It's almost Father's Day so let's be honest: Dad's a pain to buy for. You're going to have to be creative. We're suggesting something travel-related, but not just any old trip to a fishing camp (although there's nothing wrong with that). We're suggesting father-related travel.
When you stop to think about it, the world is full of famous fathers: There's the father of surfing, Duke Kahanamoku, so can you hear Hawaii or Huntington Beach calling? There's the father of our country, which means a trip to Mt. Vernon, Va., or the Founding Fathers, which suggests a trip to Philadelphia.
For something closer to home, we might offer up any of the 21 California missions, founded by the best known father in the Golden State, Father Junipero Serra. Staying in the West, maybe you'll want to visit Spokane, Wash., the place where Father's Day originated.
So happy Father's Day and get out that suitcase. For as many times as you sent him into orbit, maybe this time you could just send him on a nice trip -- with or without you.
Hawaii's hot surfing spots: A dad who loves to surf? What could possibly be cooler than that?
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku was born near Waikiki in 1890, when Hawaii wasn't yet part of the United States. As the father of surfing, he embodied what the best dads tell their kids to do: strive for greatness. He was a three-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming at the 1912 and 1920 Games, but his true passion and legacy was showing the world what standing on a board in big waves was all about.
With a 10-foot plank of wood, he went to Oahu and gracefully conquered the North Shore's monster waves -- and then the world. In 1914, he stunned people at Freshwater Beach in Sydney, Australia, with his wave-riding prowess. Ditto for California and the East Coast where he demonstrated surfing in the 1910s.
There are many places to take Dad to honor the Big Kahuna, but Oahu's North Shore would be best to watch surfers ride the huge waves. Some travel-worthy alternatives: Freshwater Beach in Sydney, where there's a statue of Kahanamoku, or any one of the surf museums in the U.S., such as the California Surf Museum (312 Pier View Way, Oceanside), the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum (411 Olive Ave., Huntington Beach) and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum (Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz).
Spokane, Wash., where it all began: Mother's Day came first: Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia is said to have been responsible for the first commemoration in 1907. But what about poor old Dad? He didn't get his (official) due until 1972. If you'd like to visit the place where it all started, book a trip to Spokane, Wash., in the eastern part of the state.
Spokane may play second fiddle to Seattle (maybe in the same way that Dad feels as though he plays second fiddle to Mom)?, but perhaps it shouldn't -- not with its treasure-trove of history.
But we digress. First to the Father's Day story: Civil War veteran William Smart raised his daughter and five sons alone after their mom died.
Daughter Sonora Smart (later Dodd) of Spokane started in 1910 to garner support for honoring dads, but it took President Nixon to sign a law in 1972 memorializing it as a holiday. You can visit her Spokane home, the Dodd Home & Garage, 603 S. Arthur, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (In honor of Father's Day, it will be open for tours noon-4 p.m. Sunday.)
You can house Dad (and Mom too, if you invited her) at the luxurious Davenport Hotel & Tower, a 1914 gem that's been redone and restored to its former glory.
The Martin Woldson Theatre at the Fox is a 1931 Art Deco stunner whose stage once hosted Katharine Hepburn, Marian Anderson and Frank Sinatra.
Of course, you could not leave Spokane without paying homage to one of America's best-known fathers: Bing Crosby. He performed at this 1915 theater now named for its favorite son (although not truly a native son -- he was born in Tacoma, Wash., but studied law in Spokane). Slip on a sweater, grab your pipe (but don't light it) and think of him as Father O'Malley in "Going My Way."
Mt. Vernon Estate, Museum and Garden, Virginia: As the father of our country, George Washington was kind of a helicopter parent. He charged into battle when duty called, served as the first president when elected in 1789 but always wanted to return to his beloved Virginia plantation at Mt. Vernon near Washington.
Truth is he never had children of his own, but he acquired two step-kids in 1759 when he married widow Martha Dandridge Custis. Being the father of our country would give him enough parental angst, from directing battles during the Revolutionary War to his most un-king-like moment of rejecting a third term as president.
Take Dad to Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens on the banks of the Potomac River to visit Washington's tomb, learn about his farming innovations and tour his distillery and grist mill. Dads get in free with a paid ticket, and George Washington will be roving the grounds to share fatherly advice. Yes, Dad, listen up.
