13 Boston Experiences You Can Give As A Gift This Year


Your friends don’t need candles anymore, trust us.

The Yayoi Kusama Mirror Infinity “Love Is Calling” room at the Institute of Contemporary Art. (Photo by Lane Turner / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Worried about your big Christmas present getting stuck on a container ship somewhere this year? Consider not relying on the supply chain at all and instead go for the gift of experiences you can find right here in Boston.

A walking tour

Give the gift of doing something unabashedly touristy by finally joining one of the Freedom Trail tours we always hike towards the Beantown pub. If your loved one is a little too cool for that, consider more refined experiences, like an architecture-focused walking tour of Boston. Or maybe a food tour of the North End, during which they can sample free samples of all-you-can-eat arancini. As long as they work on their fake accent a bit and tell the tour guides they’re from Memphis.

A night in a game bar

Boston is fast becoming a player’s drinking haven. So why not treat someone on your list to a night out at a location on the growing list of activity-based bars. A4Cade (arcade games), VERSUS (also arcade games), SPIN (table tennis), Flight Club (darts), and Tavern of Tales (board games) are all options to consider. Or for something a little more quintessentially Massachusetts, the many bowling alleys around Boston are like game bars as well.

A cameo from a local celebrity

Sometimes you just can’t spread the holiday cheer as effectively as a famous local athlete can. That’s why you need Cameo, the app where you hire celebrities to say nice (or mean, you choose!) Things to your friends. Bruins Marc Savard and Charlie Coyle can both be hired for personalized holiday messages, just like the former Real housewife, running Shark aquarium guest, and occasionally Back Bay resident, Bethenny Frankel.

Sailing lessons

You might be surprised at how affordable it is to learn to sail in our beautiful port city. Consider enrolling a loved one with Community Boating Inc., a beloved Charles River institution with a compelling history that just celebrated its 75th anniversary. As a bonus, CBI allows members to bring guests on board.

Golf course

Golf is all the rage right now. Boston pros are embracing this trend in a major way, and most will encourage you to take a few lessons before you start hacking the course, so give your friend a boost with a gift card. The season is pretty much over, but instructors are just moving things indoors, like at CityGolf in Boston, or to heated outdoor driving ranges, like at DeLisio in Salem.

A cooking class

Anyone can cook, as the famous Disney rat learns in the movie. And Boston is full of cooking class options to offer. The Milk Street Cooking School, America’s Test Kitchen, and Eataly each offer classes, some online and others in person. You’ll need to reassure your giveaway by telling them that this isn’t a coded message about the quality of their holiday treats, but that’s what properly written cards are for.

A day in a cool car

Give your friend a break from the old drummer he parked on the sidewalk or reward a comrade who refrained from owning a car for good citizenship and rent him an Escalade. Rental cars are a little harder to find these days, but the Turo app has plenty of cars, some very high end, available for daily hire.

One night in a barge

Did you know Boston has a handful of commendable houseboats floating in the water? Now you do! Send a loved one to a houseboat in Charlestown Marina, for example. Or check out our guide to other houseboat rental options below.

A suite in the Garden

Who doesn’t love Celtics / Bruins tickets? Especially if your giveaway hasn’t seen the newly renovated garden and pavement hub setup yet, this is an obvious giveaway idea this year. If you want to go crazy and have deep pockets, suite rentals are always here for you. And good advice: the Garden suites are accessible by a private entrance. Rather soft.

Museum membership

Museums haven’t had it easy in recent years, so give your art-loving friends the gift of free admission to one of the city’s renowned institutions. For example, gift memberships cost the CIA $ 75. Or if the experience you want to offer is that of being a “patron” of the CIA, it will be $ 510.

A day of skating

Outdoor skating rinks, like the ones you’ll find at 401 Park or Kendall Square, are all the rage right now. Consider paying for someone’s skates and be sure to add hot chocolate or a beer.

One year with a local CSA

The season for fresh produce may be far away this time of year, but it’s never too early to start thinking about delicious local vegetables. Gift more radish varieties and more vitamin-rich leafy greens than your eyes have ever seen with a Boston-area CSA.

A subscription to Boston magazine

I can’t blame us for trying.

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