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, plushes and everything in between.
Consider gifting your kids an experience that they’re 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
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
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
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 memberships (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
Tickets to a sports game
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 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.
The Chicago Cubs are offering a new Holiday Pack that includes one voucher to Opening Day 2023 and three additional vouchers to use on select games throughout the 2023 regular season. In addition, each fan that purchases one or more Holiday Packs will receive a limited-edition Cubs ornament.
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
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.
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
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, Frozen & Encanto is coming to town and your kids will love to see some of their favorite Disney characters.
Rock climbing classes
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
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 percent off the Lego store.
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
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
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
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
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
Adventure park membership
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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