When was the last time you looked in your closet and thought, “Wow, I had an amazing experience buying that blouse?”
On the flip side, cherished memories of an afternoon with your kids at a museum or an overnight getaway with your partner can last years.
Experiences live on long after that sweater or toy is stashed away and forgotten, which is why memory-making gifts have become popular during the holidays. And while COVID-19 has altered the safety of many of the traditional experiences we might suggest for holiday gift-giving, like music festival tickets or a spin around a racetrack with a professional driver, we’ve found there are more than enough unexpected gifts of experience for everyone on your list — even during a pandemic.
For the adrenaline junkie
FFA member Jason Gapinski, 17, of St. Cloud, Minn., completes the ropes course at Louisville’s Mega Cavern on Oct. 31, 2013. Several FFA students and advisors, in Louisville for the National FFA Convention & Expo, ventured to the underground course. (Photo: Jessica Ebelhar/The Courier-Jour)
Whether it’s a zipline, underground aerial ropes challenge course, flat tire bike ride or a walking tour, the Mega Cavern, the massive former limestone mine that stretches under parts of the Watterson Expressway and the Louisville Zoo, is a one-stop adrenaline-pumping adventure.
No matter what the weather is like outside, inside the Mega Cavern, 1841 Taylor Ave., the temperature hovers at a comfortable 58 to 60 degrees year-round and offers something for every age and degree of adventure seeker, from the Mega Zip, a series of multiple underground zip lines ($84.99) to the Mega Quest, the only fully underground aerial ropes challenge course in the world ($27.99 and up) and more.
Looking to jazz up your gift card purchase? Pick up an item from the Mega Cavern gift shop to include with your gift. For more details, visit louisvillemegacavern.com or call 877-614-6342.
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A cooking class for every age
Kids learn to make pizza and cookies at MESA: A Collaborative Kitchen in New Albany, Indiana. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Jose Morones Vergara)
Have a budding pint-sized chef in your life? Check out the weekly class series at MESA KIDS Cooking School, 216 Pearl St., in New Albany, Indiana, each designed around a specific theme. Classes are 1 ½ hours long for kids 5-15 and 45 minutes for pre-schoolers ages 3-5. Workshops and online classes are also available for kids to learn how to bake and cook. Classes start at $20, and gift certificates are available at mesakidscookingschool.com.
MESA also offers hands-on cooking classes for adults who want to learn to prepare items such as tamales, a Thanksgiving turkey, seafood and bread. These classes are a bit pricier, starting at $65. Find more details at mesachefs.com.
Make the gift certificate extra special by including an item from the Mesa Kids Cooking School online gift shop. If you’ve purchased cooking classes for an adult, Mesa’s in-store Pantre Kitchen Boutique carries a variety of gourmet foods, novelty items, cooking gadgets and more.
COST: $20 and up
Attendees watched meal preparation instruction during a cooking demonstration by Chef Gerron Hurt at the [email protected]’s group cooking class. Hurt was the season 9 winner of MasterChef. Aug. 18, 2019 (Photo: Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal)
Another option is Cooking at Millie’s. No matter your skill level, it offers lively, fun and informative cooking classes for two that will allow you to unlock your culinary creativity and learn the joy of cooking. A typical Date Night Class at Cooking at Millie’s, 340 W. Chestnut St., is $105 for two people, and gift certificates are available at cookingatmillies.com.
To amp up this gift, include a practical or unusual kitchen utensil or a cookbook with your gift certificate. For bonus points, wrap the gift in a dish towel and tie with a cloth bow.
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The gift of (virtual) travel
John Greene PhD, University of Louisville professor of French hosts a cultural tour of France for The Great Tours: France through the Ages available online to instantly watch and in a DVD format. (Photo: The Great Courses)
Say “bon voyage” as you give the gift of travel to the most visited country in the world from the comfort of your living room. John Greene, a professor of French at the University of Louisville, offers a guided tour of France as part of The Great Tours: France through the Ages for The Great Courses. If you know someone who enjoys lifelong learning and personal enrichment, Greene’s course has all that and more as he highlights the food, fashion, culture, traditions and history of France.
To make this guest really authentic, include a bottle of Beaujolais, a French wine made from the thin-skinned red Gamay Noir grape with your France Through the Ages gift. Elevate your gift one step further by including a gift certificate for a curbside pick-up Provence-to-go meal from Brasserie Provence, 150 North Hurstbourne Parkway.
COST: $49.95 (instant video) or $69.95 (DVD). The option to send as an e-gift is provided at check out. Visit thegreatcourses.com.
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Explore Your Own Backyard
The presidential suite inside the Omni Hotel in downtown Louisville on Tuesday, July 19, 2018. (Photo: Nicole Boliaux, Nikki Boliaux/Courier Journal)
Having been stuck in our homes for more than half a year, a getaway, even if it’s just down the street, can feel like you’ve been transported to a place far away.
How about an overnight stay on New Year’s Eve at one of downtown Louisville’s hotels? The Galt House Hotel, 140 N. Fourth St., is taking reservations for its New Year’s Eve Countdown featuring room packages, entertainment, a champagne toast and balloon drop in the newly renovated Conservatory. Packages begin at $299.
Additionally, Louisville Tourism has worked with several local hotels to offer savings up to 50% off your stay along with a $25 Visa gift card for dining at a local restaurant by booking at lou.ly/hotel. The only catch, the deals are good only through the end of 2020.
Reach Kirby Adams at [email protected] or Twitter @kirbylouisville.
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