What are the best gifts you’ve ever received? Experience gifts are the ones I love most and remember the longest. Experiences make great gifts!
Science even backs up that experiences make you happier than things. So we’ve put together some of our favorite experiential gifts for both adults and kids, as well as ones that inspire travel and exploration.
As nice as it is to open that toy or sweater, having something to look forward to after the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over can be more exciting. So without further ado, here are the best gift ideas that keep giving…even after the decorations have been put away. These Atlanta experience gifts are sure to put a smile on your loved ones’ faces.
Experiences can be hard to wrap up and put under the tree, so keep reading for ways to box up your special gift, so the recipient gets the thrill of unwrapping too.
Unplugged Getaway House Weekend
Book your Getaway to a cozy cabin in nature starting at $99.. with a mission to offer people, couples, friends and families the ability to disconnect and recharge – and live life a little more deeply.
Originally building escape pods in the Northeast, Getaway has ventured into our neck of the woods for the first time, with a “camp” in Suches. Even the most avid North Georgia adventurist might need help with that location…it’s in Union County, but much closer to Dahlonega that Blairsville. Expertly, in the middle of no where.
SEE THE WORLD IN A NEW WAY
This holiday season National Geographic Kids Books — the gold standard in “edu-tainment” — has great gift ideas for every curious kid, from big, beautiful and WOW-worthy titles to stocking stuffers that are, well, STUFFED with fun facts, silly jokes and photos galore.
Knowing that our kids love exploring… and that they are homeschoolers… NatGeo sent over six sensational books for us to check out. These six are listed below and are fantastic for tweens and teens (like my kiddos.) We spend hours reading through all the fun facts and gorgeous pictures.
The gift of *time together* doesn’t have to mean leaving your house. It can mean exploring the entire world… right from your sofa.
For the Junior Globetrotter: Big Book of W.O.W. (Wonders of Our World)
For the Young Foodie: National Geographic Kids Ultimate Food Atlas
For the Animal Lover: 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Animals)
For Fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series: Zeus the MIghty: The Epic Escape from the Underworld
For the Social Justice Warrior: Speak Up, Speak Out! The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm
For the Screen-Obsessed: Critter Chat
‘SNOW’ MANY REASONS TO HEAD TO LANIER ISLANDS (Use ATL365 to save!)
Anyone who says it rarely snows in the South has never been to Margaritaville at Lanier Islands during the holiday season. License to Chill Snow Island is now open, where snow will fall daily to line the “slopes” of Blizzard Mountain, a 575-foot-long, eight-story high snow tubing ride. Snow Island offers ice skating, amusement rides, snow play, and more! Visits with Santa are also available on select dates.
Winter Season Passes for unlimited visits and rides this season are available now. The sale is over but 365 readers can get an exclusive savings opportunity by using the code ATL365
Learn Pickleball Together + A Paddle Gift From An Atlanta Company
Pickleball is the new rage, and it’s no wonder because it is A BLAST!!!
Did you know that @PCKLball is an Atlanta-based company selling high-quality paddles and balls for every level of player??!!
Here’s my suggestion… grab a paddle or two (we love the Launch Starter Bundle for newbies) and slip them in a stocking, along with a plan to play together at Pullman Yards (only $5 pp, but free if you go on a weekday morning or you purchase lunch/dinner).
It’s the perfect “experience” gift for spring and summer… with a gift to unwrap under the tree from a local company!
A YEAR OF EXPLORING THE STATE PARKS
Georgia is home to nearly 50 state parks, each offering outdoor enthusiasts varying landscapes to explore — like mountains, canyons, lakes, waterfalls, gorges, swamps, and more. There is no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with our Georgia parks. Friends of Georgia State Parks makes that easy with their membership packages.
Our favorite is the Supporter Pass for only $125. You get two free parking passes so you and a friend can get into all the parks for free all year long. It also includes three free nights of camping, 10-20% off lodging, and two free picnic shelter rentals perfect for a family gathering.
INVITE YOUR KIDS ON A MAGICAL OUTDOOR ADVENTURE
A fun & magical outdoor activity for the whole family! Looking to invite your children to a magical adventure in your garden? Thanks to Escape Kit, in just one click, you will receive a complete Escape Room kit to download and print.
You will have the possibility to transform your outdoor space into a Harry Potter adventure, go in search of Alice in Wonderland or become the greatest pirate ever! Are you ready to take up the challenge? Find plenty of different universes available from 3 years old! The perfect activity for a birthday party, holidays or even a sunny day!
NATIONAL PARK KIT
If you've got a friend or loved one that loves the outdoors, how about getting them a National Park Kit! This is not something you can buy, but it's something you can easily put together!
