When it comes to gifts kids will remember, experience gifts are sometimes the best. A family trip to a place they’ve always wanted to visit, classes to learn something they’ve always wanted to do, or coupons for a family game night or movie night are gifts kids will always remember. Experience gifts can be tailored to be just what your child wants, and those are the best gifts and memories.
Benefits of Experience Gifts
Sure, you don’t have to put together a million pieces with an experience gift, and there aren’t boxes to clean up, but there are other benefits too:
- They reduce clutter and waste. Parents probably appreciate this more than kids, but more toys mean more clutter, and when kids grow out of them, there are more things to get rid of. All that can be stressful.
- They’re fun! Especially for experiences that multiple family members can participate in, going to a show, taking a trip, or learning something new is fun.
- They nurture kids’ skills and interests. Experiences like a class, museum pass, or camps are all great ways to help kids see the value of new skills.
- They bring families together. Experiences bring people together, especially if you’re giving an experience that the whole family can look forward to.
- They make memories. Long after your child would have grown out of or used up a toy, you can look back on an experience with fond memories.
Here are our favorite experience gifts that cover travel and local designations, as well as home and online experiences.
Travel Experience Gifts
These experiences require more time, planning, and cost, but are well worth it in terms of the experience kids will have and memories you’ll make.
1. Camping trip
Gift a family camping trip to a new or familiar place. You can announce the trip with gifts of new camping gear like sleeping bags, s’more roasting sticks, or a hammock. Find a campsite at Campspot.
Buy it: Camping Gear at Amazon
2. Destination vacation
Gift the ultimate experience trip to a national park with canyons or geysers, Disney World, or a place your child has always wanted to go.
Buy it: National Park Pass at U.S. Park Pass
3. One-of-a-kind family trip
Rent a unique experience near you, like a tree house, log cabin, or beach house.
Learn more: Unique Rentals at Airbnb
4. Rent a camper van
Take your family on the road and sleep there too.
Buy it: Camper rental at Outdoorsy.com
5. Visit a farm
Give kids the experience of visiting a working farm where they can see animals up close. They’ll get to learn how to take care of the animals and spend a day on the farm as well.
Buy it: Find a Farm at Farmstay
6. Spend a weekend at an indoor water-park resort
Great Wolf Lodge, or a similar water park, is sheer fun. It’s completely set up for families, so you’ll always have something to do that’s age-appropriate and fun.
Buy it: Tickets at Great Wolf Lodge
Local Experience Gifts
While the local experiences will vary depending on your area, there are plenty of fun local experiences that you can give as gifts. And many local experiences can be gifted year after year.
7. Indoor-climbing passes
Get passes or a membership to an indoor-climbing center. Your kids will learn a new skill (and will be exhausted after a few hours on the wall), and you may be surprised at the other skills your kids gain, like persistence, problem-solving, and belaying.
8. Amusement park or water park passes
Get passes to a nearby water park or amusement park and you are literally giving the gift of fun.
9. Museum passes
If your child has a favorite local museum, maybe a science museum or children’s museum, a season pass makes this special occasion something they can do on the regular.
10. Zoo membership
Zoo memberships often have additional benefits, like discounts to special nights (Boo at the Zoo or the holiday light shows for example).
11. Any and all classes
Gymnastics, guitar, dance, martial arts, swimming, soccer, horseback riding—the list goes on. Classes for whatever your child wants to do are a gift that keeps on giving.
12. Aquarium experience
Aquariums are like zoos, only with fish. Having an aquarium membership means they can visit the aquarium anytime and find out about fun events (educational activities, classes) and sometimes even members-only events!
13. Family cooking class
Learn how to make something as a family that you can replicate at home. It might become your signature family dish!
14. Summer camp
A weeklong camp experience is a great way for kids to try something new. It’s even better if you can gift a camp that they’ll go to with friends.
15. Pottery painting
Have kids attend a pottery-painting class to express their creative side and make something to showcase at home.
Buy it: Find a class at Classpop
16. Movie tickets
Gift movie passes and build anticipation by looking for new releases, selecting seats online, and planning which snacks you’ll get.
Buy it: Movie tickets at Fandango
17. Theater tickets
Whether it’s tickets to see your child’s favorite characters on the stage or a ballet or musical performance for older kids, theater tickets are something you can turn into a whole-day experience.
Buy it: Theater tickets at StubHub
18. Concert tickets
As with theater tickets—whether it’s a kids’ band or a family favorite, concerts are a great experience that kids will always remember.
Buy it: Concert tickets at StubHub
19. Sports tickets
Make your child’s favorite sport into a family occasion with season passes to the local baseball, football, or soccer team.
Buy it: Sports tickets at StubHub
20. Tickets to a fair or festival
Give tickets to a fair and money to spend on rides and games so your child can plan the experience they’re going to have ahead of time.
21. Behind-the-scenes experiences
Touring a factory or going behind-the-scenes at a local museum turns something familiar into a unique experience.
22. Buy a book
Give kids a gift card to a bookstore and take them there with plenty of time to browse the shelves.
Buy it: Barnes and Noble Gift Card at Barnes and Noble
23. Restaurant gift cards
Let the kids decide what’s for dinner with a selection of gift cards to their favorite restaurants.
