Published December 8, 2023

Top gift picks that will send your loved ones on an adventure

The countdown to the holidays has started, and the race is on to cross everyone off your shopping list.

From stocking stuffers to special family gifts, Five Rivers MetroParks has a variety of gifting suggestions for the holiday season that also promote a healthy, active lifestyle. Check out MetroParks’ staff picks for holiday gifts below:


Go Local: With accessible trails, picturesque views and family-friendly amenities, Five Rivers MetroParks’ facilities provide unlimited adventures. Plan a special outing for you loved ones by:

  • Planning a backpacking weekend on the Twin Valley Trail. Book backcountry campsites here.
  • Plan a camping trip during April’s solar eclipse so you spend the entire day outdoors – the Dayton area will be perfect for viewing. If opting for this, it’s also important to remember to provide eyeware that can help you safety spot solar storms, sun sunspots and/or solar eclipses.
  • Learn to skate at the MetroParks Ice Rink with lessons for kiddos and adults, or ensure the entire family has fun on the ice with a season pass.
  • Go on a bike tour starting on the Dayton region’s 340 miles of paved recreation trail, the nation’s largest paved trail network.
  • Gift a membership to a club or outdoor recreation group, such as Miami Valley Fly Fishers, to ensure you have folks to go on adventures with.

Create a kit: Helps facilitate an outdoor experience buy assembling your own outdoor kit. For example:

  • Night Outside Kit: Stock this with a kid’s field guide to the sky, head lamp and all the goodies needed to make s’mores. Also, UV flashlights to check out biolumisence, such as lichens and fungi.
  • Astronomy Kit: Star charts, telescope, headlamps with a redlight feature for better night vision and to be less disruptive to wildlife.
  • Bird Watching Kit: Grab kid’s binoculars, kid friendly bird field guide, bird seed and a fun bird feeder.


Rather than gifting a gadget that will ensure more screen time, give a gift that encourages your loved ones to connect with the great outdoors.

  • Bat detector: Detect and identify high-frequency bat vocalizations, and learn the baths that live in your community and backyard.
  • Infrared detector: Take a night hike and explore the nightlife of MetroParks. They can see you and now you can see them!
  • If you are gifting someone a new phone, here are some upgrades for the ultimate nature device:
    • Seek: helps you identify species in your backyard using your camera, and earn nature badges as you explore.
    • Merlin: Identify birds by sign and sound! In listening mode, your phone will identify birds as they vocalist in real life.
    • Download nature guides: The Ohio Department of Nature resources as online PDFs that help you learn more about Ohio’s plants and animals.
    • OuterSpatial: MetroParks Mobile App
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General outdoor recreation:

  • Hammock (a kid’s favorite)
  • Day pack (for excursions on the trails that only take a few hours)
  • Reusable snack bags
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Footwear (Find boot or trail runner with support and a good tread)
  • Clothing (a wicking layer is always important, so consider a synthetic fiber. Wool is also great in the winter)

Gone fishing:

  • Fly boxes
  • Make a coupon book for a day of fishing and a picnic
  • Search for used fishing gear! Don’t be afraid to shop secondhand.

On the water:

  • Paddle float (inflatable attachment that will slide over the blade of a paddle to serve as an outrigger)
  • Pogies (a one-size-fits-all accessory that keeps a kayaker’s hands warm in the colder weather months)
  • Neoprene skull cap (this insulating material goes under a helmet, another piece of gear everyone should have if they are paddling in whitewater)
  • Dry bag
  • Lifejacket (Make sure you buy the right life jacket by checking out this blog)

Go secondhand for big purchases:

If you are considering purchasing a new bike or a kayak, our recreation staff suggest going secondhand. Learn more about what to be wary of when choosing a secondhand item and why buying used gear is a good idea.


Opt for something nicer than a lump of coal and consider some of these outdoor-inspired, stocking-sized gifts:

  • Outdoor adventure books and DVDs
  • Plastic safety whistle
  • Energy-supplying snacks
  • LED Bike Wheel Lights
  • Gear ties
  • Wool blend socks
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Reusable hand warmers

Don’t forget! You can help keep the adventure going, build new skills and find a new hobby that will take you into the New Year with help from MetroParks’ programs. Visit our programs and events page to check out all MetroParks is offering this winter and beyond.

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