Local Experience Gifts You’ll Want to Put Under the Tree This Holiday

If you’d like to give or receive experiences rather than toys this holiday, you will love this Grand Rapids gifts list! Giving experiences as gifts has gotten more popular over the years, and for good reason.

It can be overwhelming for parents and children alike to receive mountains of material gifts all at once. By wrapping up experience gifts rather than things, you are letting the family decide when to enjoy their present, as well as keeping in-home clutter to a minimum. In fact, some families prefer to do one or two big fun family gifts rather than a bunch of smaller items.

While it’s probably not practical to give 100% of your gifts in the form of experiences, even switching just a few over will help spread the holiday cheer throughout the year and allow everyone to think of the gift-giver year round.

BattleGR Tactical Games

Partner Gift Idea

Get Moving with Battle GR Tactical Games

At BattleGR Tactical Games our goal is to provide you with fun and memorable experiences through Tactical Laser Tag & Archery Tag®, with different strategic games kids and adults both love. Each game has a different objective just like a video game.

Let us help you give the gift of unforgettable memories this holiday season. We provide fun and memorable experiences for birthday parties, corporate events, holiday parties, church groups, schools, and sports teams. We can even set up at your location.

Check out our website for fun holiday events at our arena! We also sell gift cards if you’re looking for the gift of a experience.

Call 616.345.0698, visit our website, or Facebook

BattleGR Tactical Games

Give Them Something to Unwrap

To add to the fun, you can find creative ways to wrap these gifts and make opening the gift an experience in itself, even if the recipient can’t use it immediately.

For example, wrap a zoo membership card in a map of the zoo or tie it around the neck of a stuffed animal you’d find at the zoo. Wrap theatre or concert tickets in a giant box to throw them off the trail. If the real gift is dance lessons, wrap the studio’s brochure with a new tutu. Or make an adventure of it by drawing a map and sending the recipient on a treasure hunt for their gift!

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Family Gift & Membership Ideas
Gift Experiences for Mom
Gift Experiences for Kids
Gift Experiences for Dad
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Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

Want a smart gift for a whole family? Give them a gift card or even a whole membership to a local attraction, like a zoo, museum, or family fun center!

Gift cards can be used any time to try out a new attraction (or one you already know they love!), and memberships give the gift of fun all year long. Often memberships include free admission for the family, as well as many other perks.

We wrote all about these memberships and benefits for you already! West Michigan is rich with cultural institutions for the whole family, so you’ll have no problem finding something the whole family will enjoy!

Lewis Farms and Petting Zoo

Partner Gift Idea

A Full Day of Fun Awaits at Lewis Farms & Petting Zoo!

We grow fruit, fun, and memories on West Michigan’s lakeshore! SHOP the market for fresh produce and homemade goodies, EXPLORE over 46+ activities for all ages, and MEET over 75+ unique animals including camels and kangaroos.

A SEASON PASS pass to the farm is a gift to be enjoyed Spring, Summer, and Fall for unlimited fun! Families also love the gift of day passes or a pre-paid GIFT CARD to enjoy.

Call 231.861.5730, visit our website, or Facebook

Lewis Farms and Petting Zoo

Why not thrill the animal-loving family with access to John Ball Zoo? Bonus: Members save on camps and classes, and get to register early! A John Ball Zoo membership also gets the family discounts or free admission to several other zoos in Michigan and beyond.

Frederik Meijer Gardens offers something for the family all year long, from butterflies in the spring to holiday trees from around the world in the winter, not to mention an amazing outdoor playground.

John Ball Zoo

Partner Gift Idea

Give the Gift of a Membership to John Ball Zoo

It’s an affordable gift that family and friends can enjoy all year round. Benefits, include: FREE unlimited general admission to John Ball Zoo, FREE or reduced admission to over 150 reciprocal zoos and aquariums, a year subscription to Zoo News magazine, invitations and FREE admission to members-only events, discounts on special events, birthday parties, and education classes, 10% discount at the gift shop and on food/beverage purchases, and 10% minimum discount on seasonal experiences including the zip line, ropes course, funicular, camel rides, budgie feed sticks and Gem Company!

Call 616.336.4300, visit our website, or Facebook.

John Ball Zoo

Even the least artistic of the family will enjoy the masterpieces and cultural enrichment at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

For the family that likes to be creative, try the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA)! 

Get to know your city’s roots when you hang out at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Top-notch programming and stellar reciprocal benefits make this a great buy.

Air Zoo

Partner Gift Idea

From Rare and Historic to Inspiring Artwork and Exhibits, There’s Always Something New to Discover at the Air Zoo!

The Air Zoo is a world-class, Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum with over 100 air and space artifacts, inspiring interactive exhibits, full-motion flight simulators, indoor amusement park rides and hands-on, science-based camps and classes.

