in town and think you will visit more than 3 times, it’s well worth it! An Annual Pass also gets you a discount in the huge LEGO store connected to the attraction, which will also be worth it if you’re buying any LEGO sets for your kids as gifts throughout the year!
Cost for membership: The cost of an Annual Pass is $74.99 per person. Keep in mind kids 2 and under are free and you must be accompanied by a child to visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus.
Discounts available: no additional discounts are available at this time on Annual Passes but occasionally coupons can be found around town from various businesses!
Perks: LEGOLAND is open 365 days a year (hours have changed in 2020)! Members get express entry, 20% off food and drinks in the Coffee Shop & Cafe and 10% off select items in the LEGO Store attached to the attraction.
Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: Pick out a LEGO set to accompany these passes, maybe something holiday themed like LEGO Duple Town Santa’s Winter Holiday
- Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus
A membership to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is another must-have for Columbus kids! For one thing, having a membership to the Columbus Zoo takes away the pressure to see it all in one trip! The Zoo is so big, seeing it in one day can be literally exhausting. But if you have a membership, you can visit areas at your leisure, truly enjoying them with no pressure to “get your money’s worth”.
Another major bonus is that members get to park for free! Parking is $10 a pop, so this is no small savings as you visit throughout the year! The Zoo has some great programs for kids like Zoo Camps and Little Explorers Base Camp and great seasonal events like Boo at the Zoo and Wildlights that are included in your membership.
Cost for membership: Family Memberships begin at $134 (if you’re buying online) and continue up to $154.99/person if you’d like to include membership to Zoombezi Bay! The Family Plus membership is available for $164.00 (online) which allows you to bring two guests when you visit. Prices increase if you are not a Franklin County resident.
Discounts available: Discounts are given to Franklin County residents on admission and memberships!
Perks: Membership includes FREE parking (a $10 value each time you visit), Members Only events, a discount at the Zoo Gift Shop, priority registration for programs and free or reduced admission to more than 100 AZA accredited zoos.
Fun gift idea to accompany the membership: 54 Piece Jungle Animals Set – get psyched about visiting the Heart of Africa at Columbus Zoo by playing with giraffes and lions ahead of time!
- Related Reading: 10 of Our Favorite Columbus Christmas Traditions
A Note About The Columbus Member Advantage:
Please note that beginning January 1, 2019 the Columbus Member Advantage program has changed! You can now save $3 on general admission (up to 4 tickets) to select Columbus museums and attractions through the Columbus Member Advantage program. No coupon is necessary. Simply show your valid membership card each time you visit! Columbus Member Advantage partners for 2020 include:
- Columbus Museum of Art
- Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
- Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
- LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Columbus
- National Veterans Memorial and Museum
- Ohio History Center & Ohio Village
Important Terms & Restrictions: Discount good for $3 off per person on general admission only. Limit four (4) discounts per visit. Tickets must be purchased from the admissions area of the facility you are visiting. Cannot be combined with other discounts or offers. Not valid on prior purchases. No rain checks or refunds. Some restrictions may apply. Offer expires December 31, 2020 unless otherwise noted.
- Need more membership ideas? Read: You Need these 7 Columbus Memberships to Survive Winter
- Looking for more gift ideas? Try: Tried and True Gift Ideas for Young Boys
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