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 more regional ideas for gift giving "experiences" to fill your heart, not your house.
1. Stretch with Goats
You've heard of the "Goat Yoga" phenomenon — finding zen with a relaxing yoga session amongst the positive and sweet vibes of goats. This may just what a loved one needs right now! In Monroe, the No Regrets Farm and Sanctuary holds goat "happy hours" and private goat yoga sessions conducted by Lainey Morse, the founder of Original Goat Yoga.
2. Create a Masterpiece
Apply paint to canvas at an art "paint and sip" experience. Art with Alejandro is a splendid gift experience in the heart of the Market District. From painting a portrait of your pet, to a themed painting class, to private sessions there are plenty of opportunities to inspire the inner artist. Or book a private event in your home with BreatheAndPaint — artist Christina Smith will set up a stress-free art session for you and your friends.
3. 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.
4. See a Season of Shows
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 are ready to welcome us back. Cottage Theatre, a long standing stable of outstanding local talent, is rolling out a robust 2023 season with "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown". And the Very Little Theater (VLT) which has presented top notch theatre in Eugene since the 1920s, kicks off the year with "A Lesson Before Dying". Explore all our local community theatre for more inspiration!
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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!
8. 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.
9. 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", later released 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.
10. 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.
11. Indulge Your Aviation Buff
Spend the day checking out amazing collections of aircraft from a MIG 17 to a Skyhawk at the Oregon Air and Space Museum. Or learn all about Oregon's aviation history in the Hall of Fame at the Oregon Aviation Historical Society (OAHS). Did you know the OAHS is restoring several famous biplanes from the 30s?
12. Fish the Famous McKenzie River
Beginners to avid anglers will benefit from personalized casting instruction. Both Home Waters Fly Fishing and Caddis Fly offer classes and/or guided fishing trips. Plus you can get expert advice on all your gear needs.
13. Foster Confidence & Self Defense Skills
Adaptive karate instruction offered by Reverence Karate-DO Institute emphasizes love and respect for all. Their unique programs accommodate children and adults with autism, FAS, Down syndrome, OCD, ADHD, Parkinson's and mobility disabilities. All abilities and disabilities welcome.
14. Spend the Night in a Tipi, Yurt or Dome
Go glamping just outside Springfield in a comfortable bed and breakfast "zen" tipi. Tipi Village offers a relaxing, serene setting in the forest along Mill Creek. An organic gourmet breakfast is served in the morning. Add on a reflexology or yoga package for the complete retreat experience. Yurts are available by reservation at Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm — wake to the roosters crowing and be part of farm life for a few days! The Eugene Dome offers a charming "hobbit home" experience in Oregon wine country. Escape into the solitude and peace with a getaway to this unique vacation rental.
15. Taste Wine During Cellar Season
Learn more about the top local wineries while enjoying cheerful chauffeured transportation. Coordinate custom tours to favorite wineries in South Willamette Wine Country. Or, stay close to downtown and visit the many urban wine bars which bring the vineyard experience to you.
16. Tour a Historic Home
Step back into the past with a tour of the Victorian Shelton McMurphey Johnson House overlooking Downtown Eugene; The Historic Mims House, one of the first Black-owned homes in the Eugene area; the former lighthouse keeper's house at Heceta Head Lighthouse on the coast; or the historic Dr. Snapp House in Cottage Grove. Each home has different visitation arrangements, so plan ahead. These homes often decorate for the holidays or are beautiful backdrops for special events open to the public. The Shelton McMurphey Johnson House and The Historic Mims House are preserved as museums. And the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House even offers special tours lit by candlelight during the holidays!
17. Find Urban Street Art in Unexpected Places
You've heard about the City of Eugene's 20x21 mural campaign? Discover the amazing international artworks gracing buildings throughout downtown. Keep your eyes peeled for the abundant street art from miniature murals in tucked in corners to sidewalk art that only appears when it rains. Also visit the classics like the Rosa Parks statue at the downtown Eugene bus stop and the Ken Kesey statute, called the "Storyteller" gracing Kesey Square.
18. Take a Spin in an Arcimoto
Rent an F.U.V. (fun utility vehicle) from Acrimoto — you known those sporty electric vehicles you've been seeing around town? Take an afternoon tour or enjoy the ride all weekend.
19. Defy Eugene
Push limits at Defy Eugene — bounce, zip, climb and swing your way through obstacle courses. A visit to this gym is a guaranteed way to combat restlessness and that stuck at home feeling.
20. Follow the South Willamette Valley Food Trail
Criss-cross the region following a delicious food trail from farm to market to vineyard to restaurant, meeting the farmers, producers, chefs and entrepreneurs that make local dining the joy that it is. Fill up a picnic basket with artisan foods including canned goods, honey, ferments, wine, beer, cider, smoked fish, fresh baked bread and pastries, milled grains, produce, mushrooms and local meats.
21. Sample Life on a Farm
Get back to basics with your loved one on a weekend "farm stay". Start the mornings with the crowing of the roosters, breathe in the fresh country air —and if part of the program— roll up your sleeves to help muck out a stall, gather eggs, milk a cow or brush a horse. While the level of interaction on each farm is different, all of these rustic escapes include the peace, enjoyment and simplicity of country living. Ramble through wine country, stopping at boutique tasting rooms; bring your sketch book, easel or journal for quiet pursuits; or pack binoculars and guidebooks for birding. However you choose to spend your country time, this wholesome gift will give you amble memories. Two nearby retreats include Territorial Farm Stay & Stable and All Inclusive Lavish Bed & Breakfast at Sweet Springs Family Farm.
22. Sip Tea on the Oregon Coast
Lovejoy's teahouse in Historic Old Town Florence is an authentic treasure trove of high quality teas. Alongside their ample tea selection, they serve tea sandwiches, scones and a variety of baked goods, soups and salads. Ask about their signature bangers and mash and Indian dinners.
23. 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.
24. Sightsee on the River
Cruise the Willamette River soaking up nature's seasonal beauty. Jet boats are able to 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. Or present them with a gift certificate for summer rafting!
25. Book a Cascade Mountains Getaway
The McKenzie River region is recovering, rebuilding and re-emerging in the aftermath of the 2020 wildfires — and it's a great place for you to do the same. Stay along the river 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.
Stay right on the river in a well-situated McKenzie River lodge or cabin. Throughout the autumn into winter months, the forests are thick with bright…
Bonus! Gift Certificates
Experiences are not limited to what can be best enjoyed right now. Plan ahead and gift a guided fishing excursion for spring, a rafting trip or mountain biking adventure for summer, or season tickets to your favorite performing arts venue, sports team or membership at a favorite museum or park. Most businesses from restaurants to retail, from activities to services, will be able to provide you with a certificate, prepaid card or other delightful promise for future redemption.