Looking for things to do in Rochester?

Thinking back on it, I can’t remember many of the specific gifts that I received for Christmas as a child. I was excited about them at the time. I played with them for a while. But they all ended up in the same place. The back of the closet, until they were given away, or thrown away, to make room for more toys.

On the other hand, I remember every day trip we took to Valley Fair, or Skyline Raceway and Waterpark (yes, it used to have a waterpark). All of those trips are ingrained on my memory. Specifically, I remember the friends and family I was with, the laughs, and the fun.

The memories from a unique experience will last forever.

Creating family memories through experiences isn’t just about presents. Doing a service together can be a great way to add an experience to your holidays. You can spend time as a family ringing bells, serving food at a shelter, or just baking cookies for the neighbors.

It’s not surprising that the past three years have seen a huge increase in experience gifts. Parents and grandparents are scaling back on the physical gifts and electing to mix in experiences as part of their giving. The idea of buying a Nerf gun sounds great. In theory it lasts longer than any experience ever will. But the reality is that, by the end of next summer, the new nerf gun will be the “old” nerf gun in the back of the closet. The Nerf darts will be in bits and pieces all over the lawn, after losing a battle with the lawn mower.

It used to be challenging to find a great experience in the Rochester area. Over the past three years, that has changed. There are a lot of options for everyone on your gift list. Kids will love a gift of tickets to Rochester’s new indoor trampoline park, Air Insanity. Give them the opportunity to battle their friends at Archery Addiction, Rochester’s ultimate cross between archery and dodgeball. A gift card to Roca Climbing and Fitness is a great gift for youth and adults. Jets Gymnastics is a great place to take the kids for classes or open gym.

Instead of getting dad a new tie for the 4th year in a row, he might enjoy a brewery tour. Or, get dad tickets to his favorite sporting event. Let dad share his nostalgia for video games by bringing the kids to the Machine Shed.

If mom doesn’t get into sports, video games, or breweries, you know she’ll love a spa day.

What if you’re looking for an event that works for everyone? While it’s great for grandma and grandpa to get kids a gift card for something fun, it’s even better if it’s something that grandpa and grandma can do with their grandkids. Some parents and grandparents will love the idea of getting out on the trampolines, but it’s not always possible for everyone in the family to get involved. An escape room is the perfect event for everyone in the family.

Picture this:
Your family is locked in a fully themed room. There are 60 minutes on the clock. You must work together to find clues, solve puzzles, and escape before time expires. Everyone will remember the time when grandma worked with her 13-year-old grandson to disarm a bomb and escape a Bomb Maker’s Apartment before the bomb exploded.

We aren’t advocating for a Christmas without presents under the tree, but experiential gifts are likely to be their favorite this holiday season. If you look around, you’ll find a great gift for everyone on your list at one of these great local businesses. You can buy gift cards, or schedule a holiday event for your family, and contribute to the growth of Rochester’s “things to do” for families.