Buy it: Darden Restaurants Gift Card at Amazon
24. Take a train ride
If you have a train near you and a train-loving child, going to ride a real train is a great experience gift. Even better if there is a train event, like Day Out With Thomas or the Polar Express.
25. Salon date
Many spas have mani-pedi packages specifically for kids and other special kids packages. Book an afternoon of pampering at a spa that has services for you and your child.
Buy it: Spa Finder Gift Card at Spa Finder
26. Visit a fire station
Call a local fire station and see if they are willing to host your community-helpers-obsessed child for a tour of the truck and station.
27. Limo ride and dinner
Book a limo to take your child to their favorite restaurant or location. It may be a fancy way to get to your local trampoline park or pizza parlor, but they’ll remember it!
28. Hot-air balloon ride
Gift a hot-air balloon ride to show your child your neighborhood and region from the sky. (You’ll probably remember this experience for a while to come too!)
29. Bowling passes
Whether your kids have been bowling before or it’s their first time, give them the fun experience of bowling with family and friends.
30. Mystery day
Sign up for a mystery day near you and have an experience together where you’re discovering it all from start to finish.
Buy it: Mystery day at AmazingCo
31. Beach day
If you live near a beach, take a day trip. If you don’t live near a beach, set up the day so you’re enjoying fun in the sun by a pool or sprinklers with ice cream, taffy, and other beach favorites.
Take the kids to mini-golf, or big golf if they’re ready for it.
33. Go on a hike
Drive to a local hike that has interesting things to see and your child may see their town differently.
Buy it: Kids hiking boots at Amazon
34. Book a photo session
If you have a child who loves the camera, book a professional session where the photographer will make them feel like a star!
35. Afternoon tea
Dress up for a fancy tea, scones and crumpets included.
36. Boat ride
All you need for a boat experience is the ocean, a river, or a lake and a boat (and maybe a guide).
Ice-skating, especially if it’s your child’s first time, is a great gift for any kid who wants to give it a try.
38. Go to a theme restaurant
If your child has an interest, like the rainforest or Harry Potter, there may be a restaurant for that!
Experience Gifts You Can Do at Home
Some experience gifts can be done at home, and the preparation becomes part of the experience.
39. Family game night
Get a new board game and pop some popcorn for family game night.
Learn more: Best Board Games for Kids
40. Sleepover with a friend
Give your child an invitation to sleep over at their grandparents’ or a friend’s house.
Buy it: New Sleeping Bag at Amazon
41. Build a project
If your child has something they’ve always wanted—a tree house, a dollhouse, a new desk—take time to build it together.
Learn more: Zipline Platform Project at I Like To Make Stuff
42. Movie night
You may not have to leave home for a movie night. Get a new streaming service, like Disney Plus, and gift your child a box full of popcorn and snacks.
Buy it: Disney Plus Streaming Membership
43. Family baking night
Check out a cookbook from a local library and spend the afternoon making the house smell amazingly delicious.
44. Adventure Challenge book
Give more than one experience with this scratch-off book that has an adventure and challenge under each of 30 sections.
Buy it: Adventure Challenge Book at The Adventure Challenge
45. Build a garden
The process of creating a garden—going to the store to choose seeds, clearing the land, planting the seeds—is the gift. And it keeps on giving when the seeds grow.
46. Set up a slackline and obstacle course
If you have two trees in your yard, you can set up this obstacle course and turn your backyard into a challenge!
Buy it: Obstacle Course set at Amazon
Learn more: DIY Obstacle Courses Anyone Can Build
47. Fly a kite
Give the gift of a kite-flying session and your child will have to wait for the next windy day to redeem their gift.
Buy it: Get your own Kite-Making Kit from Kites in the Sky
48. Karaoke night
Karaoke can be fun for the whole family—the kid who wants to be a star, the one who likes to be silly, and the one who would rather laugh and cheer from the sidelines.
Buy it: Karaoke Machine at Amazon
49. Backyard zip line
A zip line can turn your backyard into an experience every day.
Buy it: Zipline kit at Amazon
50. Dance party
Put on some music, turn down the lights, and dance the evening away.
Buy it: Strobe Light at Amazon
Learn more: Best Dance Songs To Get Your Kids Moving
Online Experience Gifts
When kids can learn from a tutorial or demonstration, online experiences are a great option. Especially for things like music or magic where they can take the skills and perfect them after the class.
51. Magic class
Gift a one-hour class with a magician that shows you how magic tricks are created and has you doing tricks of your own.
Buy it: Magic Class at Uncommon Goods
52. A master class
For older kids, learning from the top expert is appealing. For example, a kid who is into tennis could learn all about it from Serena Williams.
Buy it: MasterClass membership at MasterClass
53. Virtual music class
Let your child try out music in the privacy of their room.
54. Pet portrait class
In this fun experience, kids can learn how to draw the family pet.
Buy it: Pet Portrait Class at Uncommon Goods
55. Astrology reading
Have some fun as a family learning what might happen next for you with an online astrology reading.
Buy it: Astrology Reading at Virgin Experience Gifts