Gift an Experience

Gift an Experience and Gift Lasting Memories

From E.J. Thomas to Street Craftery, we share some of our favorite 'experience' gifts in Akron.

By Shananne Lewis

The Great Escape Room in Akron takes you through a night in the President's Poker Bunker. Images courtesy of The Great Escape Room.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the prospect of putting away all the Holiday gifts? Have you ever wished there were an alternative to giving an item that would clutter someone’s home? Have you ever desired for your gift to become a cherished memory? If the answer to any of these is yes, gifting an experience is the answer. 

Luckily, Akron has incredible experiences, many created by small businesses or nonprofits, so you can still shop small and local this holiday season.

Gifting an experience gives the recipient something to look forward to along with memories to hold on to for years to come. There are experiences in all shapes and sizes (and all budgets too). 

Who might love an experience gift?  A loved one who is challenging to buy for because they 'have everything' could be a perfect recipient. Parents who seem overwhelmed with toys and clutter will be relieved to receive something for their family to do (and to get out of the house).

Really, no matter who is on your list, if you can't immediately imagine the perfect gift, looking forward to an experience is a lot of fun.

The trick is finding just the right experience.

What one can consider is the personality of the gift recipient. If they love adventure, then something like an escape room or axe throwing experience would be ideal. When someone loves entertainment, the theater is the option. There are hands-on crafts, with an item to keep and take home for that artsy person. Not to mention the foodies of the family willing to try new restaurants.

Still, experiences can be a little bit tricky. A foodie might have strong preferences, and an adventurer might prefer one activity to another. If you aren't sure, ask their friends and family, or maybe even ask the recipient themselves (if the element of surprise isn't crucial). When investing in an experience, it's never a bad idea to make sure your recipient will love it.

A few of our favorite Akron Experience gift ideas:

Gift a Membership

If membership's to some of Akron's incredible institutions seem too costly, just think about the value.

A family membership to the Akron Zoo at $97 might seem steep, but compare it to the cost of a Squishmallow ($25) or a toy set ($47) and then consider the mileage.

Whereas the toy pieces may be lost in a few weeks and the Squishmallow may be forgotten in a month or two, that membership will get the entire family including two named adults and all dependent children into the zoo for an entire year. 

The Zoo is a fantastic place to enjoy wildlife and nature and with several children's play areas, it can take the place of going to a basic playground year round. Families can learn about conservation, wildlife preservation and curious creatures and enjoy member-only nights and a discount in the gift shop.

Our picks for membership gifts include:

CVSR (Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad):
Become A Member – Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad ( Ride the rails for one year with adventure! What a great way to see NE Ohio and ride the tracks. 

Hower House Museum:
Call 330-972-6909 to secure an annual membership. $35 for Individual, $50 for Couple, $75 for Family, and $10 for Student. Includes tours and special events. Visit the Guild Membership page and download an application here. Go back to the Victorian era with ease and visit the gift shop in the cellar for the true experience.

“The trend to give an experience rather than a tangible item is priceless. Where else are you going to get that?” Linda Bussey, director of the 28-room landmark Hower House, said. Explore your options on their social media @howerhousemuseum for that Victorian experience

Akron Children’s Museum:
Membership | Akron Children's Museum Website ( Kiddos enjoy a museum on their own level. A variety of activities that are hands-on to keep your little ones engaged. 

Akron Zoo:  Both parents and kids enjoy the zoo while exploring special exhibits during the year. 

Akron Art Museum:
The Art Museum provides visual learning for the whole family at different exhibits throughout the year. 

(top) 'You've never been this close' proves itself true at Akron Zoo. Photos by Julie Cajigas (bottom) Hower House in all its fall glory. Photo by Shananne Lewis.

The Banned Book Box stand inside Northside Marketplace. Photo by Julie Cajigas

Gift a Subscription

You might not think of subscriptions as an experience gift, but many of them are consumables that your giftee can enjoy month after month.

