Enough Stuff—Give Fun!By Oakley Hall
10 experience gift ideas from you and Connecticut
Whether you’re giving gifts to Connecticuters or presenting your loved ones with a trip to the Nutmeg State, here are some experience gift ideas to make sure you’re giving memories rather than clutter.
In Connecticut, there are a surprising number of ways to put your friends and family in touch with the sky. There’s sport flying, ultra-light flights, hot air ballooning, and skydiving. And for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground but still like the idea of flying, consider tickets to New England Air Museum—the largest air museum in the Northeast.
No one recommends putting a bow on a beluga whale. But with admission to either The Maritime Aquarium (Norwalk) or Mystic Aquarium (Mystic), you can give an eye-opening ocean experience conveniently located at ground level.
Give your people freedom to monkey around. Among the many other adventure facilities, SportsCenter of Connecticut (Shelton), IT Adventure Ropes Course at Jordan Furniture (New Haven), Prime Climb and On Track Karting (neighbors to each other in Wallingford), and Chelsea Piers Connecticut (Stamford) are masters in the art of romping around. You’ll find options suitable for all ages and athletic abilities.
Set your sights on a gift that hits the mark. Is there a better way to literally do that than with the gift of indoor axe throwing, archery, or pistol or rifle shooting? Montana Nights Axe Throwing (Newington), Pine & Iron Axe Throwing (Hartford), and Blue Ox Axe Throwing (Wallingford) are exactly as they sound—guests get the joy of throwing axes in an indoor target arena.
For archers, you can’t go wrong with sending them to Hall’s Arrow Indoor Archery Range (Manchester). As the largest indoor archery range in New England, it’s worth scoping out. Gift opportunities include lessons, camps, and range shooting.
Blue Trail Range (Wallingford) has both indoor and outdoor gun shooting ranges. There you’ll find classes, private lessons, certification programs, and a Junior Rifle Club.
Who says you can’t give the gift of tort law? With tickets to the American Museum of Tort Law in Winchester, you can!
For something culturally enriching, look into Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center. This is where visitors can see a replica dire wolf, walk through a simulated glacial crevasse, and get to know the history, people, and flavors of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
Instead of trying to pick out yet another golf-themed trinket for your favorite golfer, give golf! You’ll find top-notch courses all across the state. According to Golfweek‘s “Best 2018: Courses You Can Play,” Wintonbury Hills (Bloomfield), Keney Park (Hartford), and Lake of the Isles (North Stonington) top the list for Connecticut.
No disrespect to the “gone fishin’” paraphernalia you’ve given your favorite angler for the past umpteen years, but let’s assume that category is covered, and actually get this person gone! Check out the dozens upon dozens of Connecticut fishing charters to make sure you don’t have to go fishing for appreciation on this awesome gift.
Put your favorite powder-hounds down for skiing, and warm-weather mountaineers in for other thrills at Powder Ridge Mountain Park Resort. Know anyone who’d like to give river rafting a try? Clark Outdoors offers excursions and lessons ideal for beginners.
Good food is enjoyable. Excellent food is an experience—an experience worth gifting. Maybe wrap up some oyster crackers along with gift certificates to the fabulous restaurants along the Chowda Trail. Or another fine option is sending your loved ones along the Connecticut Chocolate Trail. For the combination foodie/movie-buff, the restaurant Mystic Pizza, located in Mystic, Connecticut, and featured in the movie Mystic Pizza, is very much worth a stop when you’re hungry (er—wanting to treat that someone to a delicious meal!).
A place to stay
If travel is a part of your experience gift, you’ll need to think about a stellar place to stay. Here are a few luxurious highlights to think about, each of which could be a fully-satisfying gift in itself. Mohegan Sun (Uncasville) is a resort, playground, and casino in one. Scranton Seahorse Inn (Madison) is a charming, award-winning inn within walking distance of beaches and boutiques, and also happens to be owned by a pastry chef! And if a luxury resort cottage sounds just right, Winvian Farm (Morris) is the spot. This AAA Five-Diamond award-winner has every creature comfort a guest could need in a down-to-earth, welcoming setting.
Of course, there are too many fun things to do in Connecticut to fit into one little list. Still, keep this guide in mind as a starting point for birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, anniversaries, graduations, and just-because occasions. Oh, and don’t forget—you deserve a spot on your gift list, too!