Museum, Zoo, and Other Memberships for Families in the West Suburbs

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Resources for Families

Chicagoland is full of incredible destinations for kid-friendly fun, and a membership can help you make the most of it! In fact, this is one of our favorite experience gift ideas to ask for from relatives. A membership helps lessen the cost of individual visits and makes it more likely you’ll stop in for a shorter morning or afternoon of fun. (After all, little kids are unpredictable, and it’s no fun to invest a bunch of money on tickets somewhere cool only to have to leave because of a temper tantrum.) Additionally, memberships help support these important institutions and their missions. Check out all the options!

Prices were checked in spring 2022 and are subject to change. Many spots also offer senior, military, educator, and other discounts that may not be listed here, so check before you buy.

Museum and Zoo Memberships in Chicago’s West Suburbs

Zoo Memberships

Brookfield Zoo Memberships

Brookfield Zoo
8400 31st Street 
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000

Brookfield Zoo is one of the most popular family attractions in Chicagoland for a good reason. For many families, a membership here is a rite of passage!

Basic family memberships start at $130/year and include free adult admission for two, free admission for the adult’s children or grandchildren under 18 years old, and four one-time use guest tickets. See their membership page for more information, including upgraded memberships that include free admission to the Hamill Family Play Zoo (very worth it for families with young kids) and other attractions.

Cosley Zoo Memberships

Cosley Zoo
1356 N Gary Avenue
Wheaton, IL 60187

Cosley Zoo is one of our favorites, especially for younger children! This smaller zoo is focused on native Illinois wildlife and farm animals. It’s very walkable and stroller-friendly.

Family membership options start at $59/year for two named adults in the same household and all of their kids and grandkids under 18. One awesome bonus? Membership perks include free reciprocal membership or discounts at 180+ zoos and aquariums all around North America! This is a great perk while traveling.

Cosley Zoo is free for kids 17 and under, as well as Wheaton residents with a park district ID, though you should still reserve your free tickets in advance.

Children’s Museums in the Suburbs

All of the suburban children’s museums below are part of the CLIMB (Chicago Area Local Increased Membership Benefits) Network, which means certain membership options include reciprocal membership to the other museums! (The list also includes the wonderful Discovery Center Museum in Rockford). That makes a children’s museum membership an even better value. Not all membership options at all museums include the CLIMB membership, so be sure to double-check if that’s important to you.

Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn Memberships

Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn
5100 Museum Drive
Oak Lawn, Illinois 60453
(708) 423-6709

Family memberships start at $135 and include admission for two adults and up to three children in the same household, as well as other perks. See all membership options or check out Katie’s review of the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn.

DuPage Children’s Museum Memberships

DuPage Children’s Museum
301 N Washington Street
Naperville, IL 60540
(630) 637-8000

Family memberships start at $165 and include up to four free admissions per visit, among other perks. The DCM also has a unique DCM Child membership option that is a bit less expensive and awesome for families with one kid or who may be visiting the museum with a nanny or grandparent. See all membership options or check out our write-up on the DuPage Children’s Museum with the latest exhibits.

KidsWork Children’s Museum

KidsWork Children’s Museum 
11 S White Street 
Frankfort, IL 60423
(815) 469-1199

Family memberships start at $150 and include admission for up to two adults in the same household, as well as their children, among other perks. See all membership options.

Kohl Children’s Museum

Kohl Children’s Museum
2100 Patriot Boulevard
Glenview, IL 60026
(847) 832-6600

Family memberships start at $165 and include admission for up to four people per visit, among other perks. See all membership options or read about the museum.

Wonder Works Children’s Museum

Wonder Works
6445 West North Ave
Oak Park, IL 60302

Family memberships start at $140 and include daily admission for four people, plus grandparents, among other perks. See all membership options or view upcoming museum events.

Children’s Museums in Chicago

Bronzeville Children’s Museum

Bronzeville Children’s Museum
9301 South Stony Island Avenue
Chicago, Illinois
(773) 721-9301

Family memberships start at $40, with individual and grandparent discounts available. See the website for all the options, or find upcoming events on their Facebook page.

Chicago Children’s Museum

Chicago Children’s Museum
700 East Grand Avenue, Suite 127
Chicago, IL 60611

Family memberships start at $190 and include admission for up to four people per visit, among other perks. See the website for all the options, or check out my review of the Cloud Buster play structure.

