A membership to a museum or venue can pay for itself after as few as two visits, and in a family unit where simply going to the movies can be a double-digit affair, that's huge. But can your kid even be trusted in a museum? Are you really gonna lug the kids to the zoo enough to justify throwing down for the full-year package? We did the math on memberships at some of Portland's best membership-driven family destinations to lay out how quickly you're getting your money's worth, and whether you should reap the benefits of membership.

OMSI Family Plan

The deal: $115 admits two adults plus four children for a year.

Total regular one-time admission: $72 ($30 for two adults, $42 for four kids)

Number of trips to pay it off: 2

What a parent says: OMSI is Portland's best rainy-day asset, but it's clutch year-round. It has the low-key best little kids play area in the city, which makes it a no-brainer that actually stimulates the brain.

Male Bald Eagle, Jack, in the Eagle Canyon habitat at the Oregon Zoo. ©Oregon Zoo / photo by Kathy Street
Male Bald Eagle, Jack, in the Eagle Canyon habitat at the Oregon Zoo. ©Oregon Zoo / photo by Kathy Street

Oregon Zoo Family Membership

The deal: $169 admits three adults plus four children for a year.

Total regular one-time admission: $105.65 ($53.85 for two adults, $51.80 for four kids)

Number of trips to pay it off: 2

What a parent says: If you have kids under 12, the zoo is a great energy burner. Plus, kids love animals, so you can sneak some learning in. You'll be here more than you think.

Portland Children Museum Voyager Membership

The deal: $110 for three members

Total regular one-time admission:

$33 for three guests

Number of trips to pay it off: 4

Is it worth it? With a solid rotation of temporary exhibits to supplement indoor and outdoor mainstays that cater to interests ranging from bugs to art to splashing other kids in the face, it's a place that rewards exploration, and thus multiple visits.

Portland Art Museum Dual Membership

The deal: $99 for two adults (children under 17 get in free)

Total regular one-time admission: $40 for two adults

Number of trips to pay it off: 3

What a parent says: Kids under 10 love to touch everything, so bringing them here is a nightmare, and the membership fee doesn't include a babysitter so you can enjoy yourself.

Smartypants One-Kid Family Membership

The deal: $200 for unlimited studio use, plus one free art class and other discounts

Total regular one-time admission: $12 for one child (adults get in free)

Number of trips to pay it off: 17

What a parent says: This arts-and-crafts collective—with DIY art stations for painting, collage, sculpture and more—is a rainy-day ace in the hole for kids 1-10. But test it out before committing. If your kid really responded to Forky in Toy Story 4, go for it.

Kengo Kuma_Portland Japanese Garden
Kengo Kuma_Portland Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

The deal: $110 for two adults, plus free admission for up to eight children ages 18 and under

Total regular one-time admission: $39.99 for two adults, then $13.95 per child age 6-17

Number of trips to pay it off: Varies depending on how many kids you have, but a family of three would only need three visits to get their money back.

Is it worth it? If you're a veritable Brady Bunch, there's no greater value. Even for a family of three, the combination of art, culture and the multiseason garden makes it a sneaker for the city's underdog MVP membership.