When E was a toddler, I learned about the joys of museum membership. He was gifted a family membership to the most local children's museum (still over an hour away). During that membership year, we visited at least half a dozen times, plus we took advantage of the reciprocal benefits offered with other children's museums - we visited Knoxville, Anchorage, and Charleston at discounted (and sometimes completely free!) pricing.
That membership definitely paid for itself, but when it ran out, I started looking at other options. As a budding scientist, E was in need of a museum fit for a paleontologist, naturalist, zoologist, and conservationist. Thankfully we needn't look further than the Virginia Museum of Natural History, a short twenty minute drive from our house. It's a small museum, but it's perfect for trips that don't take all day, and we've visited countless times already this year. The reciprocal benefits are excellent; they run through the Passport program of ASTC. We've gotten free admission to three other centers, and discounts at two others.
Our very affordable annual membership to Virginia Museum of Natural History has given us the opportunity to explore other science centers in the area, which means we've had family fun days at a fraction of the cost. What's better, Grandma can take the kids when she is in town using our family membership, and we've been able to take a few friends along for free with our complimentary guest passes.