GUIDE: Gifting Memberships for Charlotteans

It keeps on giving for the year ahead

If your family has a favorite spot they love visiting over and over again, purchasing an annual family membership could be the perfect gift to ensure lots of memories and quality time together in the upcoming year. 

Memberships are typically good for a year and offer access to member-only events, special exhibitions and discounts on gift store items, camp registration, restaurants and stores. Some memberships also include reduced or free admission to partner museums across the country giving you big bang for your buck, and interesting places to stop on the next family road trip.

Fees for memberships are listed below but are subject to change at any time, and may even be discounted for holiday gift-giving. Check the website for the most accurate pricing and benefits information. 


For the Love of Art 

Mint Museum |

If you love a great two-for-one deal, the Mint Museum membership has your name written all over it. Family memberships start at $100 (supporter level) and include free general and special exhibition admission to the Mint Museum Uptown and the location on Randolph Road. A membership also entitles you to discounts on programs, classes and summer camps (save 25%), and a 10% discount on admission for guests and the museum store. Hungry? Present your membership card and eat for less at Halcyon and Something Classic Cafe locations. Yum! 

BONUS: You also have privileges with participating Southeastern Reciprocal Museums (not including neighboring Charlotte museums).  


Bechtler Museum of Modern Art |
A museum can be a wonder-filled place to spark imagination and creativity, especially on cold or rainy days. With a $90 membership to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, families can visit exhibits on a whim and be treated to new exhibitions throughout the year. Membership includes unlimited general admission, invitations to exhibitions, an annual member-only appreciation event, discounts in the museum store and free guided tours on specific dates.

BONUS: Take your membership on the road with free and discounted admission to participating Southeastern Reciprocal Musuems (not including neighboring Charlotte art museums).

For the Love of Nature and Science

Discovery Place Museums |
Just like a favorite burger or sandwich, you can build this family membership to suit you. For $150 per year, you can join Discovery Place Science uptown or Discovery Place Nature near Freedom Park, or be members of both places for $180. Bump it up to $200 and receive unlimited access to four great places to play: Discovery Place Science, Discovery Place Nature, Discovery Place Kids–Huntersville and Discovery Place Kids–Rockingham. Whatever membership fits you best, your family will enjoy unlimited admission to the museum for two adults and all children 18 and younger in the household with discounts on birthday parties and summer camps, the museum store and the café, plus discounted parking at Discovery Place Science and free parking at Discovery Place Nature and Discovery Place Kids.

BONUS: The $200 membership also entitles you to free or discounted admission to more than 360 participating Association of Science and Technology Centers ( nationwide, including other science and nature museums throughout the Carolinas. 

For the Love of Outdoor Adventure

U.S. National Whitewater Center |

If your family’s idea of the perfect afternoon includes climbing, repelling, canoeing, rafting and hanging from zip lines, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is calling. An annual pass for children age 9 and under is $189, and $219 for anyone older than 10. Passes are good for 365 days after first use and offer cardholders unlimited access to all activities at the center, including whitewater rafting. Only individual passes are available.

You can also purchase a parking pass for $50 per year and have access to non-pass activities like walking trails, concerts and other events. Normal parking fee is $6 per charge per visit.

For Thrill Seekers

Carowinds |

A Carowinds season pass is a must — and a great deal — for families who can’t get enough amusement park action. With fall and winter events like SCarowinds and WinterFest, you can use this pass way beyond summer. A Gold Pass starts at $107 per person and includes unlimited visits to Carowinds and Carolina Harbor waterpark, as well as admission to SCarowinds and WinterFest. 

Carowinds also offers a free Pre-K pass for children ages 3 to 5. Bring your child and a valid birth certificate or passport showing his or her birthday to receive the pass. Passholders can upgrade their experience with unlimited dining options, drink refills, digital pictures, fast lane ride privileges and others perks for a fee. 

Perks include free admission to the park, as well as entry to Pumpkin Fest, WinterFest and the Peanuts Celebration.

BONUS: Spring for a Platinum Pass at $197 per person and get Gold Pass perks, plus free admission to Cedar Fair Parks across the country including Kings Dominion, Cedar Point and more. Military discounts are also available. 

For Adventures Under the Sea 

SEA-LIFE Charlotte Concord Aquarium

Prefer water adventures under the sea? Check out the Companion Annual Pass at SEA-LIFE Charlotte Concord Aquarium. Located at Concord Mills, the aquarium has touch pools, tons of “fintastic” friends to check out, and scheduled feeding and educational events. The Companion Annual Pass is $99.95 for one adult and one child, and includes unlimited admission to SEA-LIFE, a free guidebook and up to 20% off items in the retail store and for birthday parties. Plus you have access to behind the scenes tours and member-only events.

BONUS: When family and friends come to town wanting to spend time with the kids, the membership is transferrable between adults so you they can go have fun for a few hours and you get a parent break.

For Families That Like to Stop and Smell the Roses

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Take outdoor time to a whole new level with an annual membership to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. This perfectly manicured green space delights with fountains, flora, topiary’s, water features and more. The garden also hosts special events throughout the year including the popular Holidays in the Garden.  

For $85, adults and children living at the same address can become members. You can also opt for the Premiere Household membership at $140 per year and bring a friend every time you visit. Both memberships offer unlimited free daytime admission, invitations to exclusive member events, 10% discounts to The Garden Store, 15% off classes, as well as select local garden centers and restaurants.

BONUS: Your membership also entitles the family to free or discounted admission to over 300 public gardens throughout North America. See the American Horticulture Society website for participating gardens,


Courtney McLaughlin is a freelance writer in Charlotte. You can contact her at