Akron has its own list of unique subscriptions that you can gift and support your community.

Banned Book Box:
One or two banned books are sent to your home monthly, along with other goodies. 

Fat T’s Cookies:
Fat T's Cookies- Shop (
Send the Full Fat Box or the Fat Lite Box to give your recipient a monthly flight of cookies.

Akron Coffee Roasters:
So many choices for coffee subscriptions to choose from. Send beans bi-weekly or monthly with choices that include either 10-ounce bags, 2-pound bags, expresso or craft roasted. 

Akron Beacon Journal
It might feel like a throwback, but your recipients need a reliable source of information to continue to be informed citizens. How about an annual subscription to Akron Beacon Journal? The digital edition costs pennies a day, and delivers locally relevant news. Support journalism in Akron with your gift.

Gift Foodie Fun

If your foodie longs for sushi, curry, foie gras, tuna tartare, roasted bone marrow, Kobe beef, an epic corned beef reuben or a legendary pizza, Akron has a dining experience they will no doubt enjoy.

In Northside District is dba or dante boccuzzi akron, a fine dining restaurant offers up the fancy with entrees like seared lamb loin and porterhouse for two. Their appetizer menu is well stocked with upscale tastes like foie gras, maple glazed pork belly and charcuterie.

If your foodie likes things more down to earth and generously sized, you can send them to Diamond Deli for some of the biggest, meatiest deli sandwiches in the 330. The meat is lean, the cheese is melty and the menu is approximately the length of a phone booth.

For a taste of the legendary send them to the perennial sponsor of the foul balls at Canal Park, Luigi's. Also in the Northside District, Luigi's has been serving up Akron's favorite pizza and Italian flavors since 1949. 

When it comes to foodie experiences, we would be remiss if we didn't mention something sweet. You can read our story about Fat T's Cookies here. Yum, their palate will not forget the “experience" of quarter pound, hand-weighed cookies. Receiving cookies in the mail may not be a social experience, but in a day and age where food is being delivered to your doorstep, it can delight someone who may be out-of-town, housebound, without a car, or lacking in cookie baking skills. Think “Cookie Monster Meets Delivery” Examples of these delectable delights can be seen on social media @fat_ts_cookies.

One can easily give a gift card for a cookie connoisseur at Gift Card | fattscookies. Just take care to remember these gift cards can only be redeemed through the Fat T’s Cookies online store and cannot be used toward Subscription Boxes, which are available at Fat T's Cookies- Shop (

dante boccuzzi akron, Luigi's and a cookie enthusiast chomping down the Cookie Monster-inspired cookie from Fat T's. Photos by Julie Cajigas

A painting party at Street Craftery. Photo courtesy of Da'Shika Street.

Gift a Hands-On Crafty Experience 

“Allow yourself the freedom to explore your inner artist," Da'Shika Street, owner of Street Craftery, said. The beauty of this experience gift is that you make memories and take home your artwork.

Akronites can gift an experience at Street Craftery, a workshop-centered business on Main Street that opened July 1, 2022. With a staff of four, they are meeting the creative needs of Akron by offering daily crafts and curated workshops. 

According to owner Da'Shika Street, the most popular year-round workshops are Candle Making and Guided Painting. 

“We consider Street Craftery to be an artist launchpad," Street said. It is a beautiful place to explore various art and craft forms, take lessons and classes, and discover which artistic mediums resonate most.” she 


Choosing an artistic experience with Street Craftery over a store-bought gift is fun because “Street Craftery is a place where friends and groups gather together with creativity and connection,” Street said

Street Craftery is open 5 days per week, Tuesday-Saturday, for pre-scheduled appointments and walk-ins. 

The team is also willing to do off-site events for the convenience of their guests. Many examples of their crafts can be seen on social media at @streetcraftery. 

“Our guests find healing, connectivity, and peace through art,” Street said.

