Let’s face it – kids love toys but tend to play with them for a short period, only to end up in the corner, garage or basement, collecting dust. Gifting an experience is the new way to go. Memories are irreplaceable and will last forever. Experience gifts also expose children to new things they may not try or do otherwise. It may be something they always wanted to do or something they have never heard of. Take a look at my list and think about the kids you’re buying for and what type of experiences they may really love over a board game or a new doll.
Here are 15 General Toronto Area experiences you can gift a child that they will love and be thrilled to receive!
1. The Museum of Illusions: This museum is entertaining, fun and educational. It is open for all ages (but they recommend ages 5 and up to really enjoy and interact with what they see). Kids can play brain-twisting games, fun puzzles, experience illusion exhibits and can see and experience the “impossible”. You can purchase tickets and get more information at www.museumofillusions.ca
2.The Farm: There are many amazing farms to visit throughout the GTA. My kids love visiting farms. One of our family favorites is Brooks Farms. There is something to do for all ages. Kids can keep busy for hours. They have farm animals to see, a barnyard playland, festivals, holiday events, a farmers market – there is actually too much to list. Kids would be thrilled to visit the farm and it’s fun for mom and dad too! You can purchase tickets or memberships. www.brooksfarms.com
3. Rock Climbing: Rock climbing is so much fun and great exercise and helps to develop coordination skills. There are many places in the GTA to try. I really like True North Climbing as they have a huge facility and great set up. They have climbing walls for beginners all the way up to expert. You can gift day passes, lessons or memberships. There is something for all budgets and all ages. Make sure to call ahead to book lessons or any event that requires staff. The staff at True North are helpful and happy to answer any questions you may have about rock climbing www.truenorthclimbing.com
4. Tree Top Trekking: These parks do offer activities for all ages but there are designated areas for different age groups due to safety reasons. Kids 9 plus can do everything the park has to offer. They can experience the zip lining trek which is a fun and challenging adventure. Younger kids ages 5-8 can get comfortable in their discovery course trek. Younger kids can explore and play in the Tree Trek Village. There are multiple locations and they offer different activities. This experience is tons of fun for the whole family. www.treetoptrekking.ca
5. Spa experience: Little girls and boys love to be pampered. There are many spas and nail salons throughout the GTA. You can give a gift certificate to your favorite place so they can get a manicure, pedicure or even a facial. I recommend checking out Glama Gals Kids Spa. They specifically cater to spoiling little ones and focus on giving them the full spa experience. They have a few locations and have package deals and gift cards. www.glamagalparty.com
6. Go-Karting: Go-karting is fun for all ages. My kids love fast cars! There are many go-kart tracks, both indoor and outdoor, throughout the GTA. We have been to the 401 Mini Indy a few times with my eldest daughter and she had fun. The age is 10 years and up but some other tracks do have carts where young children can ride with parents. If the kid you’re buying for is an adrenaline junkie, consider buying some laps as a fun experience gift. www.401miniindy.com
7. Toronto Zoo: The Toronto Zoo is open all year long. Depending on the season, kids can experience and view different animals and explore the exhibits. There is so much to learn at the zoo. The Toronto Zoo is a great place to visit for all ages. They also have an incredible splash park in the summer and a new zip line. Consider purchasing tickets or a family membership for everyone to enjoy. www.torontozoo.com
8. Theater Tickets: Kids love going out and watching live shows. Going to the theater brings kids a new perspective on entertainment and culture. There are many theaters throughout the GTA where kids can watch live performances. All ages can enjoy the theater. Remember to search for a performance best suitable for the child’s age and interests. One of my favourite theaters since childhood is the Young People’s Theater. Consider gifting theater tickets. Mary Poppins is their holiday show and on the main stage right now! www.youngpeoplestheatre.ca
9. Helicopter Tour: Depending on your budget, a helicopter tour could make an extravagant gift. My son has been asking to go on a helicopter ride for months. I have researched a few places and liked how Heli Tours is located at the Billy Bishop Airport and you have to take a ferry to get there. A boat and a helicopter ride!!!! What a great day and experience. They do tours all year long except on some holidays and weather permitted. Kids must be 4 years and up for this gift. There are a few packages to choose from. Take a look here. www.helitours.ca
10. Movie Passes: Movie tickets are reasonably priced and are a fun experience. Movies are great for all ages and you can purchase tickets directly or provide a gift card. Some tickets also include popcorn and a drink. There are different movie theaters throughout the GTA but I typically go to Cineplex so here is their website for more info. www.cineplex.com
11. Indoor Playground: Indoor playgrounds are all over the GTA. They are reasonably priced and are tons of fun. Especially over the winter, kids can go run around and get their sillies out. They are reasonably priced for day passes and some have monthly memberships. It is important to find one that has lots to do with a variety of play areas and most importantly, is clean. Different playgrounds cater to different age groups (typically for kids under 10 years old). Indoor playgrounds are a great experience for kids and the parents will thank you as they can sit and take a break while the kids play. One indoor playground in particular that I found that has tons to do is Funtastic Forest. My kids had a lot of exploring the multiple play areas. They offer day passes and gift cards and right now you can save 10 % on a gift card purchase. A gift card can be used towards anything at the location. Admission, towards a birthday party or food. www.funtasticforest.ca
12. Canada’s Wonderland: The season is done for the year but they are selling passes for next season. A seasons pass lets users go unlimited times throughout the season. My kids love Wonderland. There are rides for all ages and an amazing playground for young kids and a huge waterpark. It is a more expensive gift especially since an adult will require a pass to bring their child. However, I gifted my eldest a pass for her Birthday for many years and she was always excited for the season to begin. Wonderland is a great experience gift as it brings many summertime memories. www.candadaswonderland.com
13. Build a Bear Workshop: Build a Bear is more than a doll; it’s an experience. Little boys and girls get to pick a bear and help stuff it while the staff speak to them and make them feel special. It’s fun for kids to feel a part of the process of picking and building their bear to their own preferences. There is a huge selection of clothes and bear accessories to choose from. You can purchase gift cards, or pre-buy an unstuffed bear and gift it for the child to go back and stuff themselves. Bear alone prices vary but run from $12-$40. The clothes and accessories can add up but are not necessary for the kid to still enjoy themselves. It is a fun experience gift for kids of all ages. www.buildabear.com
14. Classes, Programs or Camps: Gift a class, program or camp – robotics, ballet, gymnastics, soccer, art, music, cooking classes, cheerleading, horseback riding, day camp, a week at overnight camp – the list goes on. Some programs run for a few months and others have drop-ins. Maybe there is something near home you think the child would really like. Gifting the experience would be great fun for them.
15. The Wave Pool: The Wave Pool in Richmond Hill is a really fun spot for kids who love swimming. They have a huge water slide for older kids and the pool alternates to waves on a timer. It is a great experience for kids of all ages. Check it out. www.richmondhill.ca/en/things-to-do/The-Wave-Pool.aspx
Be creative when giving the kids their experience gift you have chosen. You can wrap tickets or pamphlets in a box or in a card. I am not very creative. Most little kids won’t understand but they will definitely enjoy the new experience they are about to have.
This holiday season take some time to think about the option to give an experience gift to a child in your life – they just might remember it for a lifetime! And no more basement clutter of unwanted toys and forgotten gifts. No more wasted money. Make this season memorable for all the kiddos out there.
Since I lack in artisic creativity, I would love if you would share in the comments how you would wrap or give an experience gift.
Please share in the comments your favourite on this list or other experiences you would add to my list.