So many of you are moving towards giving gifts that are going to gather dust to end up in the landfill sooner rather than later, so we thought we’d inspire you with a list of some of our favourite Experience Gifts for Kids.
There’s nothing like learning a new skill, sport or activity to really stick with you for a lifetime. And we all love the joy we get from a great day making memories with our kids, nieces and nephews or grandkids. No matter what experience you choose to give, you’ll definitely love watching the progression from newbie to pro! Most classes are only available to purchase as an entire session, but here we are including one-off events or places/activities that offer memberships or gift cards as an option.
Kid-Approved Entertainment Ideas
Buying admission tickets ad gift cards will thrill your kids, and mean you always know exactly what you can do when the kids are climbing the walls! Here are some of our favourite places to play, if you’re looking for inspiration.
Adventurous kiddos will love the zipline and ever-changing swings at We Rock The Spectrum in Oakville.
Buy a pass to an indoor playground like Burlington’s Lil Monkeys. Parents will love the chill-out atmosphere (couches and free wifi!) and kids will love the 3 story tall climbers, arcade, slides and more.
Rock Climbing at The Hub in Mississauga has turned out to be our family’s favourite thing to do right now! It’s a workout, but something everyone can do and enjoy.
Mini Golf – Adventure Village or Putting Edge Glow-in-the-Dark mini-golf are both super fun courses.
Movie Passes are always a hit. Plus, supporting a local movie theatre is good karma and leaves you more money for popcorn.
Big kids love laser tag. You can gather a group of friends up or go head to head with your sibling, but you’re such to come out happy and exhausted. Planet Laser in Oakville has a Groupon deal here.
Outdoor Adventure Awaits!
You’ll never catch me bungee jumping, but these adventurous family-friendly day trips were amazing and I definitely recommend them.
Rafting on the Grand River was one of the best things we’ve done as a family. We included friends, too and it’s so easy, fun and affordable. Create your own gift certificate for one of these adventures and pen it onto your calendar.
Chicopee Tube Park and Zipline course was a summer adventure you just have to try. In the winter, opt for snow tubing, and in the summer you must try ziplining. Priced right and so easy for all ages.
When you buy an annual membership to a conservation area, you get 4 seasons of fun- including hiking, sledging, and swimming! Plus, access to special events, and you’ll always have a destination for some fresh air fun all year long. We buy memberships to both Hamilton and Halton Conservation Area passes because they offer so much for us to do all year long.
Royal Botanical Gardens memberships give you access to a year’s worth of their unique indoor and outdoor events and exhibits. In addition, you can hike their trails for free, enjoy free parking and free access to their natural playground.
Get Creative… Together
Burlington Performing Arts Centre has family performances all through December to kick off the holiday season, and a full calendar for 2022!
Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts – has family performances in December and is welcoming Splash and Boots in 2022!
Give a pottery lesson where kids can paint ready-made creations (look at Pottery N Paint Cafe and Play With Clay) or try throwing clay on the spinning pottery wheel at Creative Insight Pottery Studio in Waterdown. And if you’re a cool aunt or uncle or a grandparent who wants to spend more one-on-one time with your favourite people, you can both take part together!
Sports Tickets For Sports Fans
Some of the prices on major league tickets are out of this world, but we have just as much fun at lower division games – and we have extra money for hotdogs and popcorn! Try some of these options for your sports fan, or your entire family!
Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey was one of our favourite family memories. We highly suggest the Teddy Bear Toss Game!
Toronto Marlies Hockey is a very close option when you can’t get Maple Leafs tickets. Or check out the Toronto Rock Lacrosse – it’s high energy and comes highly rated by families we know! Their season runs December thru April, and they play in Hamilton, so it’s a perfect winter attraction. And not to be forgotten, Toronto FC is top-notch soccer close by. Their games are family-friendly (I’m told) and in an open-air stadium from April through November.
Hamilton Cardinals Baseball games are great for your ball fans and it gives you something to look forward to.
Raptors 905 Basketball is the local G League team and they play in Mississauga. A great alternative to The Toronto Raptors! Mississauga Steelheads play hockey in the same arena and their schedule includes themed games families will love.
Local Attractions Everyone Will Love
Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton is a great spot to visit with any age. Little ones will be wowed by the massive planes indoors and adults will love the historical and learning experience.
Museums of Burlington hosts dozens of family-friendly events throughout the year and offers 2 great museums to tour, each with fresh exhibits.
Royal Ontario Museum is a quintessential must-visit for everyone, and you’ll probably need to go a few times to see it all.
Ontario Science Centre is packed with so much educational fun that kids won’t even realize how much learning they’re absorbing.
Black Creek Pioneer Village (membership includes all six Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) conservation parks, three Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) locations, and the Kortright Centre for Conservation.
The Hockey Hall of Fame is pretty great to check out, and this is coming from a non-hockey-fan!
We cannot wait to get back to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. Kids (and parents) will love tickets to visit this massive indoor aquarium in Toronto.
One of our favourite family outings was to Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament in Toronto. It was perfect for the little kids and the 65+ crowd we were with. They really put on a memorable show.
Purchase Lessons of Any Sort
There’s nothing like learning a new skill, sport or activity to really stick with you for a lifetime. Learn to throw pottery on the wheel, pick up a second language, learn how to code or ice skate – no matter what you choose to give, you’ll definitely love watching the progression from newbie to pro! We’ve got a huge list of classes and lessons for kids right here. Ask the kids what they want to learn and make it happen!
Coffee dates at a fancy coffee house like Copper Kettle in Waterdown gets you some quality time… with fritters! Maybe buy a few gift cards and label them on different dates for your special time throughout the year. My kids have loved mani/pedi dates with Grandma at Styled Lounge in Burlington, or treat them to a spa kit for kids from SPArty Girl. Their boxes are so fun to build online and everything you pick is custom for your special kiddo.
Let Them Buy It Themself
We have some amazing local toy stores in the region, you can find our favourites here. We know how much kids love the idea of “buying it themselves” and a gift card, although not an experience itself, does give them a shot of independence that is priceless.
It’s not easy, and it’s a fairly new concept for many, so you may see some raised eyebrows when you say “Please don’t buy Timmy a toy this year”. One tip I have is to either mention it gently a few times or at least offer to shop along with the gift-giver to help them choose a gift. I’ve already had the opportunity this year to gently guide a generous grandma into spending her hard-earned money on something more meaningful, and it’s making me even more excited for Christmas morning!
And if you have any other Experience Gifts you’d recommend, please tell us in the comments!