55+ Fun Experience Gifts for Kids (+ Free Ideas!)

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Looking for fun experience gifts for kids? You’ve come to the right place! Below you’ll find 55 experience gifts for the whole family, including experience gifts for toddlers, kids and teens.

You’ll find free experience gift ideas too! And, experience gifts for different holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas.

Well before having kids, I transitioned limited to no gifts in order to reduce clutter, save money and be lighter on the environment. Now that we have kids, experience gifts have become a huge way for us to balance our values of less focused on material things with family members gifting out of love.

Personally, I’ve found a lot of experience gift lists online that offer the same ideas like “annual pass to the zoo.” I made this list to bring you some more unique experience gift ideas and free ideas to help you save money.

Let’s dive in!

this is a peach square with text that says clutter-free experience gifts

Why Give an Experience Gift

First, why should you give an experience gift to kids? Here are my favorite reasons for experience gifts:

  • Less clutter: much like we get overwhelmed when there’s too much stuff, having too many toys can actually limit play and make it hard for kids to find their toys.
  • More memorable: I personally remember so much more special activities from my childhood than what I got for Christmas when I was 7
  • Reduce waste and environmental burden: producing things has an environmental impact and most things are destined for the landfill when they wear out.
  • Teach less materialism: we want to teach out kids to be find happiness outside of what cool toy or new thing they have
  • Save money: there are many free experience gifts that can help save you money
  • Avoid “dud” toys: what kid hasn’t been given a toy that they immediately forget about 30 minutes later? Experience gifts save you from figuring out what to do with gift flops

Family Experience Gifts for All Ages

Now let’s get into the gift ideas. First on the list are experience gift ideas for the whole family. These experiences are great for kids of any age and are fun for parents too.

the image is a collage of images that are good experience gifts, including bowling, fishing, slumber party, and rock climbing. the text says 55 experience gifts: clutter free ideas

1. Cooking Class

I cannot wait until our kids are a little older and we can go to cooking classes together. Cooking classes are one of our favorite things to do when traveling, plus they teach kids an important life skill — cooking!

2. Hotel Overnight

I recently took our kids to Disney and after the trip our 4-year-old goes “you know what my favorite part was? Staying in the hotel.”

Our kids love everything about a hotel: walking around a new place, using the ice machine, watching cable TV.

3. Miniature Golf

Putt putt golf is fun because it works well for all skill levels. We took a 1-year-old and 3-year-old to miniature golf and even the 1-year-old had a blast chasing balls.

4. Fancy Dinner Out

If your kids like food, a fancy dinner out could be a great experience gift for the whole family. It has the added bonus of giving kids practice in that type of setting too.

Plus, it’s like those TikTok memes – take your kids to fancy meals so they aren’t impressed by the first boy or girl that takes them to Applebees 😂.

5. Aquarium or Fish Store Visit

Aquariums are always a win with kids. If there are no aquariums around, our younger kids seemed just as delighted checking out the fish at the pet store.

6. Kid-focused Vacation Destination

Some vacations are more kid-friendly than others. Check out a vacation spot just for kids, like Disney or a Great Wolf Lodge.

7. YMCA membership

YMCA’s offer families so many benefits and things to do. If your YMCA is like our local one, they may also offer child care when you’re at the gym so a YMCA membership is really win win for parents too.

8. Kayaking

If you have young kids, many kayaks can fit them sitting on your lap or behind you in the boat. Our oldest started using a small kids kayak at 3-years-old.

9. Theme Park Tickets

Theme park tickets are an easy win with kids so this one is an obvious one.

10. Bowling

Going bowling is a really fun family activity, and if you go during off hours you can usually bowl at a reasonable price.

11. Annual passes to local attractions

Memberships and annual passes to things like a zoo, aquarium or museum are great experience gifts. These are nice to ask from family members who like to give “bigger” gifts like grandparents.

12. Trampoline Park

Many trampoline centers have areas to cater to the whole family, including toddlers. Our local trampoline parks offer annual memberships too.

13. Dinner & a movie

Do a traditional date night as a family and go to dinner and a movie. Bonus if you can find a drive-in or a theater that serves a meal during the movie or a drive-in for added novelty.

14. Meal kit subscription

Cooking together as a family is fun and valuable. Gifting a week of meal kits can be extra fun for kids, especially if they can pick the kits.

Free Experience Gifts for Kids

15. Beach Trip

You can’t go wrong with a beach trip. For young kids, they can dig in the sand. Older kids can paly in the water. And parents go home with exhausted kids that will sleep well that night. Win win.

16. Screens-All-Day Day

Give your kids the pass of one day where they can watch Tv & movies or play video games for as long as they want. Not only do you seem like a cool parent, you get the added bonus of a rest day for yourself.

17. Camping Trip

If you already own a tent and sleeping bags, camping can be a totally free family experience. Popping a tent in your own backyard can be an easy and fun option, no camp site reservation fee required.

18. Host a sleepover party

Sleepovers are quintessential childhood but work for parents. Give the gift taking on that labor and letting your kid throw an extra slumber party this year.

