Sometimes you just don’t know what to buy someone and that is where an experience gift can be the perfect thing. Over at Fuelled by Latte there is a huge list of 40 Present Ideas for People Which are Impossible to Buy For! which inspired us to pick our favourite 10 Christmas Gifts that aren’t toys for Outdoorsy and Travel-Loving Families.
There are so many places to discover around the UK, from spas to zoos, medieval castles to thrilling theme parks, and the bonus is that the gift lasts all year round! Check out our favourite family experiences and memberships to give as Christmas gifts, perfect for the family that like exploring together.
Prices updated November 2023
National Trust Membership
The gift of National Trust Memberships gives year round opportunities for family days out. There are over 300 historic buildings in National Trust care, from the grand and imposing to the small and quirky. Membership grants free entry and often free parking. You also get a regular magazine with updates on upcoming events such as Easter and Halloween trails, Christmas workshops and Father Christmas visits. Some of our favourite National Trust properties are Speke Hall, Liverpool; Erddig, North Wales; Lanhydrock, Cornwall; Cragside, Northumberland; Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire; Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire; Dunham Massey, Cheshire; Attingham Park, Shropshire and Chirk Castle, nr Wrexham. An adult membership (26 years+) starts from £84 per year.
English Heritage Membership
Similar to National Trust membership however English Heritage have more castles, abbeys and ruins as opposed to grand houses and gardens. We love both memberships so the choice of which one should come from knowing the likely preference of who you are buying for and the number of sites they have within their locality. Some of our favourites include Tintagel, Cornwall; Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire; Stonehenge, Wiltshire; Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire; Audley End House and Gardens, Essex and Battle Abbey (1066 Battle of Hastings Abbey and Battlefield), East Sussex. An individual adult membership costs £60 for the year.
Elderflower Fields Midlands Festival Tickets
Family Friendly Festivals take place all spring and summer long at venues up and down the country. Here at Mini Travellers we’ve been lucky enough to visit a fair few of them and our handy guide Dates of the Top Family Friendly Festivals 2024. Many festivals are also currently selling early bird tickets so it is a great time to order and save a bit of money.
Secret Escapes Voucher
This could be your perfect gift for globetrotters. Secret Escapes gift vouchers are available in amounts from £50 – £5000! Choose from a sleek and stylish presentation card or – to save the day at the last second – a printable e-voucher. Secret Escapes gift vouchers can be used to book a luxury break from the current collection. Whether it’s a boutique hotel around the corner or an exotic holiday around the globe, the world is their oyster.
If you are a regular Mini Travellers reader you will know we have always loved Chester Zoo, especially when our children were very young. A gift of membership to a zoo will mean they’ll get a whole year of free unlimited entry plus some other great benefits. The standard price for an adult membership at Chester Zoo is £105 for the year. There are also a number of other zoos around the country that offer annual membership, just Google your nearest one.
An alternative or an additional treat could be to book a Zoo Experience for your recipient or adopt an animal on their behalf. At Chester Zoo, an Experience participant gets exclusive, behind-the-scenes access that will give them an insight into the daily lives of our staff and animals at the zoo. A Chester Zoo experience day can involve anything from hosing down and elephant, to potting a carnivorous plant, or even throwing fish for penguins! Adopting an animal costs from £65, and they will also receive two free tickets for a day at the zoo.
Merlin Annual Pass
A Merlin Annual Pass allows the holder a year full of fun and thrills at more than 30 attractions across the UK including Thorpe Park, Alton Towers, London Eye, Chessington World of Adventures, Warwick Castle, Legoland, Blackpool Tower, Madame Tussauds and numerous Sea Life Centres and Dungeons! The pass also has a number of other benefits such as free parking at theme parks and Warwick Castle and 20% off food and drinks and discounted entry for family and friends (check T&Cs). From £79pp.
Buy A Gift Money Voucher
Buy a Gift Money Vouchers are redeemable against a wide selection of experiences so the lucky recipient is sure to be able to find something that they’d love to do. Vouchers are available in amounts from £10 – £250 so all budgets are catered for and they last for 10 months. Those who enjoy a spot of TLC can choose one of the pampering treats or adrenaline junkies could spend their voucher on trying their hand at powerboating, skydiving, zorbing and so much more. Whether your intended recipient loves fast cars, gourmet cuisine or just fancies a weekend away, we’ve got them covered – all they need to do is pick their favourite!
Membership of the RSPB helps them to save wildlife, protect wild places and connect people with nature.
As well as a nice welcome pack and a free gift with adult membership, members also receive a quarterly magazine and free entry to 170 reserves across the country.
Family Membership from £6 /month
Historic Royal Palaces Membership
If your family member or friend live in or near London and enjoy exploring historic buildings this could be the membership card they need! As a member, they’ll enjoy unlimited adventures at the historic royal palaces of Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. They will also receive 10% discount on admission into Kew Gardens – in which Kew Palace is situated – and 10% discount in our shops, cafes and restaurants. Annual memberships also include a free subscription to the members magazine, Inside Story and a programme of exclusive member events. Individual membership for an adult (age 16+) starts from £65.
Travel Magazine Subscription from WHSmith
Whether your loved one likes camping or cruising, exploring the UK or venturing off to far away destinations, there will be a travel magazine to suit all tastes, including The Sunday Times Travel, Lonely Planet and National Geographic UK Traveller. Prices start from £14.99 for an annual subscription.