Give the gift of experience this holiday season – $100 Family Memberships and $120 Grandparent Memberships (for all the grand-kids 18 and under) offer unlimited annual admission, discounts, VIP access, ASTC reciprocals and other exciting member perks! Come imagine, explore and discover with us!

Call 269.382.6555, visit our website, or Facebook.

Air Zoo

Get $4 off per ticket for the Grand Rapids Griffins with code GRKIDS and take the whole family for New Year’s Eve, Superhero Night, Star Wars Night, and more. Check out all the details about this great deal!

With go-karts, laser tag, and arcade games, there’s something for everyone at Craig’s Cruisers and AJ’s Fun Park.

Try laser tag and archery in a game setting at BattleGR.

The Mud Room

Partner Gift Idea

The Mud Room is the perfect place for a creative date!

Do you have a child who loves arts and crafts? Are you looking for a unique activity for the whole family? The Mud Room is the perfect place for a creative date! Plan a visit during Open Studio hours to paint pottery or a wood sign – all ages are welcome and you don’t need any talent or experience. The large selection of projects offers something for everyone, and their friendly staff will help with the rest! For something more unique, sign up for a Potter’s Wheel Class (ages 7-adult), or purchase a Gift Card to sneak in their stocking or under the tree.

Call 616.259.7269, visit our website, or Facebook

The Mud Room

Your family can make it a weekend adventure any time of year at Double JJ resort. With Horseback riding, snow tubing, the Gold Rush Indoor Water Park, and much more, there won’t be a dull moment.

Perhaps your family would enjoy some time honored fun at the bowling alley! It’s OK if someone needs to use the bumpers, a strike is a strike when you’re bowling at Spectrum Lanes.

My favorite new family outing is an evening exploring anything I could imagine in Amped Reality’s virtual reality games.

Allegan Event

Partner Gift Idea

Get Active and Make Thrilling Memories that will Last Long After the Presents are Opened!

Give the gift of adventure with our gift cards or exclusive Winter Season pass. The pass is effective November 15 – March 15 and gives complete access to all indoor attractions, unlimited play during walk-in hours, 5% off food and beverages and 10% off the arcade.

Gift cards and passes are available for purchase on our website or in person at Allegan Event. The winter season passes have limited availability, so don’t wait to purchase!

Call 269.430.3961, visit our website, or Facebook

Allegan Event

Whether you’re smooth on your feet or falling on your backside, roller skating at Tarry Hall Roller Rink is sure to come with lots of laughs.

Voted one of the great public spaces by the American Planning Association, Rosa Parks Circle is a terrific place to enjoy a winter evening on the ice.

Bunny hills or black diamonds, amateurs or experts. If you know a family who likes to shred, send them skiing at Cannonsburg.

Your family may not know port from starboard, but they can learn with sailing lessons from Grand Rapids Yacht Club.

If you’re looking to travel but not go far, gift the family a 14-mile ride on the rails. The Coopersville & Marne Railway offers a Santa Train, and Easter Bunny Train, and more!

At TreeRunner Adventure Park you’ll have so much fun together and walk away feeling like not only a family, but a team.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

Partner Gift Idea

Give the Gift of a Grand Rapids Public Museum Membership this Holiday Season!

A membership keeps giving all year long, as the GRPM offers families of all ages fun, hands-on exhibits and programs. Memberships include free general admission, carousel rides, planetarium shows, parking and more!

Family and grandparents memberships start at $75 and include all children and grandchildren. Use your GRPM membership to visit science centers and museums across the nation for free general admission. Visit grpm.org to purchase your gift today.

Call 616.929.1700, visit our website, or Facebook.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

If a day of fun doesn’t seem like enough, extend the festivities into an overnight away from home. Whether it’s a local stay or somewhere out of town, any family would enjoy some time at one of these exciting locations:

  • It’s a few hours and world away. Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City includes a massive indoor water park, many kid-friendly activities, and plenty to do for the grown ups, too.
  • Frohe Weihnachten! (That’s Merry Christmas in German.) Enjoy a German-themed at Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth.
  • Go for the whole experience with skiing, dog sledding, snow tubing, and snowshoeing at Crystal Mountain.
  • Book your train tickets to Chicago and take the whole family to the Windy City for Christmas. You’ll see the countryside along the way, and experience life in the big city.
  • Consider a night in a local hotel. Sometimes all you need is a hotel room, a pool, and a pizza to have a blast!
Holland Community Aquatic Center

Partner Gift Idea

Create Family Fun and Memories at the Holland Community Aquatic Center

Give the gift of new family memories this Holiday Season! Purchase a membership for a loved one or a session of swimming lessons.

The Holland Community Aquatic Center has gift certificates for memberships and swimming lessons available now through Christmas! Call or stop by the front desk and have your Christmas shopping done early.

