Published June 4, 2018|18 min read
Dad’s special day is just about here (Happy Father's Day, Dad). Instead of celebrating Father’s Day by giving him another tie or something that will just collect dust on a shelf, why not plan a trip for the two of you to take together? After all, he’s sure to appreciate some quality time with his favorite child. And he’ll be proud to see you got your budget ready for summer and can afford to take him somewhere new.
There’s something Dad will love in every state, so whether you want to do a staycation, road trip or bigger getaway, here are the best trips to take with Dad in each state.
Join Dad on a trip through history by visiting the historic sites, museums and monuments on Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail. Start in Birmingham at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (tickets are $15); cross the famous Edmund Winston Pettus Bridge into Selma, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led marchers for the right to vote; then head to Montgomery and visit the Civil Rights Memorial and the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which is dedicated to American victims of white supremacy (tickets are $5 for the memorial, and $10 for the memorial and accompanying museum).
Take Dad to Denali National Park for breathtaking views of the tallest mountain in North America and rejuvenating mountain air. Entrance to the park is $10, and you can take a free shuttle 15 miles into the park for day hikes. If you and Dad want to go deeper into the 6 million acre wilderness, you can sign up for bus tours that run $40 to $200 person.
Head to Sedona for a far-out Fathers Day in the Red Rocks. There are lots of free things to do here, like hiking the Little Horse trail — for breathtaking landscapes and views of Cathedral Rock — or going to the Chapel of the Holy Cross to experience Sedona’s famous vortex energy. Just remember to bring water for you and Dad wherever you go in Arizona, especially if you aren’t used to the dry desert heat. Here are some tips on how you can save on drinking water.
Visit Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro for a day of outdoor fun with Dad. Enjoy the beautiful scenery while searching the world’s only diamond field that is open to the public. More than 32,000 diamonds have been discovered in the park since it opened in 1972. Admission is just $10, and you can keep anything you find (seriously).
Nothing like a coastal drive with the wind in your hair to make you — and Dad — feel young. The Pacific Coast Highway runs from San Diego to San Francisco, and features breathtaking coastal views, heart-skipping twists and turns and the chance for you and Dad to take turns behind the wheel. It may even be worthwhile to rent a Mustang convertible for the weekend drive (assuming you don’t already have one of your own).
Ever heard of the town of Towaoc? Once you go here, neither you nor Dad will ever forget it. It’s home to the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, where you can explore more than 6,000 archaeological sites from the Ancient Puebloans. It’s the highest-known archaeological site density in the U.S., and features well-preserved ruins from a fascinating ancient culture. Entrance to the Monument is free.
For a classic New England weekend, take Dad to Mystic. Relax together at Bluff Point State Park (entrance is free), where you can go hiking or hang out at the beach. Either way, you’ll have to explore on foot, as cars aren’t allowed. There’s also plenty of fun things going on in town during the month of June, including the free summer sounds concert series, happening at Mystic River Park on Tuesdays.
Want ideas for more free things you can get this summer? We've got 50 here.
Tell Dad to grab his swim trunks so you can visit Bethany Beach for a quiet weekend of sunbathing and body surfing. Drink beer, eat crab (douse it with Old Bay like the locals do) and relax with a good book. Grab a bag (or two) of saltwater taffy ($8 to $10 for a pound) for the trip home.
Take Dad to the oldest (continuously populated) city in the U.S. — St. Augustine. Enjoy the Spanish colonial architecture, Atlantic breezes and Castillo de San Marcos, an exceptionally preserved stone fortress (entrance fee is $10 per person). Check out a military reenactment and a pint in an old-timey bar and climb the lighthouse ($12.95) for memorable views.
If Dad’s a sports fan, he’ll appreciate Atlanta’s College Football Hall of Fame. The 95,000 square foot museum is home to 50 interactive exhibits and a 45-yard indoor football field, remit with an obstacle course. Tickets cost $21.99 for adults and $17.99 for kids ages 3 to 12. Kids under 3 get in free — as does Dad from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on his big day.
Take Dad to Shangri La. Seriously. The mansion built by heiress Doris Duke just outside Honolulu is now home to one of the richest collections of Islamic art — and a breathtaking ocean view. Visit the former abode as part of a two-and-a-half-hour tour that starts and ends at the Honolulu Museum of Art. General admission is $25 per person.