Gift cards do not expire and are available online or in person. Daily crafts start around $30 per person and curated workshops start around $40 per person. Call 234-334-6448 or purchase online at  

Gift an Adventure

We all have friends that love haunted houses, escape rooms, axe throwing and nature-based adventure activities. Akron has some great choices for them too.

The Great Escape Room Akron
Purchase online certificates for The Great Escape Room Akron Choose from four escape room experiences including Poker Night at the President's Bunker and Rob the Mob: Break-In at Bubba's.

Turn Their Akron Zoo Visit into a Safari
Purchase online certificates for The Akron Zoo Many options are available for zoo certificates because not only can they be used for tickets, but people can use them for Sunrise Safaris, Behind-the-Scenes Tours, Get Closer Experiences,  train and carousel rides for the kiddos, concessions and in the gift shop.

Akron Rubber Ducks
Purchase online certificates for The Rubber Ducks A person can choose from a single game, season passes, and flex packages for the sports enthusiast in your life. 

(top) Canal park. (bottom) Feeding the Galapagos Tortoises during Sunrise Safari at Akron Zoo. Photos by Julie Cajigas.

(top) Show posters outside EJ Thomas hall. (middle) The Akron Symphony performs. Photos by Shananne Lewis. (bottom) Enjoying fireworks at Blossom Music Center. Photo by Julie Cajigas. (below) EJ Thomas photo by Shananne Lewis.

Gift the Performing Arts

From Akron Symphony Orchestra to the Broadway in Akron series at EJ Thomas Hall, the city is brimming with nationally and internationally renowned entertainment. 

In 2023 when streaming of shows and movies inside the home is easy and affordable, the experience of live theater can get lost in the shuffle and on a “to do” list that ceases to happen. 


E.J. Thomas Hall at The University of Akron
E.J. Thomas ( offers a Broadway in Akron series and more. 

Patch Draper, local dance instructor in North Canton states, “We are always delighted to receive gift cards for EJ Thomas so we can plan our next family outing. The gifts we enjoy the most are experiences and outings we can share together. And there is not a bad seat in the house, and it is close to home!” 

One can choose to purchase gift certificates in person Monday to Friday at 198 Hill Street 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or call 330-253-2488. 

Also, E.J. Thomas Hall offers certificates through Giftly: E.J. Thomas Hall - The University Of Akron Gift Cards and Gift Certificate - 198 Hill St, Akron, OH (

 Though not an avid theater goer, Beth Steenwyk of Green said, “A gift certificate to EJ Thomas Hall sounds like the perfect Christmas gift. It is easy to wrap, supports the arts, and I can spend quality time with my husband or friend.”

Akron Civic Theatre and Goodyear Theater

Akron Civic Theatre ( and Goodyear Theater ( are under the same ownership with gift certificates available at the Akron Civic Box office, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 182 South Main Street or call 330-253-2488. Gift certificates are valid for one year from purchase. One can also purchase gift certificates with this link: Akron Civic Theatre Gift Cards and Gift Certificate - 182 South Main St, Akron, OH ( 


Yet if you are physically in the Goodyear Heights area, one can venture to The Goodyear Theater Box office (1201 East Market Street) Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and purchase certificates in person if The Akron Civic Theatre is not an option. 

Or call Goodyear Theater at 330-535-3179 to purchase. Purchase online with Giftly at


The Akron Symphony Orchestra provides online certificate purchases with ease and comfort from your own home. The Akron Symphony Orchestra performs at E.J. Thomas Hall and brings a distinct flair for the music lover. Easily purchase at Gift Certificates - Akron Symphony Orchestra or in person at their box office at 92 North Main Street, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

When all else fails, just ask.

When you ask the people on your list about an experience gift, you may be surprised by what each person is interested in. You might also be surprised to learn who wants to try something new. Gifting experiences is a chance to get to know the people in your life better and create epic memories. 

No matter what Akron Experience you choose, Downtown Akron Partnership ( has you covered.

Some additional experiences to explore...

To reach content author Shananne Lewis, email her here.