When it comes to the holidays, sometimes the best gift isn’t a toy at all, but an experience! With four kids in our house, sometimes it feels the playroom (and the bedrooms, and the garage, and the backyard) are already full to overflowing! And every toy I think of, we already own. Nerf guns? Got ’em. Remote control cars? Got ’em. Art supplies? Enough to last through another year-long lockdown (even if I don’t have the sanity for that again!).
For the past few years, my parents have gifted our kids with experience-based gifts, and it’s been the best! These gifts keep the emphasis on family time and making memories together. AND, they don’t require that I find a place to store them!
So, with the holidays fast approaching, we’ve put together a guide to RGV experiences and activity gifts for kids.
The Children’s Museum of Brownsville offers so much fun and creative play for your little ones! Their Annual Pass costs $150 for two named adults and three children.
The Edinburg Scenic Wetlands World Birding Center offers a Family Membership (covering 8 family members) for $25. It is good that from August to August.
My kids have always loved the Gladys Porter Zoo! Their $99 annual pass includes an unlimited entrance card for two adults and up to five (5) children 17 years and under. Your GPZ membership also gets you a discount at over 100 other zoos across the US, including the San Antonio Zoo, Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Houston Zoo, and more!
The National Butterfly Center in Mission is such a magical place! Their Family Membership covers admission for two adults and four dependent children at a cost of $60/year.
The International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) in McAllen is a great half-day excursion for inquiring little minds! Even my twelve-year-old still enjoys a day at IMAS! Their family membership is priced at $75. Thanks to the ASTC Travel Passport Program, IMAS members receive free or discounted general admission into over 350 participating science centers. We’ve used this perk at the DoSeum in San Antonio and the Houston Children’s Museum, to name a few.
Learn about some amazing creatures and support their rescues at Sea Turtle, Inc. Their annual pass costs just $65 for a family of four — that’s a great family gift idea!
Last year, we received a Texas State Parks Pass, and we have used it quite a bit, both in the RGV and throughout the Lone Star State! There are three state parks in the RGV (Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission, Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco, and Resaca de la Palma State Park in Brownsville). This $70 pass grants you unlimited access to all 89 Texas State Parks for a whole year!
Especially when my kids love a place, I love to support its vision and mission, and purchasing an annual membership is a win-win!
You can also check out our “Let’s Explore” blog series where we go in-depth at some of the best RGV destinations!
Fun For the Day
As a large family, we can’t regularly spring for admission to some of my kids’ favorite places, but the holidays are a great time for gift cards to the movies, the bowling alley, or the skating rink. Another big idea is tickets to a show at the McAllen Performing Arts Center.
The RGV also has some great indoor playgrounds and activity centers that offer hourly rates and gift certificates.
- Altitude Trampoline Park in Harlingen
- Demaxi Playground in La Plaza Mall (McAllen)
- Get Air Trampoline Park in Brownsville
- Helium Trampoline Park in McAllen
- Main Event in Brownsville or Pharr (discounted gift cards available at Sam’s)
- Planet Sensory in McAllen
- Sky Park Trampoline Park in McAllen
- Urban Air Adventure Park in Harlingen
Where are your favorite spots in the RGV for family fun? Comment below, or add a listing to our RGV Directory!