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Photo courtesy of Aspen Paragliding

Gift Guide 2019: 8 Local Experiences to Share

For the adrenaline junky seeking out their next adventure or the arts lover looking to be a part of the scene, Colorado has myriad experiences to offer—and gift to others.

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Paragliding in Aspen

Treat the thrill-seeker in your life to the ultimate expedition and take off on one of Aspen Paragliding’s daily tandem flights (pictured above). Choose your launch site from either Aspen Mountain or Snowmass Mountain and soar to altitudes of up to 18,000 feet to catch a view of the Rocky Mountains from a vantage point like never before—all with the help of certified instructors. The school offers outings most of the year, but if you want to experience a winter flight over the snow-capped beauties, you’ll need to have an Aspen Mountain Foot Pass or a Snowmass Ski Pass, depending on your takeoff location of choice. Beyond that, the rest is a breeze—all you have to worry about is dressing properly and enjoying the ride. $295 per person

A Cooking Class at Create Cooking School

Photo courtesy of Create Cooking School

This year-old flavor haven inside the Stanley Marketplace has a class for everything—no seriously, everything. Whether your foodie might enjoy a Korean BBQ class or the California Dreamin’ class—a dive into the exotic favorites from the coast, like cioppino, green goddess yakitori, or the elusive-named dessert, “It’s-it”—this school offers an endless rotation of three-course options to explore. Their small class sizes and communal meals (and let’s be real, the two complimentary drinks don’t hurt either) makes this experience an approachable take on cooking. If you’re looking for bang for your buck (and even more booze), join them for one of their brunch classes, which includes bottomless mimosas. And if you simply can’t decide on a category of confection, you can even get a gift card for your friend or family to pick whatever they crave. $59–$99 per person per class

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An Inspirato Pass

The $7.2 million Steinway house in Aspen, available for rent through Inspirato Pass, sleeps 12 and comes with a Cadillac Escalade ESV. Photo courtesy of Inspirato

If you’ve got too many destinations to count on your bucket list, consider this Denver-based luxury travel company’s solution: the Inspirato Pass. The six-month minimum commitment at $2,500 per month might sound a bit steep upfront, but the pass offers unlimited travel and no nightly fees for a passholder and and guests to over 60,000 residences and hotels around the world. The Inspirato Pass removes all the stress from travel, with trip-planning services as well as daily housekeeping, and passholders can bring along as many guests as each location accommodates for no additional fees. So if a one-week stay at the Casa Cerritos home in Los Cabos, Mexico is calling your name (estimated value of $11,399), but you can’t choose between that or a winter getaway at the Chateau Mondeau mountain chalet in British Columbia (estimated value of $10,585), this pass might be the perfect addition to your traveling repertoire. $2,500 per month

Virtual Reality Escape Game

Photo courtesy of Virtual Reality Social

Take the escape room experience to the next level and tackle any of Virtual Reality Social’s out-of-this-world escape-challenges, like surviving the galaxy as space and time unravel around you in Cosmos, or navigating the mind and memories of a criminal to solve a crime in Mind Horror. The virtual headset universe isn’t just for experienced gamers, either: bring the family and opt for over 250 other games fit for all ages that can accommodate up to six players. As owner Robert Higdon puts it, it’s a major upgrade from another lousy visit to Chuck-E-Cheese. $28 an hour

Meow Wolf Denver

A scene from Meow Wolf’s the House of Eternal Returns in Santa Fe. Courtesy of Meow Wolf.

If your art junky is down for an interactive and experimental journey, snag some tickets to the opening week of the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based art collective‘s highly anticipated exhibition. While the massive art space isn’t slated to open until 2021, this will guarantee your art aficionado a spot in line as one of the first few Denverites to experience whatever trippy installations the group has planned. If you’re the kind to have tens of thousands of dollars lying around and want to make it the gift that keeps on giving, go all out with the Meow Wolf lifetime pass—an unlimited ticket to the immersive art at Meow Wolf Denver (and any of their other locations) year-round. $50

Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Punch Brothers perform at the 2017 Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Photo courtesy of Benko Photographics.

Colorado’s most coveted music festival—a four-day fête wedged within the San Juan Mountains—might not be until June, but the passes are always a hot commodity. Tickets for the 2020 festival go on sale starting 9 a.m. on December 12 (camping passes go up the day before, same time), and it’s definitely worth reading up on how the the festival’s new randomized queue method works to make sure you don’t miss out on a fair chance for first dibs. The lineup is expected to be announced “early winter,” but with past headliners like Sam Bush, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Kasey Musgraves, festival-goers can certainly expect yet another year of Americana-centered sounds. $295 per four-day pass, or $95 per single-day pass

State Parks Pass

Staunton Ranch trail at Pine’s Staunton State Park. Photograph by Aaron Colussi

Give the gift of endless outdoor exploration with the annual Colorado state parks pass. Allow your adventurer the freedom to choose from any of Colorado’s 42 state parks to visit, whenever their heart desires, with Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s annual affixed vehicle pass ($80)—or if your wayfarer is always traveling in different packs, the new hang tag pass option ($120) allows the pass to be affixed to any car or group, as long as the passholder is present. $80 to $120

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Wooly Wax Candles

Photo by Victoria Carodine

Candles are a classic, fall-back gift option—but aside from feeling impersonal, the scent is always a gamble. Wooly Wax‘s customizable, hand-crafted process takes that half-hearted gift to the next level with available private sessions to create one-of-a-kind, small-batch soy candles with a group of up to six other smell connoisseurs. With her culinary background and knowledge of scent and the palette, owner Rachel Woolcott is there to walk you through dozens of oils and coveted scent profiles to build the base, middle, and top notes of a candle that’s personally catered to your taste. So whether you’re craving that fresh, woodsy feeling or need some subtle citrus to brighten a room, you can build a scent that is perfectly pleasing on the senses. $55 per person for a scent class, formulation, label, and an 8-ounce candle

Winter in Colorado

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