We have a 6 year old son, we have always loved going on days out as a family. At age 3 the costs of days out really ramped up, and it was quite a shock to the system.
We decided at that point to invest in a family season pass for a local attraction every year. Most attractions large or small offer a season ticket option. In my experience the costs involved are £100-200 for the three of us. We pay for this by saving £3 per week throughout the year and over the years this evens out to cover the cost of the tickets. I know of people who have asked grandparents for an annual pass for christmas or birthday presents. It's a fantastic idea to get a whole years worth of fun for christmas.
We make a different choice every year and the choice of attraction has to be made very carefully. We have made 4 different selections and in their own way each has been a good choice. We take the following into consideration....
1. Distance to travel and ease of travel. It can be useful to be able to get there by bus if the situation arises. I tend to go for a 30-40 minute maximum journey. The further away it is the less you tend to go.
2. Facilites. Are you going to get lots of use in winter? Are there several different play area? One local attraction to us has two outdoor walks, a outdoor play area, an indoor play are and a small farm. We got lots of use when we had this season pass for this attraction but the cost of these tickets were higher. Look at other facilities like parking, toilets and picnic areas as you may want to take these into consideration too. All of this information can usually be found on the attractions website.
3. Fringe benefits. Can you get discount at the shop, the cafe. Do you get into sister attractions free or for a discount. The fringe benefits can really add up so don't forget to investigate these.
4. Cost. Look at the total cost of the season pass and divide by the cost for 1 visit. Think about how many times you need to go to 'draw even' on the deal. Take into account 1,2 and 3 together with cost and make your decision.
Once you have made your decision you just need to make sure that you use it to get the value. Go to the indoor play area on a rainy day and take a picnic in the summer. If you pick carefully and the attraction is right for you, expect to get 20 or more days out during the year. This last year we picked one based more on cost rather than facilities as we were economising and wanted total cost to be under £100. We have been about 10 times with with 3 months still to go so cost per day out I expect will be around £7 by the time it runs out. Far less than the £30 daily admission for the 3 of us.
I hope this has been of some help and don't forget to start saving your £3 per week towards a season pass for next summer!
J S and N