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Museums free for military families this summer

Taking an entire family to a museum can run into the three figures. But military families can get a big break thanks to Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense.

Photo: Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

The program offers FREE admission to more than 2,000 museums across America for the nation’s service members, including National Guard and Reserve, and their families. The program runs from Armed Forces Day in mid-May through Labor Day at the beginning of September. (For the rest of the year, be sure to read our post on Military Appreciation discounts available all year.)

Who is eligible?

The free admission program is available for those currently serving in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. This includes reservists, National Guard members (regardless of status), U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps, and up to five family members.

Do I need to show an ID card?

Qualified members must show a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC)DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card for entrance into a participating Blue Star Museum.

Does the active-duty member need to be present?

 The military ID holder can be either the active-duty service member or other dependent family member with the appropriate ID card;  the active-duty member does not have to be present for family members to use the program. Just bring your DD Form 1173 ID Card, or DD Form 1173-1 ID Card.

What about retirees and veterans?

If you are a retiree or veteran, ask the museum you plan to visit if they offer reduced or special rates for military members who aren’t currently serving.

What museums participate?

Typically, more than 2,000 museums across America participate in Blue Star Museums each summer. And “museums” aren’t just about fine art, history or science. The list includes children’s museums, zoos and nature centers.

If you’re vacationing, run a quick search before creating an itinerary. To search for participating museums, click here.

Miami-Dade County

Broward County

 Palm Beach County

Florida Keys

More museum discounts

If you’re looking for other ways to visit museums free, check out our list of free museum days in South Florida.

Other museum deals, free days and special events:

Friday, September 30, 2022

Free Palm Beach Zoo Admission for Kids in September

9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Discounted | Palm Beach Zoo

2-1 entry to Flamingo Gardens coupon

9:30 am to 4:00 pm | Discounted | Flamingo Gardens

Free Water Shuttle Weekends

10:00 am to 3:00 pm | FREE | Deerfield Island Park

Art After Dark at Norton in West Palm

4:00 pm to 9:30 pm | Discounted | Norton Museum of Art

House of Horror Amusement Park coupon

6:00 pm to 11:00 pm | Discounted | Miami International Mall

Into the Stacks: Heroines

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | Wolfsonian-FIU

Jazz at MOCA outdoor concert series

8:00 pm | FREE | Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU free every Saturday

All Day | FREE | Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU

Gold Coast Museum free first Saturday

All Day | FREE | Gold Coast Railroad Museum

Free entry to museums with bank card

All Day | FREE | South Florida Museums

Indian Village Reopens

$0-15.00 | Miccosukee Indian Gaming, Resort, Museum & Village

Free Palm Beach Zoo Admission for Kids in September

9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Discounted | Palm Beach Zoo

Free Water Shuttle Weekends

10:00 am to 3:00 pm | FREE | Deerfield Island Park

Farm Tours at Tradewinds Park

11:30 am to 2:00 pm | $3.00-4.50 | Tradewinds Park

Free tour of the Adrienne Arsht Center

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | FREE | Adrienne Arsht Center

Hispanic Heritage at the Norton

12:00 pm to 5:00 pm | FREE | Norton Museum of Art

Merrick House Museum Guided Tours

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm | $0-5.00 | Merrick House Museum

House of Horror Amusement Park coupon

6:00 pm to 11:00 pm | Discounted | Miami International Mall

Night sky viewing with telescopes

8:00 pm to 11:00 pm | FREE | Fox Observatory

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Free entry to museu,s

All Day | FREE | South Florida Museums

Free Palm Beach Zoo Admission for Kids in September

9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Discounted | Palm Beach Zoo

Free Water Shuttle Weekends

10:00 am to 3:00 pm | FREE | Deerfield Island Park

Free live music at Jazz Brunch in Fort Lauderdale

11:00 am to 2:00 pm | FREE | Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk

Farm Tours at Tradewinds Park

11:30 am to 2:00 pm | $3.00-4.50 | Tradewinds Park

Merrick House Museum Guided Tours

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm | $0-5.00 | Merrick House Museum

House of Horror Amusement Park coupon

6:00 pm to 11:00 pm | Discounted | Miami International Mall

$12 Adult Skate Night

7:00 pm to 10:00 pm | $12.00 | Xtreme Action Park

Monday, October 3, 2022

Free Palm Beach Zoo Admission for Kids in September

9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Discounted | Palm Beach Zoo

Free tour of the Adrienne Arsht Center

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | FREE | Adrienne Arsht Center

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Free Palm Beach Zoo Admission for Kids in September

9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Discounted | Palm Beach Zoo

House of Horror Amusement Park coupon

6:00 pm to 11:00 pm | Discounted | Miami International Mall

Sip of History: Bearing Witness

6:30 pm to 9:00 pm | FREE | HistoryMiami

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Free Palm Beach Zoo Admission for Kids in September

9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Discounted | Palm Beach Zoo

House of Horror Amusement Park coupon

6:00 pm to 11:00 pm | Discounted | Miami International Mall

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Free Palm Beach Zoo Admission for Kids in September

9:00 am to 5:00 pm | Discounted | Palm Beach Zoo

Sunny Days/Starry Nights at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale with free entry

11:00 am to 7:00 pm | FREE | NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale

House of Horror Amusement Park coupon

6:00 pm to 11:00 pm | Discounted | Miami International Mall

$12 Adult Skate Night

7:00 pm to 10:00 pm | $12.00 | Xtreme Action Park

See all the free and cheap events this week.

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Teresa Mears is a publisher, writer and editor who was raised to be frugal. She became a website entrepreneur after 30 years as an editor at newspapers ranging in size from the Portland (Tenn.) Leader to The Los Angeles Times and The Miami Herald, where she worked most recently. She moved to Florida in 1980 because it was the only place she could get a job during that recession and has lived in South Florida since 1985, in Miami, Hollywood, Tamarac, Wilton Manors and Fort Pierce. She is co-owner and CEO of the parent network, Living on the Cheap.

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