Drive Dad to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area where he can enjoy any number of his favorite outdoor activities. Located in central Idaho, the sprawling 756,000 acres includes 700 miles of trails, 40 high-elevation mountain peaks and more than 300 alpine lakes. Visit the largest Redfish Lake for fishing, boating, kayaking and swimming.
If Dad’s a history buff, he’ll enjoy a trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The complex, located in Springfield, tells the story of one of the nation’s most revered presidents via live performances, immersive exhibits, original artifacts and presidential papers. Admission costs $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $6 for children ages 5 to 15.
Visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, where Dad can scope out over 120 classic cars and a number of interactive automotive exhibits. Admission is $12.50 per adult and $7.50 per child ages 6 to 18.
Fatherly fans of baseball, pop culture or Kevin Costner will enjoy a tour of the Field of Dreams movie site, located in Dyersville. Take a guide of the farm, baseball field and the Lansing family homestead turned set for the Kinsella family in the classic 1989 film. Admission to the ballfield is free, but the prices of tours and special events vary.
Visit the historic Lake Scott Park for hiking, swimming, fishing or, even, a horseback ride in Scott City. Take Dad to the El Cuartelejo ruins, the archeological remains of a Native American pueblo and national landmark. There’s a state park admission charge that varies, depending on how you’re entering or how long you’re staying.
Head to Mammoth Cave, a national park in central Kentucky that lives up to its name as the world's longest known cave system. Entrance to the park is free, but taking Dad on a guided tour of its pits, canyons, domes and dripstones will cost you anywhere from around $4 to $75 per person.
New Orleans is the obvious choice for treating Dad in Louisiana – the French Quarter is hard to beat — but what if you want to do something a little more unique? If Dad loves American history, take him out to the isolated Fort Proctor for a piece of America’s past. You need to take a boat to get there, or you can rent kayaks, starting at $35.
It’s hard to talk about things to do in Maine without mentioning Acadia National Park. The park, which is the oldest designated national park in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River, is open 24 hours a day, and you might need all of them: The terrain ranges from mountains to lakes, and beaches to woods. But sure to check out Cadillac Mountain — it’s one of the first spots to see the sunrise in the country. Park entrance fees start at $12, but vary by method of transportation, age and other factors.
What’s better than eating crab, watching baseball and a trip to the aquarium? Experiencing all that with a waterfront view. You can do this at The Inner Harbor in Baltimore, also home to Camden Yards, so you can catch a Major League Baseball game. If Dad is a baseball fan, there’s also the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame exhibit and the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum nearby. Follow this all up with a little culture and good food — a full day, all within walking distance. Prices for all activities vary.
Take a spooky trip through history at the Witch House of Salem. It’s one of the only remaining links to the Salem witch trials, and its since been turned into a museum. It’s only about an hour outside of Boston, so it’s a good change of pace from the big city. If you’d rather not go for Father’s Day, Halloween can be a good time to visit, too. Guided tours are $10.25 for adults, $8.25 for seniors and $6.25 for children ages 7-14.
If you and Dad find yourself in Michigan, you should make visiting Turnip Rock a priority. Located in Lake Huron at the tip of the Michigan “thumb,” you’ll need to take a kayak or boat to see the top-heavy island — and you can make a day out of visiting the sea caves and other rock formations while you’re there. Tandem kayaks aren’t allowed on Turnip Rock, but Port Austin Kayak has single kayaks for rent ($35 each for a four-hour rental).
What makes the Wabasha Street Caves worth visiting? The cave system has been home to a mushroom farm, speakeasy and disco over the centuries. Now you can take a “gangster tour” for $27 per person and “hear the legends of the mobster massacres and ghostly lore” or join in on Thursday Swing Night for something a little more upbeat. It’s $8 at the door (cash only) and Dad will be impressed when you know the speakeasy password is “Gus sent me.”
Sure, Graceland may be synonymous with the King of Rock and Roll, but real fans should make their way to Tupelo to see where Elvis Presley was born. While you’re there, you can tour a museum, events center, church as well as his house, and then ride around the rest of Tupelo for other Elvis-related attractions. The grand tour of the museum, church and his home is $18 for adults, $14 for seniors (60+), $8 for kids ages 7 to 12 and free for kids younger than 7.
When you think of a museum, you usually think of a place where you’re not supposed to touch anything, right? Not so at the St. Louis City Museum. There, you can walk through a whale (seriously), climb up a giant coil, go down slides and more. Dad may change his mind about museums after this experience. Admission for this museum that is more like an adult playground is $14 plus tax for ages 3 and up and parking is $10 (Note: Parking is cash only).
