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Key West

PhotobucketDespite the necktie being a smash hit for the past 15 years, you probably shouldn’t assume that your Dad wants one more this Father’s Day. Not that he didn’t absolutely appreciate the one shaped like a fish you gave him when you were 7, but he’s a hard working guy who deserves a little something extra this year. Then again, maybe what he really deserves is something extra special. He’s been going big for you your whole life, and Father’s Day is the perfect chance to return the favor by sending him on an adventure in one of these larger than life destinations!

For the Fisherman – Key West, FL

Key West offers some of the most pristine and well-stocked deep sea sport fishing grounds in the world. Serious anglers come here to land the big ones – tuna, grouper, barracuda, and of course, marlin. The wide variety of fishing tour companies in Key West is not only great due to the competitive pricing it creates, but because it also means even the weekend angler can find a tour that can easily be tailored to suit varying levels of experience.

For the Golfer – Pebble Beach, CA

If your Dad is a PGA Tour pipe-dreamer, there’s no place he’d rather hit the links than in Pebble Beach. Located on the beautiful and temperate California coast, it’s home to some of the most famous golf courses in the world. Dad will feel connected to golf history playing Del Monte, the oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi, or battling through the championship tees at Spyglass Hill, from which Robert Louis Stevenson found inspiration for his classic novel, Treasure Island.

For the Baseball Nut – Cooperstown, NY

In Cooperstown (approximately 3 hours north of NYC) Dads can live out their ultimate baseball fantasy during Father’s Day weekend, which by no small coincidence is also the annual Hall of Fame Classic Weekend. Among the activities are the Hall of Fame Classic, an exhibition game featuring numerous Hall of Famers; Family Catch at Doubleday Field; a parade and the Cooperstown Golf Classic. And just like the other 51 weekends of the year, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be open for Dad to stroll in awe through baseball history.

For the Player – Las Vegas, NV

Gambling, music, nightlife, extreme sports, and entertainment galore… doesn’t sound like your Dad? Think again. While it’s true that the siren song of Vegas beckons all men, it doesn’t do so for the sole purpose of leaving a trail of debauchery in his wake, like most movies would suggest. Vegas has plenty of class left, and is still more The Rat Pack than it is The Hangover. Sending Dad to Vegas is perfect because it gives him a chance to pack a lot of fun in a short amount of time, be it golf, cards, fine dining, or a critically-acclaimed show.

For the Romantic – Honolulu, HI

What better place for Dad to abscond with Mom on a romantic getaway than the tropical island paradise of Hawaii? Even if they somehow manage to tire of blissfully lounging on the sand and playing in the piercing blue water, Honolulu has a multitude of affordable relaxing spas, forests to explore, and has become a veritable foodie heaven of inexpensive noodle joints and artful Pacific Rim cuisine.

For the Wine Lover – Napa Valley, CA

The Napa and Sonoma Valley regions of Northern California make up the heart of what is simply known as “wine country” throughout the state, as well as across most of the U.S. While the entire area is predominantly agricultural, it’s rather easy to stumble into (or meticulously book) countless opportunities to explore the picturesque countryside and sample the delicately-crafted wares of the vintners who cultivate it. Given the area’s close proximity to San Francisco’s high-end culinary scene, you won’t run short of delectable pairing options for your favorite bottle any time soon.

For the Sightseer – New York, NY

This is a really great idea for the Dad who has never been to New York City, or wasn’t able to stop and appreciate it while there on business. The perfect addition to this trip is the New York CityPASS, which gives the holder (line-free) admission into six of New York’s most famous attractions:

  • Empire State Building
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Museum of Modern Art
  • Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty
  • Guggenheim Museum

For the Speed Demon – Los Angeles, CA

Have Dad put his driving chops to the ultimate test at one of the stunt driving clinics offered through the Extreme Stunt and Driving Team. If your Dad doesn’t limit his adrenaline intake to things on four wheels, you might want consider adding another day or two onto the trip to give him the chance to check out their many stunt clinics, including the high fall and fire gag (read: you could “safely” set your dad on fire).

