.Giving the gift of experience

As the year winds to a close, many stress out about what gifts to buy for loved ones.

The days leading up to the end of the year are often spent rushing around with the holiday crowd, searching for that perfect gift that will express just how much one knows and cares about the recipient. But what if none of the gadgets and knickknacks seem right for that special someone this holiday season?

That’s where one gives the gift of an experience; instead of gifting a shirt that may not fit (physically or stylistically) or an item that may serve no purpose but to gather dust in the back of a closet, one may consider giving the gift of a memorable meal, a show, a class or a luxury experience that, often, is much more appreciated than a physical gift.

Marin County has no shortage of experiences to share with a loved one this holiday season, and the memories made will be just as valuable, if not more so, than any item. That said, here are some ideas about where to go in Marin County to find an exceptional experiential gift:

The Restaurant Experience

For many, the indulgence of a luxury meal at a nice restaurant is the best experience of all, especially if they’re a foodie. And, with Marin County playing host to a delectable selection of fine dining restaurants, the only difficulty is choosing where and when. One must just be sure to make a reservation, as eating out with a loved one is perhaps the most commonly gifted experience around the holidays.

In Marin County, the standout restaurants that will be sure to delight and sate one’s appetite are: Le Comptoir, located in San Rafael and known for its contemporary French-style fare, such as steak, mussels and rotisserie meats, as well as an exemplary wine selection. Tony’s Seafood in Marshall is another excellent choice for a more laid-back affair, though there’s nothing blasé about the high-quality seafood, from fresh oysters to mouthwatering cioppino.

For an Italian spin, Il Davide in San Rafael is sure to satisfy as an experiential gift, with its refined Tuscan fare and lively atmosphere. And, for a truly fine dining experience, Madcap in San Rafael offers an intimate locale serving elevated seasonal Californian and Japanese mains, plus wine, beer and sake, and they have the Michelin star stamp of approval to go along with it.

The Gift of Entertainment

This holiday season, one can take a moment to ask friends and family, “Are you not entertained?” And, if indeed they are not, one may take the necessary steps to provide that entertainment with the gift of attending a local play, dance, improv or comedy show. From open mic nights to professionally put-on ballet performances, there is no shortage of entertainment happening in Marin. One should just keep an eye out for performances at the Marin Civic Center, the Marin Theatre Company and any of the other well-known local entertainment centers.

Classes and Workshops as Gifts

Giving the gift of a membership to a class or workshop can be an excellent idea— as long as one makes sure the recipient likes the activity for which they’re being signed up before any money is put down. And, for extra points, one can always sign oneself up as well, to spend quality time together with a loved one, learning a new skill or participating in a fun shared activity!

For artistic friends and family, an art studio such as Terra Linda Ceramics in San Rafael can be found, and the gift of creativity can be given this holiday season. There’s no end to the artistic workshops and classes happening in Marin County, from dance to visual arts and everything in between—all one has to do is find the one that speaks to the giftee in mind. And, for a more physical approach, one may try gifting classes at studios such as ROC Pilates in San Rafael and Red Dragon Yoga in San Rafael and Mill Valley. Whatever a loved one enjoys, there’s bound to be a class or workshop in or close to Marin that would make the perfect gift.

Spa and Luxury Experiences

The holidays, as a general rule of thumb, can become especially stressful. That’s why the gift of a luxury experience, such as a spa day, a massage or a beauty appointment, can be just the thing someone needs (even if they don’t realize it yet). And, luckily, Marin County has a wide array of luxurious experiences to offer, starting with Evo Spa in Mill Valley. There, they provide everything a stressed-out heart could desire: massages, facials and much, much more.

Mill Valley Massage is another perfectly luxurious experience to give, especially if one knows someone who has been complaining of neck and back problems. And, for a more internally indulgent experience, a visit to Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre could make an amazing gift, maybe even one that can be given to oneself!

Gift the Experience of Adventure

For some, the best gift of all is the gift of a shared adventure where one can make memories of exciting time spent doing something new and fun together. And, in Marin, the options are abundant. For an exciting and adventurous gift, one can always rent a kayak from any of the local kayak rental shops and take a trip onto the beautiful North Bay waters. Another gift option comes from Marin Outdoor Adventure, where one can buy surf lessons at Stinson Beach to truly thrill an adventurous loved one. And, for a more landlocked experience, Point Reyes Arabian Adventures offers the most spectacular horseback trail rides and lessons.

A Holiday Getaway Gift

Last, but certainly not least, is the great gift of a holiday getaway. How many times has one wished to leave everything behind, even for just a day or two, to kick up one’s feet, sip some wine and decompress away from day-to-day responsibilities? That’s why renting out a cute Airbnb or a room in a Bed and Breakfast for a weekend is the perfect experience to give this holiday season.

The gift of an experience is one that is often overlooked, but can also be the most special and memorable. And, for anyone who still feels as though they want to give something brightly wrapped with a bow on top alongside the meal, show or horseback adventure, they may consider gifting a Polaroid camera and some film so a loved one can record not only their holiday experience, but the experiences that are sure to come after.


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