Start with a National Parks Pass, then add a National Parks Passport and Junior Ranger Passport Combo, a Trekking the National Parks board game, and a National Parks and Monuments Map Poster.
Another great idea is to add a special guide. Our good friends at Crazy Family Adventure are offering 50% off their NPS guides this week.... we used these on our own adventures and can attest to the fact that they are AMAZING!
Your gift recipient be out in nature in no time.
Have you ever watched an episode on HGTV and then immediately wanted to investigate every nook and cranny of that house? Now you can!
These 14 Airbnb rentals were featured on HGTV’s various shows, and they are each dotted around the south – easy for our Atlanta readers to get to and enjoy. A stay at any of these would make a great experience gift the recipient wouldn't soon forget.
FAMILIES FLY FREE
There's nothing better than the gift of travel! Spend time together, see the new things, and learn about the world around you. It's the best! But it can be expensive...
Do you wish you could travel more, but don't want to pay the expensive cost of airfare for your whole family? There is a way to fly your family for free and it's easy to learn!
Families Fly Free is a program that teaches families how to fly for free using travel rewards -- including our own family!
Want to learn how your family can do it too? Grab these 7 Secret Hacks for flying free that the founder of Families Fly Free uses to take her family of 4 all over the world. Safe travels!
A new type of adventure has entered the Atlanta scene over the past couple of years — the immersive experience. Immersive experiences can be anything from entering a set-like atmosphere to feel like you’re a part of your favorite television show, to “walking through” and being surrounded by paintings by your favorite artists.
Why not give your loved one the gift of an immersive experience? They're sure to remember it for years to come.
No matter what type of immersive experience you’re looking for, Atlanta has become home base to several of these amazingly produced events. Read more about Immersive Experiences in Atlanta HERE.
WINE TASTING FOR TWO
Try new bottles, or old favorites at Vino Venu in Dunwoody. You get to put as little or as much as you'd like on a wine card, and taste selections you're sure to fall in love with.
Save a little cash by ordering appys in the wine-tasting section, rather than making a reservation (though if you can indulge - it is totally worth it)!
Read More: VINO VENUE: ATLANTA’S BEST NO-FAIL DATE NIGHT DESTINATION
FLYING HIGHT IN A HELICOPTER
Henry County is the place to be for an epic experience -- a helicopter ride.
The Army Aviation and Heritage Center offers affordable helicopter rides in real Huey choppers. Riders can fly with a veteran pilot and up to 9 other passengers. For an even more intense ride, spectators can ride in an AH-1F Cobra attack helicopter, which is a single passenger ride. Certain age, health, and weight restrictions may apply.
Read More: SOAR TO AMAZING HEIGHTS WITH THIS EPIC FAMILY EXPERIENCE AT THE ARMY AVIATION HERITAGE MUSEUM
ADVENTURE AT HISTORIC BANNING MILLS
Give the gift of adventure this holiday season and send your loved ones to Historic Banning Mills to experience everything they have to offer. They will FA-LA-LOVE it!
Historic Banning Mills, conveniently located 45 minutes west of Atlanta in Whitesburg, Georgia, offers 300 acres of pristine natural beauty. This one-of-a-kind adventure park and resort is brimming with activities for all family members to enjoy.
Do you dare to race along the World’s Longest Continuous Zip Line Canopy Course? Test your strength by scaling the World’s Tallest Free-Standing Climbing Wall? Maneuver your way through the epic aerial adventure courses or walk and/or bike across one of the many suspension bridges that cross over a scenic gorge?
Their adventure options include zip lining, aerial adventures, kayaking, Eco-Spider ATV tours, hiking trails with suspension bridges, horseback riding, summer camps, team building, meeting spaces, birds of prey nature shows, and special events. They also offer treehouses, cabins, and Inn rooms.
Buy a gift card to this awesome adventure spot for your adventurous friends and loved ones -- they'll remember it forever!
Read More: BANNING MILLS: GUIDE TO THE BEST ZIP LINING AND MORE
DATE NIGHT AT THE BURGESS HOTEL
First opened in 2000, The Burgess Hotel quickly became known as one of the best hotels in Buckhead. After an extensive renovation and rebranding, The Burgess Hotel is now known as the first boutique hotel in Buckhead.
Immerse yourself in a warm, inviting ambiance where the details make all the difference. Explore indoor and outdoor spaces designed with original artwork. From the courtyard to splash pool, bar and restaurant, their carefully curated experience features beautiful spaces for work, play and relaxed enjoyment.
Book It: THE BURGESS HOTEL
VR GAMING FOR ADULTS
Looking for some fun? Skip the escape room and head to Revery VR Bar! Revery is the first adult-only VR Bar in the nation, and it’s right here in Atlanta!
