Beyond Toys: Creative Experience Gifts for Kids

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Are you looking for experience gifts for kids? Here are a few ideas to spend time together and build lasting memories. For parents who are ready to mix up their gift-giving routine, it’s a good idea to exchange the typical toys for something a bit more exciting. That’s where memorable experience gifts enter the scene.

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Are you looking for experience gifts for kids? Here are a few ideas to spend time together and build lasting memories.

These are presents that focus on creating fun, educational, and adventurous activities for children instead of just collecting more material items to clog your home.

If you need inspiration, hold tight as we talk you through a few creative experiential gifts that will help you make meaningful memories as a family, lasting a lot longer than a soon-forgotten piece of colorful plastic.

Exploring the Depths: Aquarium Adventures

Creative Experience Gifts for Kids

What type of experience are best for children?

Exploring the Depths: Aquarium Adventures

First up, you can dive into a world of underwater wonder with a visit to an aquarium, as this makes an excellent experience gift for inquisitive children.

Across the country, there are countless aquatic realms waiting to be explored. In Atlanta, encounter whale sharks at Georgia Aquarium, which is home to one of the largest indoor marine habitats worldwide.

If your travels lead you to California, and you’ve got gadgets to make your road trip easier, don’t miss Monterey Bay Aquarium’s spellbinding kelp forest and sea otter displays.

On the East Coast, The National Aquarium in Baltimore is renowned for its vibrant tropical ecosystem exhibit teeming with exotic species.

Wherever you go, give your child a thrilling day at an aquarium that not only educates them about diverse marine life but also ignites their interest in environmental conservation.

Thrills in Abundance: Amusement Park Fun

If you want to inject a dose of adrenaline into your child’s life, you can try presenting them with amusement park tickets.

Parks across the country play host to enchanting experiences, where roller coasters twist and turn between cotton candy clouds while merry-go-round melodies chime out overexcited laughter.

This can be more affordable than you think. For instance, with discounted Cedar Point tickets you can save on entry to this park located in Ohio, which has been dubbed the roller coaster capital of the world. Our family had the opportunity to go to this park, and we had the best time!

Other worthy contenders include California’s Disneyland Resort, Disney Florida, or Florida’s Universal Studios for their movie-themed rides that captivate children’s imaginations.

From gentle carousels to pulse-pounding thrill rides, amusement parks offer an unforgettable range of experiences that cater to every age group and bravery level, making it a gift experience any child will love.

Florida’s Universal Studios

Encouraging Creativity: Art Classes for Kids

In order to help your child unleash their inner Picasso, give the unique gift of a trip to an art class. Such classes offer multifaceted learning opportunities, building not just artistic skills but also encouraging creativity, patience, and decision-making abilities.

A few activities they might participate in are:

  • Painting: On canvas or pottery, using watercolors or acrylics.
  • Drawing/Sketching: Pencil techniques to learn perspective and shading.
  • Collage Making: Cutting and assembling different materials to create diverse textures.
  • Sculpture: Crafting shapes from clay.

Each session nurtures the innate inventiveness of children while fostering an appreciation for artistic effort. Some classes may focus on specific lessons like Pop Art or Impressionism, while others will let imagination call the shots. Either way, enrolling in art sessions will provide your child with an enriching outlet where ideas can take shape on paper or in clay.

Leveraging a Love of Food: Child-Friendly Cooking Classes

You can transform your little ones into culinary whizzes with the delectably engaging gift of a children’s cooking class. Involvement in the kitchen activates their creativity and builds practical skills, nurturing both independence and an understanding of nutrition. Various activities to be found in such classes include:

  • Baking: Fun recipes like cookies or mini pies.
  • Meal Preparation: Simple dishes such as pasta or salads.
  • Food Decoration: Creating visually appealing edible art.
  • Understanding Ingredients: Learning about flavors, and textures.

