When you ask people what their favorite season is, Summer and Spring usually are one and two, but Fall ranks ahead of Winter, and no matter what, it's one of the four most popular seasons of the year.

That's said, early Fall is lovely around these parts and there's something called the Southwest Michigan Cultural Membership Exchange that can get you into six places for free. Basically, how it works is if you're a member of one of the six, you get to share the benefits of the other five, too.

Who are the members of the Southwest Michigan Cultural Membership Exchange?

Currently, the members are The Air Zoo, Binder Park Zoo, Gilmore Car Museum, Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and the Kellogg Biological Station Bird Sanctuary. As my kids were growing up, we took them to all these places. It's really important to expose them to the things these places specialize in. Kids love the zoo, and the Nature Center exposes them to, well, nature. The world of birds is at the Bird Sanctuary. I can't say for sure,because both my parents were artistic in different ways, but my one son got his photography degree at WMU, and who know what trips to the KIA did to encourage that. Of course, the Gilmore Car Museum is an incredible trip back in time for me, and the Air Zoo - well, how many boys and girls didn't want to grow to be an astronaut, at least in between being a policeman, a firefighter or a train conductor?

Poke around the Southwest Michigan Cultural Membership Exchange website. There are links to all six members and the next time you or the kids are thinking 'there's nothing to do", you can do something fun.

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