30+ Experience Gift Ideas for East Bay Families - 510 Families

30+ Experience Gift Ideas for East Bay Families

We appreciate Children’s Fairyland for sponsoring today’s guide to thoughtful local experience gifts. Fairyland is hosting their magical, multicultural Fairy Winterland event from Dec. 17 – 30, closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Buy a Fairyland membership before Dec. 30, 2021, and get an extra month — that’s 13 months for the price of 12!

San Francisco Bay Area experience gifts can work for any age or budget. We love memberships for a whole family, show tickets to stuff in a stocking, unique classes to reward a child’s interest, and eating tours a group can enjoy together. The gift of a shared experience is a perfect last-minute and clutter-free gift solution and so thoughtful!

Experience Gifts: Memberships | Experience Gifts: Tickets | Experience Gifts: Family Trip Inspirations | Experience Gifts: Virtual Ideas

Experience Gift: Family Memberships to Enjoy All Year

We love these local kid-friendly museums for year-round enjoyment. Membership usually pays for itself after 2-3 visits.

Membership to Children’s Fairyland

Founded in 1950, Children’s Fairyland is a Bay Area icon, once serving as an inspiration to Walt Disney’s Disneyland. Fairyland is a wholesome space for families, where their young children can create, imagine, play, and learn in a safe, stimulating, stress-free zone. For more information about the park, please visit fairyland.org >>

Children’s Fairyland supports early learning, with robust summer camps and educational programs, forty outdoor Storybook sets, and 27 Talking Storybook Boxes where fairytales and fables come to life in English and Spanish with a Magic Key, a zoo with fifteen gentle animals, whimsical gardens, and four child-size rides.

oakland fairyland
The entrance of Fairyland always looks welcoming | Photo: Jackie Salas

Give the gift of Fairyland with membership and memorabilia. From now until Dec. 30, 2021, buy a membership and get an extra month — that’s 13 months for the price of 12 — no code required!

More Kid-Friendly Museums

We love these other family-friendly museums, zoos, and experiences in the Bay Area. Buy a membership that the family can enjoy all year. Huge appreciation to the grandparents that put these under the tree.

child in jolly trolly
Waving “hi” from the Jolly Trolly | Memberships on sale through Dec. 30! | Photo: Children’s Fairyland

Experiences Our {510} Team is Wishing For

We asked our team of contributing writers what they wish Santa would bring and here’s what they told us:

  • For outdoorsy families, Maureen loves her California State Parks pass and National Parks pass (fourth graders can get free ones for the family!).
  • Julie loves having a stash of local ice cream shop gift certificates as a pick-me-up anytime.
  • Parul enjoyed the gift certificate her family received for Plank in Oakland.
  • Michele likes to have pre-bought tickets to the Tilden Steam Trains or Concord’s Pixieland. She also likes gift cards for lessons for new sports and activities (we have lots more of those below, keep on scrolling!)
  • Helena suggests we delight our kids with video games (tips on leveling up below).
Harlem Globetrotters in Oakland 2019
Harlem Globetrotters tickets have become a family tradition

Experience Gift: Tickets to Teams and Shows

Support our East Bay favorite teams and troupes with forward-looking tickets to mark a special day!

  • A Fairyland membership gets you access to the many kid-friendly puppet performances throughout the year (join now, and get one month free)
  • Harlem Globetrotters return to Oakland in mid-January. The kids loved the show two years ago, and we even hung around afterward and got autographs. We are superfans!
  • Oakland A’s Baseball is getting ready for spring training. Pick up tickets now for your favorite rivalry.
  • Monster Jam will be at Oakland’s RingCentral Coliseum for one night only on January 8. Superfun, but bring ear protection for yourself and the littles. Tix here >
  • Bay Area Children’s Theatre is returning in March with a reimagined, immersive kid theater experience, The Imaginaries. Holiday family gift packs include a guidebook that comes right away.
  • Oakland Roots Soccer Club is planning for summer with memberships and flex 10-packs.
  • Cal Sports Games are often free or cheap, but little kids don’t know that.
  • See our DEALS page for discounted virtual performances and shows.

Experience Gift: Play Gyms & Activities

As we mentioned up above with museums, membership has its privileges. Choose a single special visit, sweet workshop, or regular pass.

510 Families 3
Quarry Park Adventures in Rocklin, CA (masks required)

Experience Gift: Travel around the Bay Area

Make a day into an experience by creating a special little day trip to make magical memories. Do you like the ocean, the mountains, the forests? We’ve got it all!

Vacation Inspiration: Driveable Family Getaways

What’s better than the Best Day Ever? The best weekend trip, of course. Would your kiddos get excited to think about the next great vacation? I will tell you mine do NOT care but they love it once it is over. Here’s the inspiration for your calendar that can make a special experience gift.

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Blowing bubbles in Joshua Tree (visit Palm Springs in the same trip!) | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Virtual Experience Gift: Online presents families will love

Some of our children cannot wait to get off the computer after a day of zooming, while still others are just begging to get back online for fun and games. My tween and teens love extra screen time. Here are a few of our legit favorites that can be a digital experience gift.

Children's Fairyland sign
Children’s Fairyland sign with Zayn for scale | Photo: Anna Azimi

See our DEALS page for discounted experience gifts — virtual and safer outside.
See our HOLIDAY ACTIVITY GUIDE for ideas in December.


fairyland logo

Disclosure: This guide to clutter-free, local, experience gifts was sponsored by Children’s Fairyland in Oakland.


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