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LifestyleHolidaysWinter Holidays

11 unique Long Island experiences to give as gifts 

Chris and Karen Volpe of Merrick get creative

Chris and Karen Volpe of Merrick get creative with date night as they learn to cook hand-made cavatelli at The Cook's Studio in Hicksville. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

The season of giving often means clothing and toys, but it can also mean the gift of experience. From giving the thrill of adventure to the inspiration of art, here are some Long Island spots that provide opportunities which can be gifted:

Cooking class at The Cook's Studio

THE GIFT This year, it’s easier than ever to see why being able to home-cook a meal is a solid skill to acquire. At The Cook's Studio — held within a winemaking venue — participants will get to learn how to make a variety of dishes, from appetizer to dinner items.

INFO Classes are held at wineUdesign, 156 Engineers Dr., Hicksville; 516-439-1355, thecooksstudio.com. Class prices will be $85 per person starting Jan. 1, and gift certificates can be purchased in $85 increments.

Long Island Aquarium membership

THE GIFT Get up close and personal with sharks, sea lions and penguins. Gift cards can be purchased for advanced admission, particular experiences or annual memberships (which start the day of purchase). Memberships include free unlimited admission, discounts at the aquarium cafe, gift shop and on various programs and adventures.

INFO 431 E. Main St., Riverhead; 631-208-9200 (Ext. 426), longislandaquarium.com. Individual memberships start at $47; check ahead for the membership and price that suits your situation best.

American Airpower Museum flight experience

THE GIFT The story of wartime aircraft and Long Island go hand-in-hand, and with a flight experience, one can get an introduction to what pilots have seen while flying during past battles. Among current offerings are the "C-47 Flight Experience" (which takes place on a C-47 transport plane that is said to have seen combat during World War II), during which participants dress in period garb and take part in a preflight briefing before flying and prepping to make a parachute jump (without actually jumping). Other available experiences involve a WWII fighter plane and a WACO biplane.

INFO 1230 New Hwy., Farmingdale; 631-293-6398, americanairpowermuseum.com. The C-47 experience is $350; the fighter flight experience is $375; the biplane is $300.

Private tour at the LI Game Farm

THE GIFT It’s not everyday one meets a wallaby or pets a zebra, but gifting a private tour to this zoo and wildlife park can make it happen. This winter, the farm is planning to remain open on Sundays, but tours can be arranged for a variety of times and dates. Other highlights include hugging mini-donkeys, meeting ring-tailed lemurs and feeding baby emus.

INFO 489 Chapman Blvd., Manorville; 631-878-6644, longislandgamefarm.com. Private tours are $200 for approximately 90-minutes and up to four people; call ahead to arrange for larger groups.

Nassau Museum of Art membership

THE GIFT Offering acres of art and nature spaces across a former Gold Coast estate, guests will see pieces by artists both new and established. Gifting a membership to this creative center includes perks such as unlimited free admission to the museum’s Saltzman Fine Art building and its Manes Family Art and Education Center, plus discounts on workshops and art classes and access to member-only hours.

INFO One Museum Dr., Roslyn Harbor; 516-484-9338, nassaumuseum.org. Individual memberships start at $60, family (two adults and up to four children ages 15 or younger or grandchildren up to age 16) is $85; full-time students can receive personal memberships starting at $45.

Driving experiences at Riverhead Raceway

THE GIFT If someone special in your life has the need for speed you can purchase a gift voucher for either a "NASCAR-Style Driving Experience" or a ride-along from the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience. The NASCAR-style (ages 18 and older) can be for as few as five laps or as many as 50; the latter (ages 14 and older; must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian) gets passengers three or five laps while riding with a professional instructor.

INFO 1797 Old Country Rd., Riverhead; 401-543-3278, racewithrusty.com. Driving experiences range from $269 to $1599; ride-alongs $119-$139.

Long Island Children’s Museum membership

THE GIFT Learning at a museum is nothing new, but when it comes to exhibits at LICM, kids can climb, build, explore and more. Memberships can be chosen based on family size and particular extras. There’s also a members-only hour held from 10 to 11 a.m. each day the museum is open.

INFO 11 Davis Ave., Garden City; 516-224-5800, licm.org. Memberships start at $85 for two members.

Montauk Salt Cave treatment

THE GIFT The use of a salt cave (called Halotherapy) is an alternative treatment intended to aid a variety of health issues simply by inhaling. Gift certificates are available for sessions at both the Montauk (552 W. Lake Dr., Montauk; 631-668-7258) and Huntington (169 New York Ave., Huntington; 631-923-3030) locations, as well as for massages and eyelash enhancements involving keratin (in Montauk only).

INFO montauksaltcave.com. Cave sessions start at $40, but there’s a $25 first session special. Lashes are $150; massages are $130 (60 minutes) $180 (90 minutes).

Parrish Art Museum membership

THE GIFT This cultural center hosts a revolving schedule of installations plus classes, workshops, social events and discussions. Annual memberships include unlimited admission, several discounts and access to members-only events.

INFO 279 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill; 631-283-2118, parrishart.org. Individual memberships start at $65 ($50 for educators, artists, educators, students and seniors). Gift cards start at $25; gift cards worth $50 are only $45, $75 gift cards are $65.

Spa services at East Wind Long Island

THE GIFT This catering hall with a restaurant, inn and adjacent shopping center also has a full-service spa, which means one can stay, dine, shop and primp all in one spot. Gift cards can be given for a variety of body treatments and beauty products, as well as for the East Wind’s "Bachelorette Party Package," which includes a Wine Tasting with transportation, picnic lunch to go, a dinner (with one comped margarita) and an overnight stay.

INFO 5720 Rt. 25A, Wading River; 631-846-2339, eastwindlongisland.com. Rates vary per service.

A "Food Done It?" tour

THE GIFT Each private expedition takes its attendees on an "edible mystery tour" of Patchogue restaurants that average about four hours in length and follow a storyline. Vintage-style, never-expire gift certificates can be purchased. The gift receiver can then pick their own tour date. Special holiday tours are slated to run Nov. 15 through Jan. 15, which include hot cocoa and souvenir glasses (while supplies last).

INFO Call or text 631-438-1288; fooddoneit.com. Tickets are $57.57 for the "Eats On The Streets" tour; $68.43 for other tours.

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