If Dad doesn’t have an Instagram account, Glacier National Park is a good place for him to start one. You can capture the forests, waterfalls, lakes and yes, glaciers of this 1,600-square-mile park that is almost completely unspoiled, even by roads. Entry fee to the park is $30.
Highway 2, also known as the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, runs for 272 miles. It’s known as one of the most beautiful highways in America. While on this road trip with Dad, you will pass through huge grass-covered dunes, the largest hand-planted forest in the world and the tangled channels of the Loup River system.
Even if Dad isn’t a gambler, you both can sample the finer side of life in Las Vegas. Whether Dad likes magic, music, comedy or whatever it is Cirque du Soleil does, he’ll be entertained. Penn & Teller tickets start at $65 and Rod Stewart shows over Father’s Day weekend start at $49.
Is Dad a beer lover? Visit the Anheuser-Busch Brewery for a taste of seasonal beers and a chance to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. The basic tour is complimentary, but more in-depth visits start at $35. More of an art guy? The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester has works by Picasso and O’Keefe. Admission is $15 per person.
The Garden State isn’t all corrupt politicians and crushing property taxes. It also has 130 miles of beaches. The New Jersey Tourism website plots out a road trip that takes you through them all, from Sandy Hook to Cape May. It’s broken up over three days, which is probably for the best because shore traffic is the worst.
It’s been a while since “Route 66” was a hit song, but you and Dad can still journey on the 300-plus mile desert road under the glow of neon lights. On the way you’ll see classic cars, tacky souvenirs and a whole lot of nostalgia. If you get hot, visit Blue Hole, an 81-foot deep sinkhole in Santa Rosa.
Get out of the city and head to Howe Caverns, the largest cave open to the public in the Northeast. You and Dad can go 156 feet deep to see an ancient underground lake ($25 for a tour) and visit High Adventure Park when you return to the surface ($65 for a day pass).
Ditch the car and hop on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. The Bryson City Depot has excursions through the Great Smoky Mountains, including the Carolina Shine, so you and Dad can sample hand-crafted moonshine without worrying about a designated driver. Prices for Carolina Shine start at $100.
You may not think of going to North Dakota for a top-notch food experience, but that’s just what you can do. Treat Dad to a culinary treat on the North Dakota Culinary Trail, sampling dishes from diner comfort foods to authentic Scandinavian delicacies. Speaking of Scandinavia, if you find your way to the town of Kenmare, be sure to check out the Danish windmill in the city park. It is a formally-operational mill built in 1902 by Danish immigrant Christian Jensen, is free to visit and the perfect spot for a picnic.
A massive coal excavator used to be an off-the-beaten-path attraction in Ohio until 1999, when Big Muskie, as the 22-story steel behemoth was called, was dismantled and sold for parts. You and Dad can still visit Big Muskie’s 210-ton bucket at Miners’ Memorial Park and spend all day learning about coal extraction. Admission is free.
Hungry for some bonding time with Dad? Take him to Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater, where you will have some of the best cheese fries of your life. We promise. There are other things on the menu, sure, but these are the can’t miss item (and the classic plate is only $6.79). After a stop here, there are plenty of nearby lakes you can visit, like Boomer Lake Park. Entrance is free and you can enjoy the three-mile walk and bike trail, go fishing or kayaking, or even play a round of disc golf.
Crater Lake National Park features America’s deepest lake, with some of the most pristine water. Treat Dad to a truly unique adventure as you hike to Wizard Island, a cinder-cone volcano that can also be accessed by boat ride. Admission to the park costs $25 per vehicle and a stay at the nearby lodges starts at $169 per night.
Up for a little history? See Pittsburgh by taking a ride with Dad on the Duquesne Incline, a streetcar-like attraction that carried people and goods up and down Mount Washington from as early as 1877. A roundtrip ticket will cost $5 per person. The nearby area has a great selection of interesting restaurants, from fancy gastropubs to sub shops.
You and Dad should definitely check out The Breakers in Newport. Featuring late 19th century architecture inspired by the Renaissance, the home has 70 rooms to explore and a lush garden full of marble fixtures. And that’s all before you look outside and see Rhode Island’s beautiful coastline. Entry fees depend on how much of the estate you want to see, with some tickets offering more experiences than others. (No matter where you go, there are some fees you shouldn't be paying. Here are 14 of them.)
