As someone with aspirations for a more minimalist Christmas, I’m all about experience and activity gifts for the holiday season. While my kids get plenty of toys as well, I love giving a gift that keeps the emphasis on making memories and spending quality time together. It’s also a plus that experience gifts don’t add to the toy clutter in our house, something I’m always fighting.
Opening presents is so much fun for kids, but it’s easy for them to get overwhelmed and overstimulated by a lot of toys. This holiday season, consider including some non-materialistic gifts that give them something fun to look forward to and expose them to a new, uniquely Austin experience.
Here’s our guide to Austin experiences and activity gifts for kids.
A hands-on baking class at Make It Sweet, which offers a variety of classes for kids 8-12 on everything from cocoa bombs to cookie decorating.
A pass or gift card to a water park:
- Schlitterbahn (New Braunfels)
- Kalahari (Round Rock)
- Typhoon Texas (Pflugerville)
- Splash Shack (Cedar Park)
For outdoor and camping enthusiasts, a Texas State Parks pass that gives you unlimited free entry to 89 state parks and discounts on camping.
A session of Tinkergarten classes, where kids develop key life skills through purposeful outdoor play.
Tickets to an upcoming performance:
- A Christmas Carol at the ZACH Theatre, Nov. 16-Dec. 31
- The Nutcracker at the Long Center, Dec. 3-23
- Sesame Street Live at the H-E-B Center, Dec. 22-23
- Cinderella at the ZACH Theatre, Jan. 25-March 5
- Aladdin at Bass Concert Hall, Feb. 14-19
- Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat at the ZACH Theatre, Feb. 21-April 23
- Leonardo! A Wonderful Show About a Terrible Monster at Bass Hall, Feb. 25
- Madagascar the Musical at the H-E-B Center, June 10
A ticket pack to Peter Pan Mini-Golf, an Austin tradition since 1948. Or a gift card to Butler Pitch and Putt, a fun and easy 9-hole course that’s fun for all ages. (It’s also an Austin original since 1949).
An art class:
- The Contemporary Austin (Central)
- Austin Creative Art Center (Downtown)
- Dougherty Arts School (South)
- The Art Garage (Southwest)
- ART+ Academy (Multiple locations)
- Amanda Lee Jones Art Studio (North)
- Nili’s Art Studio (Cedar Park)
- Cafe Monet (South)
An introductory archery class at the Archery Training Center.
A fishing experience at Moby Dick’s Private Pond Fishing. You can get the full service option if you need help baiting hooks, getting fish off hooks, and fixing any problems that arise.
A roller skating lesson package at Playland Skate Center.
An annual pass to Pioneer Farms, a living history park and museum that offers engaging programs, activities, and classes throughout the year.
An annual membership to Crowe’s Nest Farm, which gives you unlimited visits to this working farm and wildlife sanctuary that’s home to reptiles and amphibians, miniature ponies, bison, ostriches, and more.
A membership to Toybrary, so you can check out new toys as often as you’d like and play in the play area anytime for free.
A ride on the Austin Steam Train, which takes you through the Hill Country on historic train cars. They present special events throughout the year, including a North Pole Flyer ride.
A “Family Day” painting class at Painting with a Twist.
A safari tour at Blue Hills Ranch outside of Waco, where you can rent a golf cart and meet the animals at this 150-acre sanctuary.
A guided tour, guaranteed to give you an up-and-close experience with the animals, on a tractor-led tram at the Exotic Resort Zoo in Johnson City. Another option is a guided tour at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in San Antonio.
For the dino lover, a member pass to the Dinosaur Park in Bastrop ($30 for unlimited visits for a year).
A single play session or play pass at Pikopye’s Town, an imaginative, adorably-designed indoor play town.
For aspiring rock stars, weekly lessons at School of Rock, which offers music programs for kids as young as 6.
A flight package for an indoor skydiving experience at iFly Austin.
An outdoor beginning climbing course with Rock-About, which offers guided (and safety-oriented) rock climbing trips for all ages at locations such as the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Reimer’s Ranch, and Enchanted Rock.
A trail ride on horseback with Texas Trail Rides at Lone Star Ranch, a beautiful ranch with creeks, meadows, and forests located within Austin’s city limits.
A memorable adventure underground at a nearby cavern:
- Wonder World Cave & Adventure Park (San Marcos)
- Inner Space Cavern (Georgetown)
- Natural Bridge Caverns (San Antonio)
- Longhorn Cavern State Park (Burnet)
A guided kayak or paddleboard tour on Lady Bird Lake:
A ninja training class for aspiring ninja warriors:
- Austin Ninjas (North Austin and Cedar Park)
- Acrotex Gymnastics (Round Rock)
- Kim’s Gym (North)
- Move Sports Ninja (Round Rock)