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Another day another fun way to create wonderful memories with your children.  This weekend's mission was to make time for the family even though there were several other comments in place that made this challenging.  In addition to my daughter's ballet class and Nutcracker rehearsals, she also had a Girl Scout event to go horseback riding.  Needless to say, fitting in a little family time this weekend was destine to be tricky; however, if there is a will there is a way.Saturday morning, we woke up to discover our refrigerator had conked out on us.  Not the best way to start a day, but we made do with a trip to pick up breakfast on our way to the studio.  Although it wasn't the most fun time, the family stopped by a local store to explore refrigerators together.  Yes, it was a boring task, but it's good to involve the kids in the decision so they feel a part of something, right? Well maybe it wasn't anyone's idea of a good time, but it was a task that needed to be done.

Sunday morning was much better.  One of the ways our family has found to save money on entertainment is to purchase memberships to local attractions.  Our recent renewal of our zoo membership opened the door to a great opportunity for family time this weekend.  Our wonderful zoo was holding a Fall Festival and I decided before our Girl Scout horseback riding excursion it was important for the family to spend some time together. So after packing a few non-perishable food for lunch and getting everyone ready, off to the zoo we went. We decided to take two vehicles so we could part ways when needed and my husband could take our son out for driving lessons afterwards. 

Our first stop was a new exhibit I had promised my daughter and husband we'd stop at the next time we went to the zoo - Stingray Bay.  Our local zoo is amazing and has created a new exhibit with a touch pool where guests may pet stingrays.  We had the best time as these marine creatures swam up to us, splashing occasionally, and allowing our fingers to gently brushed against them.  There were squeals and lots of laughter as we all engaged in this activity.  My husband is a huge fan of stingrays and he was thrilled to be able to pet them.  My daughter was a little nervous about them, but she had a great time anyway.  Even my teenage son had a great time. 

Throughout the zoo there were demonstrations of creative pumpkin carvings and various arts.  My daughter enjoyed watching the iron making demo and she was fascinated the lady making glass beads.  We were even able to take part in some activity like painting pumpkins and making soy candles. In addition to some of the demonstrations and activities, we of course enjoyed viewing several animals too. 

Not only did our family have a lot of fun together, we also utilized our local resources to save money.  By purchasing a membership to the zoo, we have 365 days a year we can visit the zoo without a charge.  Admission and parking are free and we if we decide to travel out of state we can receive discounts to other zoos.  Out of curiosity, I decided to determine how much a trip for a family of four would cost a family.  I calculated it at our admission rates $14.99 (12 and over) for 3 of us and $9.99 (child) for my daughter, plus parking at $7.  A total trip without food (remember to pack a lunch for everyone and save money) would cost $61.96.  Our membership cost $94 (we saved $5 by renewing online).  In less than two visits, this membership has already paid for itself.  I took my daughter to the zoo for a Mommy & Me and that alone would have been $31.98. 

There are many special events throughout the year that are fun for the entire family, so be sure to check out your local area attractions to see how you can maximize your dollar while still building memories with your family.  Usually for a family of four, you can add about the cost of a single-day admission to a local attraction and get a membership for an entire year.  If you love visiting the zoo or science museums with your family, a membership will usually save you a lot of money in long run although the initial cost is more.  Plus having a membership typically gives you additional benefits and special member events.  So if you want to make lasting memories for your family, consider saving a few extra dollars and splurge on the membership. 


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