Who hasn’t given their dad an ugly tie for Father’s Day at some point? I know I’m guilty. But if your dad is a traveler like mine, I bet he would much prefer a weekend (or longer) get away. But how do you plan for traveling with dad and where should you go?
Not all dads are the same, so you will first want to be realistic about the type of destination and activities that will appeal to your dad. My dad loves road trips, food, cars, and Cuban culture – and I bet at least one of those things might appeal to your dad. Here are some suggestions for traveling with dear old dad.
Recently I asked my dad where he would most like to travel. His answer was Cuba. Traveling to Cuba is getting easier but if you can’t quite work that out in time for Father’s Day head to Ybor City in Florida for the next best thing.
In 1886, Don Vicent Martinez Ybor built a cigar factory just east of downtown Tampa and began to organize a Cuban community whose flavor still permeates this Tampa neighborhood. The Ybor Museum State Park, a one-acre urban state park housed in the former Ferlita Bakery, offers a glimpse into the history of the neighborhood and its people. Museum displays include original cigar box cover labels, cigar-rolling demonstrations and restored casitas, which were once the homes of cigar factory workers.
Don’t miss dinner at the Columbia Restaurant – Florida’s oldest restaurant and the gem of Ybor City. The 52,000-square-foot restaurant encompasses an entire block and offers enough artifacts to rival a museum. Flamenco dancers perform most nights, providing an exciting Latin entertainment experience.
Every summer my dad loaded up the family for a road trip somewhere across the USA. Although I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, those trips fueled my love for travel. There are numerous scenic byways across the USA that would make a fantastic road trip, but if you’re looking for impossibly beautiful vistas, Utah delivers. There are five national parks in the state – each with a distinctive landscape.
Zion National Park in the Southwestern part of Utah is filled with towering monoliths and deep canyons. Trademark towers called "hoodoos" dominate the landscape of Bryce Canyon where massive boulders teeter on the top of spikes looking as if they could break loose at any moment. Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capital Reef National Park is filled with cliffs, canyons, and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a wrinkle on the earth (geologic monocline) that extends 100 miles. More than 2,000 arches give Arches National Park its name, but the park also contains fields of spires, pinnacles, domes and ridiculously balanced formations that defy the laws of physics.
The largest of the five Utah parks, Canyonlands National Park resides toward the eastern edge of the state. The convergence of the powerful Colorado and Green rivers combined with millions of years of uplift and erosion have created this giant expanse of epic views.
If you have a dad that loves to eat (and who doesn’t?) then a trip to Louisiana should be on your list for Father’s Day flavor. While New Orleans is the most famous, the quieter more gentile city of Baton Rouge has just as much flavor. One of the best ways to sample that flavor is with a C’est Si Bon Food Tour.
Founded by Baton Rouge native, Kim Harper, the tour kicks off at Lloyd’s Poor Boy, a Baton Rouge institution that has been serving up a bucket list of Louisiana cuisine for half a century to everyone from blue collar workers to lawyers in seersucker suits with bow ties.
The "Po Boy" came about in 1929 when the trolley car workers’ union went on a lengthy strike, money grew tight for the workers so Bennie and Clovis Martin started serving sandwiches to workers free of charge in New Orleans. The practice spread to other areas of Louisiana including Baton Rouge. "Here comes another poor boy" was often heard as the striking workers would show up for their sandwiches. The nickname stuck and eventually shortened to "Po Boy" – sandwiches that have been a delicious part of Louisiana cuisine ever since. Lloyd’s offers several varieties of Po Boys. They come "dressed" with lettuce, tomato and pickle or "undressed." But they always come with plenty of napkins.
In stark contrast to the "diner" feel of Lloyd’s, Stroubes Chophouse provides an upscale down south dining experience where the holy trinity of gumbo (onions, bell pepper and celery) pair with duck and Andouille sausage for a taste of gumbo heaven. The tour includes several other scrumptious stops including Restaurant IPO where Chef Scott Varnedoe serves his bacon caramel popcorn at every table. And you can take care of Dad’s sweet tooth with the ridiculously delicious Bananas Foster Cheesecake Beignets (fried Cheesecake Beignets served with homemade banana caramel sauce) at the Kingfish restaurant.
Does your dad have a thing for cars? If so, take a jaunt across the pond to Stuttgart, Germany – the birthplace of the automobile and home of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The museum chronicles the 130-year history of the auto industry in a single continuous timeline. The sleek contemporary building has nine levels and covers a floor space of over 177,600 square feet. Elevators reminiscent of something from Star Trek beamed visitors up to the top level of the museum and back to the year 1886. From there you gradually spiral your way down through the extensive collection of over 1,500 exhibits and 160 vehicles. The museum intricately weaves the story of the automobile with the historical events of each decade. Even the music playing in each section matches the time period - so you know you'll be hearing some disco in the 1970s section of the museum.
Continue the car theme into the night with an overnight stay at the V8 Hotel. Housed in a former airport, the V8 Hotel offers car-themed rooms. Spend the night in a drive-in cinema, at the gas station in a converted VW Beetle, or in the racing room where you can step upon the winners’ podium. There’s also a car wash room with a rain-shower and blow dryers instead of towels.
What type of Father's Day getaway would your dad prefer?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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