8 Experience Gifts for the Outdoor-Lover in Your Life

A gift-giving guide from the She Explores team

Want to give a gift without adding more stuff to the gear closet, wardrobe, or world? Experiential gifts are sure to please any outdoors person, and create memories that will last. From lookout tower stays to skills classes and creative workshops, these outdoor experience gift ideas embrace time spent outside and together.

Looking for more gift ideas? Check out our GIFTS tag for more of our guides.

1. National or State Park Passes

Passes to National Parks or your regional State Parks can bring days upon days of joy throughout the coming year. Do a quick web search to see what state or regional park passes exist where your gift recipient is located, or for wider US interagency passes, check out:

  • US National Parks America the Beautiful Annual Pass ($80) Available from any park visitor center, or online from the USGS Store, 
  • Site Passes($25-55) These digital passes cover entrance, standard amenity (day use), or recreation fees at a single US NPS location. Destinations across the US offer a variety of daily, weekly, seasonal, or annual access.

2. An Outdoor Skills Class

To brush up on skills, learn a new sport, or meet with a group for an expedition, classes can be such an incredible outdoor experience. Local outfitters or outdoor shops might have unique offerings, and REI and NOLS both have wide offerings that vary by locale.

  • REI Events and Classes($23 +) Set a location and date range for classes like beginner mountain biking, maps & compass navigation, and rappelling 101.
  • NOLS Courses and Expeditions($210 +) Sign up for Wilderness Medicine, Leave No Trace, Risk Management, or a variety of epic Expeditions.

3. A Campervan Trip

Vanlife is trendy right now, but for good reason. Compact campers are super easy to drive, park, and with more rental options available now, it’s really just a great way to plan a camping road trip in a ready-to-go van. A couple of campervan rental suggestions:

  • Escape Campervans($35/day +) Available at 12 different locations across the US (and internationally, it’s a NZ-based company), Escape vans are equipped with a stove, fridge, sleep setup, and basic kitchen equipment.
  • Campervan North America($48-147/day +) While their locations are more limited, their van options are more extensive!
  • Outdoorsy – (Price varies) Whether you’re hoping to rent a van, an RV, or a trailer, Outdoorsy has it all. Search and find options nearby your home or in the destination you’re hoping to explore.


4. PADI Certification Gift Certificate

Has your loved one always wanted to try scuba diving? Equip them with the skills and knowledge to dive into this sport safely, by giving a gift certificate towards certification, or an e-course for PADI Open Water, Advanced, or Rescue Diving.

5. Botanical Garden Membership

If your nature-lover is based in an urban center or particularly loves plants or gardening, an annual membership for a local botanical garden typically includes unlimited visits, discounts, and free-year-round parking.

6. A Stay at a Yurt, Cabin, or Lookout Tower

A back-to-nature stay or remote getaway feels like a nice big gift, and they’re often pretty affordable if you’re looking at more rustic accommodation. The one thing to keep in mind when booking a stay in a national forest, reserve, or park, is that these locations often books out months in advance—which isn’t a bad thing when you’re looking ahead from fall/winter for a spring or summer stay!

  • Recreation.gov lists rentable historic lookout towers, CCC cabins, yurts, and camp sites within National Forests across the US. Search by location or site type and see what’s out there!
  • Yonder hosts a variety of nature-immersive stays including guesthouses, cottages, barns, cabins, treehouses, and more, with a focus on experience with a local steward.
  • Hipcamp is another great resource for discovering unique outdoor accommodation with more glamping, cabins, and treehouses across the US and Canada.

7. Outdoor-Immersive or -Inspired Art Classes

Give a gift that’s a combination of creativity and the outdoors—either painting nature-inspired details and scenes, or on a hiking trip where the paints come too. A few classes offered by artists from our ‘spotlight’ section:

8. Plan a Day Hike Together

Keep it simple. Pick a trail and plan a day to spend out there together, savoring the movement and conversation and hopefully a nice view from the top. Take a photo when you get there.


Banner image by Jamie Pilgrim via Unsplash at Winchester Mountain, Washington, USA

Note: This post includes affiliate links, which help to support She Explores at no cost to you.


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