While under professional supervision, they learn safety measures (like proper knife handling), calculations for conversions between different ingredient measurements, and cultural appreciation through diverse cuisines. They might even want to help out more with food duties at home afterward!

Nature's Classroom: An Outdoor Camping Trip

Nature’s Classroom: An Outdoor Camping Trip

Camping offers children a delightful immersion in the great outdoors. They will learn respect for the environment and survival skills while creating cherished memories beneath starlit canopies. Here are some top-ranking places for such an unforgettable gift:

  • Yosemite National Park: Discover California’s stunning granite cliffs and verdant sequoia groves.
  • Shenandoah National Park: Unplug your child from digital devices with tranquil waterfalls in Virginia.
  • Acadia National Park: Teach them about wildlife diversity along Maine’s rugged coastlines
  • Yellowstone, Wyoming: Let geysers and vivid pools kindle their sense of wonder.

Each park is a treasure trove of natural landmarks that will keep kids in awe during hikes or guided tours. With nothing more than a tent, sleeping bag, and firewood to grill marshmallows over, even city-dwelling kids will appreciate what camping brings to the table.

Starry-Eyed Wonder: Planetarium Visits

A trip to the planetarium is both enlightening and entertaining, cultivating your child’s astronomical curiosity. There are many impressive venues of this type to visit, such as:

  • Hayden Planetarium, NY: Housed within New York’s American Museum of Natural History.
  • Adler Planetarium: This Chicago gem allows visitors to ‘walk through space’ using technology.
  • Griffith Observatory, LA: Renowned worldwide for commanding views over the Los Angeles skyline.

Each trip lets children witness spectacular cosmic phenomena via state-of-the-art exhibits, from planets swirling in galaxies to comets hurtling across the void. As such it’s well worth hot-footing it to your local planetarium if possible.

From Page to Stage: Children’s Theater Performances

From Page to Stage: Children’s Theater Performances

Present your child with a feast for their senses in the form of a trip to the theater, where stories leap off the page and onto the stage. Witnessing live performances fosters empathy, stokes imagination, and develops an appreciation for dramatic artistry in children. Here are a couple of theaters that specialize exclusively in kids’ shows:

  • New Victory Theater: Hailed as New York City’s premier performing arts venue specifically devoted to kids.
  • The Seattle Children’s Theatre: Offers enticing theatrical productions tailored for young audiences.

Whether it be enchanting fairy tales or play adaptations featuring their favorite pop culture characters, theater visits at an early age help to create the next generation of performers.

Wild Wonders: Zoo Excursions

Wild Wonders: Zoo Excursions

Step into the fascinating world of wildlife with this experiential gift – a trip to some of America’s best zoos. From lions and giraffes to birds and reptiles, zoos bring diverse species right before your child’s eyes, cultivating their appreciation for biodiversity. Here are a few that particularly stand out:

  • San Diego Zoo: Known for its expansive aviaries and cool polar bear plunge.
  • St Louis Zoo in Missouri: Home to over 17,000 animals across 900 species.
  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: Named the greenest zoo in America.
  • Omaha Zoo: Known for the largest indoor desert and indoor rainforest in North America.

Each visit lets children encounter wild creatures while learning about endangered species and conservation efforts worldwide. The combination of fun rides, animal shows, feeding stations or even night safari walks make such gifts last a lifetime.

Other Experience Gifts

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More Experience Gifts for Kids Ideas:

