By Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
When holiday gift giving time arrives do you always find yourself in panic mode searching for the best, most meaningful gift?
A new survey by tours and activities online marketplace GetYourGuide showed American consumers want gifts that allow them to travel and experience the world. A surprising 92% of participants said they prefer receiving experiences over physical gifts, up from 77% in 2022. ‘
A gift that creates memories, be it world travel, a weekend adventure or a unique day or night out, is a can’t miss thoughtful expression of caring and love. Here are a few suggestions for fun and exciting “experiences” to delight your holiday giftees.
Mulholland Trail Horseback Riding Tour
This one-hour guided tour through the scenic hills of Griffith Park begins at a ranch nestled under the iconic Hollywood sign. Enjoy a leisurely horseback ride that offers unparalleled views of Los Angeles. Rides offered daily, depending on weather, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. $80.
Twilight Volcano, Stargazing Tour
Choose “Big Island” and “volcano tours.”
Experience the majestic beauty of Hawaii’s Big Island on a Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour. Discover some of the most spectacular natural wonders of Kona, including Volcanoes National Park and a rare black sand beach. A professional local guide will also cover the history and cultures of the island. At nightfall, marvel at the star-filled sky as you stargaze near Mauna Kea, unforgettable experience.
A feature of the tour is the chance to see the volcano’s lava glow as it becomes dark. The tour will take you to a safe viewing area where you can witness lava flowing and the volcano’s crater glowing in the dark. Seeing the lava glow is not guaranteed.
Includes a visit to a Kona coffee farm and a sample of fresh brewed Kona coffee. $249.
4551 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg 95448
Info www.reevewines.com, (707) 235-6345
This Healdsburg villa set in a vineyard with amazing poolside sunsets is one of many vineyards in California wine country that offer accommodations for overnight visitors.
Located just up the hill from the Reeve Wines tasting room, the villa offers breath-taking views, exceptional comfort and privacy and well-appointed luxury.
It is available to rent yearround. This four king bedroom, three-bathroom house offers a dream homebase for a wine country visit. The outdoor area has a pool and patio with endless views of Dry Creek Valley and the western Sonoma hills.
You can also book an agricultural farm stay experience, in which you can help feed the animal residents, harvest the chicken coop for eggs and learn more about the vines. $1,695 a night.
Crystal Cove State Park
8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach 92651
This quaint Historic District is located in the heart of Crystal Cove State Park’s 3.5 miles of pristine coastline. Stay on the beach or overlook it from a bluff top as each cottage has been painstakingly restored and furnished to recreate Crystal Cove’s unique historic beach culture and ambiance. Crystal Cove Beach Cottages offer ocean views, charming historic details and a glimpse of a uniquely Southern California beach community from a bygone era.
Eight newly restored cottages at Crystal Cove State Park are now available for reservations, up to six months in advance.
“One of the most amazing things about this project is the fact that we’ve been able to restore these projects with complete historic accuracy, so you’re really stepping back in time when you come down to Crystal Cove. You’re experiencing what it would’ve been like to be on these beaches in the 1920s and 1930s,” said Hallie Jones, the executive vice president and chief program officer with the Crystal Cove Conservancy.
Don’t expect five-star accommodations, but there are some modern conveniences, including microwaves.
The cost per night ranges from $49 for a dorm style private room to between $222 to $313 for a cottage.
255 Sands Ave., Las Vegas 89169
The Sphere Experience is a unique blend of cutting-edge technology and immersive storytelling. The Sphere Experience is a two-part program that begins when you enter the venue. The approximately two-hour experience begins in the Atrium, where, through one-of-a-kind immersive technology experiences created specifically for Sphere, guests will gain a better understanding of how technology amplifies the human potential. The Sphere Experience then continues in the main venue bowl for a multi-sensory cinematic film, “Postcard from Earth,” shown on the world’s largest hi-def screen and filmed in 18K resolution.
The film is an immersive experience with various elements, including seat haptics, movement sensations, flashing lights, intense lighting, visual effects, loud noises and atmospheric simulations that may include fog, scent, and wind. Tickets start at $79.
The Sphere is also home to concerts and events. U2 is playing at the venue through Feb. 18.
Antarctica Princess Cruises
Visit the most isolated continent on earth, Antarctica in comfort aboard Princess Cruises Sapphire Princess. See the Antarctic Peninsula which offers shores comprised of unusually sculpted icebergs, blue-tinged glaciers, majestic mountain peaks and a steep ice shelf that continues to shrink at an alarming rate.
In addition, the icy waters surrounding the peninsula cater to various species of seals, penguins and seabirds.
Princess Cruises, headquartered in Valencia, offers a 17-Day Antarctica Cruise with a roundtrip from Buenos Aires, Argentina departing Sun, Dec 1, 2024. Cost per person: Interior staterooms from $1,997, oceanview staterooms from $2,147, balcony staterooms from $3,237.