Discover & Go is a terrific program to get FREE museum day passes.
It’s literally one of the Bay Area’s best kept secrets: an incredible freebie under the radar to many, but one that will completely change your cultural life. The program is called Discover & Go, and it gets you and your kids in free to some of our most popular museums and attractions for zero dollars.
To get access to a great roster of free museums and attractions, all you need is a local library card — the Berkeley, Contra Costa County and Oakland public libraries are all part of the Discover & Go network — and a printer.
How to use Discover & Go passes
The only catch is that you can’t just show up. Like borrowing a library book, the pass you want may not be up for lending when you're ready to go. Here are the steps:
- Find the Discover & Go section of your library's website. (Here's the link for Oakland and Berkeley)
- Log in with your library card
- Select the date you want to go (same-day passes are a cinch too)
- Choose the venue from a list available for that day, and print. Done!
Passes are released midnight of 1st of every month, two months in advance. On July 1 midnight- they released passes for September. Some of the more popular and expensive museum passes “sell out” within few hours of release.
Pro tip: Set an alarm to grab the passes for the hot locations like Cal Academy of Sciences.
Some of the places we have successfully used Discover & Go free passes include the California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium, the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Botanical Garden at UC Berkeley, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, and the Pacific Pinball Museum and USS Hornet Museum in Alameda. You can also get a free day pass to the Oakland Zoo, Oakland Museum of California, Children's Creativity Museum, Conservatory of Flowers, Lindsay Wildlife Experience, and so many more!
A couple of important caveats:
- There are a finite number of free passes for each venue, so sometimes you will have to search a bit for available dates.
- Each library card holder has a limit on the number of times per year that they can print a Discover & Go pass — for high-demand venues such as the California Academy of Sciences, for example, you can go for free once a year.
- Some passes are good for a family of four, others are for one adult and one child. It varies from venue to venue.
- Passes can't be issued on smartphones – they must be printed (I checked) – and you must bring an ID.
Now, go discover!
Here are a few library links to get you started:
- Berkeley Public Library Discover & Go>>
- Oakland Public Library Discover & Go>>
- Alameda County Library Discover & Go>>
- Contra Costa Public Library Discover & Go>>
- Hayward Public Library Discover & Go>>
[Photo Credits: Lawrence Hall of Science, USS Hornet, Bay Area Discovery Museum – Anna Azimi; Exploratorium – Becky Matthews]