As you take a look at your child’s Christmas list, do you ever say to yourself “More toys?? My kids already have TOO MUCH STUFF!”
Think back to your own childhood… although we all had our favorite toys (Cabbage Patch Dolls, Lite Brite, G.I. Joe, Caboodles and Roller Racers, anyone?), you’re probably much more likely to remember a family vacation, trip to a theme park, or other experience with your family. Creating a memory is priceless. Spending time as a family is essential.
If you are buying a gift for a child or family that “has it all”, consider this list of amazing experience Christmas gifts that don’t take up space. These are memorable experiences that will bring smiles, build up families, and won’t end up in a donation bin.
We have provided links to the original sources where you can find the most current information for hours, showtimes and pricing.
Looking for Christmas-specific experience gifts? Check out our list of Holiday Day Trip Ideas.
Looking for free fun in Lakeland + Polk County? Check out our list of Free Christmas Events + Activities or choose from 75+ Things to Do during Christmas Break.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Thank you for supporting Lakeland Mom! We have done the research and only recommend deals we know will save you money.
Family Fun in Lakeland
I’d bet that if you asked a group of kids what makes a family happy, a common response would be “doing things together!” For a family experience gift idea, pick one of these great local businesses and set aside a night for family fun. Purchase the kids a gift card for a Christmas gift, and then let them be in charge for the day!
Fun for ALL ages. With Lazer Tag, Lazer Maze, Funtasia Soft Play, Miniature Golf, Arcade Games, and Redemption Games – you’ll find something for everyone at Family Fun Center. Grab a pizza or wings for dinner at Cap’s Pizza Cafe. Have kids that like competition? Challenge them to a round of mini golf or a Lazer Tag battle.
The Florida Children’s Museum opened in Lakeland in November 2022 and an Annual Membership would make a great Christmas gift! Formerly Explorations V in Downtown Lakeland the new Florida Children’s Museum has 2 floors of kid-powered, hands-on exhibits and mind-stretching programs in the arts and sciences.
Explore the Florida Air Museum and play in the Discovery Zone.
When is the last time your kids saw you roller skate?? Being at Skate World takes me back to my childhood!
We’ve got both Lakeland Escape Room and Escapology right here in Lakeland. You’ll work together to find clues, solve puzzles, and decode locks that will free you from the escape room. Get ready for an hour of puzzle-solving, mind-bending fun!
My boys would LOVE IT if we went to play paintball as a family. Off the Wall Adventures and Central Florida Paintball in Lakeland both offer Groupon Deals.
Bounce off the walls (literally) at Urban Air or SkyZone Lakeland indoor trampoline park (formerly Defy Lakeland). Check for Groupon Deals to save $$.
Try your hand at indoor archery and see who has the best aim. Adventures Archery is located on Edgewood Drive in Lakeland and offers Groupon Deals.
Choose from Silver Moon Drive In, Cinepolis IMAX, Cinemark @ Lkld Square Mall, Cobb Theatre & IMAX @ Lakeside Village. Go for the reserved seat movie tickets where you can kick back and relax!
We’ve got AMF Lanes on S. Fla. Ave, Orange Bowl Lanes on Hwy 98 N, and Cypress Lanes in Winter Haven (check for GROUPON DEALS on bowling)
If your kids are 12+, check out Ax-Caliber in Lakeland for a fun family excursion.
The Back Nine has high-quality golf simulators that can also be used to play a wide variety of games including football, baseball, dodgeball, hockey, and more.
You can also head to Tampa or Orlando for more adventurous experience gifts for kids including indoor skydiving, TopGolf or PopStroke mini golf, amusement parks, hot air balloon rides, water parks, minor league sports games, and more.
Spectator Sports in Lakeland
Hip hip hooray for the family that cheers together! Tickets to upcoming sporting events give everyone something fun to look forward to.
During February and March you’ll find the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Single game tickets aren’t available for purchase just yet but you can always create a voucher for an upcoming game. View the upcoming Spring Training Schedule.
Central Florida Sports Teams
Within a 1-1.5 hour drive of Lakeland and Polk County you can also find:
- Basketball – Orlando Magic and Osceola Magic (G-League Team of the Orlando Magic / Formerly Lakeland Magic}
- Baseball – Tampa Bay Rays
- Baseball Spring Training – Detroit Tigers – Lakeland, Baltimore Orioles – Sarasota, New York Yankees – Tampa, Philadelphia Phillies – Clearwater, Pittsburgh Pirates – Bradenton, Toronto Blue Jays – Dunedin
Purchase tickets to an upcoming show this winter or spring and surprise your family with the gift of a live performance. My two kids absolutely love going to see a stage performance and know it is a special occasion. Their first live shows were Beauty and the Beast at Harrison School for the Arts, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. at Lakeland Community Theatre. We have some AMAZING local talent!
