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Oregon Family Magazine

12 Great Gift Experiences for the Holidays

11/30/2021 ● By Taj Morgan
Contributed by Eugene Cascades and Coast. Feel like we all have too much stuff? Research on happiness supports investing in the things that really bring fulfillment — like time together and finding new adventures. Here are some regional ideas for gift giving experiences to fill your heart, not your house.

1. Snuggle Up in The Cascade Mountains

The McKenzie River region is recovering, rebuilding and re-emerging in the aftermath of wildfires — and it's a great place for you to do the same. Stay along the river with your family in a beautiful, cozy lodge or cabin and spend the days fishing, soaking in hot springs and walking in the woods. After a mountain getaway, you'll feel revitalized, and your visit will also contribute to the community's recovery, so you can feel doubly good.

2. Fall in Love with Local Theater

Get season tickets at one of two recently remodeled theaters. These beloved community theatre groups strategically utilized the pandemic downtime to spruce up their performance venues and now they are ready to welcome us back. For 2022, the Cottage Theatre, a long standing stable of outstanding local talent, will be debuting with “Mamma Mia!” in Cottage Grove. And the Very Little Theater (VLT), which has presented top notch theatre in Eugene since the 1920s, will roll out a host of new productions including "Little Women" and "Murder on the Orient Express.” Explore all our local community theatre for more inspiration! 

3. Throw an Axe

Instead of tossing darts, imagine heaving an entire axe at your target! Try out your best logger look and wear closed-toe shoes. To throw axes you must be at least 12 years old. The Oregon Axe lounge also has a 21-and-over drink service with a two-drink maximum. Reservations for axe throwing lanes are recommended.

4. Sight-see on the River

Spend an afternoon on the Willamette River soaking up nature's seasonal beauty. Jet boats can skim the shallows and go fast, so you can see all there is to see. Spot osprey, deer and more along the banks. Check out Scenic Jet Boat Tours and 2 Rivers Jet Boat Tours for touring options.

5. Ride at Sunset

A horseback ride along the beach at sunset is probably on everybody's bucket list. C&M Stables makes this dream come true with comfortable and scenic trail rides. Choose from a variety of options including lead-rope corral riding for children. The horses here are loved and well-cared for, each with their own sweet story.

6. Golf Indoors

Winter golf? The weather's always perfect indoors at the Topgolf Swing Suite! Compete for the best sports scores while perfecting your golf swing, soccer kick, baseball pitch or dodgeball throw. The Topgolf game inside the Graduate hotel includes comfy lounge seating, bar and food service and your choice of games.

7. Taste Wine During Cellar Season

Just for the parents, we offer some time away and a visit to local wineries. Enjoy cheerful chauffeured transportation, coordinate custom tours to favorite wineries in South Willamette Wine Country or stay close to downtown Eugene and visit the many urban wine bars which bring the vineyard experience to you.

8. Take Aim at Targets

Blast the clay birdies with your best buddies. A daily membership rate is offered for those just trying it out. Sign up for shooting instruction or choose from sporting clays, skeet, trap and five stand games. If you haven't been, Creswell Clay Target Sports offers a comfortable club house adjacent the outdoor ranges —  a perfect place to relax after target practice.

9. Visit the Sea Lions

One of the must-do experiences of a lifetime, descend 200 feet into a cavernous marine cave to see bellowing sea lions. This family-owned attraction is also a family-favorite with cliffside walking paths, educational exhibits, and a gift shop. Learn the history of the Sea Lion Caves and all about the wild Steller sea lions that inhabit it.

10. Puzzle Your Way Out of a Room

Escape the Room Oregon offers several different scenarios from spies to bio-hazard labs. There are a variety of ways to play including private room rentals (with minimums) or joining others. Gift certificates are available!

11. Cruise the Sand Dunes in an ATV

Intrigued by those mountains of sand? So was writer Frank Herbert when he visited Florence in the 50s. Inspired by the vast expanse of endless sands, he later wrote the science fiction book "Dune", released this year as a movie. Go cruising up and over the sand mountains on a dune buggy tour or independently with an ATV rental from Ocean Breeze ATV Rental

12. Book a Guided Outdoor Adventure

The Cascades Outdoor Center in Westfir will get you started on the right track. Based in the charming Westfir Lodge adjacent the historic Office Covered Bridge, the recreation guides can orchestrate all types of outdoor adventures and tours for you from snowshoeing along nearby trails to river rafting and mountain biking trips — seasonally-based, of course.

Visit for even more things to do as family gifts.