While building a pile of perfectly wrapped boxes under the tree can feel rewarding, gifting an experience can be even more magical and memorable. Plan an escape to check out these popular and off-the-beaten-path Southern spots, and enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences while you’re there. From wine bungalows and glamping to backstage concerts and river cruises, here are some great experiences throughout the South to gift this season.
FOOD & WINE
Chateau Elan Wine Bungalow Experience
Chateau Elan partnered with Timberline Glamping to build high-end bungalows perched at the edge of the vines and steps from the resort winery’s tasting room. Each one has a mix of vintage and modern decor, local artwork, vinyl tunes, classic games, and temperature-controlled capabilities for chillier months. Wine Bungalows can be booked in three-hour increments with reservations at noon and 4 p.m. daily for a fee of $150 per booking. Head here for more info.
Tasting Menu at TheCatbird Seat
Surprise your foodie friends with a reservation and a gift card to The Catbird Seat in Nashville. This 20-seat, U-shaped kitchen is an incubator for the country’s top chefs who craft an inventive multi-course menu and optional beverage pairings. This is a culinary experience for Nashville locals and travelers alike, and there is no other place like it in Tennessee. Another cool part about this gift? A Strategic Hospitality gift card is good at all of the group’s restaurants like Bastion (which has its own fabulous tasting menu), Henrietta Red, and more. Gift the amount of your choice here.
Private Tour & Tasting at RdV Vineyards
One of Virginia’s top winemakers and the vineyard’s namesake, Rutger de Vink, has elevated the RdV Tasting Experience to be one of the state’s most sought-after reservations. After an up-close-and-personal look at the stunning vineyards, winery, and granite caves, the tasting begins with a glass of prestige Cuvee champagne and is followed by a flight of tasty reds. You can also snack on a beautifully prepared charcuterie presentation. Tours and tastings last about two hours and cost $120 per guest. For a deeper look into this winery, click here.
Sometimes we want to trade a white Christmas for a white sandy beach. Shoreline Beach Services will create a dreamy beach bonfire set-up for a gaggle of your closest friends and family on your next trip to 30A. Packages include a fire pit, firewood, a permit for two or three hours, and an on-site attendant to handle the fire so you don’t have to. You can add s’mores for a fireside treat, and bring any outside food and drink your heart desires. The 10- and 20-person bonfire packages also include chairs, a table, and tiki torches. Head here for details.
ELEVATED LODGING EXPERIENCES
Glamping in the Great Smoky Mountains
Under Canvas is the award-winning leader in National Park glamping and outdoor resorts, and they’ve set up their safari-inspired accommodations just 10 miles from Gatlinburg and minutes from the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Luxe amenities abound across the 182 acres of lush, wooded terrain … from a seasonal, farm-to-table menu and nightly s’mores campfires to live music and an activity concierge. Book a tent for the spring season, which begins early April, here.
Luxurious Relais & Châteaux Gift Card
Multiple Boutique Hotels in the Southeast and Worldwide
The Relais & Châteaux stamp of approval denotes the best of the best boutique hotels with all of the most luxurious bells and whistles. Tennessee’s famed Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain are both members, as well as Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, NC; Planters Inn in Charleston, SC; and The Swag in Waynesville, NC. A Relais & Châteaux gift card is accepted at their roughly 562 properties in 67 countries. There is no better gift for the wanderlust-prone, so get shopping here.
Riverboat Cruise of Historic South & Golden Isles
Charleston, Beaufort, Hilton Head, Savannah, Jekyll Island, and Amelia Island
The Intracoastal Waterway is a protected network of bays, rivers, and canals, and it’s home to some of the most beautiful and historic towns in America. This excursion begins in Charleston and continues to scenic Beaufort, wildlife-laden Hilton Head, historic Savannah, Jekyll Island’s 240-acre “Millionaire’s Village,” and, finally, to Amelia Island. The modern riverboat can accommodate 100 guests in its 48 rooms, so the experience is intimate and customized. Find out more here.
Digital Detox at Miraval
One of Travel + Leisure‘s “Top 15 Domestic Spas,” Miraval is a wellness wonderland tucked away in the Texas Hill Country. They focus on mindfulness and activities for curious and active people looking to dive inward and disconnect from the buzz of daily life. They’ve truly got so much here, and each day presents a lineup of activities like meditative walks in the labyrinth, horseback riding, professionally-led fitness classes, archery, cocktail lessons, beekeeping, and so much more. Explore all of Miraval Austin’s packages here.