If you aren’t sure if your little ones can sit still or stay quiet during an entire show (often 2 hours or more), start with a local performance that is geared towards kids at Lakeland Community Theatre or The RP Funding Center where you’re guaranteed to find other kids (and understanding parents) in the audience.
Picked a performance but tickets aren’t on sale yet? Type up a flyer for the show you’re planning to attend and wrap that up as the gift!
Upcoming family friendly shows include Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf, The Fantasticks, Big: The Musical, Mean Girls Jr., and School of Rock.
Upcoming family-friendly shows include The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, All Shook Up, Disney’s Descedants: The Musical, and The Bodyguard.
This local performing arts high school is home to some of the most amazingly talented kids I’ve ever seen. Check out their calendar of events for upcoming shows. (My personal favorites are their musical theatre performances and jazz band. You won’t be able to keep your feet still!)
If you’re looking for a gift for the music lover in your family, check their page for upcoming Lakeland Symphony events. For the holiday season, tickets to the Carol Symphony would make a great date night or family night.
Check the calendar at the RP Funding Center for upcoming Christmas shows, Classic Albums Live concerts, and more.
Tampa & Orlando Live Shows
Although the Straz Center, Amalie Arena and Dr. Phillips Center are a 45-60 minute drive from Lakeland, they host some great kid-friendly live performances. If you or an older child love Broadway, the touring Broadway shows that come to these venues are worth the drive. Tickets for these shows are definitely a splurge, to save money consider making it a parent/child special outing instead of taking the whole family.
A holiday favorite – Trans Siberian Orchestra – is also coming to Tampa in 2023.
We also have a list of upcoming performances specifically for the Christmas season:
Purchasing a class is a great way to have fun learning, and gives the recipient something to look forward to. While this list is not comprehensive it includes several of our favorites!
What’s Cooking Lakeland offers cooking classes (camps, birthday parties) to further develop cooking skills and teach children about local foods, restaurants and our natural environment. Adult dinners, girls night out, and private parties are also available. The best part is you’ll always take a meal (or more) home with you!
Our local Art Museum is a true gem in Polk County. In addition to FREE ADMISSION every day, they also offer Classes for Teens & Adults, as well as After School Art (ages 5+, registration not required, each class is separate)
Art Centric is a studio space for adults and children offering a variety of paint along classes, Mommy & Me events, adult paint nights, open studio, camps, preschool classes, and much more. Check their website for upcoming opportunities.
We also have a huge Classes + Lessons Guide where you can find additional places to sign up for kids activities. If you are a grandparent looking for ideas, ask about paying for a month of classes or buying gift certificates for your grandkids to try leaning a new musical instrument, karate, horseback riding, dance, or other new activity.
Take your family to do something fun in Tampa or Orlando this holiday season. After all, we live where other people vacation! Visit our Holiday Day Trip Guide for information on Things to do for Christmas in Tampa and Things to do for Christmas in Orlando. A few ideas include Night of Lights and Christmas at Gaylord Palms in Orlando, and Enchant Christmas Maze at Tropicana Field, Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa, and Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in Tampa.
An Annual Pass is the perfect gift that keeps on giving all year long! We are lucky enough to live within an hour’s drive of fun destinations that draw people come from all over the world. It’s kind of amazing if you think about it. Many of these attractions offer Annual Passes for less than the cost of two visits, so be sure to check out all pricing options before you purchase tickets.
Polk County Favorites
Tampa Area Annual Passes
Bricks + Friends Memberships at Bonnet Springs Park
While this isn’t a family activity, it is a great gift idea for someone that “has it all” or for a family that wants to be part of a legacy project for Lakeland and Central Florida. Bonnet Springs Park is an amazing new outdoor space for our community to enjoy, entirely free with no admission cost.
You can honor or memorialize someone with their name on a brick at the park, or with Friends of Bonnet Springs Park membership.
- Bricks will be installed around the Hollis Family Welcome Center, they are $200 per brick with up to three lines of 18 characters each. Learn more about the Brick Campaign.
- Friends of Bonnet Springs Park Memberships start at only $30 per family and higher levels include fun perks including ice cream, coffee drinks, boat rentals, park merchandise, and more. Admission to the park is free, FBSP is an optional membership program for those looking to support this new place to play in Lakeland.
Christmas Events + Holiday Activities
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Events + Holiday Activities to find more things to do including Neighborhood Christmas Light Displays, FREE Christmas Events, Santa Photos, Christmas Parades, and more.