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25 unique experiential gifts for the person who doesn't need more stuff

By Jenny McGrath,Stephanie Cher,

Food tours, museum subscriptions, and unusual online classes are all great experience gifts for people who are hard to shop for.

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Gift giving can hold a lot of pressure and expectation. You need to make sure it's the right size and color, suited to their tastes, and something they don't have yet. It can be tiring perusing store after store to find something that'll be touching and memorable and when gift-giving fatigue sets in, maybe it's time to expand your gifting horizons.

For the one who has it all (or the one who doesn't want it all), the gift of an experience is something that won't create more clutter in their home. If your loved one has always talked about wanting to tour the states, drive a classic car, or even hire an interior designer to redo their room, we've got you covered.

It's time to stop the discussion and give the gift of action. Giving a gift of the intangible is unique because it's a new memory to be made, a gift that can change a person's character. It will level up your loved one's ability in life, through adventurous moments, explorations, and learning something new.

Here are the 26 best experience gifts of 2022:

REI-led kayak tours all over the country

REI, prices vary

Kayak to your heart's delight with REI's trained professionals. REI provides everything you'll need to have a successful day, and there are tours offered in locations throughout the US. Their tours are wide-ranging, from shipwreck explorations to sunset tours , and you'll be sure to find one that fits their preference.

Worth checking out:

Learn to Kayak Class

DC Monuments Kayak Tour

Chicago River Skyline Kayak Tour

A private food tour of their favorite city

Secret Food Tours, from $90 per person

Food tours are a great way to get to know a city. Guides take travelers to little-known spots where they can sample a variety of local delicacies and beverages. Whether it's tasting banchan and bibimbap in Seoul or eating jamón and tapas in Barcelona, they'll spend a couple of hours exploring a new or familiar city in a unique way.

Worth checking out:

Secret Food Tour: Seoul (private tour), from $226.80

Secret Food Tour: Vancouver (private tour), from $153

Secret Food Tour: Barcelona (group tour), $90

Mix-and-match fitness classes

ClassPass, starting at $50

ClassPass is a great way to begin exploring fitness classes in their area. If they're just starting their fitness journey, this is a fantastic way to begin parsing down what they enjoy best. Whether they're interested in bootcamps, yoga, Pilates, cycling, or kickboxing, they'll be able to tailor their fitness experience to their preferences.

Let them drive the classic car of their dreams

DriveShare, prices vary

Is your loved one a car fanatic? Have they ever had a particular classic car they've wanted to drive? Hagerty's DriveShare program allows them to pick and choose which car they'd like to rent for the day to take on a cruise around town. This is a great way for them to experience the vintage car of their dreams, and hopefully, they'll take you along for the ride.

Worth checking out:

1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn

1970 Ford Bronco

2020 Acura NSX

Professional interior design help in creating the space of their dreams

Havenly Design, starting at $79

If your loved one has always talked about wanting to hire an interior designer to give their home a lift, Havenly is the perfect way to do so. Give the gift of design and connect them with a professional that can transform their room into the room of their dreams. They'll take a style quiz and be paired up with a designer who'll chat with them and give them inspiration and tips to guide their decision. Read our full review here. (Spoiler: We loved it.)

Skydiving without actually jumping out of a plane

iFly Gift Voucher, starting at $25

Skydiving can be daunting, so giving the gift of a skydiving session might be too risky for you and the receiver. iFly is the best of both worlds: Indoor skydiving that simulates skydiving without as many of the associated risks. Operating in cities across the US, you'll be sure to give them an exhilarating experience in any location.

An annual pass to US national parks

America the Beautiful Pass, available at REI, $79.99

For anyone who wants to take road trips to multiple national parks all over the country, having an annual pass is essential. Getting into national parks can cost a lot of money for just one day, so this is a gift that's a real money saver for the adventurers in your life.

