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Rising gas prices, inflation, and the talk of recession have me wondering if I can enjoy a summer vacation. With a little searching, I found six ways Florida residents can enjoy free admission to museums and parks this summer. Now, not every option will fit everyone but there’s at least one way for someone to enjoy and save on their budget while having fun.
1. Check Out a State Park Adventure with Your Library Card
Check out the Real Florida Reader Day Pass with your public library card and receive free admission into one of 175 Florida state park. Each library throughout Florida has a limited number of passes and each pass is good for day admission for one vehicle, up to eight people. Passes are valid through Sept. 12, 2022, and availability varies at each library. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife, Skyway Pier and Weeki Wachee Springs state parks are excluded.
Don’t have a library card? No worries, it’s pretty easy to sign up for one from your local library and it’s free to do so! Visit the Florida State Parks website for additional information on the Real Florida Reader program.
2. Your Bankcard May Have Museum Privileges
Bank of America®, Merrill Lynch®, and America Private Bank (U.S. Trust®) card members receive free general admission into participating museums on the first full weekend of the month in the program called Museums on Us. Upon arrival at a participating museum, present your credit or debit card with picture ID. Free entry is granted to the cardholder only.
A sample of attractions participating in 2022 included the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton, Naples Botanical Gardens in Naples, and Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville. Find a complete listing of participating cultural institutes on the Bank of America Museums on Us website.
3. Let Your Fourth Grader Lead a National Park Adventure
Let your fourth grader lead the family on a national park adventure. Through the federal government’s Every Kid Outdoors program (previously Every Kid in a Park) fourth graders during the 2021 to 2022 school year can obtain a pass permitting them and their family (children and up to three adults) entrance into more than 2,000 federally managed waters and lands within Florida and across the country. This includes Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida’s Panhandle and Everglades National Park. The program expires Aug. 31, 2022.
4. Oh, SNAP! A Free Museum Pass May be in Your Wallet
The nationwide Museums for All program was formed with the belief everyone should have access to museums. Those presenting their SNAP EBT (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer) receive free or reduced admission for up to four people at one of more than 850 participating museums across the United States.
Florida has several participating museums offering free admission through the program like Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami and the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Myers. A sampling of museums offering reduced admission are the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda and Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.
5. Thank You for Serving. Please, Enjoy a Blue Star Museum.
Between now and Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, Labor Day, active-duty military personnel, including the National Guard and Reserve, and their immediate families receive complimentary admission into museums and attractions in the Blue Star Museums program. Several Florida museums participate in this nationwide program. These include McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach, Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, and Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum in Jupiter.
6. Think Local and Look for Free Entry Days
In my community of Sarasota, The Ringling offers free admission into the Museum of Art and Bayfront Gardens on Mondays. The Sarasota Art Museum offers free admission the second Sunday of the month. Chances are, you live near a museum, park, or attraction that offers something similar.
Or look for reciprocal membership benefits. I hold an annual membership to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and each month I receive complimentary admission into another attraction. For instance, this past January I received complimentary admission into the Naples Botanical Gardens. In September, I’ll receive complimentary admission into Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park. I’m also a Florida State Parks Annual Pass holder which provides complimentary admission into most Florida state parks.
You Can Still Have Fun This Summer in Florida While Watching Your Budget
I’ll be watching my budget this summer, but I’ll be finding different ways to enjoy new experiences and adventures. Plus, it’ll give me more content to share with you!
2022 dates to keep on your radar for more free attraction admissions:
- Aug. 4 is a fee-free day into the national parks in recognition of the Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act.
- Sept. 17 is Smithsonian Museum Day. This is a day to celebrate the value of museums with free admission into participating attractions. Learn how to secure your ticket on the Smithsonian Museum Day website.
- Sept. 24 is a fee-free day into the national parks in recognition of National Public Lands Day.
- Florida State Parks Real Florida Reader Day Pass
- Museums on Us
- Every Kid Outdoors
- Museums for All
- Blue Star Museums
- Free Entrance Days in the National Parks
- Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day – Sept. 17
Note: Information was accurate at the time of publication. Visit each program’s website to find a participating park, museum, and attraction and any restrictions.