Our lives are filled with “stuff”. From camping gear and clothes to electronics and cast iron cookware, gear is a neccessity for many activities and outdoor pursuits. Gear can help us get outside more often, but stuff doesn’t enrich our lives or provide us with memories that live on. Only shared experiences can do that! So this year, give experience gifts.
Experience Gifts are TOO BIG to Wrap!
Families who travel and do things together enjoy where they are in the moment, but also count their experiences for years to come. Rather than buying something for Christmas or a birthday, consider giving one of these experience gifts to create shared memories with your loved ones. We have put together a list of 10 of our favorite experience gifts for families. These experience gift ideas range from small activities you can do in your own hometown to once-in-a-lifetime style experiences. These trips, experiences, and gift solutions will be the BEST gift they get this year.
Disclosure: This gift guide filled with family gift ideas contains affiliate links. When you purchase through these links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I’ll only recommend and share products that I use/love myself. Thanks!
National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass
Families who love the great outdoors will enjoy 12 months of access to all US National Parks. They can explore everything from Mesa Verde and Arches to the Everglades and Mammoth Cave National Park. Passes allow for admission of pass holder, 3 additional adults ages 16+, and children 15 and under wherever entrance fees are charged.
Buy at usgs.gov $80
Note: Annual pass is free for US 4th Grade students and active duty US military and their families.
Yellowstone & Grand Teton Family Expedition
Embark on a 8 day family adventure through two of the nations most beloved national parks. This guided expedition includes visits to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, floating down the Snake River, wildlife viewing, scavenger hunt, meals, lodging, and more. Plan your next adventure and go!
Check the National Geographic Expeditions website for dates and prices.
Tickets to a Local Event
Give a set of tickets to a local concert, sporting event, special event, theater presentation, etc. You don’t have to travel far to have fun and there are always plenty of local events happening. Groupon is where I like to go for discounted tickets. In the past I have found good discounts on everything from Haarlem Globetrotter tickets to Renaissance Festivals to Orchestra concerts.
Unique Train Experiences
Experience the Old West for yourself by riding the Nevada Northern Railway in an authentic 19th century steam locomotive. It’s a once in a lifetime experience the whole family can enjoy!
Choose between three different experiences. Ride with the Engineer, in the front and center of a steam engine or drive a steam engine yourself with the railway’s Be the Engineer program. For more adventure, Spend the Night in a Caboose. Whichever you choose, the whole family will never forget this experience.
Marine Animal Encounters in Panama City Beach, Florida
Here are fun experience gift ideas for sea life lovers. Panama City Beach’s Gulf World Marine Park allows you the opportunity to get up close with Harbor Seals, dolphins, penguins, or stingrays in one of the park’s animal encounter. They offer meet and greet sessions as well as the opportunity to become a trainer for the day.
Visit Gulf World Marine Park for more.
*BONUS – Panama City Beach offers other great events throughout the year on and off the beach. To help create a travel fund, here are a few apps that pay you money. They will help you save so you can do more as a family.
Skiing in Lake Tahoe
For the family who loves the mountains, escape to Lake Tahoe with skies in hand for time on the slops. Stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe and enjoy a host of winter experiences. Not to mention the world class skiing the area is known for and lodging that will make you feel right at home. It’s the perfect winter experience for the family who wants to get away this year.
Get current rates for The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, Truckee.
Visit a Dude Ranch
A dude ranch getaway is a fun family experience that offers a wide range of activities and amenities. From horse back riding and a cattle drive to campfires and relaxation, a dude ranch is a fun all-inclusive vacation. There are locations all over the country. Head to TripAdvisor to search for one near you or with the activities you would most enjoy.
Stay in a Finnish Glass Igloo
For the family that dreams of unique travel experiences, imagine their delight in staying at one of these glass igloos. Watch the Northern lights overhead and check off bucket list destinations. This is just one of the experience gifts you can choose with Tinggly, the world’s best experiences in a box. Tinggly is the perfect gift solution for families who want experiences over stuff.
Buy your Tinggly gift collection here.
Theme parks, museums, science center, and zoos are favorite destinations for families. Check out annual memberships to nearby attractions or give tickets to attractions for an upcoming trip. If visiting a larger city, check out CityPASS for discounted (up to 50% off) combination tickets.
Give Them the World with Rail Europe Gift Cards
Traveling with families can get expensive. This holiday season help your favorite family of travelers travel more or save some money for some extra travel fun and adventures. Giving Rail Europe’s Gift Cards in $25, $50, $100, $250, $300 and $500 dollar amounts can be used on any train ticket, rail pass, or Rail Europe product. It’s a great way to treat travel-loving families to memorable rail journeys, inspiring culture, and incredible vistas in Europe.
City Scavenger Hunt with Urban Adventure Quest
Give your loved ones the thrill of solving clues and completing challenges as they complete a city walking tour. This smart phone guided scavenger hunt is perfect for families. Interactive, fun, a bit educational, this adventure can be played 365 days a year, sunrise to sunset, on your own schedule in 58 different cities. Send a gift card or last minute e-gift card so the recipient can play in any of the Quest cities with up to a total of 5 family members.
Find the next quest at www.UrbanAdventureQuest.com
These are a few of our favorite experience gift ideas. Experiences with family last longer than the activity instead. Memories created can be enjoyed for a lifetime. If you’d made family travel resolutions to yourself, these are great places to start and will lead to many more in the future!