Private cooking lessons from a renowned chef

Delicious Experiences cooking classes, from $125

Experienced cooks and curious newcomers alike will appreciate getting some face time with an expert pasta maker or professional cake decorator . If you gift your loved one a Delicious Experience class (or send them a gift certificate ), they'll get a private, virtual session with a chef, sommelier, bartender, or restauranteur. They can ask for advice, follow along with a recipe, or let the professional guide the workshop.

Worth checking out:

Open Sesame: Tahini for All Seasons with Chef Adeena Sussman, $1,250

Pastel de Nata: Portuguese Custard Tart with João Batalha, $190

Taste of India with Mini Seth, $200

Experiential Cocktails for Tea Lovers with TJ Vong, $190

A curated calligraphy lesson to up their handwriting game

Calligraphy Starter Kit by Laura Hooper Design House, $169

Calligraphy is a specialized skill that can be learned through continued practice and with a great instructor. Laura Hooper offers both these aspects through her calligraphy starter kit, which includes an alphabet tracing pad, oblique pen, three nibs, ink, an instructional book, and a 2.5 hour video tutorial. You'll be able to follow along at your own pace and learn in a comfortable environment.

A Darwinian voyage to the Galapagos

Quasar Expeditions Galapagos Cruise, from $6,950 (plus airfare)

Sustainability-focused Quasar Expeditions helps you cruise to the Galapagos Islands or go on a safari in Patagonia. The combination of luxe accommodations and remote destinations make these trips pricey but extraordinarily unique.

An intensive, month-long baking class

Studio Milk Bar Baking Class, from $12/month

Christina Tosi, the founder of Milk Bar, teaches beginners and seasoned bakers how to make cookies, pies, and cakes. Over the course of a month, students will spend 5-10 hours learning the secrets to making delectable desserts; then they'll come up with their own recipe and receive feedback on their creations.

A European vacation they don't have to plan

Rick Steves tours, from $1,795 (plus airfare)

Pre-pandemic, traveler extraordinaire Rick Steves brought tens of thousands of people to Europe every year. He also paid a self-imposed carbon tax for all those flights. With countries starting to welcome tourists, many of his popular tours to Greece, Italy, and beyond are back on. If you don't want to spring for a whole trip, you can purchase gift cards for between $10 and $500.

Worth checking out:

Village Italy in 14 Days, $4,395 per person (plus airfare)

Best of Europe in 21 Days, $6,095 per person (plus airfare)

Basque Country of Spain and France in Nine Days, $2,695 per person (plus airfare)

Virtual classes for young artists

3-month Primerry subscription, $75

Former elementary art teacher Patty Palmer started Deep Space Sparkle in 2008. Primerry is the company's art lesson subscription, catered toward young artists. Every week, there's a new video lesson covering the basics. Kids use their own supplies and follow along to create their masterpieces.

Lessons from the most famous celebrities and experts

MasterClass annual pass, from $180

A year-long MasterClass membership gives access to hundreds of classes taught by industry leaders on tons of topics, from horticulture to business . There's bound to be something your giftee is interested in learning about from someone they likely admire. It's a great gift for people of all ages to encourage lifelong learning — plus, no shipping required.

Worth checking out:

R.L. Stine teaches writing for young audiences

Misty Copeland teaches ballet technique and artistry

Serena Williams teaches tennis

Jane Goodall teaches conservation

Explore the country via train

USA Rail Pass, available at Amtrak, $499

The Amtrak USA Rail Pass is an extremely unique way to tour the country, one that offers more scenic views than a plane and is also more relaxing than a car. Go on a multi-segment getaway with the opportunity to visit over 500 locations around the US. With no blackout days or time of day restrictions, the choice is up to them for when and where they'd like to explore.

Worth checking out:

Adirondack (Montreal to New York)

City of New Orleans (Chicago to New Orleans)

Pacific Surfliner (San Luis Obispo to San Diego)

A scavenger hunt around their city (or home)

Let's Roam scavenger hunt, from $12.99 per person

Let's Roam has hundreds of scavenger hunts all over the US and Canada. There's a Nashville bar crawl or a search for monuments and memorabilia around the city's Music Row . During the challenge, players have to answer riddles and will trivia about the city.

