We are lucky to have great options for experience gifts in DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland! Whether it's a simple coupon for a hot chocolate + playground date or tickets to a cool indoor play area, I love giving experience gifts to my kids! Below are some top picks in the area as well as some ideas for how to gift them in fun, creative ways.
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Why Give an Experience Gift?
We love giving our kids Experience Gifts for Christmas because it extends the gift beyond the day to create a memory! Such gifts often mean quality time spent with loved ones, aiding in the development of strong social skills and the promotion of healthy, active lifestyles. They contribute to a clutter-free environment and are adaptable to suit the interests and developmental stages of children of all ages, nurturing their creativity and imagination in a uniquely personal way.
How to "Wrap" one of these Experience Gifts for DC or VA
The only problem with experience gifts is that they are hard to wrap! A great idea I am trying this year is to use Scratch Off Sticker Labels from Amazon. You can write the experience (or maybe each letter since you get 150 stickers!) and then add the sticker on top. Kids then scratch off with a coin and reveal their gift!
There are also larger 4x4 cards here which you can also customize. Pack of 50 so you can save for a birthday party too.
Experience Gifts DC
The Lane Social Club
The Lane Social Club is a great place for the whole family! It's a truly beautiful space filled with unique play structures, natural light, spaces to learn, and places to party. Features: Giant slides, climbing net, climbing walls, magnet, and peg walls, building toys, soft play area, and a roof deck with outdoor games. Founded by two local moms, everything has been thoughtfully designed for the kids and parents.
Gift Idea: Schedule an open playtime for your kids ($20 for 2 hours per kid, 2 adults free per family) and plan for some Cafe time which currently sells coffee, juice boxes, snacks, and more. They also have a month-to-month membership. A winter month membership would make a great gift for both kids and parents from a relative!
Cost for a family of 4: $40 one time Open Play
National Building Museum
A wonderful museum in Chinatown NW DC with a beautiful atrium, interactive displays and the super cool, Play Work Build Kids area. This area has a world-class architectural toy collection, a block play area, and digital interactives.
Gift Idea: Purchase tickets for the family or consider a family membership at $90.
Protocols: All visitors 2 and older are required to wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status.
Cost for a family of 4: Adults are $10 each and youth ages 3-17 are $7. $34 if kids are above age 3.
Physical Gift to Open: My kids love these fort-building kits (however ours is a bit flimsy. This one has better reviews!) or this book looks fantastic: Look at That Building! The first book of Structures.
National Zoo - One of the best Experience Gifts in DC
What could be more a more iconic experience gift in DC than a trip to the National Zoo! What I love about "our" Zoo is that it is also a scientific research institution. There is always so much going on at the Zoo whether indoors or out.
Gift Idea: While the museum is free, you could perhaps buy a cute panda or Zoo book (see below) to go with your outing. Membership at the Zoo pays off if you plan to park and go just 3 times a year! Note: Free passes must be reserved ahead of time.
Cost for a family of 4: Free if you don't park, Parking is $30. And differentMembership tiers depending on what you are look for.
Physical Gift to Open: Tons of gift shops at the Zoo but can get pricy. I can't believe I found my favorite childhood Pop Up Zoo book on Amazon (I still have mine from 30 years ago!) as well as a tiny stuffed Panda.
National Children's Museum
The National Children's Museum is a "wonder-filled space" filled with incredible hands-on STEAM exhibits. Some include the Dream Machine a 3 story climbing structure with a super slide, an infant and toddler play area, Innovation Sandbox, Art and Tech including Nickelodeon characters, Tinker Studio, and more.
Gift Idea: Purchase tickets to the museum or membership for more visits. (Note: The museum will be open for special hours for winter break between Monday, Dec 27 and Friday, Dec 31, check out the website for more details)
Cost for a family of 4: $15.95 per person over the age of 1. So 4 people would be $63.80. Membership starts at $190.
Photo courtesy of National Children's Museum.
St. James Super, Awesome and Amazing Entertainment Zone and Waterpark
Huge entertainment zone with an indoor waterpark/splash park in Springfield. Non-members can still visit the Kids Zone which has 30,000 feet of fun: climbing obstacles, esports, and more. The water park is open only on the weekends and they highly recommend booking in advance via calling them at 703-239-6870.
Cost for a family of 4: Waterpark is $15 per person for nonmembers so $60 for a family of 4. Active Entertainment Pricing: $15 for 1 hour and 2 hours for $27.
Have you heard of indoor skydiving? You are in a vertical wind tunnel and actually fly! I have not done this but looks so cool if you have a thrill-seeking kiddo. The age requirement is actually 3 years old but definitely check out the website first to see if your kid would want to go!
Cost for a family of 4: $70-$100 per person for 2 flights depending on the time of the week. Includes gear rental, pre-flight training, and one-on-one flight instruction.
Physical Gift to Open: This skydiver ornament is too cute! And can be personalized.
Maryland Experience Gifts
ICE! at Gaylord National HotelEXPERIENCE THE BELOVED ICE! ATTRACTION FEATURING ‘RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER™'
Embark on a magical journey through larger-than-life, immersive scenes from the iconic classic ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™' carved from over two million pounds of ice. In the one-of-a-kind holiday experience ICE!, you'll zip down two-story-tall slides made of pure ice, traverse through immersive ice tunnels and arches, and step into colorful, multi-sensory scenes starring Rudolph, Clarice, Bumble, Sam the Snowman, and Hermey the Elf! Over 40 world-renowned master artisans spend over 6-weeks hand-carving approximately 6,000 blocks of ice - each weighing 300 pounds - to create this can't miss 17,000-square-foot frozen attraction.
500+ Places to Explore this Holiday Season!
There are tons of other experiences this holiday in the DMV region! From bowling to hiking to epic playgrounds, 412 spots are located in the free DMV with Kids Database. You can sort by outdoor/indoor, free/paid, good for babies, type of parking etc.