Looking for something free and fun to do this weekend? Planning a staycation this summer and want a few ideas (plus free admission)?

The Culture Pass gives you free admission for two at 17 participating cultural institutions as well as two free tickets to performances at Valley performing arts centers and theaters. Passes are available to library cardholders on a first come, first served basis, and like a book, you check them out.

Scottsdale has five participating branches where you’ll find Culture Passes available: Civic Center, Appaloosa, Arabian, Mustang, and Palomino. Before you go to one of the five branches, you can check online to see which passes are available.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to reserve the pass online. To obtain a pass, you’ll have to actually go to the branch and find the venue’s card on the Culture Pass display board. You then take the venue card to the customer service desk along with your library card, and library staff issue a “date-due” slip that serves as the voucher for admission to the museum or performance.

The pass, sponsored by Act One, an organization dedicated to providing meaningful art experiences for children and families, is valid for seven days from the time of check-out—it expires at the end of the day on the date-due receipt—and cannot be renewed. Also worth noting, you can only check out one pass at a time, and you are limited to two passes per month per address.

Passes can be applied towards the highest ticket prices. So, if you go as a family of four to the Desert Botanical Garden, you can use the pass for two adult tickets and pay for two child admissions.

The Culture Pass is available for the following attractions:

  • Arcosanti (Cordes Junction)
  • Arizona Science Center
  • AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park
  • Cave Creek Museum
  • Challenger Space Center
  • Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve (previously Deer Valley Rock Art Center)
  • Desert Caballeros Western Museum
  • Desert Botanical Garden
  • Halle Heart Children’s Museum
  • Heard Museum
  • Irish Cultural Center (coming soon)
  • Japanese Friendship Garden (coming in October 2016)
  • Phoenix Art Museum
  • Pueblo Grande Museum
  • Rosson House Museum
  • Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Superstition Mountain Museum

Performance passes are for specific shows at the following venues:

  • Arizona Theatre Company
  • Ballet Arizona
  • Chandler Center for the Arts
  • Childsplay
  • Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts
  • East Valley Children’s Theater
  • Great Arizona Puppet Theater
  • Phoenix Ballet
  • Phoenix Chamber Music Society
  • Phoenix Symphony
  • Phoenix Theatre
  • Theater Works

The number of passes available at any particular library is based on its usage; the more people who use that library, the more passes it will have. Despite the number of passes at your library, it can be difficult to snag one during the summer when children are on break. Often, you’ll just have to be persistent and a little lucky, especially if you’re hoping for passes to a popular attraction or children’s play.

Keep missing the pass you’re looking for, or don’t see the museum you’re interested in visiting on the list? Many local museums offer free days, usually on a monthly basis. These include:

  • Arizona Museum of Natural History
  • Arizona Science Center
  • AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park
  • Children’s Museum of Phoenix
  • Idea Museum
  • Phoenix Art Museum
  • Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Several local museums are always free (although they may have limited hours):

  • African American Multicultural Museum
  • Arizona Capitol Museum
  • Arizona Railway Musuem
  • ASU Art Museum
  • Chandler Museum
  • Ellie and Michael Ziegler Fiesta Bowl Museum
  • Hall of Flame Fire Museum
  • Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum
  • Mesa Historical Museum
  • Mystery Castle
  • Phoenix Police Museum
  • Scottsdale Historical Museum
  • Shemer Art Center
  • Tempe Center for the Arts
  • Tempe History Museum
  • The Book of Kells Museum
  • Wells Fargo History Museum

Don Matheson
Realtor | Founder
The Matheson Team – RE/MAX Fine Properties
21000 N. Pima Rd., #100, Scottsdale, AZ 85255