Now don’t get the wrong idea…it isn’t “adult-only” because of the VR content. It’s actually a bona-fide bar that just wants to offer a relaxing kid-free zone for adults. And the VR is an added bonus!
Read More: REVERY VR BAR WILL TAKE YOUR DATE NIGHT TO A NEW DIMENSION
ATLANTA FOOD TOUR
Food Tours Atlanta offers two food tours that are sure to make a memorable experience gift!
The Modern Southern Food and History Tour is a walking tour through the Inman Park neighborhood where you'll uncover local history, learn the stories behind its colorful Victorian homes, and enjoy food from some of the best places, including a treat from a James Beard award-winning pastry chef at Krog Market food hall.
Stroll along the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail, known as Atlanta’s largest outdoor art gallery, for an up-close look at its vibrant street art and cool off with King of Pops.
Or...try the Ponce City Market Food, Art, and History Experience. Come experience Atlanta’s most buzzed about food hall, Ponce City Market. Set inside a historic Sears & Roebuck store, PCM has some of Atlanta’s best restaurants, including one of America’s favorite burgers.
The tour will take you to some of the best spots where you’ll taste and sip from award-winning chefs while learning about the storied past of this iconic landmark. Head up to the 3rd floor where you'll hop on the BeltLine to discover street art and share the history of baseball in Atlanta.
Either (or both!) of these amazing food tours will be memorable for years to come.
Read More: 17 BEST DATE NIGHT RESTAURANTS ATLANTA (+ AN AT-HOME ROMANCE OPTION)
Indoor skydiving at iFly Atlanta is available to everyone who is 3 years old and older. (Yes, even Grandma and Grampa!)
Our youngest is 4 years old and he loved every minute of it! We prepped him with some videos before-hand so he’d know what to expect, and that helped. I have to admit that seeing the boys fly was even more fun than flying myself!
iFly Atlanta offers great ways to surprise your loved ones with this fun experience! Click HERE for all the details!
Read More: INDOOR SKYDIVING ATLANTA: MASTER iFLY LIKE A CERTIFIED CHAMP (VIDEO)
A few years ago, when we decided to take all four kids to Nova Scotia, I used a new (to me) company to create share-worthy photos. It’s called Flytographer. (Use this code and get a $25 credit!) We used it again this year in Miami...and it was amazing. You can hire a photographer for a shoot here in Atlanta...or plan one for your next getaway!
What a wonderful way to gift the memory of togetherness.
Give an entire year of discovery with the gift of a museum membership! It's great for kids, families, or couples.
For families or kiddos, I highly recommend Fernbank Museum of Natural History...and for couples, go with High Museum or Booth Western Art Museum.
If you don't want to spend the dollars on an entire membership, then get them tickets which can be used toward a full membership on their visit.
Read More: WHY FERNBANK MUSEUM IS THE BEST MUSEUM IN ATLANTA FOR KIDS | 11 REASONS WHY A HIGH MUSEUM MEMBERSHIP IS A GREAT VALUE | BOOTH MUSEUM: A LEGENDARY WESTERN MUSEUM IN THE SOUTH
What could ever be better than sleeping with the whale sharks?! You can do it with a Sleep Under the Sea reservation at the Georgia Aquarium. Go as a family...or bring all your besties to the Adult Overnight!
You’ll get access to the Aquarium at 6:45 p.m. to start your adventure. You’ll have two different guided tours (one that night and another the next morning,) a bedtime snack and breakfast, your sleeping mat, and next-day entry to the aquarium including the 4D theatre, the sea lion show and dolphin show…plus all the other amazing things included in a ticket.
Read More: A GEORGIA AQUARIUM SLEEPOVER: 16 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Looking for a unique experience? Try the 2 person 90-minute glassblowing lesson at Decatur Glassblowing.
For $250 total, each person will get to make at least one piece, choosing from multiple items. Decatur Glassblowing also offers Gift Cards, to make gifting an experience here easy!
PERFECT TRAVEL COMPANION FOR KIDS
Looking for the perfect gift for the kid in your life? Moosey the Blue-Footed Moose is the answer! It's a gift and experience in one. Moosey the Blue Footed Moose is a cute stuffed animal, who happens to be on a quest to find other moose who are unique just like him. This adorable squeezable plush and accompanying book teach kindness, patience, and a cheery attitude.
Moosey loves to travel and is the perfect companion for kids. So pack his Moosecase for a unique adventure with your child.
VIP WINE TOUR
Experience North Georgia's Wine Country in a fun way! Either book a private tour or join the classic Full Day Wine Tour with Artisan Picnic Lunch and Tastings at four North Georgia Wineries.
