Unique Gift Experiences Your Chicago Kids Will Love

Unwrap memories that will last forever!

For the holiday season, toys are usually on the top of your child’s wish list. But honestly, we are tired of adding more things to their overflowing closet brimming with blocks, plushies and everything in between.

Consider gifting your kids an experience that they will cherish forever. Whether it’s a family day at a local museum to check out the latest exhibit or a staycation to explore, here are our favorite experience gifts that’ll last beyond the season.

Indoor water park getaway

Photo credit: Great Wolf Lodge Illinois

Who wouldn’t want to escape from brutal Midwest winters (even if only temporarily)? Try gift passes and an overnight stay at a Chicago-area water park. Kids can burn off energy at Great Wolf Lodge Illinois in Gurnee with non-stop swimming, water action, along with plenty of dry activities such as MagiQuest, arcade, ropes course, bowling and mini golf.

Medieval Times tickets

Photo credit: Medieval Times

Are the kids fascinated with how things used to be? Take it back, way back to the Medieval era where chivalry and pageantry exist, along with knights and queens. Bring the whole family to Medieval Times where you can indulge in a hearty feast (sans utensils) and engage in a thrilling show combined with the pageantry of theater.

Museum family memberships

Photo credit: J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Particularly for little ones who don’t have much need for new toys, a membership to a local museum is a gift the entire family can enjoy together all year long. Museum of Science and Industry‘s family membership (starting at $195) includes parking, discounts on tickets to special exhibits, free theater tickets and half-off admission to nearby Chicago and Wisconsin museums.

Movie theater gift cards

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Plenty of movies are coming out this holiday season. Grab a gift card at any of the movie theaters such as Classic Cinemas, Marcus Cinemas, Regal Cinemas and many smaller local theaters.

Tickets to a sports game

Photo credit: Chicago Wolves

Get your littlest Chicago fans cheering on Chicago’s major and minor league teams with tickets to a game. Pair the tickets with fan gear. Though tickets to see the Bulls or the Blackhawks can come with a hefty price tag, buy tickets to see the Chicago Wolves play at Allstate Arena and take advantage of the family-friendly activities included in your ticket price.

Music classes

Photo credit: Old Town School of Folk Music

Aspiring Beethovens and wanna-be rock stars will love a gift that exposes them to some of the amazing live music in town or helps them hone their own musical skills. Gift certificates to the Old Town School of Folk Music (with two Chicago locations) can be redeemed for private lessons, group classes, concert tickets or items from the retail shop.

Amusement park passes

Photo credit: Santa’s Village

If you’re finding your child always pushing the limit, then consider giving them the gift of an adventure. The smiles plastered on their faces will be no doubt priceless. Younger thrill-seekers can zip down roller coasters, bumper cars, and other fun rides at Santa’s Village.

Zoo memberships

Photo credit: Brookfield Zoo

Love animals? Make memories with the whole family and see your favorite animals up close and personal. A day at the zoo is always a great day and an especially fun one at Brookfield Zoo. Gift a family membership that includes parking and attraction tickets. Feel free to bring grandparents along since memberships include free guest tickets.

Disney on Ice tickets

Photo credit: Disney on Ice

Obsessed with Disney but can’t make it to Disney World or Disneyland? Settle for the next best thing and wait for Disney to come to you. Consider Disney on Ice. In January, “Magic in the Stars” is coming to town and your kids will love to see some of their favorite Disney characters.

Rock climbing classes

Photo credit: Nikko Salgado

Whether your child wants to learn to swim, play an instrument or take up a new sport, gift them a series of lessons to something they’ve always wanted to try. Try out rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago with a day pass, or even the Kids Academy for ages 5-12 on weekdays and weekends. This includes intro to bouldering, roped climbing, stretching, and climbing games.

Legoland Discovery Center membership

Photo credit: Legoland Discovery Center

Sure, you can give them Legos for the holidays, but how about Legos all year round? Legoland Discovery Center Chicago receive unlimited admission, discounts in the coffee shop, parties and guest tickets, as well as 10% off the Lego store.

Subscription boxes

Photo credit: Raddish Kids

Kids love getting mail, and there are a variety of subscription boxes – from crafts and cooking kits to fashion boxes and STEM building activities – that’ll cater to their unique interests. Give Raddish Kids a try where each month kids can cook up something fantastic in the kitchen with easy to follow instructions and fun themes.

Afternoon tea reservations

Photo credit: Casting Whimsy

What better way to have a special day than having afternoon tea with your little one? Chicago is full of options of places to raise your pinky and drink plenty of tea. Pekoe & Bean in Tinley Park and Casting Whimsy in Woodstock are family favorites!

Holiday hotel stays

Photo credit: Santa Suite

A holiday staycation will be a memorable moment. Stay at the Swissotel Chicago in a fun Chicago holiday themed-decorated room when Santa needs a place to crash in Chicago.

Round of mini golf

Photo credit: iStock/Milepost430Media

Looking for your next family outing? Try a friendly game of mini golf! And with these indoor options, it doesn’t matter if the weather outside is frightful. Hit up Puttshack, the newest indoor mini golf facility where tech meets putt putt.

Annual play place passes

Peppa Pig World of Play
Photo credit: Peppa Pig World of Play

Give the gift of playtime at these fun indoor play places and some places might offer tickets to enjoy all-year-round. For example, little piggies can run around any time they want with Peppa Pig World of Play‘s annual passes.  

Live theater tickets

Photo credit: Caroline Talbot Photography

Chicagoland’s theater scene offers plenty of kid-friendly performances for the entire family. Get tickets to one of these exciting family-friendly theater shows

Adventure park membership

Photo credit: The Forge

Daredevil in the family? Heights no problem? Give them the gift of adventure. Bonus: The whole family can participate, too! Look no further than the largest adventure park in the nation — The Forge Lemont Quarries. Conquer the high ropes elements or miles of zipline. Other activities include laser tag, adventure games, or ice skating.

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Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Since 1984, the Chicago Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for Chicagoland families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.
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