Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
Blue Star Museums - Free Admission for All Active Duty Military and Families.Wind tunnel fun at MOSI in Tampa, Florida Each year from Memorial Day through Labor Day more than 2000 museums open their doors to support our troops and their family members with free admission, discounts and savings. 

Here’s the scoop. The Blue Star Museums program is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, Joining Forces, MetLife Foundation and museums across the country. This year’s Blue Star Museums include aquariums, fine arts museums, science museums, history museums, natural history museums, nature centers, and more than 70 children’s museums. Here’s the deal! Participating Blue Star Museums offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families. The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention Common Access Card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID Card, or a DD Form 1173-1 ID Card, which includes active duty military personnel—and up to five of their immediate family members—in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserve. 

Who is participating? The locations span the country and include large metropolitan locations as well as terrific out of the way spots making it is for parents to add extra value to their summer vacation plans. Among 2015's new participants are the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida, the Duluth Children’s Museum in Minnesota, the Space Station Museum in Novato, California, and the Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.

Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI), Tampa, FL. MOSI is the largest science center in the southeastern US and home of the only IMAX® Dome Theatre in Florida. It houses a scientific playground with more than 450 hands-on activities and minds-on experiences involving science, nature, and technology. (4801 East Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL. 33617. (813) 987-6000, 987-6100 or

Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA.
A place of adventure, discovery and education, the museum invites everyone to enjoy the wonders of its collections and exhibitions. Today, the museum is ranked among the top five natural history museums in the country and features 20 exhibition halls including the blockbuster “Dinosaurs in Their Time.” Bonus points: Admission is free during the Blue Star summer season and 50% off admission for active military personnel year-round for up to four people per military ID. (4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. (412) 622-3131 or

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY. Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Wine Country the museum is big hit with young visitors, offering fun hands-on activities, incredible glassmaking demonstrations, and treasures from around the world. Bonus points: Kids and teens, 19 or younger always receive free admission and the museum also offers a 15% discount to all military, all year long. (One Museum Way - Corning, NY 14830. Toll-free 1-800-732-6845 or (607) 937- 5371 or
New York Transit Museum, Brooklyn, NY. The museum is the largest facility in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history, and one of the premier institutions of its kind in the world. The galleries feature many highly interactive exhibitions educational workshops. The gallery annex in Grand Central Terminal that presents changing exhibitions. Bonus points: Every Saturday and Sunday free programs for children offered. (corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201.  (718) 694-1792, 694-1600 or New York Transit Museum 

Exploration Station – A Children’s Museum, Bourbonnais, IL.  The museum provides opportunities for hands-on exploration and discovery for young children and their families. Activities include the chance for children to climb inside the tower of a castle; fly a jet plane; change the tire on a car; become a soda shop clerk or dig for dinosaur bones. (459 Kennedy Drive, Bourbonnais, IL 60914. (815) 933-9905 or
Becker County History Museum, Detroit Lakes, MN. The museum tells the story of the communities in Becker County displaying artifacts and images of the lives of its earliest residents and offers a family-friendly connection and area where the fishing is great. (714 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes, MN 56502.  (218) 847-2938 or Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, TX

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Austin, TX.  The museum is spread throughout three floors with exhibits built around three themes - Texas: Land, Identity, and Opportunity each offer interactive and engaging displays. (1800 N. Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78701. (512) 936-8746, (512) 936-4649 for tickets or
Children’s Discovery Museum, San Diego, CA.  The museum maintains a lively engaging atmosphere in which children are inspired to learn through play using exploration, imagination, and experimentation. Bonus points: Museum membership is also discounted for military families. (320 N. Broadway, Escondido, CA 92025. (760) 233-7755 or

Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco, CA. From a scale model of  Lilly Belle, the locomotive and a 12-foot model of the Disneyland of Walt's imagination, to the story of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and animated films - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, the museum showcases the timeline of Walt Disney’s uniquely American experience.  (104 Montgomery Street, the Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129. (415) 345- 6800 or www.waltdisney.orgSeattle Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA a Blue Star Mueum

Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA. The museum is one of the largest air and space museums in the world, with a collection that includes more than 150 historically significant air- and spacecraft, one-of-a-kind NASA Space Shuttle Trainer, the first jet Air Force One, and the world's fastest aircraft – the Blackbird spy plane. Bonus points: The Blue Star Museum program offering free admission to active military and their family has been extended to the end of September. And the museum offers half-price admission discounts to furloughed civilian employees of Joint Base Lewis-McChord from through September 30, 2013. (9404 East Marginal Way S., Seattle, WA  98108. (206) 764-5720 or

Additional participants include: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine in Portland, ME; National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Dubuque, IA; Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Toy and Action Figure Museum, Pauls Valley, OK. Here’s the deal. Some deals will go on all year long at museums across the country. According to Wendy Clark Acting Director Museums, Visual Arts and Indemnity, National Endowment for the Arts, “The Blue Star Museums Program that offers free admission does end on Labor Day, however we have found that many museums choose to continue that all year, while many others offer other special programs year-round such as discounted admission, or one free admission day per week, or other special events targeted specifically to military families.  After Labor Day we will post a new map that lists on-going programs on our website.
All summer long, Blue Star Museums will share stories through social media. Follow Blue Star Museums on Twitter @NEAarts and @BlueStarFamily, #bluestarmuseums, on Facebook, and read the NEA Art Works blog for weekly stories on participating museums and exhibits.

Make it happen. The Blue Star website offers the complete list of participating museums visible by state. To view options go to Blue Star Museums and select a location on the state map.

Content provided by Blue Star Museums program; museum highlights posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff at FTF. Images courtesy Museum of Science & Industry,Tampa, FL and Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.  Copyright updated 2017.