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The Perfect Last-Minute Gift: A Local Experience

From a museum membership to season tickets, give the gift of always having something to do.

What gift do you get the person who has everything? Philadelphia and the surrounding areas are filled with plenty of places to learn from and explore. Instead of another toy or pair of gloves, considering giving a gift that they can experience for months — or even the whole year.

Gift Memberships to Area Museums

The Franklin Institute, the Please Touch Museum, and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University are just a few of the great museums in Philly. Most museums offer annual memberships, and they’re the perfect gift, offering play and educational experiences that last all year. And the membership price is typically less than it would cost a family of four to visit twice. Check museum websites for gift memberships, but if you don’t see a specific link on a site, call and ask. (You don’t want the recipient accidentally getting the bill.)


Some local museums are offering discounts for the holidays. For example, use the code GIFT2016 to get $25 off a Please Touch Museum membership through December 31. Ask if you call — some Black Friday deals might still be in effect. 

Theater Subscriptions

Show packages and gift certificates are available for many of the theaters in Philadelphia, like the Walnut Street Theatre and the Kimmel Center’s Broadway series. Packages allow you to pick a handful of shows for one price. A simple card explaining the gift to the recipient is all you need, then pick a day to get together and let them choose what shows they want to see!

Photography Class Certificates

The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center offers gift certificates which can be used toward classes and workshops. Get snapping.

Donate to the Philadelphia Zoo

A membership is a great idea, but the Philadelphia Zoo ADOPT program offers up a variety of animals that available to “adopt.” The $50 package includes your choice of animal from the list and an email with a personalized certificate and species fact sheet. Additionally, their “Behind the Scenes” tours are $150 for two people to meet a zookeeper and get an up-close visit with an animal of your choice.

Magazine Subscription

So this is more tangible, but a year-long subscription means something to look forward to monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Try a new local magazine (might we suggest Main Line Parent or Philadelphia Family for your friends around here?) which may allow the gift recipient to learn about, and go on to explore, new places in their hometown.

Sporting Events

Win or lose, our sports teams are the perfect setting for an experience-based gift. Check out each team’s websites for single tickets or packages to upcoming seasons. The Phillies, for example, offer holiday packages of two or four tickets to opening day next April and a gift card for the recipient to use at the stadium. Right now you can get the gift of a Santa Sack package from The Flyers (orders must be placed by the 18th for Christmas delivery), and holiday pack deals from the 76ers. (And, of course, don’t forget the Eagles. There’s always next year!)

Hobby Certificates

What does the gift recipient enjoy doing? Look for day or annual passes, or gift cards, for places like indoor gyms, rock climbing, pottery, painting, acting, swimming, ice skating, batting cages, arcades (check out the Pinball Gallery in Malvern!), or music lessons. Not sure what they would enjoy? Take a guess and give them something you think they would like; encourage a new hobby!

Movie Tickets

Support a local movie theater (The Bryn Mawr Film Institute is one we love), and throw in some extra cash for snacks!

Streaming Membership

Amazon, Hulu, Netflix are the big ones. They also make great gifts if you know someone on the fence about subscribing. Screen time might be frowned upon depending on the age of the person you are buying for, but screen time also can come in handy at certain points (rainy days, road trips) and be appreciated!

Restaurant Gift Card

Whether you know the recipient’s favorite place to eat, or just now what their tastebuds like, you can’t go wrong with food! To make it even more fun, find a cookbook that’s related to the restaurant/type of cuisine for in-home experiments!

Experience Gift Websites

Still stuck? Check out Cloud 9 Living, which lists experience gifts by category and recipient. Most of the gifts are geared toward adults, but the site also offers Philly Pizza tours, walking tours, and gift certificates so you don’t have to stress about picking one out! Experience Days offers similar options and gift certificates, too.


Photograph by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia.

Contributing Writer


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