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Blue Star Museum admissions 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.

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 2024 Blue Star Museums program begins on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 18, and ends on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2

For the rest of the year, be sure to read our post on Military Appreciation discounts available all year.

Photo: Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

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. Note: The list may change from year to year.

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

Photo: Frost Science Museum

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Broward County

Photo: Cox Science Center and Aquarium

 Palm Beach County

Mary Lou Cruz

About Mary Lou Cruz

I worked at the South Florida Sun Sentinel for 21 years, as an Advertising Special Sections Writer; Editorial Systems Editor in Technology; and Editorial Assistant in the Newsroom. Before my newspaper career, I worked in the airline and travel industry and I have lived in Brazil, Puerto Rico and vacationed in more than 25 countries. Originally, I'm from Maryland. I moved to Florida in 1984 and raised my daughter in Miami. Email:

Living on the CheapMiami on the Cheap is a member of Living on the Cheap, a network of websites published by frugalistas, journalists and consumer advocates. Find practical advice on saving money on groceries, travel and shopping, plus tips from our experts on how to live the good life for less at Living on the Cheap.

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