We all have that person on our list who is impossible to shop for — whether it’s during the holidays, their birthday, or some other occasion. And while we have many amazing shops in Ann Arbor, it can be difficult to narrow down that perfect gift. So why not give them an experience instead?
An experiential gift is a gift that keeps on giving — as they can enjoy it at a future date, or even several times over the course of a year in some cases. We’re sharing some experiences worth gifting in Ann Arbor, from memberships to wine clubs and museums to gift cards for a massage treatment or axe throwing. From artsy classes to relaxing indulgences, there is something for everyone on this list. Plus, you get to support a local Ann Arbor business with your purchase!
The Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum specializes in interactive exhibits with the goal of helping both children and adults discover the scientist within. And the Leslie Science & Nature Center is an educational facility on the north side of Ann Arbor encouraging sustainability, understanding and regular nature encounters. You can give a family access to both of these wonderful educational resources by purchasing a membership for an entire year! There are three tiers to choose from, all of which offer free admission to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum for 12 months — and also provide tee satisfaction of knowing that your membership purchase supports the plants and animals and extraordinary programs at the Leslie Science & Nature Center, which always offers free admission.
Since 1909, the Ann Arbor Art Center has been sparking creativity in people of all ages and artistic abilities, using innovative programming, wide-ranging learning courses, and a gallery shop with handmade artworks. A2AC Members are a part of this artistic community — and there are two different levels, including Basic, where members can take advantage of early access to class registration and events, special discounts during Midnight Madness, and a call for entries discount exclusively available for artists. Learn more about A2AC memberships here!
Concert tickets make for an excellent gift for the music lover in your life. And one of the best, most intimate venues in town is Michigan Theater, a historic theater founded in 1928 with three screening spaces for independent movies, concerts, comedy shows, national tours, and more. Peruse their lineup of upcoming events to see what’s playing at Michigan Theater in the months ahead! No matter your loved one’s interests, there’s bound to be a concert or event they’ll love.
Give the gift of relaxation with a gift card to Bellanina Day Spa, a luxurious day spa offering a wide range of services, including massage, facials, waxing, nail services and more. Among other awards, Bellanina was voted Best Day Spa in Washtenaw County for 2012–2014 and 2016–2021. Let your special someone indulge in a relaxing day at the spa by purchasing a gift card — simply select from the menu of services, which includes The Royal Treatment, Ultimate Bliss Retreat, Mom to Be Retreat, and more. You even have the option to include gratuity so they don’t have to worry about a thing during their visit!
Tucked between Zingerman’s Bakehouse and Zingerman’s Creamery, BAKE! is Zingerman’s hands-on teaching bakery. There, you and your loved one will be able to learn everything from cake baking to cheese pairing. Classes are open to the public in categories like pizza making, donut frying, flour grinding, soft pretzel creation and more. You can see all upcoming classes, either by name or by date and reserve your spots. And you can even look at virtual classes if you’d rather cook from the comfort of your own kitchen!
The Ark is Ann Arbor’s destination for live music and has been since it was founded in 1965 by four area churches. Today, the venue offers over 300 nights of shows each year in one of the best listening rooms anywhere. In the past, they’ve brought Howie Day, Blind Pilot and the Violent Femmes to town! Surprise your loved one with tickets to an upcoming show — see all their upcoming events here. And if you can’t decide, you can always give them a gift card for The Ark, which they can apply to a concert of their choosing.
For the explorer in your life, make sure they have a Recreation Passport on their vehicle for a year of outdoor recreation. This passport gives you access to state parks, recreation areas, boating access sites, state forest campgrounds, thousands of miles of trails, and other outdoor spaces throughout Michigan. Plus, funds derived from the passport go directly towards maintaining and improving the outdoor spaces we all love. The best part? The Recreation Passport is just $17 — or $12 when purchased at the time of license plate registration renewal through the Secretary of State.
With 10 locations throughout Michigan, including one in Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Nails & Spa is a trusted nail salon with a luxurious atmosphere designed for pampering and relaxation. They only offer the best of brands for all their manicure and pedicure products, many of which are organic or natural, to ensure satisfaction. Get a gift certificate to cover their next manicure or pedicure — or another one of the many services Bloomfield Nails & Spa provides. Allow 1-2 weeks for gift certificates to be mailed out — or purchase one in person at any of their locations for immediate use.
From the charming doodles that adorn both their bags and their shops to their award-winning (and locally famous) baristas, you can always tell just how much love goes into the coffee and the atmosphere at Stovetop Roasters. To give your coffee-loving family member or friend an endless stream of caffeine, sign them up for a coffee subscription through Stovetop Roasters! They have several different subscription options, including the new Roaster’s Choice, which features a rotating selection of their finest single-origin coffees, thoughtfully curated by their roaster team. Plus, you can choose the delivery frequency to have coffee show up on their door every week, every two weeks, or every month! Learn more about Stovetop’s subscription here.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen axe-throwing studios opening up all across the country, and that includes Ann Arbor! Axe Ventura opened up just a few years ago, offering Ann Arborites the opportunity to throw axes at marked targets. We know what you’re thinking, but this sport is completely safe! Each party is accompanied by a guide that will teach every axe thrower how to throw safely and effectively to hit the target every time. They recently added a bar so you can enjoy beer and other spirits while you play! Gift this unique experience by purchasing a gift card for either 1 or 2 hours. Simply click the red Gift Card button in the upper right-hand corner of their site.
The beer aficionado in your life will love a HOMES Brewery membership. HOMES focuses on hoppy and sour beers, but they venture outside of those styles periodically. They keep about 8-14 beers on tap, depending on their production capacity, in addition to options for non-beer-drinkers, like hard seltzer smoothies, locally sourced spirits, wine and cider. For $50 a year, HOMES Brewery members enjoy a number of members-only perks, including early release access, a free Friday beer, a member glass, $1 off pours, $1 off growler and 750-ml fills, a 50% Tuesday growler discount, and 15% off in-house merch. Learn more and purchase a membership here!
Or if they prefer wine over beer, you might consider gifting a Spencer Wine Club membership. Wine club members receive two delicious bottles a month, insightful tasting notes, a free tote bag, member discounts, exclusive offers, pairing suggestions, and more. And you have two membership options to choose from: the Vigneron Club, which highlights lesser-known grapes, cult producers, and their prized allocations, and the Hedonist Club, which is more introductory-level with more approachable selections. You can get them started with a 3-month membership so they can experience a variety of wines — and renew their membership if they would like to. Note: When you checkout, enter your own contact and billing information, then wait for follow-up information you can pass along to the recipient, so as to not spoil the surprise!
Experiences make some of the best gifts! What experiential gifts are you giving this year?