outside of the everyday life experiences?
November 28, 2015 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm short on resources this year, so instead of gifts for the holiday, I'm trying to come up with a list of unexpected/fun/silly/special/uncommon experiences-- which I will then attach a small gift card to with instructions to use it on something from the list. However, I need help coming up with more than the handful I've thought up... (MA locals are especially encouraged to respond.)

I'm hoping to crowdsource for ideas on classes, events, tours, meals, and activities that could be conversation starters or little vacations from one's day-to-day life.
I will compile these ideas, research the local options near my giftees, and create a sort of guidebook for them complete with contact info and short descriptions.
Here's what I've come up with so far, but I am hoping to create something much longer!

((I would especially welcome suggestions from the Boston/Worcester/Lowell area as that's where most of my giftees reside. However, even other locale-based ideas could serve as jumping off points!))

- high tea service
- social sport leagues (kickball, etc.)
- pole dancing class
- hot air balloon ride
- brewery/distillery tour
- aerial silks class
- state/county fairs
- gun range/shooting gallery
- chef's table/ tasting menu
posted by elleyebeebeewhy to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
You know that thing where you jump into a vertical wind tunnel and it blows you up into the air so it feels (kind of) like you're skydiving? That.

Go-carting or driving on a race track.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:05 PM on November 28, 2015

+ interactive food experience which is exotic to the recipient (dim sum, Ethiopian, Korean barbecue, hot pot/shabu shabu, State Fair fried-on-a-stick, sushi-making class)
+ drive-in movie (if you can find one in your area)
+ flying trapeze class
+ social dance class (ballroom, ceili, square dance, contra dance, tango)
+ casino visit (if this is purely entertaining/not triggering to your recipient)
+ barcade (arcade games for adults with booze)
+ pottery painting / painting and wine / jewelry making / adult art class
+ petting zoos / farms you can visit (especially good if there's a connection, like a recipient is a vegan or loves a particular animal or knits)
+ brewing class
+ apparently an Eataly location is opening in Boston in 2016? It's like a city of food, with classes, restaurants, supplies, very interesting.
+ improv class
posted by spelunkingplato at 8:13 PM on November 28, 2015

Glass blowing classes, pottery classes, "maker" workshop/hackerspace classes, live model figure drawing studios. Often places that have bigger programs will also have one-off project classes, like making some fused glass beads or a little robot or an evening of wine and figure drawing models with a fun theme.
posted by Mizu at 8:14 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are loads of festivals (many of which are unbearably charming) going on, year round. Here are some in New England.
posted by SMPA at 8:21 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Give some thought to your budget, and what your giftees can (likely) afford - it might not come across the right way if you suggest fairly pricey ideas and only give them a $10 gift card, for example. A lot of really fun classes can be sort of expensive, unfortunately.

sailing lessons or trip
windsurfing lessons
flying lesson
glider ride
horseback ride
visit an offbeat museum, like a "living history" museum or some really specialized collection (e.g surgical instruments or mining equipment)

Or visit the Glass Flowers at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, which is closed for renovation until May 21, but it's a beautiful and breathtaking tour de force of glasswork.
posted by Quietgal at 8:26 PM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Boston Athenaeum has public stuff occasionally. Tower Hill Botanic Garden is a great place to spend the day. A picnic at Mt Auburn Cemetery. A walk around Walden Pond or the Quabbin Reservoir or camping at the Ponkapoag Camp. Drumlin Farm was a big deal when I was a kid. Mass Audubon's stuff generally is worth checking out. Likewise the Harbor Islands. If they're actually form Lowell they have probably gone on a mill tour? But maybe you could get them tickets to the Folk Festival there. Brimfield would be the big antique fair in the area, as another example.

Sometimes when I am looking for good local ideas, I check out the libraries in the area and see what they have passes for. Here's the one for Worcester Public for example (pdf). Nothing that surprising.
posted by jessamyn at 8:42 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Boda Borg.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:47 PM on November 28, 2015

posted by aniola at 9:16 PM on November 28, 2015

Russian (or Korean) bath house? (I know there's a Russian one in Allston -- quite a trip).