  • Science Center Pass: Access to a science center or planetarium to explore interactive exhibits and learn about the universe.
  • Botanical Garden Membership: Membership to a botanical garden where kids can explore beautiful gardens and learn about plants.
  • Sports Camp or Lessons: Enroll them in a sports camp or provide lessons for activities like swimming, tennis, or martial arts.
  • Music Lessons: Give the gift of music by enrolling them in piano, guitar, or violin lessons.
  • Outdoor Adventure: Plan a day of outdoor adventure such as horseback riding, zip-lining, or rock climbing.
  • Tickets to a Sporting Event: Take them to see their favorite sports team in action.
  • Concert Tickets or Theater Tickets: Attend a live concert, musical, or theatrical performance together.
  • Nature Camp: Enroll them in a summer camp focused on outdoor activities and environmental education.
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride: For older kids, consider a hot air balloon ride for a unique and breathtaking experience.
  • Train Ride: Take them on a scenic train ride, perhaps on a historic railway or through beautiful landscapes.
  • Wildlife Safari: Plan a day at a wildlife safari park where they can see exotic animals up close.
  • Subscription Box: Sign them up for a monthly subscription box that delivers science experiments, books, or art supplies.
  • Indoor Trampoline Park: Spend a day at an indoor trampoline park for high-flying fun.
  • Escape Room Adventure: Try an age-appropriate escape room challenge for a thrilling and brain-teasing experience.
  • Dolphin or Whale Watching Tour: Take a boat tour to observe dolphins or whales in their natural habitat.
  • Culinary Experience: Treat them to a kid-friendly cooking class or a food tasting tour.
  • Pottery Painting: Visit a pottery studio where they can paint their own pottery pieces.
  • Virtual Reality Experience: Explore virtual reality arcades or experiences for an immersive adventure.
  • Indoor Trampoline Park Pass: Jumping and bouncing around at an indoor trampoline park can provide hours of active fun.
  • Escape Room Challenge: Take them to an escape room where they can work with a group to solve puzzles and mysteries, offering a unique and mentally stimulating adventure.
  • Water Park Pass: A day at a water park with water slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers is a refreshing and fun experience, especially during the summer.
  • Comedy Club Night: Enjoy a night of laughter at a comedy club with a stand-up comedy show.
  • Family Movie Night or Theater Night: Treat them to a movie at the cinema or tickets to a live theater production.
  • Indoor Skydiving Experience: Indoor skydiving provides the sensation of freefall without jumping out of an airplane, making it a thrilling and unique adventure.
  • Laser Tag or Paintball: A fun and action-packed day of laser tag or paintball with friends can be an exciting experience.
  • Go-Kart Racing: Go-kart racing on a track can provide an exhilarating and competitive experience.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) Gaming: Explore the world of virtual reality with a visit to a VR gaming center for an immersive and entertaining experience.
  • Culinary Tour: Go on a culinary tour of the city, trying different restaurants or food trucks known for their delicious offerings.
  • Science Center Visit: Spend the day at a science center with interactive exhibits, experiments, and educational entertainment.
  • Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf: Enjoy a round of glow-in-the-dark mini golf for a unique and entertaining experience.
  • Dance Lessons: Sign up for a dance class like salsa, hip-hop, or ballet for a lively and enjoyable activity.
  • Ice Skating: A day at the ice rink, whether it’s an outdoor or indoor venue, offers the thrill of gliding on ice. Ice skating is a fun and active experience suitable for all ages, and it’s perfect for enjoying with friends and family.
  • Children’s Museum Visit: A trip to a children’s museum is a fantastic experience gift for kids. These museums are designed to be interactive and hands-on, providing children with opportunities to explore, learn, and play in a fun and educational environment.
  • Roller Skating: A roller skating adventure is a classic and entertaining experience gift for kids and families. Whether at a local roller rink or on outdoor trails, roller skating provides hours of active fun. It’s a great way for children to develop balance and coordination while gliding on wheels.
  • Horseback Riding Lessons: Horseback riding lessons are a delightful experience gift for kids who have a love for animals and adventure. Learning to ride a horse offers a unique blend of physical activity, outdoor exploration, and connection with these magnificent animals.
  • Swim Lessons: children can embark on a journey of water safety and physical fitness, all while having a ton of fun splashing and making new friends in the pool.
  • Indoor Rock Climbing: Climbing walls provide a unique opportunity for kids to test their strength, problem-solving abilities, and courage, making it an ideal gift for those who crave thrilling experiences.
  • Baseball: Whether they dream of being the next baseball star or just want to have a blast with friends on the diamond, a baseball experience can teach valuable life lessons while fostering a love for the game.