For the Brewmaster Hopeful – Portland, OR

Portland leads the nation in concentration of microbreweries per capita, an asset that can be wonderfully advantageous to the beer aficionado hoping to tour as many different breweries and sample as many different styles as possible in a short period of time. With a little bit of advanced planning, or even via prepackaged “BrewBus” tours, Dad can learn about the brewing process and get a hands-on understanding of the inner workings of some of highest rated breweries in the country.

For the Outdoorsman – Big Sky, MT

The rugged, explorer side of your Dad will come alive in the heart of Big Sky Country. The expansive beauty on the banks of the Gallatin River, along with the surrounding Gallatin and Paradise Valleys, could keep a man occupied for years. The lower region is perfect for camping, fly fishing, viewing wildlife, or simply slipping into the sweet silence that comes from being the only person for miles around.

Jay Ferris is a Seattle-based writer, husband, and father of three, whose penchant for outdoors-based travel is rivaled only by his dependence on a steady internet connection and spider-free existence. Follow him on Twitter at @jayferris.

Yoga on the BeachIn a town known for dive bars, drag shows and Jimmy Buffet, it quickly becomes clear that there is something in Key West for everyone. Here are some of the best opportunities to do as the locals do and get outdoors in the Florida sunshine if daytime is more your speed than nightlife…

1. Yoga on the Beach

Yoga on the Beach is an absolute joy in Key West. Don Bartone and Nancy Curran run this daily ocean-side yoga class. Most of the classes take place in Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, on a beach that’s preferred by locals. There are three styles of yoga: Yoga for Everybody, a more traditional hatha practice; Yoga Rhythms, a non-conventional yoga that focuses on dancing and movement; and YinYoga, which slows down movements and holds poses for five minutes or longer. Thanks to the contemplative music and the sound of waves lapping against the shore, the $18 class fee is worth every penny, as it includes park entrance and equipment rental in addition to making you feel as if you are practicing yoga on the set of the most tranquil DVD shoot. Check the website for dates and times as Dan and Nancy head north for the summer.

2. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is also a great place to explore on your own. The beach where the yoga practice takes place is, in my opinion, the most beautiful beach in Key West (a great find on an island not exactly celebrated for its beaches), and a perfect place to spend the day under the pines if you are looking for some seaside shade. The fort itself was built in the mid-nineteenth century as a defense against the Spanish and can still be visited, with tours available daily. Fishing and snorkeling are encouraged in the park, and there are bike paths and nature trails for visitors to enjoy.

3. Rent a Bike

Renting a bicycle is another great way to get out and enjoy the island. Key Lime Bike Tours has reasonable rates by the hour, day or week and offers a $39 guided tour (which includes bike rental for the day). The tour focuses on the history of the Conch Republic, stops at island sites such as the Southernmost Point and Ernest Hemingway’s House, and finishes off with a piece of Key Lime Pie. Lloyd’s Tropical Bike Tour is an “eco-tour” of Key West that takes visitors through quieter, lesser known streets and seeks out the tropical flora and unique architecture of the island.

4. Go Fishing

If you’re looking to go fishing independently while you’re in Key West, then you can rent equipment and buy bait at the Key West Bait & Tackle Shop in Old Town. For a little more adventure, why not try a boat excursion? The Tortuga IV departs Conch Harbor in Old Town for two fishing trips daily, from 9am-1pm and from 2-6pm. An additional night fishing trip leaves at 7pm. Rod, reel, bait and license are included. The galley is fully stocked and the crew will even clean your catch for you when you return to Key West. A fishing trip is a great idea if you are a fan of yellowtail snapper!

5. BYOF (Bring Your Own Fish)

A fun local trick is to bring your catch of the day to a restaurant and have the house cook it for you. The Hogfish Bar and Grill on neighboring Stock Island is a little tricky to find, but it’s a real local favorite. They charge $10.95 per pound to cook your fresh catch and serve it with rice and veggies, a fun alternative if you are craving a little island atmosphere and don’t feel like cooking at home. Also great are their buffalo shrimp, Baja-style tacos and daily happy hour – on an island that celebrates Jimmy Buffet, you deserve that margarita.

Mary-Elizabeth O’Neill is a New York based event designer who has lived in Paris and London. She travels frequently, loves writing about her adventures and appreciates your comments! You can find Mary-Elizabeth on Twitter as @m_oneill_nyc.