Local St. Louis Experience Gift Ideas


If you are looking for an experience gift, here is a collection of local St. Louis ideas. You’re sure to find something for that special someone on your list (kids or adults). 


My kids have been collecting toys their whole lives. (Shocking, I know.) Toys are expected as gifts, but they have lost their luster. Or maybe it’s me that doesn’t get excited about their tangible gifts anymore. On my kids’ birthdays, we have always tried to take them someplace special. I think about their interests at the time. For example, my youngest loved trains, so we went to the Frisco Train Store to play (and take home a new train). 


a toddler boy playing with a train table at the Frisco Train Store in St. Louis, Missouri


In 2019, I gave my oldest son the option of having a large friend birthday party (he had done that the prior two years) or a special experience and listed a few options. He decided he wanted to do the Penguin Encounter— a behind-the-scenes tour at the St. Louis Zoo. You have to schedule the Penguin Encounter months in advance, so the earliest we could do it was March 2020, the week everything shut down. Needless to say, our tour had to be rescheduled. We just got to go last month. It was well worth the wait.


a boy and his mom sitting on the floor, watching penguins at the St. Louis Zoo


The St. Louis Zoo has several behind-the-scenes tours of different animals. They are currently catching up on the canceled tours, so you can’t schedule one right now. Look for these in the future. In the meantime, a zoo membership or animal adoption would be a great option. They also have family night hikes and walking tours available.


My daughter loves horses. For her last birthday, I surprised her with horse riding lessons. I didn’t tell her until we arrived at Castlewood Stables. Lately, she has been asking to go to the Endangered Wolf Center. Her next birthday gift will be a tour. They have several options.


a girl in a blue helmet riding a horse at Castlewood Stables in St. Louis, Missouri


I also like to give experience gifts to my mom – something that we can do together. A pedicure or spa day plus lunch makes for a great gift.


Think about the person you are gifting. What do they like? What is someplace they wouldn’t choose on their own?


Experience Gifts for Adults


Let’s start with the adults. These ideas are perfect for a date night or a friend day out.


Take a class together.


Explore the city.

  • Go on a scavenger hunt.
  • Enjoy a carriage ride.
  • Go for a walk and check out some landmarks.



Experience Gifts for Kids (or Adults)


I made this list with kids in mind, but some of them are totally appropriate for adults as well.


Gift a Membership (or at least a ticket for a single visit).


Gift a class.

  • Music lessons
  • Gymnastics
  • Favorite sport
  • Dance class
  • Circus lessons
  • Martial arts
  • Art classes (Yucando has Kids Night Out, bonus for you!)
  • Horseback riding lessons
  • Swim lessons


Go to an event.

  • Get tickets to a live show (play, concert, musical, ballet).
  • See a movie (and get plenty of treats).
  • Go to a sporting event.


Get active.

  • Ice skating
  • Rock climbing
  • Trampoline park
  • Inflatables like Monkey Joe’s or BounceU


Play a game.

  • Miniature golf
  • Arcade
  • Bowling
  • Escape room


Go on an adventure.

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking 
  • Bicycle riding
  • Picnic at the park
  • New playground or library (Check out the features on St. Louis Mom’s Instagram.)
  • Road trip or special vacation


What should we add to the list? What is your favorite experience gift?


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