A Costco membership starts at $55, and the available discounts even to infrequent travelers more than make up that cost. Megan and I just went there last weekend, and it’s worth reminding people to check the gift card aisle (and the online shopping portal) before you plan your next trip. Even if existing Costco members are aware of these opportunities, I know a lot of people who think Costco has little appeal. Certainly the two of us can’t really eat bulk quantities of frozen chimichangas and flats of strawberries every week, but these coupon offers are enough to make it worth renewing our membership. During this week I will be sharing some of my favorite savings opportunities. Many may be Seattle-specific, but I’m sure other regions have their own offers.
Stop at Costco to Save on Local Restaurants and Attractions
When I visited Maui with my mother, the first thing she did after picking up the rental car was stop at the Costco a few blocks away to stock up on snacks and toys for the beach. While not every destination has a beach, Costco and airports tend to be in the same kind of neighborhoods, a little gritty and maybe a warehouse or industrial area.
Today’s discount opportunities are definitely going to be location-specific. In fact, I doubt there will be many opportunities to buy these in advance at your home location unless it is a nationwide chain, like McCormick & Schmick’s or a powerhouse brand that can entice people from all regions like offering discount tickets to Disneyland, which I last saw during spring. (I would guess the Disney tickets are still available if you checked local Costco locations in Orange County and LA.) I never know what I’m going to find because even though a few options are there year round others may be rotated in and out.
In Seattle, besides the usual gift cards for movie theater tickets and See’s chocolates, you can find restaurant gift cards at several of the larger restaurant groups. Usually you’ll pay $80 for two $50 gift cards, a 20% savings. Restaurants include Wild Ginger and the attached Triple Door music venue; McCormick & Schmick’s with its three Seattle locations; and other smaller local groups like Purple, a chain of wine bars and bistros, or Barria.
Does anyone want to dine at SkyCity, the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle? It’s horrendously expensive, especially given what you get. But that’s my opinion as a local who sees better options elsewhere. If you’re from out of town and its on your to-do list, make sure you get these 20% off gift cards. Dining at SkyCity will save you the cost of a ride up to the observation deck (also expensive), and you can be certain to spend at least the full $100 gift card value on dinner for two.
Sometimes you’ll find event tickets on sale. Right now there is a King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, and you can get tickets for about $28 vs. $32+ at the door depending on your package (there’s also an IMAX movie). Megan has a corporate discount for $20, but that is only good for four people. If we try to take both our families there when they come up this summer, we will probably make a stop at Costco first. Tickets to the Wild Waves theme park in nearby Federal Way are also on sale. In the winter, sometimes I’ll see lift tickets instead.
I’ve noticed a few vacation packages show up from time to time. There was a summer vacation getaway to Whistler that I noticed, including a few nights at the Westin and some other activity vouchers. These might be better for locals who are already planning to travel somewhere nearby rather than someone who just flew in. However, be aware that such vouchers are normally redeemable through a third party. I would be surprised if anyone got SPG stay credit for purchasing this package.