Help me give my husband a 40th birthday he'll never forget
December 6, 2009 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Good "experience" gift for my geek husband's 40th birthday?

My husband turns 40 in a few days. We already have too much "stuff" and he's not very materialistic in any case. We're both geeky techies, and he loves music. Last year I bought him a great guitar, and he's already taking guitar and voice classes.

I want to buy him a great "experience" that he wouldn't treat himself to and that will be special and memorable.

We don't have any kids and we do go out fairly often - although I'm not a night owl so it tends to be quiet restaurant meals etc. We already have a 3 week trip planned over the holidays, but that is to visit my family in England.

I'm thinking something involving vehicles and speed - he likes to drive, but we live in Chicago and don't travel much by car (and have a small city car in any case). He did some flying in his youth - in another life, if he had had better vision he would like to have been a fighter pilot. He's a slightly reformed risk-taker, and I'd like to give him a taste of his reckless youth in relative safety.

One thing I thought of was maybe a session in a race car at a track .. I've done some searching on this and found some packages sold at the Chicago Speedway but I don't know how good they really are and it quickly gets very expensive.

My budget's a bit flexible but ideally I'd spend less than $1000 - but if I were to go more than $200 or $300 I'd want to be sure it was really worth it.

His birthday's coming up in just a few days, but as long as I have the gift planned I don't think it's important that he "redeem" it before then or before our UK trip.

All thoughts and ideas welcome!
posted by geekgirl397 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Smaller airports often have introductory flying lessons. Something like this.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:11 AM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Also have a look at Soaring - its flying without the engine. There are introductory classes all over the US for around $200.
posted by bigmusic at 11:26 AM on December 6, 2009

If you call the speedway ask if they have 'Stunt Driving' courses. That's where they learn to do the fun driving you see in action movies.

A lot of landlocked places have Scuba lessons in indoor pools. If you ever plan on a tropical vacation you might consider that. To actually dive in the ocean you need to be certified and that takes a lot of time. A lot of people don't realize that, they think that you can just take a few lessons in the Bahamas and then go nuts. There might even be a Lake Michigan Scuba club. Shipwrecks to explore and stuff like that.

My husband is just like yours, just a little younger. I asked him what he'd like and he said he's like to get a Helicopter Pilot License. He also said he seconds the Stunt Driving and regular flying lessons.

Is he into swords? Would he like fencing lessons? Is he into guns? Would he like shooting lessons? Does he have cowboy fantasies? Would he like riding lessons?
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:34 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

You mentioned that you guys liked eating out. Our favorite restaurant in Atl offers cooking classes several times a year. The head chef leads them and they are a blast! My husband has done them several times. Not a speed activity but very thrilling for a foodie.
posted by pearlybob at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2009

I see you picked an answer already, but if he's at all interested in kayaking on Lake Michigan, my husband knows tons of people who can hook him up with a rental and lessons. Memail me if this sounds interesting.
posted by desjardins at 11:52 AM on December 6, 2009

If you're anywhere close enough while you're in the UK, take him to Bletchley Park. It's the birthplace of computing, and some of the people instrumental in breaking German codes there during the war are still around doing guided tours of the place. They have working examples of the very first computers, they have a computer museum, and any geek worth his or her salt could spend at least a day happily looking round there.
posted by emilyw at 12:12 PM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Let him go be a fighter pilot for a day.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 12:13 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

have him fly a real WW2 Fighter!
posted by spacefire at 1:31 PM on December 6, 2009

TooFewShoes: "A lot of landlocked places have Scuba lessons in indoor pools. If you ever plan on a tropical vacation you might consider that. To actually dive in the ocean you need to be certified and that takes a lot of time. A lot of people don't realize that, they think that you can just take a few lessons in the Bahamas and then go nuts."

Absolutely not true at all, at least a few years ago. As long as you're over about 11 and can demonstrate an ability to swim, you can go straight into the ocean without any qualifications. You can gain basic certifications by practising in the sea.

The usual experience gifts like flying lessons, skydiving, a race session, etc shouldn't set you back more than about $300.
posted by turkeyphant at 2:04 PM on December 6, 2009

Song School might be something to keep in mind for the future. I've never done it but I go to the 3 day festival that follows it and have heard that the school is amazing. Don't know where you are located but you could send him out for the school and join him for the festival after or just hang out in the mountains while he's in classes.
posted by BoscosMom at 5:58 PM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Check out the Autobahn country club. This is a nice facility and there are many different types of programs that they offer that I'm sure your husband will love. It's not only fun to drive fast but he'll learn skills that could save his life in daily driving.
posted by white_devil at 7:12 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

If he truly likes to drive, he'd probably salivate at the chance to drive a ferrari for a day. You can rent one for a day and research a couple of nice routes for him to drive. It's over $1k, but so are many high speed options (fighter pilot for a day, speed race track courses, etc).
posted by cranberryskies at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2009

Response by poster: Looks like I'm going with the Autobahn! Husband was thrilled.

Lots of great ideas here for future birthdays, though - maybe with a bit more advanced planning, or at a time when we don't already have some lengthy travel booked.

Will also check out Bletchley Park. It's less than an hour from my English family home, and my father's also a geek from way back so we're making it a family trip!

thanks to all. may not be able to report back for some time as it's possible he'll wait to "redeem" his gift until better weather.
posted by geekgirl397 at 2:21 PM on December 10, 2009

« Older Uses for old, unused tea in teabags?   |   Is there a netbook that can play Flash video well? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.