Remember to consider the child’s age, interests, and any safety considerations when selecting an experience gift. These gifts can be both exciting and educational, offering valuable experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

These are some of the best experience gifts and can be given by parents for a family vacation, or grandparent for a holiday or birthday. You can even include an idea like this as a great gift via gift card or gift certificate. It’s sure to create some wonderful family bonding.

Dance Lessons: Sign up for a dance class like salsa, hip-hop, or ballet for a lively and enjoyable activity.

Experience Gifts for Kids Q & A:

Are experiences better than gifts? Why experience gifts are important?

Whether experiences are better than physical gifts depends on various factors, including the individual’s preferences, the occasion, and the purpose of the gift. Both experiences and physical gifts have their own advantages, and the choice between them can be subjective. Here are some considerations:

Advantages of Experiences:

  1. Memories: Experiences often create lasting memories that can be cherished for a lifetime. The excitement and joy from an enjoyable experience can be recalled and shared over time.
  2. Learning and Growth: Many experiences offer opportunities for learning and personal growth. They can provide new skills, knowledge, and perspectives.
  3. Reduced Clutter: Experiences are typically clutter-free. They don’t add to the accumulation of physical possessions, making them appealing to minimalists or those with limited storage space.
  4. Quality Time: Experiences often involve spending quality time together, whether with family, friends, or loved ones. This can strengthen relationships and create bonds.
  5. Unique and Personal: Experiences can be tailored to the recipient’s interests and passions, making them highly personalized gifts.

Advantages of Physical Gifts:

  1. Tangibility: Physical gifts offer something tangible that can be unwrapped and physically held, which can bring immediate gratification.
  2. Variety: The range of physical gifts available is vast, catering to diverse tastes and interests. There’s something for everyone.
  3. Longevity: Some physical gifts can last a long time or even a lifetime, providing ongoing value and reminders of the giver.
  4. Surprise and Excitement: The element of surprise when opening a gift can be highly enjoyable and emotionally rewarding.
  5. Symbolism: Physical gifts can symbolize thoughtfulness, love, and care, making them meaningful expressions of affection.

Ultimately, the choice between experiences and physical gifts depends on the recipient’s preferences and the nature of the occasion. Some people may prefer one over the other, while others may appreciate a thoughtful balance of both. It’s essential to consider the recipient’s personality, interests, and the sentiment you wish to convey when deciding whether to give an experience or a physical gift. Additionally, combining both experiences and thoughtful physical gifts can provide a well-rounded and memorable gift-giving approach.

What activities make kids happy?

Children can find happiness and fulfillment in a wide range of activities, and what makes them happy can vary based on their individual interests, age, and personality. Here are some activities that often bring joy to kids:

