Staring another long, cold, Chicago winter in the wind-chapped face, Travelin' Mom and I bought a family membership to a surefire freezing rain-y day place: the great Notebaert Nature Museum. I've sung this museum's kid-friendly virtues before, so I won't repeat myself (although, I will say TJ had another great time there this weekend).
Instead, I want to mention the reciprocal admission program the museum offers as a member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers Incorporated (boring name, great perk). When you purchase a membership to any ASTC museum, you not only get free admission to that museum, but you also get free admission to approximately 250 other museums around the U.S. And, while science and technology museum-hopping may not sound like a kid-friendly activity, just check out the list. It's loaded with children's museums and other types of hands-on activity centers that you'll inevitably struggle to drag your kids out of.
So, if you're on the fence about purchasing membership to one of your local museums (FYI, memberships are usually not very expensive-- ours will basically pay for itself after three visits), this may make your decision easier. Or, if you're already a member of an ASTC museum, be sure to print out a list of participating ASTC members before your next trip. And, to bookend the credit-card company quote in the title, don't leave home without it.