What do you get the person in your life who has everything for the holidays? Or the kid in your life who already has a toy box packed with toys? Consider gifting a unique Chicago experience! Here are ten meaningful gift ideas that will bring the best of Chicago directly to your loved one.
For the Broadway Buff: A Year of Outstanding Live Theater
The gift of live theater keeps on giving throughout the year, and one that the whole family can enjoy. The Chicago Children's Theatre's Holiday Pass gives you four tickets to any 2016–17 Chicago Children’s Theatre production for just $75. That’s up to 50% in savings! Broadway babies will appreciate Broadway in Chicago Season Tickets, which guarantee the best seats in the house and a savings of up to 54%.
For the Aspiring Oceanographer: Day with the Dolphins at the Shedd Aquarium KID-FRIENDLY PICK!
The Shedd Aquarium's Trainer for the Day program is a gift that no marine-animal-loving kid or adult will forget: The incredible program gives guests an exclusive chance to go behind-the-scenes at this world-class aquarium, home to 32,600 marine animals, from snails to whales. The Abbott Oceanarium’s 3 million gallon tank makes it one of the largest indoor marine mammal facility in the world.
You'll spend the day assisting a trainer with daily routines and lending a hand with training and feeding sessions at the Oceanarium. This once-in a lifetime experience is hands-on and personalized: You'll be able to watch as meals are prepared for five dozen animals in the marine kitchen, step into reserve areas and stand poolside, learning and participating in the day-to-day duties of the trainers.
The best part, though, is the unforgettable chance to interact with the dolphins, belugas, sea otters, sea lions and penguins. The program is open to adults and children ages 12 and older—children ages 12–15 must be accompanied by a paying adult—with pricing starting at $350 per 4-hour session.
In addition to the premier Trainer for a Day program, the Shedd also offers private penguin encounters, beluga encounters, and behind-the-scenes tours. Reserve your spot online or call 312-939-2438.
For Adventurers, Big and Small: The Gift of Flight
Give the gift of flight with iFLY Indoor Skydiving, an experience that replicates skydiving from the safety of an incredible indoor wind tunnel. iFLY’s two Chicagoland area venues in Rosemont’s MB Financial Park (5520 Park Place) and Lincoln Park (800 W. Scott Street) are offering a variety flight packages, gift baskets and gift certificates. The "Earn Your Wings" basic package includes two flights for $69.95, while the "Spread Your Wings for Two" gives four minutes of flight to be shared by two people, including videos and a personalized flight certification for $139.95.
If your loved one isn't interested in suiting up a flying like an eagle, consider gifting a Chicago Helicopter Experience, which promises an altogether unforgettable view of the city.
For Screen-Savvy Kids: A Streaming Movie Service with the Facets Kids Film Collection
Every year, families flock to Facets for the Chicago International Children's Film Festival, a two-week extravaganza that showcases wonderful, thought-provoking movies. The Facets Kids streaming platform brings the festival to your kids, giving them access to the best films and shorts from around the world into their home, where they can tune in from their computers, iPads, or other smart devices. It's a service designed to empower kids to actively explore, experience, and respond to independent films that engage with kids at their level, sparking imaginations. Register for a free month or purchase a streaming subscription for your movie-loving little one.
Give your loved one the gift of music with a subscription to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Led by acclaimed Italian conductor Riccardo Muti, the world class orchestra annually performs more than 150 concerts featuring everything from Baroque to new music.
Could your loved one stand to learn a few new kitchen skills? A cooking class at The Chopping Block (two locations in Lincoln Square and River North) guarantees that you'll learn a trick or two or maybe even three to make life in the kitchen easier and tastier. From bread baking to wine-making to ramen noodles, there's a workshop for every skill level.
If your loved one loves art, consider gifting an annual membership to the Art Institute of Chicago: Members enjoy free access to the museum every day, discounts in the Museum Shop and restaurants, access to the Member Lounge, and exclusive member-only events—from exhibition previews to curator talks.
The Chicago History Museum offers fun, city-history-focused tours that promise to reveal the city's hidden history, year round. Choose to tour by boat, bus, bike, trolley, El or foot. Gift a tour and promise you'll come along for the ride, giving the bonus gift of extra quality time together.
For the Animal Lover: Make a Beloved Animal's Wish Come True
For the person who appreciates giving more than receiving, the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo have curated a holiday wish list: the chimps are hoping for some new toys to toss and the big cats want boomer balls; the eastern black rhinoceros is just jonesing for some alfalfa hay. These special gifts go directly to the animals from yourself or on behalf of a loved one. Select from a wide range of fun, interactive and essential animal care gift items at Lincoln Park Zoo's Wish List. Gifts range from $1 to $100.