Cornell University professors Tom Gilovich and Travis Carter published research results that indicate something that has always rung true for me: Investing in memorable experiences is more likely to produce long-term happiness than spending money on material things.
My career, which enables me to constantly enjoy and share new experiences, is a remarkable gift. As you search for the perfect present for someone who lives in or loves New England, I hope you'll be inspired by this guide to incredible New England experiences you can give as gifts.
01 of 09
Give the Gift of Body Flight
Kids today have too much stuff. But they can never have too many unforgettable experiences. One of my daughter's most memorable New England experiences was flying in a vertical wind tunnel at SkyVenture in Nashua, New Hampshire. A SkyVenture adventure is the perfect gift for everyone from kids as young as 3 to seniors in their 90s. Purchase a gift certificate online or by calling toll free, 888-SKYVENTURE.
02 of 09The Beluga Contact Program at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, leaves participants with an appreciation for whales and a sense of having experienced something truly remarkable. In one of my favorite emails of all time, a reader shared: "I went to Mystic, Connecticut, and the Aquarium was great!! I had seen your article when you had touched the whale, and I wanted to do it, too. It was absolutely fantastic!!! He looked at me with such intelligent eyes. I want to thank you for writing about your experiences because I would never have experienced them myself if you hadn't." If there's an animal lover on your list, call 860-572-5955, ext. 520 to purchase an encounter program gift certificate.
03 of 09
Sure, you could wrap up an expensive frying pan or a waffle maker. But the gift the gourmands on your list will appreciate for a lifetime is the chance to savor dinner at the White Barn Inn Restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine: widely regarded as New England's finest dining experience. Whether you delight someone with the four-course prix fixe dinner or splurge on the chef's nine-course tasting menu, this gift is bound to earn you rave reviews. Call 207-967-2321 to give the gift of fine dining.
04 of 09
You don't have to journey to Venice, Italy, to indulge your darling in a romantic gondola ride. Simply book passage with La Gondola in Providence, Rhode Island, then wrap up a gift certificate and a lovely bottle of wine. This is guaranteed to earn you more points than any fluffy bathrobe. For the ultimate experience, spend a bit more for a ride on a WaterFire evening. Call 401-421-8877 to make a gift certificate purchase.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Is there someone on your list who's reliably glued to the TV on Sundays? Football lovers--especially Patriots fans--will delight in a visit to the state-of-the-art Hall at Patriot Place, located at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Tickets or gift certificate vouchers for this interactive attraction can be purchased online, and they make an affordable gift that's a guaranteed touchdown.
06 of 09If you're in search of a gift for someone who usually hibernates come winter, consider purchasing a gift certificate for a guided group or private snowshoe trek at Vermont's Mount Snow. Equipment is provided, and it's the ideal antidote for cabin fever. Call naturespa in the Grand Summit Resort Hotel at Mount Snow, 802-464-6606, and choose a gift that will help a non-skier embrace winter, such as a package that includes a guided snowshoe tour and a relaxation massage.
07 of 09
My daughter had her first spa treatment when she was only 4! The Beach Plum Spa at the John Carver Inn in Plymouth, Massachusetts, caters to young spa-goers with a menu of services for kids or for children and parents to experience together. Reserve an appointment or buy a spa gift certificate by calling 508-591-8213 or toll free, 888-976-1261.
08 of 09
Just when many New Englanders have had enough of winter, the annual Sun WineFest at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, provides an escape. For the price of a couple of bottles of good wine, you can give an oenophile the opportunity to taste and learn about hundreds of wines, plus beer and spirits, too. Grand Tasting tickets can be purchased online, or consider gifting tickets to one of the celebrity chef dining events or seminars that take place during Connecticut's largest wine and food festival.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
New England's most amazing zip-line experience is the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour, which is open year-round at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. When I took this pulse-elevating tour, there was a young couple in my group: She had given him the tour as a birthday gift. By the end, I realized what an excellent idea she'd had. Not only is this zip-line experience challenging, memorable and splendidly scenic, it's a true bonding experience. Call 603-278-4ZIP (4947) to give this gift to someone adventurous.