This post: 25 Experience Gifts for Teens That Might Just Outshine Stuff (Really!) Post updated: December 2022
Written by: Marybeth Bock
Buying gifts for teenagers can be downright tricky. By the time our kids hit the tween and teen years they’ve become so finicky and particular about what they want (and don’t want), it can make our job harder than ever.
Rather than guessing and buying your teen more things they may not even like or want, why not ditch all the stuff this year and instead, opt for a cool experience they’ll never forget? According to research, experiences result in longer-lasting happiness than material possessions do.
From a fabulous weekend in the wilderness to a glamorous spa day, we rounded up a few super cool experience gifts for teens that might just outshine any “stuff” on their list! Check out these 25 experience gifts for teens that’ll really give your teen something to look forward to!
25 Experience Gifts for Teens that Just Might Outshine “Stuff”
1. Concert Tickets
Nearly all teens love music! Rock your teen’s world with tickets to see their favorite band “live!” Whether it’s a concert in the nearest city or a music festival they’ve been dying to go to, music lovers will flip over this gift!
2. Winter Sports Weekend
Introduce your teen to a new winter sport (or let them enjoy one they already love) like skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice-skating, or ice-fishing. Be sure to call resorts and check their websites and social media accounts to take advantage of any deals they might be offering.
3. Professional Sporting Event
If you have a local team make it really fun, by tailgating for a few hours before the game or grabbing a juicy burger and fries at their favorite pre-game restaurant. Or, go big and surprise your teen with tickets to a big game in a different city – make it a full weekend get-a-way if budget allows.
4. Cooking, Baking or Cake Decorating Classes
Got a budding chef who’s always whipping up something delish in the kitchen or a teen who loves to bake cupcakes, cakes and fancy desserts? Help them fine-tune their culinary skills with a gift that teaches them basic cooking, baking or fancy decorating skills. They’ll gain new skills and confidence; you gain some nights off from cooking dinner! It’s a win-win!
5. Water/Amusement/Theme Park Tickets
I’m not sure teenagers ever really outgrow rollercoasters, Disney World or waterslides. Tuck tickets into their stocking and give them something fun to look forward to over the holiday break.
6. Luxury Spa Experience
Whether it’s a relaxing mani-pedi, a facial, a half-day experience at a local spa or an all-out full-day pampering package complete with a massage at a top resort, treat your teen to some special pampering they’ll never forget. Find the perfect location and buy gift cards at Spafinder.
7. National Parks Annual Pass
If your teen is a hiker, biker, photographer, or nature adventurer of any kind, the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is their ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country. Let your teen plan out a few family trips and enjoy some of the most scenic areas of the country.
8. Class Pass Fitness Membership
Haven’t heard of Class Pass? If your teen is really into fitness, they’ll love a six-month or one-year membership to the Class Pass app! From the app, they can use pre-paid credits to book sessions at thousands of studios, gyms, salons, and even spas around your area, for things like cycling, yoga, boxing, barre, Pilates, martial arts, and more.
9. Car Racing
If your teen has never been to a NASCAR race, they’re in for a real treat! Or, if they really want to get in on the action, surprise them by scheduling a chance to actually do the driving (if they’re licensed, of course), at a NASCAR Racing Experience. What a thrilling memory this would be!
10. Music or Voice Lessons
Guitar, flute, piano, or even drums – indulge your teen’s wish to play an instrument or belt out a song like Billie Eilish. (You may need to gift yourself some Airpods, but who knows where this new talent could take your kid?)
11. Extreme Adventure
Calling all adrenaline junkies! How about an extreme adventure for your risk-taker teen who’s craving a little adventure in their life? Hang gliding, parasailing, a hot air balloon ride, zip-lining, mountain biking, white water rafting, or even (if they really want to get their heart pounding) skydiving! (Here are some of the best aerial adventures in the country, according to Tripadvisor.)
12. Golf Lessons
Golf gained a ton of popularity with teenagers during the pandemic when they realized what a great outdoor pastime it is. The best part about learning how to play golf is that your teen can play the game for decades to come. The Professional Golf Association Junior League site has great information about programs for youth under the age of 17.)