SPORTS & OUTDOOR AVENTURE
Donald Ross Golf Package at Pinehurst
Village of Pinehurst, NC
Up your loved one’s golf game on Pinehurst’s nine legendary golf courses with their most popular golf package, the Donald Ross. You get resort accommodations for two nights at your pick of one of Pinehurst’s charming hotels, three rounds of world-class golf on the courses of your choice, their famous daily Southern breakfast, and a three-course dinner to top off each night. Prices vary, and you can read more here.
Recreation and Revelry at Pursell Farms
Pursell Farms is an idyllic location for everything from fine dining and spa days to hunting practice and fly fishing. Activities include yoga at the farm’s “Secret Spot,” sporting clay and fly-fishing lessons at the ORVIS® Shooting Grounds, horseback trips, and John Deere® UTV rides through the mountain. Check out their packages here.
Cycle Trip with Hotel Domestique
Travelers Rest, SC
Cycling enthusiasts can explore pro cyclist George Hincapie’s favorite training routes, winding roads, and exquisite views of the Blue Ridge mountains. Professional instructors will make sure you’ve got all the right gear and guide you through challenging climbs and technical switchbacks. Afterward, unwind at Hotel Domestique, where you’ll enjoy opulent rooms, gourmet meals, house-made cocktails, and more well-deserved revelry. Read more about their packages here.
Fly a Reproduction 1902 Wright Glider
Outer Banks & Nags Head, NC
Kitty Hawk Kites operates the largest hang gliding school in the world located in North Carolina’s magical Outer Banks. They offer the unique experience to fly a reproduction of the Wright Brothers’ 1902 glider built by the Wright Experience. This is one of just a few in existence and is the only one available for the public to fly! You can also gift a sunset or other themed aerial tour of the Outer Banks to see shipwrecks, marine life, bridges, lighthouses, and more. Explore all of their adventure gift certificates here.
Kayak Eco-Tour Through Mangrove Tunnels
Florida is home to an extensive ecosystem of Mangrove trees that protect marine life such as starfish, jellyfish, shrimp, and crabs, and offer shade to a multitude of bird species. Enjoy an up-close tour through South Lido Beach Nature Park with Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures. Two-hour tours are offered in the morning, afternoon, and evening, and you might even spot a manatee or dolphin when you get to the open water! Learn more here.
MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT
Subterranean Tunes and Tours at The Caverns
At the bottom of Monteagle Mountain lies a music venue like no other. The Caverns is an underground cave system and famous concert hall with state-of-the-art acoustics, lights, concessions, and guided tours seven days a week. With a wide variety of acts on the schedule, you can enjoy an entire day of exploration here. Bring a light jacket — the cave stays about 59 degrees all year long! Click here for the performance schedule and here for gift cards.
VIP Graceland Tour
Any fan of The King has got to tour Graceland the VIP way! This experience includes the Graceland Mansion Tour with an expert guide for up 10 guests. At $196 a person, the VIP ticket also includes access to the Ultimate Lounge and Exclusive VIP Exhibit, a meal voucher for the restaurant at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, an exclusive photo opportunity, a personal Graceland show-and-tell session, and a keepsake backstage pass. Find out more here.
Kentucky Derby Premium Packages
Oaks and Derby aren’t until May 6 and 7, 2022, but it’s the perfect time to gift a trip to Churchill Downs and snag a package with all the bells and whistles. Opt for ticket tiers like the Clubhouse Courtyard or Homestretch Club for a gourmet food buffet, open bar, and other amenities. Start planning your Kentucky adventure here.
Grand Ole Opry Circle Room Experience
A show at Opryland is a must for all country music fans. Add the Circle Room VIP experience to your tickets and you’ll get exclusive access to the Circle Room premium lounge before the show through the end of intermission, special hors d’oeuvres and delicious bites from Nashville favorites, two drinks at the top-shelf private bar, and a visit with the performing artist. Click here for more upgrade information.
While this list has merely touched the surface of fun, outside-the-gift-box experiences, we hope we’ve sparked some ideas for you … with minimal wrapping required!
To shop other holiday gifts to delight your family and friends, check out SB Shop by clicking here!