We appreciate Children’s Fairyland for sponsoring today’s guide to thoughtful local experience gifts. Please note that Fairyland is closed from December 7 through January 4 but plans to be open delighting children and families again soon! Buy a Fairyland membership before Dec. 31, 2020, 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 usually 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. But 2020 makes us get even more creative with outdoor and virtual experiences that delight and surprise us!
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 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.
More Kid-Friendly Museums
While many of these gems are closed right now, we are fully expecting them to come roaring back to life and we want to be there to support them. Buy a membership if you are able.
- Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
- Cal Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
- Oakland Zoo – reciprocal membership gets you discounts at Lindsay Wildlife Experience, too!
- Lindsay Wildlife Experience, Walnut Creek
Experience Gift: Tickets to Teams and Shows
Support our East Bay favorite teams and troupes with forward-looking tickets to mark a special day!
- Oakland A’s Baseball is getting ready for spring training. Pick up tickets now for your favorite rivalry.
- Oakland Roots Soccer Club is planning for summer with memberships and flex 10-packs.
- See our DEALS page for discounted virtual performances and shows.
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!
- Try your skills at Quarry Park Adventures for rock climbing, rappelling, or ropes courses in Rocklin. See website for holiday deals >
- Pick a Bay Area Beach to visit for the day (special Shout-out to Mori Point, Pacifica — everyone’s new favorite!). Book some time on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.
- Take a Staycation that lets you sleep in your own bed tonight after playing all day.
- Pair a trip stargazing with children with cocoa in the car.
Vacation inspiration: Driveable Family Getaways
What’s better than the Best Day Ever? A 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 inspiration for your calendar that can make a special experience gift.
- ❄ Move to Tahoe for a Week: Here’s The Family-Friendly AirBnB You Need
- 🏖 Vacation Inspiration: Plan A Trip To Avila Beach With Kids
- 🌴 Vacation Inspiration: Road Trip to Palm Springs + Joshua Tree
- 🏝 Vacation Inspiration: Balboa Island Anytime
- 🚂 Weekend Road Trip: Railroad Park Resort and Lake Shasta Caverns
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.
- East Bay Music Together online is lovely with (or from) grandparents! Consider any of our local online classes while you’re at it >
- Chocolate tasting with teenagers, extended family, or just your best friends. Yes, please!
- Outschool class for drawing, juggling, or magic tricks (keep it fun!). With a friend is even better.
- Membership to a community of online interest like chess.com with upgraded features ($3/month).
- My sons also would want me to tell you that you can buy upgraded status in games like Minecraft. They plan to buy that for each other.
See our DEALS page for discounted experience gifts — virtual and safer outside.
See our HOLIDAY ACTIVITY GUIDE for ideas in December.
Check out the guide to Family Gift Ideas for a Pandemic Holiday Season
Disclosure: This guide to clutter-free, local, experience gifts was sponsored by Children’s Fairyland in Oakland.