How can I find more free events?

Published 8:35 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009

A reader sent this note on last week’s article “Thanks for the tip on how I can get my family free admission to the Huntington Museum of Art. How do you find these things? Better yet how can I find them?”

A lot of experience and research time is what I rely on. Over the years I’ve discovered that many public funded not for profit organizations will waive their admission/entrance fees on a specific day. This is generally for the normal collections and any special displays and/or events have a separate fee.

For starters I browse the venue’s website for admission information and if it’s not listed I’ll either send an email or make a phone call. I also like to visit the tourism website for the city/region I’ll be visiting. They often have preplanned itinerary and sightseeing suggestions; I’ll select the attractions from these then narrow in my focus.

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Another cost saving idea to check with the place you’re planning on visiting and see if they’re a member of any associations or consortiums. For a fixed fee you can purchase a pass that will admit you to partner locales around the country or the globe.

For example Ashland, Kentucky’s Highlands Discovery Center ( has partnered with the Association of Science-Technology Centers ( and offers an ASTC Travel Passport program. Currently a Highlands family membership costs $58.00 a year and includes the ASTC benefits.

This passport program allows members to visit local museums/science centers like Cincinnati’s Museums Center of Natural History and Science and COSI both in Columbus and Toledo Ohio.

Another great family savings program is the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. This has an annual cost of $80 for a family or $10.00 for a person over 62. This pass entitles the holder plus up to 3 adults (one car) to enter any area without paying the fee. Children 16 and under traveling with the pass holder are admitted free of charge. The passes may be purchased at the park on-line at or toll free at 1-888-ASK USGS, Ext. 1.

On a more local note the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) offers annual family passes for $55.00. This pass offers plenty of benefits to holders like free admission and parking at OHS sites, discounts in the gift shops plus the dues are tax deductible.

The standard pass is valid for two adults plus all other family members under 18. Here’s their lengthy Web address or just call 800-686-6124.

I’ve purchased both the NPS and OHS passes and believe that I received a great value. You have to visit their sites but if your travel plans take you into their regions I recommend these programs.

I am sorry to say that my knowledge about comparable programs in the great states of Kentucky and West Virginia is incomplete. One of my early missions in 2009 is to conduct research and fill in these gaps.

E-mail your travel questions and concerns to

Best wishes for a happy healthy and prosperous New Year!