Instead of buying yet another toy or item for your little ones, have you thought about experience gifts for kids? Some of the best gifts I received as a child were not toys or things. They were experiences. For instance, my parents surprised me with a trip to a theme park one summer day.
I had such a blast, and thinking about how my parents couldn't participate in some of the rides due to health issues makes me appreciate that experience so much more.
The best things in life are made of memories, bonding, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. So rather than buying something for the special little ones in your life, bless them with a memory that will last a lifetime. You’d be surprised that even the simplest activities can make an impact.
21 Best experience gifts for kids
1. Take a trip to the zoo (One of the most educational experience gifts for kids)
Lions, tigers, and bears, OH MY! A trip to the zoo is one of the most incredible experience gifts for kids you can do. Not only is it fabulous for the animal lover, but it can also be educational. You can teach your little ones all about the animals as you enjoy your day.
2. Go to a waterpark or theme park
This is one of my favorite experience gifts for kids. We got to skip school one day and go to an epic waterpark! Not that I’m encouraging you to have your little one skip school, but life is short, and sometimes you have to embrace the moment.
They will have a blast zipping through the air on a speedy coaster or splashing around in the wave pool. You can save money on tickets by getting discounts and coupons on sites such as Theme Park Center or Groupon!
3. Take a painting class
Painting is fun and helps kids and adults express their creativity. It also improves focus, lowers stress, and “activates the reward centers” in your brain! You can take an in-person painting class or try a virtual one on Yaymaker.com or YouTube. This is one of the cheapest kids experience gifts you can give that's still very enjoyable.
4. Go ziplining
Ziplining is one of the most adventurous experience gifts for kids. This is an adrenaline-pumping fun way to spend time together that they will love. The average zip-line reaches 30-40 miles an hour, but some can get much faster than that!
Some places such as Adventures on the Gorge have you zipping over mountain ridges and valleys at speeds of 65 miles an hour.
5. Visit a farm
Visiting a farm can be a great experience for kids because it's fun and educational. They can learn all about farm animals and how they contribute food for them, such as eggs, milk, and cheese. Plus, they can enjoy seeing cows, chickens, goats, horses, and more.
6. Try horseback riding
Horseback riding is one of the most exhilarating kids experience gifts you can give! Horses are such majestic creatures that are a privilege to be around. Depending on where you live you can find horseback riding lessons or trails in the mountains or even on the beach.
7. Take a hot air balloon ride (One of the most unforgettable experience gifts for kids)
There is nothing quite like riding in a hot air balloon. Set your sights on the sky and take your little one on an unforgettable adventure. This isn’t for the faint-hearted though, because you will reach heights up to 2,000 feet in the air!
However, if you and your kids are daring, then this is one of the most thrilling kids' experience gifts ever.
8. Cruise to the beach
Who doesn’t love a weekend at the beach? Load up the car and head to the coast for a fun yet relaxing experience for the kids and yourself. You can cut costs by packing lunches and finding low-cost things to do while you’re there.
9. Go on a “glamping trip”
So what is glamping? Well, basically, it’s luxury camping at its finest. Rather than sleeping in a tent on the ground, you stay in a fun tree house or a beautiful yurt. Check out the best 18 places to go glamping for ideas on where to go!
10. Head to a gem mine
You’d be surprised at how many gem mines in the United States there are. You will pan for gorgeous gems, and you get to keep what you find. Depending on where you go, you can find amethysts, rubies, emeralds, and more.
Some places offer to make jewelry out of the gems you find too. Gem mining is one of the most adored gifts of experience for kids.
11. Check out a planetarium
Visiting a planetarium is a super cool kids experience gift. A planetarium is where you can go and view the glittering stars and planets through telescopes. They have a large dome room with seats and a projector that shines images of the stars and other objects on the ceiling.
12. Go tubing
You can either hit the snowy slopes in the Winter or tube down the river for a fun Summertime activity. Both are incredibly fun to do and a fairly inexpensive experience gift for kids.
If you are heading to a ski lodge, you can usually cut costs by going on a weekday instead of the weekend. The best thing about summer tubing is once you buy the tubes, you can find free places to go, such as lakes and rivers.
13. Try an escape room
Do your children love solving puzzles and mysteries? Then a trip to an escape room is the perfect experience for kids. An escape room is when you are locked in a themed room, and you have to solve riddles and clues to get out.
A word of caution is this isn’t great for those that are claustrophobic, so keep that in mind before you go. Also, they advise a trip to the bathroom before getting locked in!
14. Head to a state park
State parks are gorgeous and offer tons of entertainment. You can go hiking, biking, swimming, camping, and more. It’s also great if you enjoy photography as a hobby to capture beautiful landscapes and adorable animals. Find a park in your state and have an awesome adventure.
15. Buy tickets to a concert
Have your kids ever experienced seeing their favorite musician in person? Take them on an epic experience of seeing their icons singing their beloved songs. See if you can find pre-sale tickets to save some money on this one.
For instance, some credit card companies offer pre-sale tickets so you can be the first to know when they go on sale. You can also set up alerts to be notified when they are available.
16. Hit the arcade (Possibly the most entertaining experience gifts for kids)
Arcades are a blast and filled with fun games and things to do. If you have one close to your area, you can check out the ultimate arcades like Dave & Buster's or Chuck E Cheese. Your kids can try a game of old fashion skee ball or air hockey. Don’t forget to collect tickets and get prizes too.
17. Find a fair or carnival
Set out to a local fair or carnival and have a ball. The kids will have a great time playing games, eating yummy treats, and whipping around on the exciting rides. So check out sites such as Eventbrite and fairsandexpos.com to find carnivals and fairs near you!
18. Have a party
Most kids love to socialize, so a party is a fun experience gift for kids that can be easy and enjoyable to do. You can get party decorations, games, and other items cheap at stores such as the Dollar General or Dollar Tree.
Don’t forget to check out the Goodwill and other thrift stores for supplies too. Save on food by buying in bulk or at cheaper stores such as Aldi’s.
19. Go indoor skydiving (One of the most unique experience gifts for kids)
Who would have thought you could skydive safely. Indoor skydiving is when you get into a “vertical wind tunnel” that enables you to literally fly in the air as if you were jumping from a plane! This is one of the most unique experience gifts for kids they will never forget.
20. Go on a scavenger hunt
There are so many wonderful ideas for scavenger hunts you can do. For instance, the color scavenger hunt is great for toddlers because it can help them learn how to identify colors.
A nature scavenger hunt is fantastic for getting outdoors, but you can find one to do inside on those blah rainy days too.
21. Have a home face painting party
Try out your artistic skills and have a home face painting party. There are tons of budget-friendly face painting kits on Amazon that include stencils, brushes, and more. You could have a theme party and paint your faces like animals or insects too.
Make lasting memories with an experience gift for kids!
These gifts of experience for kids will make pleasant lasting memories. Experiences are so much better than things because you can keep those memories forever. Plus, you can find ways to cut costs but still have fun.
Remember, it's essential that you save up for gifts and not go into debt trying to have fun. Set up a savings plan and make it part of your monthly budget, so you don't derail your finances.
Make saving money fun and easy with our completely free savings challenge bundle! Also, be sure to follow Clever Girl Finance on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for the best money-saving tips and tricks!