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Fly Lake Austin
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Fly Lake Austin

The best Austin experiences to give as gifts

From a cheese class to stuntman training to a relaxing spa day, these Austin experiences are perfect for gift-giving

By Cindy Brzostowski

Have you visited all the best gift shops in Austin, wandered through the best stores downtown and still haven’t found the ideal presents for your family and friends? Instead of trying to find the perfect little trinket that shows you care, consider gifting them an experience they can remember fondly for years to come. You won’t have to worry about finding your present shoved into the back of their closet, and you’ll get to open their eyes to some of the best things to do in Austin and another fun side of the city.

Gift these incredible Austin experiences

Antonelli's Cheese Shop
Photograph: Brian Birzer

1. Cheese class at Antonelli’s

Shopping Specialist food and drink Hancock

Cheese is never a bad choice. Austin’s favorite place to buy cheese, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, has a Cheese House across the street where they hold fun, informative classes covering the basics, as well as how-tos on different pairings like wine and chocolate. Regardless of whether you’re actually interested in becoming a cheese connoisseur, you definitely won’t be leaving hungry—the generous portions of artisanal cheeses are accompanied by olives, nuts and bread from Easy Tiger. Wine or beer pairings are available for purchase from the shop, and attendees are welcome to bring their own beverages for a small set-up fee. $40-$110

Fly Lake Austin
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Fly Lake Austin

2. Gift certificate at Fly Lake Austin

Things to do Walks and tours Tarrytown

Shopping for a thrill seeker who’s already done it all? A water jet pack experience could be right up their alley. Fly Lake Austin offers lessons and flight times with the Flyboard®, a propulsion apparatus likened to a powered wakeboard, and the Jetovator, a water sports accessory that can go as fast as 25 mph and as high as 25 feet. Tubing and jet skiing might seem like child’s play after soaring over the waves on one of these bad boys. $100-$240

Photograph: Courtesy iFly

3. Flight package at iFly

Things to do Games and hobbies Northwest Austin

iFly is like skydiving with one little twist: it's all indoors! Their vertical wind tunnel simulates what it’s like to freefall so participants will feel like they're floating along a nice cushion of air (first-time flyers undergo training and personalized instruction). Packages come with a minimum of two flights, serving as a great gift for the adventurous soul in your life—whether that happens to be your little nephew or your great uncle going through a late-life crisis. Seriously—flyers can be as young as three, and there's no ceiling on the upper age! $69.95-$119.95

Photograph: Facebook/Driveway Austin

4. Road Racing Course or Karting at Driveway Austin

Restaurants Mlk-183

Fulfill someone's need for speed with a racing course or karting excursion at Driveway Austin. Their Foundations of Road Racing class goes over the basics of high performance driving, and drivers can choose to use their own car or one of Driveway’s sleek Spec Miatas for an extra charge. For those who might appreciate something a little more casual, their Sunday Karting might be just the ticket. Don’t worry—these aren’t some little kiddie karts. Driveway’s gas-powered racing karts can reach up to 60mph! $495-$1,295 (road racing); $25 (karting)

Blanton Museum of Art
Photograph: Blanton Museum of Art

5. Year membership at the Blanton

Things to do Libraries, archives and foundations Universit of Texas

With nearly 18,000 works in its permanent collection and a constant rotation of world-class temporary exhibits, there’s plenty to see at the Blanton Museum of Art, one of the largest university art museums in the country. You can give the art lover in your life the chance to enjoy it all completely free of charge for a whole year with a membership. Besides having their admission covered, they’ll get invitations to special members-only tours and previews as well as discounts on classes and in the shop and café. $50

6. Tour with Austin Brewery Tours

Bars Beer bars Town Lake

Breweries are popping up like wildflowers across the city, and Austin Brewery Tours make it easy to sample a few in one go. City Tour goers get to visit three local breweries with the convenience of having their transportation, tastings, facility tours (when permitted) and bartender tips already covered in their ticket. As an extra bonus, water and light snacks are provided in the van, too. Along the way, they’ll get to drink up some expert knowledge from guides who are passionate about the city’s craft beer scene. Cheers! $69

Photograph: Courtesy Sustainable Food Center

7. Cooking class at Sustainable Food Center

Shopping Chestnut

Since 1993, the Sustainable Food Center has been committed to cultivating a healthy community by teaching sustainable gardening techniques, putting on weekly farmers’ markets and hosting cooking and nutrition classes for those facing health disparities. They also provide cooking classes open to the general public! Buying someone a spot in one is truly a gift that keeps on giving since proceeds go towards supporting the SFC’s free programs. Expect to choose from a diverse selection of classes; their current offerings include how to use spices, edible holiday gifts and tamales. $25-$210

