Experience Gifts are the New Birthday Presents for Kids, and Here’s Where They Want to go in Grand Rapids

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5 Local Experience Gift Ideas That You can Give to Your Next Birthday Kid

If you miss Toys R Us, come on over to my house! The toys are out of control. Yet when birthdays come around, friends and family inevitably give my kids more. Because what else would they do? They love my kid and want to show them love through a gift. 

When people take a moment to ask me for gift ideas, the first thing I say is, “Take them somewhere and make a memory!” 

gift experiences for kids like Grandpa and boy at Crystal Mountain
Crystal Mountain

I am thrilled that they are finally starting to listen. My parents took my kids to a show at DeVos and my in-laws took them to a hotel with a water park. The kids still talk about these memories and ask when they can do it again.


5 Favorite Birthday Gift Experiences for Kids Around Grand Rapids

We’ve compiled a list of birthday gift experience inspiration and we hope it helps you find your next perfect birthday gift!

(Tasked with throwing the perfect kid-size birthday party? Our West Michigan Birthday Party Guide can help you find the perfect venue.)

1 – An Outing With You

Chances are that special kid in your life would enjoy a day out with you. And the fun part? You can pick something that you would both enjoy together!

Try a family yoga session or a specially themed yoga workshop (like Superhero Night or Spa Night) with Renew Mama Studio.

Yoga for kids Renew Mama girl on pink mat
Renew Mama Studio

Test your skills in the kitchen together with a class at Sur La Table.

Entertainment kids would dig a movie or concert tickets. (Check out T.A.C.O. Tuesdays at various Celebration! Cinema locations.)

If your child likes glam, treat your kid (and yourself) to manicures or pedicures together. Here are some of the best places that offer kid-friendly spa services.

Love the theatre? CARE ballet is a great stage idea, as these shows are specially geared toward little kids. Musicals are great fun at The Civic Theatre.

All Shook Up Ward Girls Civic Theatre GRCT
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Everyone loves bowling. Plus with bumpers, any age can get a strike! Hudsonville Lanes is a family-friendly place and my kids beg to go back.


2 – Memberships to Museums and Attractions

I love our memberships! It’s so nice to be able to take the kids to different places around town without having to pay admission. This is also perfect for families with toddlers or preschoolers who may only last an hour or two before they need to eat or sleep.

GRCM magnatiles table boy Niles
Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

With a membership, I don’t feel like I have to stay for hours in order to “get my money’s worth.” If a family membership isn’t in your budget, simply getting a one-day pass for the birthday kid and his family would be fun.

kids petting goat at JBZ
John Ball Zoo

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a magnet for little kids as well as the Children’s Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens. Kids love the Grand Rapids Public Museum where they can ride the carousel after walking around in the “Old World Grand Rapids” exhibit.

boy on carousel at GrPM
Grand Rapids Public Museum

No matter their age, there is always something fun to do at John Ball Zoo. Whether it’s exploring outdoor play areas, watching a favorite animal or tackling their ropes course, it’s sure to be a hit. We always have to pack a lunch when we go to the zoo because we are having fun all day!

Let your kids loose with your camera at the Grand Rapids Art Museum! Talk about the things they saw and what it reminded them of and what kind of art THEY would like to make.


3 – Classes, Classes, Classes

If your kid aspires to be the next Master Chef (Junior or otherwise), check out one of these cooking and baking classes or even summer camp at the Downtown Market.

Have a computer coder on your hands? They may like a STEM-based course or two at Sylvan Learning.

Swim Classes. Learn the name of their favorite swim facility and give them money toward a class. Find ideas in our Favorite Swim Lessons Near Grand Rapids post.

indoor pools near Grand Rapids
GR Kroc Center

Gymnastics (or Ninja Skills) is a healthy class that wears kids out. It’s easy, you don’t have to buy a lot of equipment or uniforms for it, and anyone can do it. Here’s our Guide to Gymnastics in the Grand Rapids area.

Your dramatic dancer, musician or artist may benefit from one of the places in our Guide to Music, Theatre, and Dance Programs.

MBA Michigan Ballet Academy little dancers in the wings
Michigan Ballet Academy


4 – Sports and Other Physical Activities

Kids who love to watch a good game would enjoy tickets to see the West Michigan Whitecaps in action. The Grand Rapids Griffins and Grand Rapids Drive are also great adventures. Be sure to give them vouchers for snacks, too!

kids with hello kitty at baseball game
West Michigan Whitecaps

Would your kid rather be part of the actionSign them up for their favorite sport!

A great one-time “athletic” idea is a trampoline park or indoor playground.

boy hanging from net at Rebounderz

Would you AND your kid rather be part of the action? Sign up for laser tag at Battle GR or virtual reality adventures at Amped Virtual Reality.


boy excited for laser tag
BattleGR Tactical Games

5 – Summer or Day Camp

This is a gift that will have Mom and Dad thanking you, too. (Or if you’re Mom or Dad, here’s your top gift idea!)

Camps are great ways for kids to explore their interests without making a big commitment. Many of the places already mentioned offer day camps and if you want to learn more about other upcoming summer camp programs, you won’t want to miss the Summer Camp Fair at the KROC center.

Our Summer Camps Guide lists dozens of camps around West Michigan.

(Tip: Check with Mom or Dad first before booking a camp.)

Tell us, what gift experiences have you given to a kid that were a big hit?

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Birthday Gift Experiences for Kids

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Clearly, birthday treats are an important feature of any classroom.

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1 thought on “Experience Gifts are the New Birthday Presents for Kids, and Here’s Where They Want to go in Grand Rapids”

  1. 13 years ago I gave Learn to Skate ice skating lessons to my daughter, now she’s working to be a professional skater. PATTERSON Ice has lessons

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