I’ve come to learn that one of the best types of gifts you can give kids is experience gifts. Experiences that will create memories lasting a lifetime. They will likely forget about their toys in a year or two, but they will always remember the fun times with their family—and those are the pictures that make the photo memory books!
A few years ago our family started requesting experience gifts instead of material gifts for our kids. We think these gifts are especially helpful when your kids are very young and its important to get out of the house!
Here are some season passes and family memberships that are excellent considerations for experience gifts in Lancaster County!
- Lancaster Hands-On-House. $115 for a yearly family membership. They also offer individual memberships and grandfamily memberships (for grandparents and four grandchildren per visit).
- Tiny Town. $117 for a three-month family membership. You could almost consider this more of a gift for mom than for the kiddos. 🙂 Your kids will play for hours while you sit and relax reading a book or working on your laptop. Read our completely honest review of Tiny Town.
- Dutch Wonderland Family Pass. $125 each. Tip >> You’ll find their best deal on family membership passes on Black Friday. You get FREE parking with a season pass, you can park at the front gate and be the first ones in the park. If you live close this is a perfect morning activity, and you can still be home by naptime! Its also a great idea to get the season pass if you know you will be having visitors during the summer who will be wanting to go to the park too. You can enjoy time at the park with them without paying full admission price each time.
- Lancaster Science Factory Family Pass. $90. Includes FREE admission to ASTC museums around the U.S., excluding a few museums within 90 miles of Lancaster, but it does include the DaVinci Science Center and the Jersey Science Center. Keep in mind, it is FREE to visit the Lancaster Science Factory after 5pm on the first Friday of every month.
- Cherry Crest Adventure Farm.
- Pennsylvania Heritage Pass. Visit hundreds of museums for just $37.50 by taking advantage of their December BOGO deal. Locally you’ll get FREE admission to Railroad Museum of PA, Ephrata Cloister, Landis Valley Museum, Cornwall Furnace, and Daniel Boone Homestead.
- North Museum. $90. You might consider a membership to North Museum over the Lancaster Science Factory if you are really interested in seeing the shows at North Museum for free!
- American Zoo Association. A Professional Associates membership costs $80. Memberships are valid from January 1 thru December 31. FREE and discounted admission is available to many zoos throughout the United States including ZooAmerica in Hershey, and 50% off to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
- American Horticulture Society Pass. AHS members receive The American Gardener magazine, special admission privileges and discounts at 300 public gardens throughout North America and the Cayman Islands, invitation to participate in members-only annual Seed Exchange, and access to members-only online gardening resources. Local places to use your pass are: Tyler Arboretum (Media, PA), Hershey Gardens (Hershey, PA), and Winterthur (Delaware). You can see a list of the local gardens here.
- Hershey Park. $200 each if you get the DW combo pass.
Here is a testimony from one Frugal Lancaster reader, Cassie, who shares her story with how the AHS pass saved her family a lot of money and gave them incredible family time experiences.
We just went to Michigan last week and visited the Natural History Museum in Cleveland, Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Cranbrook Gardens and Natural History Museum in Michigan, and Carnegie Science Center and National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Our family of 7 was able to visit all of those places for FREE, $16 total for parking plus some quarters and pennies for the squished penny machines. 🙂 I actually really love the garden pass . . . especially since they don’t have the distance restriction so we can use it around here… but I just think they are so neat to explore! They often have a special children’s garden area, and some have tree houses. When we were in Florida, we visited several places around Tampa also for FREE.”
Lessons / Classes
Another gift idea could be to give the gift of learning something new. Not only will they learn a skill to carry with them throughout life, but kids will learn perseverance, diligence, teamwork, and respect for authority. Here are some lessons and classes ideas to consider as gifts for your children this year.
- Gymnastics. I recommend Positive Fitness in Ephrata or Fusion Gymnastics in Lititz. Fusion is offering a Local Flavor deal right now—hopefully they won’t sell out before the holidays.
- Swim Lessons.
- Art Lessons.
- Dance Lessons.
- Theater Classes.
- Piano Lessons.
- Archery Lessons. Lancaster Archery offers $25 for an archery lesson for two including equipment and range time. You could also consider gifting this pass for 1 hour in the TechnoHunt Range for up to 4 people at Kinsey’s Outdoors.
- Scuba Diving Classes. Here’s a deal for scuba lessons for two at an indoor pool.
Entertainment / Performances
Experience gifts can also be a one-time thing, like a theatrical performance, movie, or a play. It could be a museum that’s a little farther away, or even a local fun experience that you wouldn’t necessarily do often enough to have a season pass. Here are some of our favorites:
- Sight & Sound. Don’t miss our tips for taking kids to Sight & Sound Theater!
- Philadelphia Zoo
- Crayola Experience. Save $4 per ticket through the link in this post.
- Turkey Hill Experience
- Sky Zone. Watch for 50% off deals to Sky Zone!
- Bowling & Family Fun. Local Flavor offers great deals for families to bowl and enjoy entertainment for cheap at 222 Dutch Lanes, at Clearview Lanes, at Rocky Springs and at Leisure Lanes.
- Movie Tickets. Get $20 worth of tickets for just $10!
- Laser Tag. You will find discounted packages available for Ozzy’s Family Fun Center and Rocky Springs, as well as Laserdome occasionally.
- Franklin Institute. You might want to include admission for the special exhibit that is there at the time you go too. We checked out the Mirror Maze and loved it!
- Dutch WinterWonderland. Only open until December 30th, but you can get tickets for just $8.99 here. Could make a good stocking stuffer!
Other Gifts (Especially for Moms)
A mom’s day is long and hard. There are so many gifts that could help moms, or others too. Think about the different things she has to do every day and what could help her, or think about giving her an opportunity to treat herself—those are the areas I hear moms appreciate the most.
- House cleaning. Hire someone to clean her home and give her a break for a month.
- Meal time help. Meal services like HelloFresh (save $40 on first order), Marley Spoon (save $30 on your first order) and Dream Dinners, are a huge help to moms on busy weeks or even just in general.
- Season Passes. Any of the passes mentioned above would help her get the kids out of the house.
- Date Nights. Gift cards to local restaurants or offer babysitting.
- Gift Cards. Gift cards for home decorations (because we all love to make our house a home). Consider local shops or places like Flower Warehouse, Hobby Lobby, HomeGoods, etc.
- Coloring books with Scripture or fun quotes. (I recently found these Psalms and Proverbs cards to color and share on the discount rack at Sharp Shopper and think they would make excellent stocking stuffers!)