As the South’s Original All-Inclusive Wine Tour, VIP Southern Tours includes everything to make your day fun, carefree and educational. You can sit back and relax as their exclusive chauffeur takes you to the Southeast’s best wineries.
Read More: 13+ SENSATIONAL NORTH GEORGIA WINERIES BEGGING YOU TO INDULGE
MURDER MYSTERY DINNER
I won’t lie – I had my doubts the first time we went to a murder mystery dinner…but I was overwhelmed with how enjoyable The comedic Murder Mystery Company dinner truly is.
A murder mystery dinner show takes only the 3 minutes necessary to make a simple reservation online – but it INCLUDES dinner and entertainment – the kind that gets you talking and giggling with your date…not just blankly staring up at a screen “together” for 2-3 hours.
Note: They are hosting private mystery parties only. Check their website for details!
Project Chimps provides lifelong care to former research chimpanzees at its 236-acre forested sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The sanctuary is open occasionally for special events, field trips, volunteer vacations, and private tours. We went this year and loved every minute of it.
Looking for a simple and inexpensive experience gift? We've got you covered!
ClueTown Books are a great way to explore the city by going on a scavenger hunt. Solve puzzles to move on to the next stop.
There are seven Atlanta area ClueTown Books, PLUS seven Atlanta neighborhood mini-hunts, so you can explore the area of most interest to you!
SUBSCRIPTION BOX FOR KIDS
Subscription boxes make great gifts for all ages -- and they're the gift that keeps on giving.
KiwiCo is a great, kid-friendly subscription box that definitely feels more like an experience than a box of toys. The STEAM-related projects are geared toward different age groups, and are fun to build and then enjoy.
Another fun subscription box is Little Passports. Little Passports helps kids explore new ideas and places, and celebrate cultures with globally inspired experiences, hands-on art and science activities, and stories for kids ages 3-10.
FACIAL MEMBERSHIP FOR ADULTS
This is one attraction any adult on your list would be excited to receive. Unlike your typical spa, Heyday doesn't have a long list of different types of treatments, they do one - facials. The difference is in the execution.
Heyday's licensed estheticians give a personalized analysis of your skin during each 50 minute session and develop a treatment plan that fits your needs at the moment. If a membership is too pricey, gift a treatment. For a limited time, the newly opened Atlanta area locations are offering 50% off your first facial.
SEASON PASSES TO ATLANTA ATTRACTIONS
Atlanta has no shortage of amazing attractions -- and a season pass to any of them would be an amazing gift! Consider a season pass to...
HOW TO WRAP EXPERIENCE GIFTS
The memory of an experiential gift may last a lifetime, however, an IOU isn’t too exciting to open, especially for kids. If you’re planning to give an experiential gift this holiday season, here are some ideas on ways to wrap it up to make it more exciting.
- Ask about Premiums. When purchasing an experience for the holidays or even a membership, ask the organization about premium items. Often attractions offer a certificate, tote bag, stuffed animal or other item with a gift purchase. If they don’t offer a premium, ask if you can purchase something inexpensive from a gift shop or online to wrap up with the membership or tickets.
- Wrap a Book About the Adventure. Wrap a brochure or book about the show, attraction, or something you’ll see during your visit (we’ve used books we already own or even a book from the library). Not only is it something to open, but it educates the recipient about what they’ll experience and get them excited for the visit. For younger children a picture book like If I Ran the Zoo can help them visualize what to expect on a trip to the zoo.
- Purchase something Small. Purchase a small toy, ornament, hat or other object that represents what you’ll be doing. I find it perfectly acceptable to wrap up something you already own for this purpose – especially if it’s your own children. For instance, wrap a CD or video for a Broadway show, a toy boat for a wake boarding lesson, pick up a rock in the yard for rock climbing at Atlanta Rocks. If it's a golf lesson or trip, wrap up golf balls.
- Package a Certificate Creatively. Create a certificate for the recipient and get creative with the packaging. Include a helium balloon that rises in the air as they open the box. Nest wrapped boxes with a clue in each one to what the recipient will find at the end.
MORE HOLIDAY FUN:
- CHRISTMAS EVENTS: Christmas in Atlanta: Your Festive Guide To The Best Holiday Events
- GIFTS FOR ADVENTURERS: 25 Unbeatable Gifts For People Who Have Everything (Especially Adventure Lovers!)
- GARDEN LIGHTS: Atlanta Botanical Garden Lights: Brilliant Holiday Fun
- STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS: Tips & Tricks for Maximum Fun At Stone Mountain’s Christmas Event
- ICE SKATING: The Best Rinks in Atlanta for Kids, Teens & Adults
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