8. Butchery class at Salt & Time

Shopping Delis East Cesar Chavez

Maybe you have a friend who likes to show off their culinary skills, or maybe you know someone who's a passionate carnivore. For either, getting their hands dirty at a Salt & Time butchery class could be a dream come true. This full-service butcher shop and restaurant on the East Side hosts different meat-centric classes, including sausage making and hog butchery. Aside from the expert instruction and hands-on experience, participants will also have the pleasure of taking home some of the delicious meats they worked with. $150

Slavonk & Hortus Terraria
Photograph: Courtesy Slavonk & Hortus Terraria

9. Build Your Own Terrarium Workshop at Slavonk & Hortus Terraria

Shopping Flower shops Central East Austin

Terrariums have become the hot new decorative item, and we'll be honest—it's hard to resist the whimsical touch those cute little succulents add. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they're an easy-maintenance, eco-friendly floral design. Now you can help someone bring their perfect terrarium to life with a class at Slavonk & Hortus Terraria, a terrarium bar and studio. During these roughly hour-and-a-half workshops, attendees will learn the ins and outs from the pros and enjoy some small sips and bites along the way. Ain't no party like a plant party! $45

Photograph: Courtesy Liquid Floats

10. Float at Liquid Floats

Things to do North Shoal Creek

Know someone who could use some next level rest and relaxation? Many people have taken to floatation tanks (sometimes called isolation tanks) to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, unlock creativity and find clarity. At Liquid Floats, the float pods contain 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt, which allow people to effortlessly achieve complete buoyancy. The pods are also designed to shut out sound and light for a truly distraction-free environment, but visitors are welcome to put on the soothing light and meditative music inside if they’d prefer. Escaping gravity, blocking out your senses and letting your mind run free could make for a much-welcome gift amid the hectic holidays. $39.95-$75

VIVA Day Spa
Photograph: Courtesy VIVA Day Spa

11. Spa Package at Viva Day Spa

Health and beauty Spas

Treat someone who deserves to be pampered with a package at Viva Day Spa. Their wide selection of rejuvenating spa treatments includes Swedish, hot stone and deep tissue massages; facial peels; body wraps; manicures and pedicures; salt and sugar scrubs—you name it. Viva Day Spa has three locations across the city, conveniently in North, Central and South Austin. Who would say no to getting seriously spoiled at a swanky spa? Various amount

Photograph: Courtesy Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

12. Golf Package at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

Hotels West Oak Hill

Just around 10 miles outside of the city is one of the most popular places to golf in the entire state—and what GOLF Magazine claims to be one of the best golf resorts in the Southwest: Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa. At this serene Hill Country getaway, there are four different championship courses comprised of challenging holes and scenic views. If you’re already thinking of someone who would find all of this absolute heaven on Earth, peruse their four different golf packages to find the perfect fit. Starting at $50

McKinney Lower Falls
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/smurfn5

13. Texas State Parks Pass

Things to do Mckinney

Give the gift of the great outdoors—or at least free access to the great outdoors—with a Texas State Parks Pass. The pass grants unlimited free entry to over 90 parks across the state for the cardholder and their guests, not to mention additional discounts on camping, store purchases and equipment rentals. The great thing is that your recipient won't have to travel very far outside of Austin to make the most of their new gift with McKinney Falls State Park, Pedernales Falls State Park, Inks Lake State Park, Colorado Bend State Park and others all less than a two-hour drive away. $70-$95

The Contemporary: Laguna Gloria
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Shannon

14. Art Class at The Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria

Things to do Camp Mabry

If you're scratching your head thinking of what to buy for your creative, artistically minded pal this holiday season, consider an art class at The Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria. Their Art School welcomes kids as well as adults, and the wide-ranging classes include painting, drawing, pottery, photography, mosaics, jewelry and more. The courses are kept small to maximize the amount of one-on-one interaction students have with their talented group of credentialed faculty members, and the beautiful 12-acre grounds of Laguna Gloria serve as some great artistic inspiration. $65-$204

Photograph: Yelp/Stunt Ranch

15. Action Hero Training at Stunt Ranch

Things to do Classes and workshops

Everyone has that one wild daredevil in their life, and what could be a better gift for them than Action Hero Training at Stunt Ranch? With this package, participants get to star in some awesome stunts and pyrotechnic special effects while learning about high falls, bullet hits, ratcheting, ziplining and fireball explosions. Stunt Ranch itself is a 22-acre, adrenaline-junkie's dream with a ropes course, rock wall, ziplines, paintball areas, pistol range and blast zone. For anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to be an action movie hero or a bonafide stuntman/woman, this is the place to literally get in on the action. $250

Tours make great gifts, too


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