Some of the best memories we can make as kids are bonding with our parents. If you're looking to get a taste of nostalgia, take dad on an adventure that harkens back to the good ol' days when you were just a kid. Whether the two of you bonded over camping, golfing, hiking, fishing, or another kind of outdoor activity, you two can reminisce on old memories and make some new ones!
If your dad is super outdoorsy, find a spot like Smith Rock State Park. This Oregon gem offers hikes, campsites, fishing spots, and was the birthplace of American sport climbing... so there's tons to keep you and your old man amused. One hike you definitely must take is Misery Ridge. The 3.8 mile loop features switchbacks, oversized stairs, and gorgeous views of Oregon's Cascade Mountains. There are tons of unique rock formations ripe for exploring, great for some easy bouldering. Along the hike, keep your eyes out for golden eagles (sometimes there are telescopes you can use to observe their nests), river otters, beavers, prairie falcons, and other unique wildlife, or you can watch the climbers tackle the sheer cliff face from a relatively safer location. Remember to bring along something for dad to grill for dinner!
If your dad is the kind that can talk for hours about "the good old days", throw it back to a simpler time with him at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Play lazer tag, go bowling, or enter into some friendly competition at one of the arcades, then unwind at the beach. Finish it off with beer and wings at the Captain's Galley, or burgers and milkshakes at the Dipper Diner. Bonus points if you can talk him into riding the Giant Dipper... before you eat, of course.
Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site offers tons for dads (and everyone, honestly) to see and do. Take dad climbing, or on a hike through some of Texas's best bird-watching spots, or check out the strange microhabitats in the park's rainwater-filled cracks, or go and see the park's 1,500-year-old petroglyphs and pictographs. Call the park ahead of time, as permits for some activities are limited!
You can always book a tee time at a nice golf course, but for something that Dad probably doesn't do every week, consider taking him for a round of putt-putt. Par-King Skill Golf is one of the country's best and is a summer Chicago staple. There are two complete 18-hole courses, with water hazards and moving obstacles (plus tons of other photo-worthy kitsch around the courses). Up the ante by betting for a Lou Malnati's pie!
If your dad is into cycling, plan for a ride along a trail like Memphis's Shelby Farms Greenline. It starts in the gorgeous park, and ends about 11 miles away in Midtown Memphis, where you can treat you and Pops to beers and pizza at Boscos or a gut-busting feast of smoked meats at Central BBQ. The park also has ziplines (if your dad is the kind that is totally willing to try something new), kayak rentals, and tons more as well.
Dads and fishing go together like peas and carrots, and if your dad is an avid angler, there's no better gift you can give him on Father's Day than a day of fishing. Pick a spot like Georgia's Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, which offers stellar fishing in addition to hiking trails, picnic spots, and natural beauty. Here, you can catch trout, bass, catfish, and more in the cool, lush river. Just remember to make sure you have your permits and stamps in place before you cast out a line!
Got a history buff dad? Then a trip to a battlefield or historic site like Gettysburg is the perfect trip. Gettysburg itself has a ton to offer; you could easily make a trip here into a weekend adventure if you want, or you can just stick to touring the battlefield, which has visitors centers loaded with artifacts and history, monuments and memorials, and more. Visit during a day when they have guided tours, living history programs, talks, or other events going on for added fun!
Take dad for a relaxing day on the lake at a reservoir like the one at Keyhole State Park in Wyoming. Rent a boat, pack some beers, and enjoy the wind in your hair on the water. You can fish for walleye, catfish, smallmouth bass and northern pike here, if you want. If you don't want to go the boat route, there's a swimming beach where you can kick back and relax, or you can make a day of it and camp out overnight, too.
If your dad mostly only goes outside to sit on the deck and enjoy a beer, then take him to a brewery that has a beer garden or patio. Declaration Brewing's beer garden in Denver has cornhole and ping pong, if your dad has a competitive side. If he's more focused on sampling the brews, they brew a ton of stuff. IPAs, pale ales, stouts, saisons, and more mean there's a ton to try. They also have killer experimental taps, so you can have fun sipping weird combos like ghost pepper IPAs, barrel-aged sours, almond marzen lagers, fruit-flavored ales, and the like. They always have food trucks outside as well, since drinking the afternoon away is always more enjoyable with a snack.
For a bonding trip that Dad will remember for years to come, nothing can beat an exciting adventure. Bonding can be a ton of fun when you find an activity that you both enjoy, and regardless of whether it goes exactly as planned or not, it's bound to be a fun time.
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. -John Lubbock