Call 616.393.7595, visit our website, or Facebook

Holland Community Aquatic Center

Finally, any opportunity to spend time together makes a great gift. Sometimes it’s just about getting out of the house and doing something different.

A family photo session is the gift of time together AND beautiful portraits to cherish!

Spend time together AND give back by volunteering as a family in your community. Check out our Kids and Family Volunteer Guide for ideas.

When you can’t decide which Grand Rapids experience they’ll like best, give them a taste of everything with the Grand Rapids Culture Pass. The pass includes access to many of Grand Rapids’ museums, the zoo, and the UICA. Plus discounts on many other GR attractions!

Another way to let families experience many of the ideas here is to give them gift cards or passes to several West Michigan activities. Pick two or ten, and gift your family days of fun! 

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Local Gift Experience Ideas for Kids

Grand Rapids Experience Gifts for Kids

Kids of all ages will love the gift of lessons to try something new or continue an activity they already love. West Michigan provides lots of great options to pick up or hone a skill.

Classes at a local gymnastics facility will give your kids access to a giant mat and some padded equipment to get out all of that energy!

Grand Rapids Children's Museum

Partner Gift Idea

Experience the Joy of Giving this Holiday Season with GiftWorks at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum!

Make it. Take it. Give It. During this special holiday tradition, a new handmade project is featured each week for kids to create, wrap and share with someone special.

Program is free with museum admission and offered daily from November 24 – December 30. Check website for details and times.

Call 616.235.4726, visit our website, or Facebook

Grand Rapids Children's Museum

Music and the arts enrich our lives and helps kids learn, so give them the gift that keeps on giving with lessons from Ada Piano Academy and other local institutions.

If you know a horse lover, what could be better than riding lessons at Karin’s Horse Connection?

Lewis Farms isn’t just a pumpkin patch. It’s also a petting zoo, a produce market, a playground, and more!

Goldfish Swim School of Grand Rapids

Partner Gift Idea

Goldfish Swim School’s Holiday Package is the Gift that Lasts a Lifetime!

This holiday skip the usual presents and gift a Golden Experience. At Goldfish Swim School kids learn water safety skills while having fun, making friends, building confidence and learning life lessons.

There is no better gift than that! Our holiday gift package includes 2 months of swim lessons, family swim passes, plush toy, bubbles book, and more! Call our front desk today for more information about this limited Holiday Package!

Call 616.259.0725, visit our website, or Facebook

Goldfish Swim School of Grand Rapids

Send your child to cooking classes at the Downtown Market and pretty soon they will be making dinner for YOU.

Passes or gift cards to one of the many indoor or outdoor recreation areas are a fun way to get kids moving. Or encourage their artistic side with a gift card to a local art studio. Save these passes for a rainy (or sunny) day when everyone has some extra energy to burn.

Celebrate the joy of the season at The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. Everything is interactive and the kids will have so much fun, they won’t even realize they’re learning cool stuff at the same time.

Jester's Court

Partner Gift Idea

Jester’s Court

Give the gift of an experience. A gift card from Jester’s Court can be used for general admission, concessions, and towards birthday parties. They can be purchased in an denomination from $10 and up. Great stocking stuffers, too!!

Call 616.784.5437, visit our website, or Facebook

Jester's Court

Climb high or dive deep. Either way, the indoor water and fun parks at the Kroc Center  and the Holland Aquatic Center are hours of family fun.

Swimming is not only fun, but it’s also a valuable life skill. With swimming lessons at Goldfish Swim School, everyone wins!

Ada Conservatory of Music

Partner Gift Idea

Give the Gift of Music this Holiday Season!

Give the gift of music this holiday season with lessons at Ada Conservatory of Music. We offer private lessons in piano, voice, violin, viola, cello, guitar, ukulele, bass guitar, flute, drums and percussion with the best instructors in West Michigan.

Call 616.540.1895, visit our website, or Facebook

Ada Conservatory of Music

If you’re looking for trampolines, foam pits, and a place to play for kids of all ages, check out Sky Zone, Altitude, or Rebounderz.

The kids won’t want to miss the bubble dance party in between climbing, sliding, and jumping around at Catch Air.

Give the gift of music with lessons in instruments from guitar to flute to drums at the Ada Conservatory of Music.

Dozens of inflatables, obstacles courses, and interactive games make Jester’s Court the perfect place for fun and excitement this holiday season.

Craig's Cruisers Family Fun Centers

Partner Gift Idea

Fun Memories Start “Where the Fun Never Ends!” with Craig’s Cruisers Family Fun Centers!

Craig’s Cruisers is West Michigan’s premier destination for family fun with over 120,000 square feet of indoor recreation! Give the gift of fun this holiday season.