Trip to one of the Boston harbor islands?

Book a stay at the lodge/hostel at the top of Mount Greylock? (Could include hiking and/or art -- MassMOCA).
posted by AwkwardPause at 10:04 PM on November 28, 2015

One of the Boston area gems is the Gropius House in Lincoln. When I lived in Boston I loved taking my visitors there for a guided tour, after which we'd pop over to the DeCordova Museum and then Walden Pond.
posted by Dragonness at 10:25 PM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

On the meal front, a well-stocked Miracle Fruit tasting party is lots of fun.
posted by mordax at 10:59 PM on November 28, 2015

Check out a Final Friday in Downtown Lawrence?
posted by phreckles at 1:20 AM on November 29, 2015

How about a Nerd Nite Boston event? You and your guest have a beer while listening to a couple of interesting, random presentations...
posted by lgandme0717 at 5:03 AM on November 29, 2015

Since someone mentioned drive ins (which are campy and awesome- especially for a large group as you pay by the carload) I will mention that there is a drive-in in northern RI within easy driving distance of most of central MA. I can also recommend Purgatory Chasm as a fun trip near Worcester- it's a cool spot but also every feature has a sign with a silly name which are amusing to check out. If there are any small boys on your list (or those with small boy like tendencies) the worcester armory is supposed to be great for seeing swords, armor, guns etc.
posted by genmonster at 7:10 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Taza Chocolate Factory tours, $6 per person.

posted by Hypatia at 8:12 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love this idea of a personalized guide book. I wonder if you could find a list of open studios for those areas?

JP Centric:
Sam Adams Brewery/Visit to Doyle's (you can get a trolley from Doyle's to the Brewery most weekends)
Arnold Arboretum
Forest Hills Cemetery
Franklin Park (the bear dens are fun to find)
Loring Greenough House (offers tours of the house as well as different parts of Jamaica Plain)
First Thursdays- when all the shops are open late and a lot of community events happen.
Wake Up the Earth
Lantern Festival

Other things- The Big E is always a fun time, in September, in Springfield (though it can get pricey)
Honk Fest (huge honk band festival that always has a fun parade from Somerville to Harvard Sq that happens in October)
Polar bear swim in Southie on Jan 1st
Hike the Blue Hills.
posted by momochan at 8:36 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

There is a really fun truffle making class at the Elephant and Castle in Boston. It's a 2 hour class and you leave with a fancy box of truffles you made yourself, all different types of chocolate!
posted by floweredfish at 1:25 PM on November 29, 2015

I don't know the area, but I would look for online guided tours of things like historic neighborhoods, noteworthy architectural things, statues and their histories or whatever where the tour per se is a free walking tour. Then include something like a Starbucks gift card and the address of one or more Starbucks along the route or convenient to it. Print out the tour, print out a map with the Starbucks locations, use highlighter to draw the route on the Starbucks map. So they get a free guided tour of local art, architecture and history and then can take a break mid tour on your dime for a coffee or snack.
posted by Michele in California at 1:50 PM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Boston Pops.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:18 PM on November 29, 2015

Don't just limit the circus classes to silks and trapeze! I did circus for a number of years, and found both silks and trapeze maddeningly difficult (the silks in particular made me want to cry). However, acro wasn't too bad, and I really got into clowning and that one-off fire-spinning class (also, my stupid human trick is apparently platespinning).

You might be able to find individuals doing classes that could work out a lot cheaper if they're not operating out of a big studio or something. Figure out what the cost of a session or a set of sessions is, then give a giftcard or cash for that amount (depending on whether the teacher takes cards or not).

- Singing classes
- Improv
- Any sort of theater-type thing
- Girls Rock! DC has a We Rock! program for adults (rock & roll music camp)
- MIT Mystery Hunt
- Escape the Room games (here's three in Boston: 1, 2, 3)
posted by divabat at 2:48 AM on November 30, 2015

Oh yeah, Forest Hills cemetery, especially after a snowfall, is absolutely gorgeous!
posted by Dragonness at 7:11 AM on November 30, 2015

Escape the Room
posted by marginaliana at 8:40 AM on November 30, 2015

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