19. Scavenger Hunt

I remember so vividly how fun it was when my parents would be scavenger hunts for our Easter baskets each year. You could do a scavenger hunt for their Christmas gifts or organize a fun scavenger hunt for them and their friends.

20. Fishing

Really, fishing works for any age but the wonder a toddler gets when they catch their first fish is something special.

21. Yes Day

A la the Jennifer Garner movie, give you kids a yes day. If you want to keep it free, give your kids the stipulation that you’ll say yes but it can’t cost money.

22. Hunt fireflies

There is nothing more magical than getting to stay up late and run around a field full of fireflies. I took a whole class on fireflies in college and it was the best.

Take a pen light with you and try to mimic their flash patterns to attract them to you. Don’t forget to look for them in a the grass as well.

23. Forage fruits

My toddler was sooo into foraging wild raspberries on hikes over the summer. You can find community sourced foraging maps online, like Falling Fruit.

24. Get-Out-of-Chores-Free coupons

Much like adults love to be given gifts that save them time, like a house cleaning or meals, kids also appreciate getting to skip cleaning up their room sometimes too.

You can make a coupon book with their chores that they can redeem to not have to load the dishwasher one night.

Experience Gifts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

25. Farm Visit

Visiting a farm is great for the toddler and preschool age group. They can pet a goat, see chickens and run around.

26. Music or art class

Music or art classes are gifts for kids, but also the parent who needs an activity to occupy a 2-year-old on a long afternoon.

27. Disney+ subscription

Let’s be real, this one is as much for the parents as the kids. Disney+ has a great selection of shorts for when you need to use screen time as a tool, but don’t want the addictive drivel you find on YouTube.

28. Car Wash Trips

Driving through a car wash is a cheap thrill for little kids. You can even get a monthly pass to some car wash places for unlimited washes.

29. Pet toys to bring to local shelter for donation

Give your kid some pet toys that you can take to donate to the local animal. This models charitable giving, let’s them see the animals they’re helping and is fun because they can visit animals.

30. Dolly Parton Book Club, PJ Library or Magazine Subscription

Our toddlers are OVERJOYED to receive mail with their name on it. It is a huge novelty and thrill for them. You can give the gift of mail with a free book club or magazine subscription.

We’ve received monthly books in the mail for free from services like the Dolly Parton Book club (availability based on zip code) and PJ Library (available to Jewish families).

If you don’t qualify for free monthly books, you can get a similar experience by signing up for a kids magazine like High Five. Magazine subscriptions are great for older kids too.

31. Train Ride

What little kid doesn’t love a train? There are a number of ways to do a train ride for little kids

  • Holiday “Polar Express” themed train rides
  • Miniature steam engine trains at a park
  • Mall trains
  • Hop an Amtrak to the next city and back
  • Do a metro-ride day if you’re in a city

32. Monster Truck Rally

There is truly nothing in the world that our oldest loves more than trucks. If you also have a truck-loving toddler, get some tickets to a Monster Truck rally.

Monster Truck rallies never crossed my mind until I had a kid so I wanted to remind you that they exist and they are a thrill for tiny truck lovers.

Need more truck-focused ideas? Here is our list of favorite tried-and-true dump truck toys.

33. Dollar Store Shopping Spree

Give you kid $5 and let them go nuts in a Dollar Tree. This is fun because they don’t get that type of shopping autonomy, and it is an early and fun lesson on budgeting. Plus, it is usually a true delight to see what they actually pick out.

Here are some of great Dollar Tree Christmas gifts and my favorite Dollar Tree stocking stuffers to give you an idea of all the fun stuff for toddlers at your local Dollar Store.

Experience Gifts for Kids

34. Arcade Night

Giving a bag of quarters or tokens from the local arcade is a fun way to gift a physical gift for an arcade night.

35. Water Park or Water Slides

I absolutely love a water slide. If you don’t have a water park nearby, check out local community pools with slides or hotels with a water slide as an alternative.

36. Special Day Camp

If there is a special day or summer camp that your kid would love, that could make a great experience gift. You could wrap up the flyer for the camp as their present.

37. Desserts-only Outing

Go do a dessert tasting at a restaurant or do a “dessert crawl” where you go try desserts at a few stops. You could do all ice cream places and play judge of the best ice cream.

38. Laser Tag

Laser tag is a fun outing and can be a good experience gift to “redeem” on a rainy day when you need an indoor activity.

39. Ice Skating

Ice skating can be a particularly festive experience gift to give around the holidays.

40. Fancy Food Basket

A gourmet food basket can be a fun way for kids to try new foods and snacks. It can feel fancy and “adult” adding to the fun for kids.

41. Disney on Ice

Figure skating is amazing and when you pair that with beloved Disney songs? You are in for a treat. I once went as an adult before I had kids and it was a delight, so really this is an experience for kids and parents alike.

42. Restaurant gift card

Giving a gift of a restaurant gift cards gives kids the fun of “getting to pay” and practice budgeting too.

43. Local fair ride vouchers

If your area has a local fair, state fair or Renaissance festival, pick up tickets or give future vouchers for rides at the fair.