13. Broadway Musical or Play
Your teen doesn’t have to be a theater kid to thoroughly enjoy a Broadway musical or play. And you don’t have to live near New York City to enjoy a stellar production. Broadway Shows On Tour are performed on stages in over 240 cities across North America.
14. Classic Car or Air Show
Let your teen geek out to wheels or wings at a car or air show. Upcoming aviation events in the U.S. and Canada can be found at Air Show Stuff and check out Old Cars Magazine for a calendar of future auto events.
15. The Ultimate Treehouse Experience
Cool treehouses are popping up all over the country! Whether you rent it for the night or snuggle in the trees for the entire weekend, there’s no better way to really enjoy nature than by nestling in among the treetops. This is one experience your teen won’t forget. Here’s a list of some of the dreamiest treehouses in America.
16. Whale Watching or Dolphin Tour
There’s nothing more breathtaking than seeing a whale or dolphin in its natural habitat. Give your teen the ultimate gift of nature by letting them see these beautiful creatures up close and personal! Here are some of the best whale-watching destinations!
17. Tech Classes
If you have a teen who loves computers, gaming, programming or anything else tech-related, get them in on the action by signing them up for a class that teaches them how to build a computer, how to design a computer game or app, or cool programming techniques and tips. Who knows? This could inspire them to choose computer technology as a career path.
18. Craft or Workshop Classes
Does your teen love crafts or working with their hands? Surprise them with classes to learn how to paint, make pottery or jewelry, or how to arrange flowers. Or, let them dive in and learn the ins and out of woodworking. It’s a great way for your favorite teen to break free from their mundane daily schedule while learning something they’re interested in!
19. Escape Room Subscription Box
Got a teen who loves to crack codes, solve puzzles, or figure out who the real killer is? Give them a year’s worth of experiences as a sleuth with a monthly mystery to unravel that gets delivered right to your door. Check out the year’s best escape room and mystery subscription boxes here.
20. Get Tickets to Be in the Audience of Their Favorite Show
If your teen loves Ellen Degeneres or can’t get enough of their favorite game show, see if you can secure tickets for them to be part of the audience. Don’t know where to begin? Here are a few insider tips to becoming a member of an audience on your favorite television show.
21. Sign Them Up for Camp
If your teen spends their winter break or summer lolling around looking for something to do, give them something exciting to look forward to by signing them up for the coolest camp in town! There are tons of different camp options to choose from! Choose one that will inspire your teen and get them totally psyched.
22. Wildlife Encounter
For teens who adore animals, visiting a wildlife sanctuary with elephants and big cats or an opportunity to canoe through a swamp to catch a glimpse of an alligator could be the perfect gift experience. Check out these locations in the U.S. from “Love Exploring” or dream bigger with “Family Traveller’s” global suggestions.
23. Go Glamping
Simply put, glamping is a cross between camping and glamour. It’s become wildly popular since Covid since it’s a great way to avoid crowds while still allowing you to travel. Plus, it’s a great way to experience the beauty of the outdoors without roughin’ it in the wilderness. So, whether you ramp up your camping plans by renting a cool RV for the weekend or you hit a fancy glamping resort, like one of these, your teen will love sitting under the stars without having to give up their cellphones.
24. Gym Membership
Teens today are becoming far more health and fitness conscious. If your teen aspires to get fit or simply wants to get on a path to a healthier lifestyle, a gym membership is a great gift idea! (If you really want to go the extra mile, spring for a personal trainer so they can customize their fitness goals!) Don’t know which gym is best for your teen? This helpful guide from Very Well Fit took a look at the best gym memberships and features to consider before signing up.
25. “Let Them Choose” eGift Card
When it comes to experience gifts for teens, sometimes it’s best just to let them decide! Choose a Virgin Experience egift card and let them pick their perfect gift from over 2,000 experiences nationwide. There’s no expiration date, and they can redeem it at any time.
The sky is literally the limit when it comes to gifting your teen an experience they will never forget.
Happy adventuring, kids!
Tell us in the comments section below! What are some of your favorite experience gifts for teens?
About Marybeth Bock:
Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.