Want to spend Father’s Day grilling and enjoying Dad’s company? If you’re in South Carolina on Father’s Day proper, Mayor Steve Benjamin hosts an annual Father’s Day cookout in Hyatt Park on Jackson Avenue that you can attend for free. In addition to the barbecue, you can challenge Dad to a game of chess (or checkers) or test your skills in a game of basketball.
This is the perfect time of year to head to the hills. The Black Hills, that is. Of course this is home to Mount Rushmore, which is a must see, but there’s more here than that. Crazy Horse Memorial is really cool — it’s still in the process of being carved (the 87.5-foot face was completed in 1998) so you get a glimpse of them working on the 219-foot horse head. Stick around the “Legends of the Light” laser show at night, which is projected on the carving. Entrance to Crazy Horse Memorial is $22 for a car with two people or $12 individually. You can also take a $4 bus ride to the mountain base.
Jack Daniel’s, the world-famous Tennessee whiskey, opened up a whiskey trail that spans 30 distilleries and covers hundreds of miles of ground, from Nashville to Knoxville to Chattanooga and many places in between. The full whiskey-soaked adventure may take as long as 10 days to complete, plenty of time for you and Dad to bond over tastings from Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel, and Doc Collier Moonshine. Each distillery you visit has different fee requirements for tours or tastings, so you’ll want to plan ahead.
Why venture clear across the world when you and Dad can road trip through the Lone Star state and see Stonehenge and Easter Island Heads? Technically, this is Stonehenge II and it’s slightly smaller than the original, but it’s definitely a must-see and is free from dawn until nightfall.
If Dad is an outdoorsman, look no further than the beauty southwestern Utah has to offer, specifically near the city of Springdale. Here you can enjoy the magnificent red cliffs during a hike in Zion National Park, followed up by camping under the stars or a stay at the only in-park hotel, the Zion National Park Lodge. Just make sure you book now — reservations for this hikers paradise fill up fast. Entrance fees to the parks vary.
Does Dad want to spend his day not only with his kids, but his pets as well? Then a trip to Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury could be just the thing. This dog-friendly destination has hiking trails, dog ponds and even a Dog Chapel where Dad can leave a note saying what his pup means to him. A daily fee of $5 applies to each vehicle. Here are some other ideas of activities to do with your dog.
Get a designated driver and take Dad on a road trip along the Brew Ridge Trail. There are plenty of local breweries along the way to visit and will be the perfect adventure for any beer aficionado. Make sure to check out the Wild Wolf Brewing Company, which also has an adjacent restaurant in a restored schoolhouse. This self-guided tour is free, but the beers and bar snacks will cost you.
Sure, Seattle is wonderful, but why not escape the crowds and give Dad a small town experience in Washington by heading to the western-themed town of Winthrop. It’s got an Old West vibe, complete with Three Finger Jack’s Saloon and a dance hall. Turn it into a full weekend adventure with a drive through the Cascade Mountains on Highway 20 to get to Winthrop. It’s free to visit the town, but the stops along the way will come with some expenses.
For any thrill-seeking Dad, the Bridge Walk in Lansing is definitely a bucket-list destination. Here you’ll pay $72 ($76.32 with tax) per person to walk the 3,030-foot long bridge, which is 851 feet above the New River at its highest point. What’s so special about walking across a bridge, you ask? Well, you’re walking the catwalk of structural beams of the bridge. Definitely not a trip for the faint of heart (or those afraid of heights).
Aside from being the only licensed cigar bar in the state, Shakers Cigar Bar in Milwaukee is a former speakeasy owned and operated by Al Capone. Come to share a drink and cigar with Dad, but also stick around for a ghost tour. After all, Capone had some interesting ... we’ll call them adventures. You’ll hear stories of unsolved mysteries from the mob dealings on the premises — and who knows what you’ll see along the way. Tour prices range from $15 to $20, depending on the day and time.
For the dad who loves animals of all kinds, heading to the National Elk Refuge in the Jackson Hole area will be a great way to celebrate. Not only will you see herds of elk, but you could spot bald eagles, swans, bison and other big game. For a real treat, get up early and you may be lucky enough to hear the elk bugle. Admission to the refuge is free.
Have to fly to one of these destinations? You'll want to check out this airline-by-airline guide to fees, pets, bumping and more.
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