8 DC-Area Experience Gifts Worth Giving This Year

Plus: Gift cards you might not have thought of.

A treatment room. Photograph courtesy of Salamander Spa.

Experiential gifts are an ideal solution for many a gift-giving dilemma: for the person who already has everything; for someone with little space to spare for stuff; for the minimalist; for the ultra-selective; for people whose style you’ve not quite gotten down pat; and—with experiential gifts for two—for people whose love language is quality time. Whether you’re looking for a gift you can share in with the recipient, or for a gift that someone can enjoy and make memories on their own, here are eight DC-area experience gifts worth giving this year.


A Painting Experience

Unlike a paint-and-sip, this style of “art party” allows a small group of people to come together in an active art studio-slash-gallery to create one large, original abstract painting. The painting party itself lasts two hours, is led by a professional artist, and is ideal for groups of two to three people. In addition to an original artwork, you can opt for additional prints for everyone in your crew as well. Starting at $750 at Robin Davisson Art in Georgetown.


A Concert

DC has plenty of great venues—the Anthem, 9:30 Club, Capital One Arena are just a start. Grab a pair of tickets, or, allow your gift recipient to choose the show with a gift certificate. Wolf Trap, for example, sells them here for use at the Filene Center, The Barns at Wolf Trap, or Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods; and IMP sells gift cards that can be used to buy tickets to the 9:30 Club, The Atlantis, Lincoln Theatre, The Anthem, and Merriweather Post Pavilion. 


Tickets to the Theater

The National Theatre has the Book of Mormon coming in March (also this season: Annie, Peter Pan, and MJ the Musical.) Little Shop of Horrors is coming to Ford’s Theatre this spring; and in February, Signature Theatre in Arlington will present the world premiere of a musical inspired by the true story of a deaf sniper in World War I called Private Jones.


A Moonlit Monument Tour

Locals know: the most memorable way to see the monuments is at night. We’ve highlighted the six best tours, offering transportation options ranging from bicycles to trolleys

A Special Dinner

Plenty of the restaurants on Washingtonian’s list of the 100 Very Best offer gift cards, but for an extra-special dining experience, we recommend something that goes beyond the recipients’ go-tos. Take these two picks from our executive food editor: For a cozy, romantic French meal, the tasting menu at Lutece in Georgetown is worth considering (their non-alcoholic cocktails are a favorite), and for an all-out experience, the well-paced Omakase counter at Sushi Taro essentially affords diners a private chef to themselves. Lutece’s tasting menu starts at $95 a person (gift cards available); Sushi Taro’s counter starts at $250 a person.


A Sightseeing Tour or Tower Climb

The National Cathedral’s sightseeing tours may seem a bit tourist-y, but they can be a neat excursion for the history or architecture buff, even those who live here—the tower climbs, especially, offer some of the best views of the city. Check out all the options, here.


A Flying Trapeze Class

Test your physical limits and have a fun night out with a flying trapeze class—or one of the many other offerings including juggling and partner acrobatics—at Capitol City Circus School (formerly DC’s Trapeze School). Flying Trapeze classes are $70.


A Day at the Spa

Almost everyone loves a spa day, and there are plenty to choose from in our area. Start by checking out our list of the best, and then consider, too, what services your gift recipient might most enjoy, and what areas of the DMV are most convenient for him or her. The Salamander in Middleburg is a dreamy option for a day away, but Four Seasons in Georgetown gets rave reviews, too. We also especially loved our pedicure at the InterContinental at the Wharf, and the facial at Ladan Holistic Spa in Falls Church.

Amy Moeller
Fashion & Weddings Editor

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.