For stay-at-home options, there are indoor scavenger hunts for couples and families .

Worth checking out:

Nonstop Nashville Bar Crawl, $12.99 per person

Historic Savannah Adventure, $12.99 per person

Terrifying Toronto, $12.99 per person

Tickets to a concert, game, or show

StubHub gift card, from $25

Whether someone you know and love wants to see the Boston Bruins play hockey, Billie Eilish in concert, or "Book of Mormon" on stage, you can get them tickets on StubHub. You can also purchase a gift card if you're not sure what they'd like to see or what their schedule is like.

Guitar lessons for a budding musician

Fender Play lessons, $9.99/month

Geared toward those who need to get the hang of the basics, Fender Play is a fairly affordable way for new guitarists to get some experience with their instruments. There are video lessons for electric and acoustic guitar, bass, and ukulele. They can learn pop, country, rock, blues, and folk songs, from Aaliyah to ZZ Top.

A mystery in a box

Cratejoy Finders Seekers mystery game, from $33/month

Each Finders Seekers is a mystery set in a different city. The solver will receive a box full of objects to help them find stolen art in Chicago or missing scrolls in Petra, Jordan. But they'll also need to access the internet to figure out some of the clues.

While the games are family-friendly, kids under 10 may find the junior edition more fun. Each box will take between two to four hours to complete. You can buy a single box or get a monthly subscription.

A weekend getaway

Tinggly experience gift box, from $59

Tinggly experiences were designed to be gifted. You can make them as specific or as broad as you like. So, you could send your parents on a New England getaway or let them choose from thousands of activities in over 100 countries. Either way, the details, like which hotel to stay at what dates they want to travel, are up to them. Gift cards are also available for as little as $10.

Worth checking out:

Essential Collection box, $89

Experience the World box, $179

Bucketlist box, $239

Broadway shows, from home

BroadwayHD subscription, $11.99/month

Theater is making a comeback, but not everyone has access to the wealth of shows that New York City offers. While a BroadwayHD subscription doesn't quite capture the magic of sitting in the audience, there's still plenty to keep your favorite theater kid entertained. Though you won't find "Wicked" or "The Lion King," there are dozens of musicals, some Royal Shakespeare Company performances, and a few movies based on plays.

A souvenir plot of land in Scotland or Ireland

Highland Titles or Celtic Titles , from $45

For 15 years, Highland Titles has sold souvenir plots from Glencoe Wood, Scotland and, more recently, the Silvekirk Wood estate in Ireland. The plots, between a square foot and 1,000 square feet, come with a novelty, just-for-fun title of laird, lord, or lady. The company says your gift goes to preserving the nature reserves.

Starting at $75, you receive a parchment certificate along with your square foot of land.

A bounty of cheese that arrives on their doorstep every month

CheesePlus, starting at $75

Located in San Francisco's Nob Hill, CheesePlus is a favorite of locals. Their cheese of the month club subscription provides a trio of hand-selected cheese that only features cheese with the best seasonal character and maximum flavor. Freshly cut from the wheel, their box also includes tasting notes and information about the selections.

At-home science experiments with VR lessons included

Mel Science, $199

Fizz! Pop! Bubble! Ignite! The Mel Science Starter Kit has it all and offers over 15 experiments to try with their starter kit. With three chemistry kits, a physics kit, and a STEM kit, you'll experience the wide world of science fun. Coming with a VR headset to access exclusive VR lessons, this is a great gift for anyone looking to expand their science knowledge.

A donation to a cause close to their heart

GlobalGiving gift card, from $10

For your friend who has everything, you might want to consider a charitable gift. GlobalGiving connects donors with nonprofits, so they'll have the option to choose where the donation goes. They can search by location or theme (like food security, clean water, or wildlife conservation).

GlobalGiving has four out of four stars on Charity Navigator , which evaluates nonprofits based on transparency and effectiveness.

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