Experience Gifts for Teens

44. Tickets to a Concert

When I was a teenager, all I wanted to tickets to Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears — the early 2000’s were made for teenagers.

Now concerts are even more of an experience and actually landed coveted concert tickets a feat, so this one tops the list for teen experience gifts.

45. Rock Climbing

Rock climbing gyms are really fun and they’re great for older kids.

46. Host a party for friends

Give your kid the gift of letting them have an extra party with their friends one year, not just on their birthday.

47. Bring a friend on family vacation

What kid doesn’t have such fond memories of getting to go on vacation with their best friend? It is also nice for parents to get spend time with their kids closest friends.

48. Escape Room

Escape rooms can be a fun family activity but they’re better for older kids. You could also gift a teen an escape room trip with friends.

49. Manicures & Pedicures

Manicures and pedicures are a treat and nail art can be a cool form of self expression for a teen.

50. Passport

My passport is my favorite possession. International travel is such a precious gift because it opens minds, makes people more connected to people of different cultures and teaches about world affairs. Giving a teen a passport is giving them the ticket to the world.

51. An investment they can track

Give the gift of financial literacy before you kid leaves the house. Giving even a small investment or high-interest savings account can get kids excited to watch how interest compounds when you save.

52. Gym membership or classes

Gym classes and memberships are great for teens since they’re fun, give teens a space where they can be independent, and help establish healthful habits.

53. Spa trip

Give your teen some luxury with a spa trip or a massage.

54. Certification programs

Scuba, sailing, personal trainer – there are lots of different certifications a teen may want to pursue. This can be both a fun and practical gift, especially if the certification leads to a professional skill.

54. Gas gift cards

The best gift for any teenager is the gift of freedom in the world. Gas gift cards are both practical and symbolically give your teen the gift of exploring unaccompanied.

Experience Gifts by Holiday

Here are ideas for different experience gifts for each holiday. These gift ideas theme well with the holiday, like gifting a beach trip in an Easter basket since summer is around the corner.

Valentine’s Day Experience Gifts

  • Cooking class
  • Desserts-only tasting at a restaurant
  • Have a slumber party
  • Spa trip
  • Dinner and a movie family date night
  • Gift card for a fancy dinner out after Valentine’s Day

Easter Experience Gifts

  • Beach trip
  • Taking rabbit pet supplies to the shelter for donation
  • Bring a friend on an upcoming summer vacation
  • Special camp for the summer
  • Bowling
  • Scavenger hunt for Easter baskets or eggs

Winter Holidays Experience Gifts

  • Ice skating
  • Skiing
  • Host a kids holiday party
  • Manicures with holiday-themed nails
  • Gym membership for New Years resolutions
  • “Polar Express” themed train ride
  • Watch holiday movies all day

12 Months of Family Experiences

If you want to go all in on experience gifts, a cute way to theme them is to give 12 experiences to be done over the course of the year. This works for “12 Days of Christmas” too.

You can theme the gifts for each month based on the time of year or key dates for your family. For example, for June give water park tickets and for December tickets to the Nutcracker. Our kids have birthdays in the same month so that would be the month we’d put a big experience like a kid-focused vacation.

the image shoes a family on a cliff looking out at the sea and the text says 12 months of experience gifts for kids that are better than toys.

Here are a few sets of 12-month experience gifts to help inspire you:

  • January: Skiing
  • February: Fancy family dinner out during Valentine’s Day week
  • March: Spring Break family vacation
  • April: Manicures or spa before prom season
  • May: Host an end-of-school slumber party
  • June: Beach trip
  • July: Night hike to find fireflies
  • August: Movies or video games all day before school starts
  • September: Family camp out
  • October: Fall festival tickets
  • November: Cooking class before Thanksgiving
  • December: Holiday performance tickets

And another set of ideas:

  • January: Start an annual membership to a local attraction
  • February: Dessert-tasting outing for Valentine’s Day
  • March: Take a pottery class
  • April: Local fair tickets
  • May: Do a “stay-vacation”
  • June: Swim lessons
  • July: Celebrate Christmas in July
  • August: Beach overnight
  • September: Go to Disney World during low season
  • October: Organize a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt
  • November: Have a cozy living room camp-out
  • December: Go ice skating

Wrapping Experience Gifts

Finally, here are some ways to wrap experience gifts so your kids still have the same fun moment of opening a present:

  • Wrap a box with a card inside explaining the experience
  • Print pictures of the experience (e.g a picture of the horse for a horseback riding gift)
  • Give an item essential for the experience (e.g. bait for a fishing trip)
  • Put tickets, gift cards, or annual passes in a Christmas card
  • Hang notes with the experiences as ornaments on the tree
  • Make a coupon book of experiences

Read More:

Need more gift ideas? Check out these gift dollar store gifts for kids to save you money.

About the Author

Elizabeth Jon is a Ph.D. researcher whose work focuses on pregnancy and education. At Shoestring Baby, she uses her skills to research baby name trends, in-depth baby gear reviews & money savings ideas for parents.

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