The best L.A. experiences to give as gifts

Stressing over the perfect gift? Whether it’s for a birthday or the holidays, don’t waste that last roll of wrapping paper or splurge on shipping. Instead, skip something material altogether and opt for a one-of-a-kind L.A. experience. Maybe we’re a little biased—after all, trumpeting L.A.’s best things to do is kind of our bread and butter—but we think something you can do is way more memorable than something you can unwrap. So the next time you’re searching for something for that hard-to-shop-for person, consider these museum memberships, outdoorsy activities and boozy tours.

21 L.A. experiences to give as gifts

1. A reservation for an L.A. Conservancy Walking Tour

There’s no formal gifting option for these tours, but we think their on-foot sightseeing adventures through Downtown L.A. are perfect for architecture and history buffs. $15

2. A swan boat ride on Echo Park Lake

You probably know someone who’s always thought about renting one of these adorable pedal boats but never actually done it—which makes it a perfect (and affordable) gift. $11 per hour

3. Horseback riding with Malibu Riders

Easily the most beautiful horseback riding trail near L.A., Malibu Riders operates guided rides across Malibu and Agoura Hills, including a 45-minute ride through Zuma Canyon and an hour-long one near Paramount Ranch. $75–$150

4. A Cheese of the Month Club membership at the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills Cheese

Three half-pound cuts of cheese delivered to your door each month, with a little background on each and no repeats? Talk about a real gouda gift. $40 per month, minimum three months

7. A visit to the Stahl House

Even if you’ve never seen it in person, you’ll undoubtedly recognize the Stahl House and its twinkly vista. Pay a little extra for a sought-after sunset tour for particularly magical views. $60–$90, $35–$50 per person for multi-guest tickets

8. An animal encounter at the Wildlife Learning Center

Want to feed a porcupine or hang out with a sloth? This charming (but sometimes very kid-populated) Sylmar animal sanctuary offers private group encounters with some of its most adorable residents. $25–$125

9. Membership to the Huntington

You’ll only need to visit the stunning gardens and museum three times for this good-for-two-people membership to be worth it—and we’d easily visit three times a week if we had the time. $15

10. A guided tour with Malibu Wine Hikes

Reward yourself for a 2.5-mile hike through scenic Saddlerock Gardens with a personal-sized bottle of wine on this guided vineyard tour. $49

12. A brewery bus tour with L.A. Beer Hop

Pick a region (from the Valley to Downtown L.A. to Long Beach) and these craft beer experts will shuttle you between tours and tastings at three breweries. For the moment, their tastings are all virtual. In-person tours $69.

14. A cooking class at Eataly

Like its borderline overwhelming assortment of Italian food, the Century City complex offers a packed slate of cooking classes, mostly centered around pizza and pasta making. $95–$115

15. A Hollywood Bowl subscription

Know someone who typically attends a few shows at the Bowl each summer? Give them a first crack at tickets with two-to-four-concert packages across a range of genres, from classical to jazz to indie. Prices vary by package and seats.

16. Tickets for the Catalina Express

The most expensive part of a trip to Catalina Island? Getting there—especially since the retirement of the Catalina Express’s free birthday fares. If you’re gifting someone a round trip, opt for the commodore lounge upgrade for a comfier, quieter ride. $76 round trip; commodore lounge upgrade $40

18. A spa day at Glen Ivy Hot Springs

Treat someone to a playground of lounge pools, mud baths, saunas and spa treatments at this resort on the southern edge of Corona. Prices vary by experience.

An outdoorsy parking pass

Photograph: Time Out/Michael Juliano

19. An outdoorsy parking pass

Know an avid hiker? Then consider paying for their parking. You’ll find a bunch of different passes throughout the county: The National Forest Adventure Pass ($30) is one of the most affordable and practical, and grants access to recreation sites in Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests. Consider a state parks pass ($195) for beachy destinations or a pricey MRCA pass ($300–$450) for trails mostly in the Santa Monica Mountains. Prices vary by park organization.


Membership to one museum that’ll get you in to a bunch of others

Photograph: Kilmer Media /

20. Membership to one museum that’ll get you in to a bunch of others

Alright, this one requires a little bit of an explanation: The North American Reciprocal Museum Association lets you use your membership at participating museums to get into some other institutions for free all over the contintent. Here in L.A., that means you can get a membership to the Japanese American National Museumthe Grammy MuseumMOCACraft Contemporarythe Autrythe USC Pacific Asia Museumthe Skirball Cultural Center or the Museum of Latin American Art and use it to get into all of the others. The only catch: Not all membership levels at each museum come with NARM benefits, so we suggest going with whichever home base museum would provide the most benefits for your gift recipient. Prices vary by museum.


A garden membership that’ll also get you into some non-local spots

Photograph: Courtesy Descanso Gardens

21. A garden membership that’ll also get you into some non-local spots

Similar to the NARM scenario, the American Horticultural Society’s reciprocal admissions program lets you use a membership from one botanical garden at dozens of others. But there’s a catch: You can’t use it at some institutions within 90 miles of your home base. So while a membership to either Descanso GardensSouth Coast Botanic Garden or the L.A. County Arboretum won’t get you into the other, it will grant you access to other gardens in San Diego, the Central Coast and beyond.


via TimeOut

Joyce Rey
With Me
Whether it's buying your dream home or selling your current one, Joyce Rey is here to help.