California missions: Middle-school students can thank Father Serra for the assignment of building a mission model for school that may have driven you and Dad crazy. The Franciscan monk from Spain, a father in title only, was born in Majorca before settling in New Spain (a.k.a. Alta California and its environs), where his religious ways made him the de facto father of California missions.
Like many dads, he was flawed. History has dealt him a swift kick for believing that subjugating Native Americans to his Christian values was a good thing. Still, the 21 missions that stand -- some re-created, some authentic -- have become a rich history of life in 18th century California, the closest thing we have to a Jamestown, Va., or Plymouth Rock, Mass.
Take Dad to the first one at San Diego de Alcala (10818 San Diego Mission Road, San Diego) built in 1769; the one built in the shape of a cross, San Juan Capistrano (Ortega Highway at Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano); or the mission with stunning murals, San Miguel Arcangel (801 Mission St., San Miguel) founded by another father, Father Lasuen, in 1797. Here's a California missions list with highlights to see and directions to each one.
National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia: Being the father of the Constitution gives James Madison an edge over other dads for at least one reason: In 1787, he helped create a DIY instruction manual for an American democracy that would stand for centuries. Madison knew future fathers might try to throw away those instructions and build a rag-tag revolutionary state on the fly -- with lots of extra pieces left over that don't really fit anywhere.
He championed what we now call the Bill of Rights and later became president in 1808. What thanks did he get? During the War of 1812, he and his wife, Dolley, had to flee the capital in 1814 as the British advanced and burned down the White House.
So first take Dad to the National Constitution Center (Independence Mall, 525 Arch St., Philadelphia) to learn more about the Constitution in the permanent exhibition "The Story of We the People." Then head farther south to James Madison's Montpelier near Orange, Va., to visit a new exhibition that tells the story of his wartime struggles.
Timexpo: The Timex Museum in Waterbury, Conn.: You can tell Dad that his Father's Day gift is all about horology. Before he gets the wrong idea, explain to him that it's the study of time. What better way to make a worn-down, wrung-out Dad feel younger than having him cavort with Father Time at the Timexpo: The Timex Museum in Waterbury. There he'll learn about the role the Waterbury Clock Co. (which evolved into Timex) played in America's war efforts and its part in developing the first wristwatch (and, later, the Mickey Mouse wristwatch). Plus he'll find a collection of Waterbury Clocks, all made in an area that was once known as the Switzerland of the U.S. Hours (what could be more important than that?): 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors. 175 Union St.,
Get to know the Father of the People in Paris: Dad may be father of some people, but he's not the father of the people (le père du peuple), which is what Louis XII of France was called. This Louis (1462-1515) was beloved by his subjects, although he did lose control of Milan and Naples in Italy, and he humiliated his first wife, Joan of France, during annulment proceedings by suggesting she was less than a sex goddess. Still, his reforms at home were much admired. The best place to get closer to him is -- where else? -- Paris, more specifically Saint-Denis, a suburb of the city. Louis and other kings are buried in its Basilique St-Denis, which is noteworthy for its Gothic style (it was built in the 12th and 13th centuries) and is said to be a model for Chartres. Also of note: The heart of Louis XVII, son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, was buried here -- in 2004. The young Louis died in prison in 1795; a doctor carved out his heart, preserved it and it was finally returned two centuries later. It was verified, through DNA testing, that this was a son of Marie Antoinette.
Go to Father Christmas' home at the North Pole: Who doesn't love Father Christmas, the European counterpart to Santa Claus? Only a hard-heart. So if you want Dad to be with his own kind -- that is, someone who gets the impossible done (presents for every kid in the world in one night!), knows everything there is to know about you (knows when you're sleeping, knows when you're awake!) but loves you anyway -- perhaps you should take him to Santa's home, which is the North Pole, which is about 450 miles north of Greenland. It's not clear which explorers reached here first (Was it Robert Peary? Richard Byrd? Neither?), but what is known is that the U.S. submarine Nautilus made it there in 1958. Because i''s in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, it doesn't get as cold as the South Pole, warming up to freezing in the summer and averaging a relatively warm minus-29 degrees in winter. Adventure travel companies now travel there by helicopter, ice breaker or dog-sled team, so it's not impossible to get there (although it's not easy). If Dad has a true taste for adventure, this is the place for him. Mrs. Claus not included.