Create memories, not clutter, with the gift of an experience this holiday season!
We’ve put together the DEFINITIVE list of Champaign-Urbana experience gifts that you and your family will love to give or receive.
Cover everyone on your list this holiday season with a gift card to the Decatur Park District! Redeem for daily or season passes to the area’s newest waterpark – Splash Cove, a family membership to Scovill Zoo, admission to Overlook Adventure Park featuring mini golf, a hi-ropes course with zipline and batting cages, rounds of golf at Hickory Point Golf Club or Red Tail Run by Raymond Floyd and much more! This gift is perfect for families who are up for adventure that is just a daytrip away! Visit decatur-parks.org or call 217-422-5911 to purchase.
Tips to giving the gift of an experience:
- Give the child a small, inexpensive item that relates to the “experience” gift. Want to give that pool membership? Wrap up a pool toy. If you give movie tickets, pick up a cute popcorn bucket and throw in some candy. Getting tickets to the JoJo Siwa show? No brainer – tons of JoJo stuff to be had.
- If the event has a specific date, create a countdown calendar for the child to post in his/her space. Doesn’t have to be purchased; homemade or printouts are good enough.
- If the gift is something they’ve never tried before or haven’t been to, get them excited about it by watching related videos on YouTube or finding photos.
Here we present our 2019 Champaign-Urbana “Experience” Gift Guide:
- Big Illini fans in the house? Buy your children Illini Kids Club All-American memberships. In addition to free football and men’s basketball tickets, All-American members will receive an Illini Kid Nation Passport, which allows members to get their passports stamped at any Fighting Illini regular season event and redeem stamps for prizes.
- Get a family membership to the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum. BONUS TIP: if you get the super membership, it provides discounts at other museums around the country. (Get $10 off a family membership in December.)
- Space fans? Get a family membership to the Staerkel Planetarium, which offers free admission to unlimited shows for a year.
- Summer pool memberships are a great gift idea, even if outdoor swim season seems so far away. The Champaign and Urbana Park Districts often offer some of the best rates of the year around the holidays.
- Dog park memberships are great for active dogs and their families. For example, the Urbana Dog Park annual membership is $41 + $10 fob fee for a resident, for one dog.
- The Leonhard Recreation Center is filled with opportunities for fun. Take a few laps around the indoor walking/jogging track or try out the weight room to get your fit on; kids can play in the indoor playground. Annual memberships are available for purchase.
- The Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign offers a great year-round membership opportunity for families and kids.
- Want to get in shape as a family? Want some place for the kids to run around inside when it’s cold? Grab a family membership to the Armory on campus.
TICKETS TO EVENTS
- Check out family friendly shows at State Farm Center, including the Harlem Globetrotters on Jan. 31, or the recently announced JoJo Siwa show on April 19.
- What kid wouldn’t want Illini men’s basketball tickets? Great options for games coming up, especially those over winter break right after the holiday. Women’s basketball tickets are inexpensive, and just as fun!
- Krannert Center for the Performing Arts has fabulous options for families. Don’t want to buy a specific show? You can purchase gift certificates to Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in any domination; these gift certificates never expire.
- Give tickets to see a family-friendly show at Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan.
- Kids love the Nutcracker? Ballet returns to the The Virginia Theatrein May.
- Who says Tractor Pulls are just for the summer? Grab tickets to the Midwest Winter Nationals Tractor Pulls at Gordyville this January.
- We hear there are going to live dinosaurs in Effingham this January.
- Never to early to dream about the drive-in. Harvest Moon Drive-In offers packages for next season, starting Black Friday.
LESSONS, CLASSES and OUTINGS
- Buy a package of lessons– music, gymnastics, dance, ice skating, roller skating, martial arts? The list is endless. Check out our super kids activity guide for ideas.
- Buy a class experience in something crafty. Joann Fabrics offers beginner classes for kids so they can learn how to sew, knit, and more.
- Sign up for a class together. Parkland College offers parent-child cooking classes, such as one in January for cake decorating for kids 9-14 with a parent, or this parent-child improv class for kids ages 5-10 with parent.
- Make them flip with an Open Gym Punch Card at IPower School of Gymnastics or Puma Playtime Pre-K Open Gym at Champaign Gymnastic Academy.
- Various Illini sports teams will be hosting winter camps, many of them in January. Check out the lineup, from softball to baseball to
- Want to swim indoors this winter? Get a punch card to the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center, and your sharks and fishies can swim all winter long. A five-pass card is $25; 10 punches are $50.
- We mentioned it earlier, but Champaign’s Leonhard Recreation Center is filled with opportunities for fun. Day passes are sold for $5 each (or $10 for a non-resident).
- Got a child with an artistic flair? Plan a trip to The Pottery Place in Champaign or Pretties by Paris where you can make beautiful creations together that will last a lifetime.
- Kids will jump for joy with a gift card to Elevate Trampoline Park in Champaign.
- Buy a gift card for roller skating at Skateland in Savoy, or take to the ice with the gift of ice skating at the University of Illinois Ice Arena.
- Go bowling at the Illini Union Rec Room. Or let the kids play old school arcade games there.
- Movie tickets never go out of style.
- Recipe and Ingredients. Kids love cooking with their parents. Print out a recipe, take a shopping trip to the store to purchase all the ingredients, and set a date for cooking together. Your work product is edible (hopefully!).
PLAN A ROAD TRIP
- Surprise your family with a stay at a water park and break up those winter blues. We’ve seen lots of families heading to the Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee.
- Plan a day trip (or overnight) via Amtrak to Chicago. So much to do! There’s also lots of ways to save money at museums when you visit.
- Don’t forget about all the new stuff happening in St. Louis, where the Gateway Arch experience was recently overhauled and the new aquarium has opened.
- Get your fill of Abraham Lincoln with a trip to Springfield.
- We’re big fans of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, a great place for children (and adults) of all ages.
- Terre Haute is an unexpected place for a fun, inexpensive getaway.
- Find an inexpensive hotel night here – kids love hotel pools!
- Our girls can’t get enough manis and pedis. Our readers weigh in on where to go with kids.
- Hair color is another big trend, for boys as well as girls. Treat them to a professional experience.
Jump Directly to Champaign-Urbana Holiday Info:
Holiday Fun in Champaign-Urbana | Holiday Bucket List | Where to Find Santa in Champaign-Urbana | Polar Express Fun in Champaign-Urbana | Christmas Parades Around Champaign-Urbana and Beyond | Phone Calls and Letters from Santa | Santa Pet Photos | Christmas Tree Farms Near Champaign-Urbana | Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies | Live Nativities | Ho Ho Holidays: Shopping Local in Champaign-Urbana | Celebrating Chanukah |
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