The best kind of Christmas gifts are experiences, not things. There are a few exceptions of course but most kids don’t need more things. If you need some ideas, check my cool things to do in Tucson list below.
Don’t worry if you don’t live in Tucson, keep reading because you’re likely to find similar experiences to give in your city too. You can use my list to brainstorm activities to gift to kids near your home.
P.S. You can scroll to the bottom of the post and download the list if you want to print it out and share with friends and family.
Experience Gifts for Kids in Tucson
Some venues offer annual passes which may be a good option depending on your budget. A single visit to any of these fun experiences is just as valid, especially if you can make it an all-day adventure and take them out to lunch too. Create a day of fun for kids to remember.
Golfing Fun in Tucson
There are two mini golf places in Tucson that include additional fun like laser tag, an arcade and bumper boats. Golf N’ Stuff offers a couple of different park passes for all day fun, and you can also purchase attractions a la carte.
Funtasticks has the extra fun of a water park area during the warmer months called Cactus Springs. Plus beyond the wristbands you can buy for that day, they offer a limited number of annual passes which are a great deal if you visit more than a few times.
Top Golf is a driving range that is styled sort of like a bowling alley. Groups up to 6 can share a bay and there are a variety of games you can play against each other. I can confirm tweens and teens definiltey enjoy this style of golf as well as mini golf.
A great gift idea for little kids is a family membership to the Children’s Museum Tucson or Children’s Museum Oro Valley. The Oro Valley location is geared towards the 5 and younger set but the main location in downtown Tucson works for kids up to age 12. There is also a combo membership good for both locations.
Kids that love to travel and fly on airplanes will love checking out the variety of planes at the Pima Air and Space Museum. Make it extra special with tickets for the Boneyard tram tour.
Another science focused option is the Flandreau Planetarium. An annual family membership can be quite reasonable if you catch their deal on Groupon. We did a few years ago and the best part is it includes admission to other select science centers around the country. We’ve used our membership to visit the children’s museums and science centers in Portland and Houston.
Experience Gift Ideas for Kids
Ok now technically, I could have included the International Wildlife Museum above in the museum section especially since there are no live animals on display. But there is a wide variety of animals that kids can learn about and see up close.
Plus its all indoors which is essential during the summer months. Admission is inexpensive, so is the annual memberships. P.S. they do sometimes have live bugs/spiders out for kids to see.
The classic Tucson experience is the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum which often wins national awards for the best zoo or museum. It also has museum in its title but it really is more like a desert zoo.
My kids love the sting rays they can touch and also the new Packrat Playhouse which is an indoor playground for kids of all ages. Daily admission and annual memberships are available.
If you are looking for a typical zoo experience, then you can head to Reid Park Zoo. Both little kids and big kids like the Reid Park Zoo.
A family membership is a fun gift idea, or just gift them a day at the zoo. Just attach a small note to a stuffed animal or binoculars redeemable for a day at the zoo.
Funny Foot Farm is a very small petting zoo located near I-10. Check Groupon for deals on admission to the Funny Foot Farm.
If you are looking for a bigger petting zoo, then you will need to head out of town to Picacho (between Tucson and Phoenix off I-10). Roger Cogburn Ostrich Ranch is a really large petting zoo that includes ostriches, string rays, goats, lorikeets and more!
Horseback riding is also a fun experience gift idea. It’s been a few years since we went horseback riding in Tucson but it was a unique family outing.
Tucson Gift Ideas for Kids
As a parent, I can attest how expensive raising little athletes can be. Sports gear and lessons would be a fun treat, especially if they want to try something new but the family is already maxed out on extracurricular spending. My recommendation is archery lessons from Oro Valley Parks and Rec.
Supporting Their Creativity
Music or dance lessons for a creative kid would be a fun idea. Or even a gift certificate to a fun art shop, like Color Me Mine at the Tucson Mall. Again a straight gift card is fun but making a special day out of it where you take them and participate with them, would make an even better memory.
Speaking of memories, consider tickets to Broadway in Tucson or the Gaslight Theater. You can easily make that a fun dinner and show date with the kiddo in your life.
Local Sporting Event
If performance arts isn’t your child’s thing but sports is, we have lots of fun sporting even options like Arizona Wildcat Football or Basketball. My kids loved the Tucson Roadrunners hockey game we went to last year. Local sports can be more reasonably priced than professional games but if you can always head to Phoenix for a weekend adventure or a day trip to catch an NBA or NFL game.
My last local idea is variable in the sense that you never know what will be coming up. But watch the Tucson Convention Center website for fun special events like Monster Jam, Disney On Ice, Wrestling or concerts. Tickets to a special event would be a really fun gift to give.
Now the ultimate Christmas gift would be a trip to Disney but I realize not all families can afford that. If the family is headed to Disney soon, then a Disney gift card can be used on treats and souvenirs in the park. If they are planning a trip somewhere else, then tickets to fun attraction in that city would be a good idea too.
POGO Pass, Groupon and Other Ways To Save Money
If you like the idea of a variety of experiences, the POGO Pass is an awesome gift. It includes admission or tickets to a variety of places in Tucson and Phoenix including museums, zip lining and sporting events. Membership doesn’t begin until recipient activates their pass, so don’t worry about buying it ahead of time. You can usually buy a POGO Pass for $40 using my promo code: CHICA but occasionally they run specials for only $35 during the holidays.
I see lots of deals for experience gifts for kids in Tucson online, just follow the venue’s Facebook page and watch for promotions on Black Friday or any time leading up to Christmas. You can also save money by watching for deals on Groupon Tucson. I usually pop in once a week to see what new ‘things to do in Tucson’ ideas are listed.
If you do end up gifting someone an amazing Disneyland or Southern California adventure, don’t forget to check out the discounted tickets available through Get Away Today and use my discount code DCHICA to save $10 on a 2-night package to Southern California!
The memories from a fun experience will last forever and most likely that toy you spent too much money on will be collecting dust within a few months.
This post was originally published December 24, 2018.