When was the last time you spent a summer afternoon catching crawfish with dad? Or an evening star gazing with him, observing the Milky Way and the Big Dipper from the darkness of a country field miles from any urban center?
Sure, these sorts of things can’t be packaged in a tidy box for Father’s Day, and they require far more time and energy than heading to the sporting goods store to buy a present, but spending quality time with dad, specifically by giving him a travel-related gift, is something both of you will remember for years to come.
Travel is not often thought of when it comes to Father’s Day gift giving, typically because it’s much pricier than more traditional gifts (think: ties, fishing poles, tools and the like.)
In fact, according to the National Retail Foundation, most Americans purchase Father’s Day gifts from a department store (39.9 percent), and 33.7 percent order gifts online. And among the most popular gifts are clothing, gift certificates, and electronics.
But travel industry experts say more and more people are opting to treat dad to Father’s Day travel, particularly millennials, who appreciate experiences over material possessions.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a handful of unique travel opportunities popular this year for dads: enjoy with him, or simply gift and let him experience on his own.
Ever wrangled cattle with dad? Or made a fort out of hay bales together? These are some of the memorable opportunities offered through the U.S. Farm Stay Association, an organization specializing in providing short stays on authentic, working farms and ranches across the United States.
The experiential getaways range in price from about $25 to $250 per night and include everything from learning to milk a cow and helping with farm chores to horseback riding and cooking classes, depending on the farm you select.
“A lot of times people are coming to these farm stays so over programmed from their busy lives in big cities and what we offer, in between helping or learning, is the chance to just sit on a deck and read a book, play in a creek with your children, go fishing, or simply wander around outdoors, enjoying the countryside,” said association founder Scottie Jones.
Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? There are farm stays available in all 50 states, ranging from crawfish farms to coffee plantations and dairy farms.
“I don’t think dads get to spend a lot of time with their kids,” said Jones. “And being on a farm, they’re getting to spend quality time while doing things like learning about the chickens and donkeys and throwing rocks in the creek together or going hiking.”
This offering is best suited for the adrenaline junkie and wildlife loving dad.
The Platinum Pebble Boutique Inn, on Cape Cod, recently began offering a “Great White Shark Adventure,” an experience that allows participants to get an up-close look at the beautiful (and fear inducing) animal.
The three-day package, which costs $1950, involves exploring the ocean off Cape Cod in a 26-foot boat, while a spotter plane hovers overhead searching for the sharks.
“This is an unforgettable experience,” says inn owner Mike Hogan. “There’s not many opportunities to see a great white shark up close like this.”
Dad will also be provided with a GoPro video camera to film the shark encounters and before heading home, he’ll receive an edited film of the whole experience for posterity.
When not communing with sharks, there’s time to relax at the inn, which occupies an 1870’s sea captain’s house, located in Harwich. There are bikes available to explore the surrounding community, the beach is just down the street and gourmet breakfasts are served every morning.
A fishing and adventure lodge located on the banks of the Naknek River, Alaska’s Gold Creek Lodge gives dad the chance to experience stunning nature and wildlife in King Salmon, a community about 280 miles from Anchorage that’s only accessible by air.
Because the area is so remote, the are no crowds and the wilderness and wildlife to be seen here is like few other places in the world.
The lodge offers several special packages designed to showcase all that the region has to offer. The Ultimate Fly-Out Adventure Package, for instance, includes daily float-plane fly-outs to do such things as bear and wildlife viewing and fishing at the famous Brooks Falls; backcountry ATV fishing adventures and fishing on the Naknek River. Entrance to the nearby Katmai National Park and Preserve, which is known for its wild landscapes that range from tundra to forests and lakes, is also part of the experience.
And did we mention the region is known for bear-spotting, thanks to the abundance of the local bear population?
“Most of what people do when they come here is a bucket list item,” explained lodge owner Rob Ellis, who said that the lodge is a popular place for families and father-and-son getaways.
In between all the exploration and activity that are part of this package, there are three gourmet meals per day at the lodge, and accommodations in a first-class, private log cabin. The cost starts at $5,895 for five nights.
The Ultimate Fly-Out Adventure experience is one of many interesting vacation packages listed on BnBFinder.com, a site that connects travelers with about 1,500 inns and showcases packages at those inns ranging from culinary experiences to learning to make craft beer to surfing-themed getaways.
Most importantly, through BnBFinder.com, you can buy gift certificates for as little as $25 that can be used to help pay for the costs of staying at any of the inns associated with the site, or for a dinner at those inns and more. And one last important note—the gift certificate can be sent as an e-card (in case you’re a last-minute shopper).
A final travel related item for Father’s Day this year, consider giving Dad an opportunity to get away from it all, while also supporting his favorite charity. No this is not a volunteer vacation.
CharityBuzz, which is part of The Charity Network (a company recently listed among Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Not-for-Profit for 2017) offers the opportunity to bid on a vacation for dad and 80 percent of the proceeds go to charity. Yes 80 percent, that’s not a typo.
The site specializes in offering one-of-a-kind experiences and luxuries to benefit a long list of charities. Among the items typically up for grabs are walk-on roles with Hollywood A-listers and power lunches with Fortune 500 CEOs.
The site’s specially-curated Father’s Day travel options include traveling to meet and take a photo with the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and two tickets to his Dead & Company Concert at Wrigley Field in Chicago this summer; attending batting practice and two field box tickets at a New York Yankees game; or meeting Ringo Starr and two tickets to his show at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, in October.
“I think in these times right now, there is such a strong feeling of wanting to do good and to participate in cause-related engagement,” said CharityBuzz CMO Jan Svendsen. “This is something really relevant—people are getting this amazing gift and giving to a charity at the same time.”
Happy Father’s Day travel shopping!