When you’re on the hunt for a memorable gift, it can be hard to find that perfect present that will inspire appreciation and joy.
It’s common practice to buy material objects as gifts, but studies actually have shown that experience gifts, also called experiential gifts, inspire more happiness. According to research from San Francisco University, spending money on experiences brings more short-term and lasting happiness than spending money on material items.
Even better, buying experience gifts give you the opportunity to share a moment with your loved one and have memories that last forever.
We’ve outlined 10 experience gifts available in cities from coast-to-coast in the USA, for your most remarkable year yet.
There’s nothing like soaring above the trees and feeling the wind whip through your hair. Ziplining is an unforgettable day experience, and you can find it near any major metro area (and some rural areas, too). From New York to Ohio to Colorado, top-rated ziplining tours whisk people through tropical river gorges, volcanic vistas, and rugged landscapes. Want a memento? They usually offer candid photos, too.
Everyone gets stressed out from time to time, which is why massage is one of the best experience gifts you can give. Massage has a wide variety of benefits, from treating tinnitus to easing migraines, even assisting weight loss. Plus, it happens to feel great.
Zeel, available in 75+ cities across the offers gift certificates for on-demand massage, so your friend or loved one can select from a wide variety of massages, such as Swedish and deep tissue. If you’re looking for a more romantic experience, consider a couples massage. Best of all, you’ll get a home service massage, saving time and hassle. The massage therapist you book on the Zeel massage app brings the table and supplies – your gift recipient just relaxes.
3. Escape the Room
Dive into a thrilling adventure — without all the risk. In New York City, places like Escape the Room immerse participants in a mystery puzzle with hidden objects, clues, and puzzles. You’ll work together with your partner or group to solve the mysteries and find your way out of the room. There are child-friendly escape rooms too, if you’re giving a live experience gift to a family.
4. Painting classes
Sip on some wine and paint to your heart’s content! Hour-long paint classes take place all across the country and are the perfect gift experiences for couples and friends alike. Consider Art Class and Wine Glass in Houston, which offers one class for $45 per person or group packages for a friends’ night out on the town.
5. Food tours
Breaking bread together is one of the oldest and most treasured shared experiences, so it’s hard to go wrong with a food tour. Consider an introduction to the culinary delights in Los Angeles, which offer food tours for every type of cuisine you can imagine — from French to Chinese to Mexican. Bon appetit! (And yes, you can walk in Los Angeles.)
6. Indoor skydiving
Take flight from the safety of an indoor skydiving arena, where you can float without the actual parachute (or fear of heights)! Cities like Dallas offer indoor skydiving for $75 a person and include instruction from a certified flight instructor.
Ready to get that swing into shape? A golf pass as an experience gift is perfect for any aspiring athlete or fan of the sport. If you live in an area like Atlanta, you can purchase a gift card with Georgia State Parks that will allow access to various golf ranges.
Once the weather warms up, grab your paddle and explore the coastline. Daytime kayak tours abound in the US, but if you want to up the ante and go at night, San Francisco offers a North Bay bioluminescent kayak tour for $95 a person. According to their website, on moonless nights, “Schools of fish in the bay create a phosphorescent trail, which can look like a glowing cloud in the water.” Your friend or loved one will positively beam at the thought.
9. Catamaran cruise
Looking for even more adventure? Hit the high seas in the nearest coastal city. For $60 a pop, you can take a whirl on a sunset catamaran cruise in San Francisco. Cruises often include beverages and hors d’oeuvres, so your experience gift will feel like royal treatment.
10. Distillery tour
Whether you choose a distillery, brewery, or vineyard, there are all kinds of fun and low-cost tours to treat a friend or loved one. Take the Chicago Spirits and Distillery Tour, which has existed since the prohibition era. For $25 a person, learn about aged whiskey, brandy, and liqueurs. You’ll even have the opportunity to taste the final product and watch how the liquor, brew, or wine is made.
No matter what you decide on, a non-material gift offers a special moment that your friend or companion will treasure for years to come. Experience presents are the perfect gift for the person who has everything. They say money can’t buy happiness, but with experience gifts, it can get pretty close.