Monday, November 9, 2009

Unique Christmas Ideas- New England Experiences

It is that time of year... time for me to give you outstanding ideas for Christmas presents to make you the hero of the holiday instead of the one bringing the Chia Pet to the party.

As you know, I am a fan of experience gifts or something unique that is not plastic and in the trash in 2 days. I tried to find a list of great ideas for season tickets or cool memberships in New England, but there was not a comprehensive list anywhere. So, I had to come up with one... why do I have to do all the work around here???

The first on my list is a season pass to Water Country here in New Hampshire. My Mom has already gotten Ariana and Annika each one for Christmas. Do you know how excited they will be each time we get to go to Water Country this year courtesy of Grammy & Grampy??? It is way better than some plastic toy that they will play with for 2 days and then forget about. And for only $59 per pass, it actually makes trips to the Water park affordable for the year. Check your local water park to see if they have season passes (most do). ANother water park here in NH is Liquid Planet that sells their season pass for $60.

You can also get season passes to many other family attractions around New Hampshire, like Santa's Village. (at $67, it's a great deal, although it does not appear to be available to order online yet.)

In Maine, you can get a season pass for Funtown for $85-$95 dollars or Aquaboggin for $60 (I am not sure if you can order those online though.)

Aquariums are a great idea as well and memberships are usually reasonable. The Maine Aquarium is only $48 for a full family membership!

A pass to the state park system is a perfect gift for a family like us who enjoys the outdoors. It covers admission to the beaches, hiking, playgrounds and all of the other amenitites that the state park system offers. The NH State Park pass is only $120 for the whole family for the year.

A lot of communities have indoor play gyms or activity centers that us stay at home moms love to utilize in the colder months in New England. Locally, we have the Discovery Stop, which offers a nice respite inside on snowy or rainy days. You can get a year membership that covers 1 child and 1 adult for $145.

A universal great experience gift would be to get movie theater gift cards. What family doesn't love a good trip to the movies... but who can afford it these days? My parents gave us one for Christmas one year and Ariana was so excited to have it, she begged to use it every day until we finally went. Check out Fandango for gift cards for $10-$100.

Probably the best experience gift we have received so far was a trip on the Polar Express last year from Colb's parents (see our adventure here.) We got to go with Colby's brother and his family and all of the kids had a fantastic time. I highly suggest getting tickets now, if you can. Couple it with a copy of the book or movie and it will be a fantastic adventure.

So, in researching these ideas, probably the best value I have found was the Association of Children's Museums Reciprocal Program for memberships. You buy a membership at your local children's museum and it is good at hundreds around the country! At around $125 dollars that is a great value for someone like me who doesn't mind taking the kids on day trips to get out of the house. There is a caveat where the membership might not reciprocate for a museum within 90 miles of your home museum, you'd have to call and check first, but there are literally dozens around New England:

The Children's Museum of New Hampshire (Dover, NH)
McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center (Concord, NH)
Mount Washington Observatory and Weather Discovery Center (NH)
SEE Science Center (Manchester, NH)

Boston Children's Museum (Boston)
Cape Cod Children's Museum (Mashpee, MA)
Children's Museum in Easton (North Easton, MA)
World, Children's Global Discovery Museum (Cohasset, MA)
Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, MA)
EcoTarium (Worcester, MA)
Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Springfield Museums/Springfield Science Museum (Springfield, MA)
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Woods Hole, MA)

Children's Discovery Museum(Augusta, ME)
Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine (Portland, ME)
Coastal Children's Museum (Rockland, ME)
Discovery Museum(Bangor, ME)

Providence Children's Museum (Providence, RI)
Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University (Providence, RI)

ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center (Burlington, VT)
Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium (St Johnsbury, VT)

The Children's Museum (West Hartford, CT)
Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut (Niantic, CT)
Imagine Nation Children's Museum (Bristol, CT)
Kidcity Children's Museum (Middletown, CT)
Lutz Children's Museum (Manchester, CT)
Stepping Stones Museum for Children (Norwalk, CT)
Bruce Museum (Greenwich, CT)
The Children's Museum (West Hartford, CT)
Discovery Museum, Inc. (Bridgeport, CT)
DNA EpiCenter (New London, CT)
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (New Haven, CT)

• Check out my gift ideas for last year with everythign from murder mystery cruises to spa gift certificates.

Check out for 50% off ski gift cards, restaurants, salons and more in NH and MA!

• If you are in New England and have a suggestion for a membership or season pass, please let me know.


  1. If you see someone following you around on all your super-fun family adventures, don't worry. It's just me. I really do think you're the most fun (funnest?) mom in the world.

  2. I totally agree with respect to the museum pass. We bought a family pass to a children's museum in West Hartford, CT in June - figuring that two family visits equaled the price of the pass. We've been to four different Connecticut children's museums (three times to one of them), as well as one in Maine and one in New Hampshire when we were on vacation - and we are only 6 months into the membership! It is such a bargain!

  3. What a great idea!

    We used to have memberships to Roger Williams Zoo in RI when our kids were littler. The zoo is awesome plus there are other places to just hang out at the park that it was totally worth the drive down from where we are.

  4. These are great ideas! Do you mind if I link to your post on our Goodwill blog? Closer to the holidays, I like to share gift ideas.

  5. Goodwill- Of course you can always link to my blog- you have an open invite to do so.

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  7. Thank you for mentioning the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine's Passport Membership as a holiday gift idea! You can find more information at our website:

    We are also running some holiday specials on 4-packs of gift passes. You can call 207-828-1234 x221 for more information!

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  9. Such a decent gift ideas you give i like this post thanks you so much.