July 2, 2019
Are you looking for a way to beat the summer heat—and boredom—all at once as a family? Well, lucky for you, you can. And for free.
For the 10th season, Blue Star Families has teamed up with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Defense to bring you Blue Star Museums.
From Armed Forces Day through Labor Day, active duty military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve, and up to five of their family members receive free admission to thousands of participating museums across the country.
We’re talking children’s museums, nature centers, and zoos—oh my! So to encourage you to mix things up a bit for a morning or afternoon of learning, exploring, and memory-making, here are the need-to-know tips to make the most out of your free museum visits.
Before Your Visit
- Map out a must-visit list of participating museums. We make it easy for you to plan your entire summer’s worth of visits in one day! Click here to enter your zip code and find Blue Star Museums near you.
- Put those events calendars to good use. Once you know where you want to go, head to the museum’s website and thumb through the calendar for special programs and Family Day events. Often, you can find special tours and activities geared for families or films and music events that will complement your visit. Choose to visit the zoo when they feed the animals or have keeper talks, and see what exhibits are available that tie into your kids’ interests.
- Whatever you do, avoid busy days (if you can). If you’re not all about the crowds, we suggest steering clear of weekends. Oh, and those free admission and discount days for the general public. It’ll make your experience that much more enjoyable when you and the kiddos don’t have to wait behind others to catch an up-close-and-personal glimpse of favorite exhibits. If Saturdays or Sundays are the best for your family’s schedule, however, just keep in mind that lines may be long. So be sure to tack on some extra time to your visit.
At the Museum
- Make the welcome desk your first stop. Here, you can pick up a map that outlines the various stops to make, as well as where you can find restrooms, the cafeteria, and gift shop. And don’t hesitate to ask questions! Find out if there are family guides or activity books for the children, and even additional military discounts. You may be able to access savings on an IMAX movie, or café or gift shop purchases.
- Have fun with it – get (inter)active! Keep things fun and light-hearted by capturing moments of your kiddos and playing games the whole family will love. Not sure where to start? Check out this Museum Parent Toolkit for a handful of ideas, which are organized by your child’s grade level.
After Your Visit
- Reflect on your visit as a family. The fun doesn’t have to stop as soon as you leave the museum’s doors. Instead, keep the conversation going! At lunch or dinner, encourage everyone in the family to share their favorite attraction or exhibit and something they learned. Want a few printable post-visit activities to complete together? Click here.
- Share the experience with fellow Blue Star Families members on social media. Post a photo or two online or tweet using the #BlueStarMuseums hashtag so we, along with friends and family, can hear all about your experience!
- Complete a space on your Blue Star Families Summer Bingo card! It’s easy and fun. The best part is, to complete five squares in a row, all you need to do is visit parks and museums, read, and be a good neighbor…or some combination of all three to shout B-I-N-G-O before time’s up on September 2, 2019. Rally the troops—your spouse, milkids, neighbors, download our free printable Bingo board (found here), and get ready to play to win a $25 American Express gift card. Good luck!
Join Blue Star Families (Membership is Free, Too!)
Splashing around throughout the season is fun. But, let’s be honest. There comes a time when we just need to get out of the blistering sun and into air-conditioned entertainment (like museums)—especially when the heat is on. So if you’re looking to stay in the loop on various Blue Star Families programs such as this one, we invite you to join our family today!