12 Experience Gift Ideas for East Bay Families - 510 Families

12 Experience Gift Ideas for East Bay Families

We appreciate Chabot Space and Science Center for sponsoring today's guide to thoughtful local experience gifts. Get two bonus months of membership — 14 rather than 12 months! — when you use code 510FAM at checkout.

San Francisco Bay Area experience gifts can work for any age or budget. We love museum 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 thoughtful while still functioning as a perfect last-minute and clutter-free gift solution. You're so thoughtful!

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 Chabot Space and Science

Chabot Space and Science has a terrific membership for families. With themed First Fridays every month, bigger festivals and new activities for every visit, there is always something exciting to do…and something exciting to learn!

Grandparent and child on the large telescope
Children and adults love to take turns on the large telescope. Starry-eyed space enthusiasts love exclusive access to monthly Members-only telescope viewings. | Photo Chabot Space and Science Center

What's included in membership at Chabot? Family members receive museum admission with priority and discounted registration for festivals, summer camp, events, and workshops (including family-Balloon Drop, TinkerFest and BubbleFest).  Members also received discounted or free admission to science centers and museums worldwide through the ASTC Passport program.

A year of membership is filled with fun STEM experiences and memories your family is sure to love. Through, December 31, 2019, Get 14 months for the price of 12 when you use code 510FAM at checkout!

More Kid-Friendly Museums

Walking food tour of Uptown Oakland | Photo by Edible Excursions
Walking food tour of Uptown Oakland | Photo by Edible Excursions

Experience gift: Special day or evening out around the East Bay

For my daughter's best friend's birthday, I arranged for the two girls to have a semi-private lesson at Kinetic Arts Center together, where they learned to scale and twirl aerial silks. Scarlett was aghast that we didn't give a present to open, but she came around to the concept of the “gift of an experience” and both girls loved it (We give two big thumbs up to the whole operation at Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland).

Here are some other gift ideas that offer lasting memories and can be arranged with a quick phone call or order form. Use them yourself, or email this post to your parents!

Experience Gift: Tickets to Events and Shows

Little shows are wonderful for little kids

Small attention span? No problem. These hilarious shows for small children at a great price.

Unique Derique's Fool La La is a terrific time and tix are discounted for December and January shows.

Bay Area Children's Theatre has performances for children as young as six-months old. Choose a single show or a FlexPass for multiple shows.

Big arena shows to plan ahead for

Sesame Street Live is coming to Oakland on December 28 & 29 and San Jose January 4& 5 (tickets here). Billed as a funny, furry, interactive experience that will get the whole family on its collective feet.

PJ Masks Live! is playing in Oakland January 6. Woohoo! (discounted tickets here)

The Harlem Globetrotters tour is a tradition in my family. The kids loved the show last year and we even hung around afterward and got autographs. We are superfans! This year's tour includes Oakland choices schedule offers two times January 18 with a few other Bay Area choices in the mix. Find a show and tickets >

The incredibly exciting — and loud! — Monster Jam will be at Oakland Coliseum for one night only on February 15. Tix here >


Sesame Street Live! Let's Party! | Photo and discounted tix by Goldstar
Sesame Street Live!

See our DEALS page for current events and discounted tickets on many other events.
See our HOLIDAY ACTIVITY GUIDE for ideas in December.

Experience Gift: Travel to places around the Bay Area

What's better than the Best Day Ever? A best weekend trip, of course. Plan a trip with relatives where you pick a destination halfway between you. We did a trip to the Monterey Aquarium earlier this year and met my dad and stepmom there. We stayed here, and it seemed like a popular place for families to meet up. (We observed a number of ‘family reunion’ type groups.) I liked the fact that we were on neutral ground; no one had to clean up their house, and we were all in “vacation” mode. Look for ticket deals through your hotel.

Other California adventures to enjoy together:

Photo Chabot Space and Science
Expand your universe with a hands-on children's makerspace, Project Create and a Discovery Lab for children five and under. | Photo: Chabot Space and Science Center

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.

See our Toddler Class Guide for more ideas for the 0-5 crowd, from gymnastics to music to swimming. More big kid classes here >

Disclosure: This guide to clutter-free, local, experience gifts was sponsored by Chabot Space and Science Center. Reminder: Get 14 months for the price of 12 when you use code 510FAM for your annual membership at checkout before 12/31/19.

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