Give Something Different this Year


An experience they’ll always remember 

By Jim Walker 

Recent psychological research indicates that experiences bring more happiness than possessions do. And so, following that thinking, one of this year’s trends in gift-giving is to give experiences. These are things that can be enjoyed by the recipient alone or, even better, shared with friends and family, and relived and remembered in smiles and photos long after the latest iPhone might be recycled and forgotten. And, quite often, giving an experience might save you money as compared to pricey tech items that might not survive the first fumble. 

Here we list six imaginative experiences that can be enjoyed by most of the family, and none of them is too expensive. We’ll start out with a couple easy, observatory types for L.A. sports fans, and then take you into those with an otherworldly, SciFi or Jurassic flavor.   

Tour of Dodger Stadium: For full-on Dodger fans or those with a mild curiosity, a 90 minute tour of the beautiful Dodger Stadium complex is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Highlights include a trip down to the field, a visit to the center field plaza and pavilions, a look at the 2020 World Series trophy and a walk through the team Trophy Gallery, and a visit to the Vin Scully Press Box, “where the story of Dodger baseball is covered from every angle.” 

Adult tour tickets are $25, children 14 and under $20, seniors over 55 $20, military $20, and children 3 and under free. Pregame tours, $40, also include access to the Dodger Dugout AR Experience, and early entry to watch Dodger batting practice and/or warmup exercises. 


Tour of SoFi Stadium: Ram fans, Charger fans and those seeking an AR-enhanced tour of LA’s cutting edge professional stadium will enjoy a visit to SoFi. Tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at the venue’s most exclusive areas, including the premium suites, locker rooms, player entry tunnel and more. All of this is enhanced by Augmented Reality technology, so you can feel a part of the action. 

The 60 minute guided tour ($39) includes the above, plus a trip through the Kinsey Collection art exhibit. 

The Combination Tour ($49) includes the 60 minute guided tour, plus a tunnel run experience, plus field access, locker room access (subject to availability), and a tour of the Kinsey Collection art exhibit. 

The All Access tour ($59) includes all of the combo tour highlights plus a $15 shop or eat voucher and a catch AR photo ($15 value). 


Astra Lumina:  Astra Lumina is described as “an enchanted night walk amongst the stars.” Running Dec. 8 through Jan. 15 at the South Coast Botanic Garden, “The stars are descending from the night sky. Set off across mysterious grounds to discover a celestial pathway of lustrous light, cosmic visions, and astral song. Immerse yourself in illuminating encounters of lighting, projection and sound, and connect with the stars before they return to the sky above.” For a better idea of what all that means, visit to watch a short video clip. The venue is open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and the tour takes about 60 minutes. All ages are welcome. Children ages 4-12 $20, adults 13 and older $29, and senior/student/military $24. Onsite parking $20. Offsite parking (with shuttle) $8.  


Stranger Things, the Experience:  Located in Montebello, Calif. and running through February 2023, this venue is for fans of the Stranger Things show, and anyone else looking to enjoy an interactive thrill. “Immerse yourself in Stranger Things and be the hero in an interactive experience where you will unlock your powers to save Hawkins alongside your favorite characters. Enjoy an 80s-style medley of locations and fan-favorite moments with merchandise, food and drinks, photo ops, interactive performers, and more surprises. Enjoy a stunning production with talented actors, immersive sets and impressive special effects.” 

The experience runs about 45 minutes and is recommended for ages 13 and up. All minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Children under 5 will not be admitted. Wednesdays through Fridays 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tickets run from $49 to $85 and dates are selling out. 


Area15: Yes, that’s 15 and not 51, but probably as close as copyright allows. Area15, located in Las Vegas, offers a selection of experiences, a few of which should entice anyone. There are soaring “rides,” an arcade, axe throwing, a full bar, food, sound and light spectaculars, and much more. “Throw and axe, improve your golf swing, hunt down zombies, fly up or around, alter your perception, or enter into immersive worlds. Can’t decide? Book a self-guided Experience Bundle.” Entry is free during certain hours, however, an Entry Pass is required and the pass does not include access to any of the ticketed experiences, rides or events. During other hours you must purchase your Entry Pass unless you have tickets to rides or experiences or events. With far too much to experience in one visit, various levels of bundled activity passes range from $49 to $139. Open until midnight and beyond daily (21+ after 10:00 p.m.).  


Dinos Alive: Also located in Montebello, Calif., Dinos Alive features more than 80 life-sized animated dinosaurs. Immerse yourself in a journey to the Jurassic and see the dinosaurs in their natural habitat, enhanced by the latest VR technology. You can also dive into the seas with video mapping technology in the virtual aquarium. Kids can enjoy the Budding Experts interactive space, where they can become paleontologists. Kids and grownups will learn about the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods in a fun and interactive way. 

The experience runs from December through January and will take you about 60 to 75 minutes. All ages are welcome and those under 3 don’t need a ticket. General admission is $20 and VIP admission $28. Group bundles reduce the individual prices. The VIP admission allows you to skip the entry line and includes the VR experience and a magnetic poster. Dino rides have an additional cost. Daytime hours only, which vary by day and holidays. 


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