Nature Memberships

Morton Arboretum Memberships

Morton Arboretum
4100 Illinois Route 53
Lisle, IL 60532
(630) 968-0074

Memberships for four individuals start at $160; children under two are free, and one- and two-person memberships are also available, all with additional perks. See more membership options, or read more about exhibits and the Children’s Garden at the Morton Arboretum.

Chicago Botanic Garden Memberships

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022

Family memberships start at $149 and include two adults and all minor children in the household, as well as free parking and other perks. See more membership options.

Other Memberships in the Suburbs

Elmhurst Art Museum Membership

Elmhurst Art Museum
150 Cottage Hill Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126
(630) 834-0202

Family memberships start at $75 for family admission, with up to two adults, and include a discount on classes, among other perks. See all membership options.

The Forge: Lemont Quarries Membership

The Forge: Lemont Quarries
1001 Main Street
Lemont, IL 60439

Membership details for the 2022 season have not yet been released, but check the website for more information as updates become available.

Chicago Museum Memberships

Adler Planetarium Memberships

Adler Planetarium
1300 S Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

Family membership starts at $180 and includes admission for two adults and children in the household, among other perks; see all ticket options.

Art Institute Memberships

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 443-3600

Membership starts at $105 and covers up to two adults plus all children in the household, among other perks. See all membership options.

Field Museum Memberships

Field Museum 
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-9410

Family membership starts at $135 and covers two adults and two children, among other perks. See all membership options and our tips for visiting the Field Museum.

Museum of Science and Industry Memberships

Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
5700 S Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414

Family membership starts at $195 and includes two adults, one guest, and kids, as well as free parking and other perks. See all membership options, or see Katie’s review of the new “The Art of the Brick” exhibit.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Memberships

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614

Family membership starts at $60 and includes two adults and the children in their household, among other perks. See all membership options.

Shedd Aquarium Memberships

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-2438

Family membership starts at $195 and includes two adults and children under 18 in their household, among other perks. See all membership options.

Other Ways to Save on Visits to Local Attractions

Museum Adventure Pass

Check out a Museum Adventure Pass from your local library to enjoy discounts at certain museums and zoos in the area. Discounts include free admission or buy one/get one free or 50% off. 

CityPASS

This nine-day pass includes tickets to five Chicago attractions: the Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, and the Field Museum, as well as two others you choose from a list (options include the MSI and The Art Institute). The pass is only valid for nine days, making this option very different from a membership. It’s a good deal if you’re planning on being in the city for a few days and touring most of the hotspots—otherwise, you’re better off going a la carte.

Free Days

Still unsure and want to get a preview before you purchase? Be sure to check out our listing of the 2022 Chicago Area Museum Free Days!

More Membership Options

Another membership idea for families with kids? A gym membership! Many gyms (especially park district and YMCA options) offer family memberships that allow older kids to exercise and play. Gyms with childcare have been an amazing outlet for many parents with young kids, too.

And of course, we can’t forget pool memberships. Our list is brimming with splash-worthy spots to cool off all summer long. It’s really nice to be able to go for a swim anytime you like during the summer!

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • I LOVE this breakdown of memberships!!! Thank you!!!

    Reply
  • I can’t believed the value of reciprocal memberships was not included in the MSI and the Arboretum breakdowns! We travel a lot and have gotten in all over the country for free at botanic gardens/arboretums and museums. A weekend in Milwaukee made our MSI and Morton memberships pay for themselves, after getting into the Milwaukee Science Academy and the Milwaukee Public House and then two gardens (including the cool one with the domes….I forget what it’s called). That is a huge value right there!

    Reply
  • Karen L Boylan
    May 8, 2018 4:13 pm

    Great article just a few more helpful hints. For Brookfield zoo if you are typically bringing kids under three and you usually go alone. A family membership may not be worth it as you said but they offer Individual and Individual plus Memberships (which allow you bring one adult guest with per visit. We did this until our son reached 3 and then upgraded.) And for the Arboretum – Reciprocal value alone can not be overlooked for this one it adds a ton of value as it has an agreement with over 300 places, including several that are two hours or less from the Western/Soutwest Burbs. Including: Talltree Arboretum (near Valpo, IN) this is a must if you have a little train fan. Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glenview (technically free but parking is $35 and your Morton membership offers you free parking and the opportunity to use the members line at the parking lot saving tons of time.) Just visiting Morton and these two paid for our membership plus we took it on vacation and visited gardens in the Berkshires and Connecticut.

    Reply

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