Experiences for $900, Alex
December 14, 2018 11:41 AM   Subscribe

What fun thing can we do for $900 - $1400 in the coming year?

My husband and I have received the generous offer of $900 to be used towards "an experience" of some sort, redeemable in the coming year. We may be able to add up to $500 of our own money if necessary. What's a fun or interesting place to visit or thing to do on or under that budget? (We could also split that budget over a couple of experiences, so don't hesitate to suggest less expensive options.)

I am 53 and he is 46. We are in the Chicago area. Any travel expenses must fall within the above budget (so no "$1500 plus airfare" type suggestions.)
posted by Serene Empress Dork to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Road Trip to Mammoth Cave!
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 11:43 AM on December 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

My cousin recently went to the Wisconsin Dells to eat tasty things (mostly at supper clubs) and see the House on the Rock. If you haven't done that lately, it looked delightful.
posted by momus_window at 12:02 PM on December 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

If "experience" can be defined by something relaxing with lots of nature, spend a week in Door County, Wisconsin during the summer.

Easy to get to, great food and wine, excellent state parks, some interesting history, lots of water, very laid back.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:13 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

- Hang gliding class and/or tandem ride from Kitty Hawk Kites at Nags Head, NC. Also, it's nice this time of year.

- Improv classes. They will possibly change your life for the better, and you have a bounty of excellent options in Chicago. You could probably do two improv intensives for that much money, but you could also just start in a regular year-long program and maybe bond with your classmates.
posted by amtho at 12:22 PM on December 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

A Route 66 trip from Chicago to St. Louis? The Lincoln Presidential Museum here in Springfield is fantastic.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 12:33 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Staycation in Chicago, night at a hotel, citypass or equivalent, or alternately pick a Broadway show, Opera etc (Hamilton for 2 might even be found for a weeknight before it closes in May).

Eg, $300 citypass, 2 day
$300 hotel
$300 food

Oh and glassblowing as another alternative
posted by typecloud at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Drive up for several hours and find some dark skies. You can look at a dark skies map. Travel up for 12-13th Aug for the meteor showers.
posted by beccaj at 1:21 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Great answers so far! Just wanted to clarify, it doesn't need to be super close to Chicago. I'm open to some travel as well, if that can be done within budget.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:30 PM on December 14, 2018

I've become sort of hopelessly obsessed with the idea of visiting this place ever since I first encountered it.

Words kinda fail me when I try to sum up the decor and general vibe of the rooms...but...completely private swimming pool! The most expensive suite is $600/night and I admit would have a hard time ponying up that much of my own cash, but somebody else's, nooooooo problem.
posted by anderjen at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can often find a 10-15 year old used pop up tent trailer in the local classified ads for under $1000. Example So for $1500 you can get the trailer and a couple tanks of gas you can have multiple road trips during the year and in years to come.

This of course assumes you have a place to keep it when not traveling and a vehicle able to tow a light trailer.
posted by ShakeyJake at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Family membership to a museum that includes NARM or ASTC passport so you can visit all the museums!
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:47 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hot air balloon ride?
posted by alathia at 2:13 PM on December 14, 2018

You're in Chicago? You could do the gallery table at fancy schmancy restaurant Alinea:
The first floor gallery provides seating for 16 only. A multi-sensory 16-to-18 course menu combines fine dining with experimental moments. With two seatings per night we ask that you arrive on time or the experience may begin without you. $290 to $355 per person, depending on day of week. Wine and non-alcoholic pairings available. Parties of 2 or 4 only please.
Here's a video of a dessert they did for instance.
posted by foxfirefey at 2:38 PM on December 14, 2018 [9 favorites]

There's also The American Club Resort in Kohler, Wisconsin.

It's a 5-star hotel resort with golfing, dining, and probably the best spa in the midwest. (Kind of helps when you're owned by the company that makes all the bathroom and spa fixtures). There's all kinds of packages if you're into golfing, spa services, or just want to get away for a few nights. It can be a great winter retreat.

(I'm not a Sybaris fan, but this is definitely my speed)
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I feel like I've recommended Trusted Housesitters way too many times for them not to be giving me a commission, but it's a good way to stay in often amazing houses for nothing (as you take care of the person's pets while they travel). Then you're just left with airfare. Here's one random example on an 18th century Tuscan estate.
posted by pinochiette at 2:42 PM on December 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

I wonder if that's enough to get a start on learning to sail....
posted by aniola at 2:44 PM on December 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Northwestern University has a sailing school that fits the budget.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:54 PM on December 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

A helicopter tour of Chicago? Dinner out if there’s money leftover
posted by raccoon409 at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2018

My recommendation is to keep an eye on the sites that show you when airlines have a cheap flight to somewhere cool, then book time off based on that. Like, a few years ago, my family found $200 round trip tickets from Newark to Milan, Italy.

Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.
posted by Night_owl at 4:35 PM on December 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Do you have bikes? Extended overnight bike rides! Bonus: all food tastes better when you've been biking.
posted by aniola at 6:55 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

What types of activities do you enjoy?

Some options:
* Catch one of Elton John's farewell concerts.
* Learn to fly.
* Learn to surf, windsurf, water-ski, snow ski or snow shoe.
* Fly somewhere with a stopover in Iceland, through Wow Airlines.
* See Cirque de Soleil.
* Take a circus class.
* Try land sailing.
posted by maurreen at 8:14 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you do Mammoth Caves be sure to do the Wild Cave tour for a full day in the dirt with a NPS ranger.

I'd recommend a trip to Cumberland Island at the Greyfield. Totally amazing.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:33 PM on December 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Came in to second the sailing idea: 1400 bux would by a summer’s worth of lessons for the two of you.
posted by notyou at 9:58 AM on December 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

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