If you love a homeschool freebie, raise your hand! As a North Carolina homeschooler, here’s how you can visit the North Carolina Zoo and Aquariums and save your money for the gift shop.
Does your family love animals?
That’s a silly question, isn’t it? Zoos, aquariums, farms, and animal sanctuaries are great places to visit for kids of all ages. In North Carolina, we have so many places to get a glimpse at wildlife and some of the most popular destinations are the North Carolina Zoo and the North Carolina Aquariums. But when you start adding up the cost of admission for your family, you might hesitate!
Well, first of all, let me tell you that these attractions are worth the cost of admission (or membership!).
But, as a registered homeschooler, you can visit once per year for FREE!
What are you waiting for?! Grab some snacks and get in the car!
Wait, wait, wait! Read this first…
North Carolina Zoo
Did you know that the North Carolina Zoo is the largest walk-through zoo in the world? This state-supported attraction cares for over 1600 animals, and is chock-full of beautiful scenery and educational experiences. Located just south of Asheboro, the zoo lies about 1.5 hours from the Triangle, making it a great midweek day trip.
If you have filed a notice of intent and are a registered homeschool in NC, you are entitled to two free zoo visits for your school-aged children and one adult between September and June. You cannot use this perk on weekends, holidays, days when the zoo otherwise has free admission, and days when they already have reservations for 2000 people. (More about exact dates and blackouts are specified on the zoo’s website.)
You must make a reservation at least 15 days prior to your planned visit by calling 336.879.7700 or 1.800.488.0444, ext. 7700.
For more information on the admission program for homeschoolers, call the numbers above or click on homeschools on the zoo’s School Trips page.
Sidenote: Do not file an NOI for your 5-year-old just to get free zoo admission, y’all. You’ll have to pay for standardized testing once you’re registered and then your savings are a wash. Look for a field trip, or another discount day instead!
North Carolina Aquariums
There are 4 beautiful coastal North Carolina Aquariums that do important work helping to conserve and rehabilitate ocean wildlife. Their education programs are top-notch and, though relatively small, these gorgeous aquariums each have unique exhibits that make them worth a look.
Your homeschool can visit EACH location once per year for free! Pine Knoll Shores and Fort Fisher are great day trips from the Triangle. Roanoke Island and Jennette’s Pier make great rainy day activities on your Outer Banks vacation.
Free admission at the aquariums is also only for registered homeschools. The offer is good for two adults and all of your homeschooled children in grades K-12. Children from ages 2 to 4 must pay regular admission. Take a copy of your homeschool registration email along with you for your visit. No reservation is required.
Visit each location’s website, or call to verify this offer has not changed before making the trip!
Why you might consider a membership
For our family of 5 that loves field trips, I have found that a membership to either the North Carolina Zoo or the North Carolina Aquariums has been worth the cost most years. We choose which depending on specific plans like travel outside the state.
Personally, I like not having to call the zoo ahead of time and make my reservation because my plans always seem to get rained out. But the best benefit I see is the reciprocal agreements with other sites in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
This includes reduced admission to the Greensboro Science Center and free admission to Sylvan Heights Bird Park – both great day trips (or half-day depending on which side of the Triangle you call home)!
Visit these links to compare memberships and see if contributing to the mission of these organizations would be a good investment for your family:
Want to make sure your field trip is a great experience?
Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Homeschool Field Trips!
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