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Need a Last Minute Gift? Top 5 Local Memberships to Give for the Holidays


By Jennifer So, Publisher, Macaroni Kid Birmingham-Troy

Are you looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Give the gift of a membership to a child or family, and your gift will continue giving the whole year long. Rather than trying to fit another toy into the play room or standing outside the toy store at 4 a.m. for a Fingerlings toy, invest in an annual membership to create family experiences, along with bringing culture and learning to little ones.

For most local museums and activity centers with annual memberships, you can recoup the cost of the whole year if you bring your family there 2-3 times. The cost per visit goes down even more if you use these benefits more often, and there are usually member-exclusive events or discounts on top of the daily entry. These are the Top 5 memberships in the Metro-Detroit area, based on features, benefits, cost, and proximity to Birmingham, Troy, and Clawson.

#1- The Detroit Zoo- Royal Oak- https://detroitzoo.org/support/membership/

Recommended for all ages

Why We Love It- Great for strolling no matter what the season, The Detroit Zoo membership is a “must-have” for local families. With the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, the carousel, playground, giraffe feeding, train ride, theatres, and simulation rides, this is definitely #1. There are various membership levels for individuals and families, and they even include parking. The Detroit Zoo offers family-friendly events year-round, some exclusive to members, and some offered at a discount.

Why it’s #1- value, near Birmingham, Troy, and Clawson, great family events

#2- The Henry Ford & Greenfield Village- Dearborn- https://www.thehenryford.org/membership/levels-and-benefits/

Recommended for ages- All Ages

Why We Love It- This membership includes 4 awesome attractions: Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, and Giant Screen Experience. For little ones, Greenfield Village is our first choice. Greenfield Village is a vast outdoor museum spread across more than 80 acres, a place where America's past feels like right now. It has 83 authentic historic structures, from the lab where Thomas Edison gave the world light to the workshop where the Wright Brothers gave us wings and the building where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. Visit the home where Noah Webster wrote the first American dictionary and the farmhouse where Henry Ford grew up. They have all different membership levels, but with little ones, we recommend adding the ride pass to an annual membership.

Why it’s #2- great family events and attractions, relatively far from Birmingham, Troy, and Clawson, but worth it if you will go at least 3 times in the year

#3- Michigan Science Center- Detroit- http://www.mi-sci.org/join-and-give/membership/#purchase?utm_source=google_search&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=scoop

Recommended for ages- 3+ (some activities for ages 2-5)

Why We Love It- Michigan Science Center membership is a great way to make science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) accessible and fun for your family while supporting STEM education in our community. Membership typically pays for itself in just a few visits and provides you with free general admission for a year, discounted or complimentary tickets to theaters, free access to other science centers around the world, invitations to exclusive events, discounts and more!

Why it’s #3- great for STEM, moderately near Birmingham, Troy, Clawson

#4- LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan and Sea Life Aquarium Combo Pack

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan- Auburn Hills- https://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/michigan/tickets-and-offers/annual-passes.aspx

Recommended for ages- 3-10

Why we Love It- LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Michigan is the ULTIMATE Indoor LEGO® Playground. They have 2 LEGO® rides, 4D cinema, large children’s play area, Creative Workshop, and MINILAND – see dozens of Metro Detroit's iconic landmarks made from LEGO bricks

Sea Life Aquarium- Auburn Hills- https://www2.visitsealife.com/michigan/tickets/annual-passes/

Recommended for ages- 3+

Why We Love It- Sea Life Aquarium has wonderful exhibits and 10 interactive zones to explore. These include a Freshwater Exhibit, Harbor Exhibit, Touchpool Exhibit, Shoaling Exhibit, Claws Exhibit, Stingray Bay, Shipwreck, Tropical Ocean, Jellies, Coral Reef, and Conservation Cove. Your children (and you) are sure to be filled with wonder and awe walking through and seeing all the beauty.

Why it’s #4- Great hands-on and fun experiences for children, nearby Birmingham, Troy, and Clawson, more expensive than the other memberships

#5- Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum- Ann Arbor- https://www.aahom.org/join/purchase-membership

Recommended for ages- 2+

Why We Love It- The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is great for all ages, and the exhibits are interactive. Our favorites for little ones are the water tables, the county store, and the light and optics exhibits. They are sure to have fun exploring, and you won’t have to worry about little hands playing with everything. Touching is encouraged!

Why it’s #5- This is truly one of our favorites because of the learning and interactive nature, but the distance from Birmingham, Troy, and Clawson brings this one down in the ranking.

Other Memberships-

Oakland County

Cranbrook Institute of Science- Bloomfield Hills- https://science.cranbrook.edu/support/membership

Recommended for ages- 3+

Holocaust Memorial Center- Farmington Hills- https://www.holocaustcenter.org/membership

Recommended for ages- 12+

Troy Historic Village- Troy- http://www.troyhistoricvillage.org/get-involved/become-a-villager/

Recommended for ages- 5+

Troy Nature Center- Troy- http://troynaturesociety.org/get-involved/membership/

Recommended for ages- 2+

Wayne County

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House- Grosse Pointe Shores- https://www.fordhouse.org/members

Recommended for ages- 6+

FREE Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)- Detroit- http://www.dia.org/support/membership.aspx

Recommended for ages- 6+

Motown Museum- Detroit- https://c3smotown.wpengine.com/become-a-member/

Recommended for ages- 6+

FREE Detroit Historical Museum- Detroit- http://detroithistorical.org/membership/membership-levels

Recommended for ages- 6+

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History- Detroit- https://thewright.org/index.php/support/membership

Recommended for ages- 6+


What a great bunch of last-minute gift ideas for family and friends!

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