Plus, dine in our amazing buffet with offerings that include: full salad bar, pasta, breadsticks, pizza (gluten and dairy free pizza is available upon request), roasted chicken, mac-n-cheese, cookies, ice cream, Pepsi products and more!

Indoor offerings include: Go-Karts, Laser Tag, Cruiser Coaster, Ninja Course, Virtual Reality, Arcade, Bumper Cars, and Frog Hopper.

Call 616.530.2900, visit our website, or Instagram

Craig's Cruisers Family Fun Centers
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Creative Gift Experiences for Local Moms

Holiday Experience Gifts for Mom

Are you looking for an experience gift for mom? We think that moms do a lot and they deserve a lot for the holidays! Whether they work outside the home, stay home with the kids full-time, or something in between, moms deserve to do something amazing.

A spa day is the perfect way to say “We love you!” and every mom deserves a massage. And a facial. And a mani/pedi. And everything else the spa has to offer! If you don’t know her favorite spot, try our list of mommy & me pedi spots around town.

At Renew Mama Studio, moms can refresh and nourish their mind and body through yoga classes, workshops, and an overall atmosphere of mom power!

The Civic Theatre has a full season of shows that Mom is sure to love.

Maybe Mom is into classical music and would enjoy an evening at the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Or perhaps her style is more country or rock n’ roll. In that case, score her some tickets for a concert at the Van Andel Arena.

A great and unexpected, way to explore downtown Grand Rapids is on a horse-drawn tour of the city with Classic Carriage Rides.

If a mom in your life enjoys the thrill of suspense, why not bring her to a Murder Mystery Dinner? Not only will she enjoy a three-course meal, but she’ll become part of the show!

No matter how busy a mom gets, it’s always a joy to do something just for her, something to take her mind off of everything else. For the holidays, encourage her try her hand at something new or practice a skill she already loves.

If she doesn’t cook, she may enjoy learning. And if she already does the cooking, she might love to learn new techniques and recipes. Grand Rapids offers several options for adult cooking classes, from amateurs to experts.

Give her the opportunity make something beautiful with a floral arrangement class at Eastern Floral.

Sign her up for language classes at Grand Rapids Community College. Then plan an international trip to let her use her new skills!

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Dad Gifts that aren’t Ties or Tools

Holiday Experience Gifts for Dad

Dads deserve a little pampering, too, and no matter how he likes to spend his time, West Michigan has something to offer. Read on to find the perfect experience gift for him!

For the baseball fan, don’t just send him to a West Michigan Whitecaps game, give him the chance to throw the first pitch of the game!

For the basketball fan, send him to a Grand Rapids Drive home game. Wrap the tickets in some team swag for an added touch.

Don’t let the snow stop Dad from hitting the links this winter. With X-Golf, the innovative golf simulator, he can practice his swing all year long.

He’ll be telling fish tales for days after a guided fishing trip with Betts Guide Service in Newaygo.

Grand Rapids is a great place to live for a beer lover. You can take a home brewing class, join a tour of one of dozens of local breweries, or go all in with the Grand Rapids Beer Tour.

Any movie buff will appreciate a gift card to Celebration Cinema to watch the latest films on the big screen. Throw in a restaurant gift card and make a night of it.

Part scavenger hunt, part puzzlers, The Great Escape Room will challenge Dad and his chosen team to “escape” in 60 minutes or less.

Dads might enjoy all the same lessons and classes as mom, and vice versa, but here are a couple more ideas to encourage anyone to pick up a new talent:

It’s never too late to pick up a martial art. Whether it’s Karate, Tae Kwon Do, or kung fu. Whether it’s a serious passion or a casual pastime, there are many options in West Michigan.

When you give someone the gift of photography lessons, not only do they enhance a skill, but you could score some beautiful photos! What could be better?

The gift of an experience will last a lifetime

Whoever you’re buying for or whatever you choose to give, you will be glad you replaced some of the holiday “stuff” with experiences that create lasting memories. Unlike toys and gadgets, gifts of experience don’t lose their novelty. So go ahead and buy that amazing “thing” you know they’ll love, but also wrap up the gift of a great experience!

And no matter what or how you celebrate, we hope that you’ll find moments to make great memories with the people you love. Happy Holidays!
Grand Rapids Gifts Experiences for Christmas Presents

Ho, Ho, Ho… More Grand Rapids Holiday Fun!
The Big List of Santa Parades
Christmas Tree Farms List
Favorite Christmas Light Displays
Where To Find Holiday Trains
Where to Buy Holiday Treats & Sweets
12 Days of a Grand Rapids Christmas
Where to Visit Santa in West Michigan
Nutcracker & Other Holiday Show Schedules
Live Nativities
Meet the REAL Santa Claus, GR
Christmas Eve Activities & Church Services