  1. Playtime: Play is essential for a child’s happiness and development. Whether it’s imaginative play with toys, building with blocks, or creating make-believe worlds, play allows children to explore their creativity and have fun.
  2. Outdoor Adventures: Many kids love spending time outdoors. Activities like playing in the park, riding bikes, hiking, exploring nature, and going on picnics can bring happiness.
  3. Arts and Crafts: Engaging in artistic and creative activities such as drawing, painting, crafting, and sculpting allows children to express themselves and take pride in their creations.
  4. Reading and Storytelling: Reading books, listening to stories, or making up their own tales can be a source of joy for children. It fosters a love for literature and imagination.
  5. Sports and Physical Activities: Many kids enjoy sports like soccer, basketball, swimming, and dancing. Physical activities not only provide exercise but also promote teamwork and social interaction.
  6. Music and Dance: Singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments can bring happiness to many children. It allows them to express themselves through rhythm and melody.
  7. Exploring Science and Nature: Some kids are curious about the world around them. Exploring science experiments, observing insects, or visiting science centers can be exciting.
  8. Cooking and Baking: Cooking or baking with adult supervision can be a fun and educational activity that results in delicious treats.
  9. Puzzles and Brain Teasers: Solving puzzles, playing board games, or tackling brain-teasers can be mentally stimulating and enjoyable for kids.
  10. Pets and Animals: Interacting with pets, visiting zoos, aquariums, or farms, and learning about animals can be a source of happiness for animal-loving children.
  11. Socializing and Playdates: Spending time with friends and having playdates, sleepovers, or parties can make kids very happy.
  12. Helping Others: Engaging in acts of kindness, volunteering, or helping others in need can be fulfilling and create a sense of happiness through empathy and generosity.
  13. Hobbies and Special Interests: Encouraging children to pursue their unique interests, whether it’s collecting, gardening, coding, or any other hobby, can bring them great joy.
  14. Family Time: Quality time with family members, including outings, game nights, or simply having conversations, can be a significant source of happiness for children.

It’s important to remember that children are individuals with their own preferences and personalities. What makes one child happy may not necessarily apply to another. Paying attention to a child’s interests and passions and providing opportunities for them to explore and engage in activities they enjoy is key to nurturing their happiness and well-being.

Are you looking for experience gifts for kids? Here are a few ideas to spend time together and build lasting memories.

Do kids appreciate experience gifts?


Yes, many kids appreciate experience gifts, and these types of gifts can provide them with valuable and memorable experiences that contribute to their happiness and personal growth. However, the extent to which a child appreciates an experience gift may depend on several factors, including their age, interests, and prior experiences. Here are some considerations:

  1. Age: Younger children may have a limited understanding of the concept of experience gifts, so the choice of the experience should be age-appropriate. For example, a toddler might not fully grasp the concept of a museum membership, but they may enjoy a day at the zoo.
  2. Interests: The key to a successful experience gift for a child is selecting an activity that aligns with their interests and passions. If a child loves animals, a trip to an aquarium or a wildlife safari might be appreciated. If they enjoy art, art classes or a visit to an art museum could be a hit.
  3. Involvement: Involving the child in the selection process or allowing them to choose from a few options can increase their excitement and appreciation for the experience gift. It gives them a sense of ownership over the experience.
  4. Quality Time: Many experience gifts involve spending quality time with a child’s family or loved ones, which can make the experience even more meaningful and enjoyable for them.
  5. Novelty: Experience gifts often offer unique and novel experiences that children may not have had before, making them particularly exciting and memorable.
  6. Educational Value: Experience gifts that have an educational component, such as visits to museums, science centers, or cultural events, can be both enjoyable and enriching for kids.
  7. Positive Associations: If a child has had positive experiences with past experience gifts, they may come to appreciate and look forward to them in the future.
  8. Emotional Connection: Experience gifts can create strong emotional connections and lasting memories, which can lead to a greater appreciation over time.

While experience gifts can be a fantastic way to provide children with meaningful and memorable experiences, it’s important to consider the child’s individual preferences and interests when choosing such gifts. By tailoring the experience to the child’s likes and involving them in the process, you can increase the likelihood that they will appreciate and enjoy the gift.

Travel Experience Gifts For Kids

We have enjoyed many years of traveling together as our experience gifts. Some have been small like a weekend get away, and other’s a trip to a city. I have pictures of all of these trips, and only recently started creating video of our experiences to share with all of you. Here are some examples of some of the trips that I have video for and you can find more on my YouTube channel

Creative Experience Gifts for Kids

The reality is that while kids won’t remember most of the toys they get, they’ll love going back and reliving the memories they made with you on exciting excursions. That’s why it’s a good idea to move beyond traditional gives and give them experiences instead. Hopefully, you now have some ideas for how to do this!

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