Father's Day Gift Guide: The Experience Gifts That Dads Really Want

Father's Day Gift Guide: The Experience Gifts That Dads Really Want

Put down that tie and step away from the grilling set. It’s time to give your dad, husband, uncle or grandfather something he actually wants this Father’s Day.

We know, it’s hard to get something for the man who has everything (or a lot of the same things). But a new study from the National Retail Federation (NRF) might have a few ideas for you. According to the NRF’s findings, 27% of dads surveyed said they would love to receive a “gift of experience” — aka, not another gift card or pair of socks, which, while handy, aren’t exactly memorable.

If you’re drawing a blank on what that could be, we’ve put together a list of experiences for four types of dads, including options for whether you’re on a tight budget or willing to splurge a little more this year. While he can’t wear these to his next office party or use them to fire up a steak, he’ll be talking about these gifts for years to come.

1. For the Adrenaline Junkie Dad

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There are plenty of fun, affordable gift ideas for all the thrill-seeker dads out there. From an ultimate zip line adventure in Indianapolis for $58 to an Indy car ride-along in Detroit for $100 to a white-water rafting trip in the Nashville area for $60, you can give your dad a million-dollar experience without forking over a fortune.

2. For the Overscheduled Dad

Man with clay facial mask in beauty spa.

If the dad in your life is constantly juggling a million responsibilities (and whose dad isn’t?), then he could probably use a little R&R. Help make your Superdad’s day a stress-free one with a little pampering geared specifically for men.

John Allan’s men’s grooming club, with locations in New York, Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Toronto, charges $75 to $85 for their Signature Full Service ultimate package deal (shampoo, haircut, manicure, shoe shine and hot-towel treatment). If you can’t find a deluxe men’s groomer in your town, chances are your local spa probably has some men’s services on the menu. For example, browse through these Bliss Spa services for men that are available in 12 cities nationwide. The Manly-Cure manicure starts at just $25, while the Homme Improvement just-for-men facial is $170. Because who says spa days are just for the ladies?

3. For the Sports Fan Dad

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For the dad who’s all about root, root, rooting for the home team, the best Father’s Day gift idea just might be the most obvious one: surprising dad with tickets to see his favorite local sports team. They’re a relatively popular option, too: The NRF study found 25% of shoppers plan on taking dad out to a sporting event for his big day.

And tickets don’t have to break the bank. A search on CheapTickets revealed admission to a Milwaukee Brewers game in Wisconsin for as little as $7, while tickets for a Philadelphia Union soccer match are around $20 on StubHub. Just make sure you act fast, since ticket prices can change quickly.

4. For the Foodie and Fine Wine Dad

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One of the perks of hanging out with your dad as an adult: You can raise a glass together! Taking pops out for a wine-tasting event is a fun way to live large on a budget, and you don’t have to live in Napa Valley to get the full experience. Case in point: Jamesport Vineyards in New York’s North Fork wine country offers wine tastings that start at $20 per person; Bluemont Vineyard’s tastings in northern Virginia start at $10 per person.

And if you don’t have any vineyards near you, remember that craft beer is a big thing now. The Chicago Beer Experience offers beer tours of different neighborhoods in the Windy City that range from $62 to $77; SweetWater Brewing Company in Atlanta offers tours and tastings that range from $12 to $20. (Or you can just find the best local craft beer bar near you and order up a tasting flight.)

If dad fancies himself more of a (wannabe) chef, then help him hone his skills with a cooking class. Portland’s Culinary Workshop offers classes for everything from Couple’s Cooking to Perfect Pasta Sauces in the $65 to $85 range, while kitchenware retailer Sur La Table offers the Father’s Day appropriate Cooking With Dad class in several states — perfect for dads who want to learn the cooking basics with their mini-me. Prices start around $49 per person and vary by state.

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