2018 Father’s Day Gift & Travel Guide

      It is impossible to truly thank the person who most shaped your life but Father’s Day is certainly an occasion to express appreciation for dad.

      Before delving into gift selections, one shouldn’t forget the importance of the good old greeting card. If dad has a sense of humor,,and hopefully he does, both Paper Epiphanies (paperepiphanies.com) and Bald Guy Greetings (baldguygreetings.com) have cards (some bordering on the R-rated) that should put a smile on his face.

      Both Ben Sherman and  Haupt(hauptusa.com) make shirts for guys who aren’t afraid to wear bright colors and attention-grabbing designs. Land’s End manufactures comfortable short sleeve dress and polo shirts that dad can easily wear through the early fall. Dockers are most famous for the comfortable khaki pants but the company has expanded into shirts and shoes as well.

      Oakley, best known for its athletic performance eyewear, has been expanding into the apparel world. It has teamed up with PGA Tour star Bubba Watson for a line of shirts and pants that have both style and good range of motion for both on the golf course and off of it.

      The keys to pants are style, comfort, and durability. Lands’ End makes both comfortable dress pants for warm weather as well as stylish shorts for a summer outdoor social. If you want to treat dad to high-end European-style tailoring, Alberto Pants, is a very good choice. There are a lot of jeans manufacturers but you can never go wrong with Levi’s. Another denim heritage brand, Wrangler, has always given the most bang for the dungarees buck and is always a comfortable wear.  

     Anyone who has ever shopped for clothing at Sears, Kmart, or JC Penney, has come across the Carhartt name. While it’s not a flashy brand, it makes affordable quality apparel. Carhartt’s lightweight Rugged Flex Rigby Five-Pocket Jean is ideal for summer wear when you can’t wear shorts. Its Force Extremes Shoreline Angler Jacket is designed for fishermen but it can be worn by anyone on a wet day as long as its above 40 degrees.

      Target has created its own private label brand, Goodfellow & Company, to compete with Carhartt in its department stores. If you are on a tight budget you can get Goodfellow short sleeve shirts, jeans, and board shorts for under $20. Old Navy has their eponymous private label for shirts, jeans, and shorts for similar price points.

      Former Mets first baseman Mo Vaughn started a large-sized clothing company, MVP Collections, a few years ago out of frustration from not being able to find styles that average guys had no trouble buying. MVP Collections specializes in men’s leisure wear although Mo told me last year that he may expand into more business fare in the near future.

     Men’s shoes have far more styles today than when I was growing up. Aetrex, which is best known for orthotics and athletic footwear have expanded into the dress shoe market with its very comfortable Dalton Wing Tip that come in a wide array of colors. Combat Gent (combatgent.com) makes a wide assortment of top-sider boat shoes as well as other casual slip-ons. Bruno Magli and Bed Stu (yes, it’s slang for Bedford-Stuyvesant) both make shoes ranging from handmade sandals to the poshest of dress shoes.

     The Original Muck Boot Company (muckbootcompany.com), XTRATUF (xtratufboots.com), Bearpaw, Ulu (uluboot.com) and Kamik all make top-notch work and fishing boots. Xtratuf makes a summer boat loafer called the Finatic II Deck Shoe while Kamik also produces sandals for the season. For the inner cowboy in all of us check out the western styles of Justin (justinboots.com)

     President George HW “41″ Bush has become a bit of a fashion icon for his love of colorful socks. Any guys who are tired of drab men’s hosiery should log onto funsocks.com 

      We are entering summer so bathing suits and flip-flops have to be part of the discussion. Lily Pulitzer makes colorful swim trunks for guys while Havaianas are terrific thongs. Havaianas recently signed a licensing deal with both Major League Baseball and FIFA (the folks who run soccer’s World Cup) so that you can show your love for your favorite baseball team or country participating in the tournament which is about to get underway in Russia.

     Of course you can’t discuss Father’s Day without that most cliched of gifts, the tie. Things have changed over the years however as ties have become an integral part of fashion. This isn’t the 1950s Eisenhower era. Both Knot Society and ties.com make eye-catching neckwear. General Knot & Co. makes ties and pocket squares from vintage and hard-to-find textiles. The photo department of CVS can make a tie for you from your photos (they also make mugs) if you log onto cvs.com.

     Ranking right behind ties as the stereotypical Dad’s Day gift is the wallet. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad gift choice if your pop is walking around with a beat-up billfold. I know that I hold onto my wallets long past their rightful expiration dates. Buxton Company’s (buxton.co) Bellamy Collection C-Fold, NDK’s Cosmopolitan Collection, and French Wink’s (frenchwink.com) Wallet Full line will help keep dad’s dollars and credit cards organized and are stylish in the process. Another good source for quality leather billfolds is laudividni.com which derives its name from “individual” spelled backwards.

     Sunglasses are as much for fashion as to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Carrera and Ray-Ban are still the two big brand names in the industry fans of aviator frames. An up-and-coming brand for aviator sunglasses buffs is Revo. Tiposi, a brand favored by golfers and outdoors aficionados of all kinds, because of their terrific lenses including photochromics that change with the light available akin to Transitions. Oakley and Nike are both famous their wraparound shades which are favored by baseball and softball players and especially golfers. Tura’s (tura.com) Ted Baker line of sunglasses replicate the classic wayfarer styles that President John F. Kennedy favored.

       Just as the sun emits harmful ultraviolet rays, digital devices and computers give off potentially dangerous blue light rays that cause fatigue and eyestrain and could possibly cause retinal damage..Bluwinx (bluwinx.com) makes special glasses that block blue light.

      Watches are the most popular form of jewelry for men and they run the gamut in price.  These days men treat timepieces as fashion accessories as much as women do. The funny thing is that an inexpensive watch doesn’t look and perform all that different from its pricier counterparts. A good case in point are watches made by Little Neck’s own Armitron which makes a solar power, battery-free watch, the Armitron Adventure, and the Chronspire watch lines which were created by Forest Hills High School alum Lawrence Leyderman. They easily rival Tag Heuer, Rolex, and Mondaine which are of course all top-of-the-line timepieces. Timex and Speidel both make numerous watches for under $150.

      Baby boomers will fondly remember Speidel’s Twist-O-Flex metal track watchbands. Sure, they left teeth marks on your wrist at the end of the day but they lasted forever. The company has just created a special Twist-O-Flex band for Apple smartwatches that retail for around $80.

      Women’s products have long dominated the fragrance and skin care industries but men have chipped away at the market share. Contrary to popular belief, Mary Kay, Amway, Shiseido, Turo, ReVive, Organic Doctor, and Avon now all make colognes, after-shaves, cleansers, and yes anti-aging serums for men while Menaji, Jack Black and Anthony Logistics have always made products exclusively for guys. If you want to cover your bets, Malin+Goetz’s Essentials Kit has sample-sized bottles of moisturizer, facial cleanser, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner.

     Good fragrance choices for guys are Dossage 8 for Men from former Jackson Heights resident Tara Durkin (dossage.com), Kiso Cologne (which can be purchased at themotley.com),, and L’Oreal’s Aqua Gio Pour Homme which can be found in numerous department stores.

     Savannah Bee, which makes almost every kind of honey and honey product imaginable, makes varieties of honey soap that exfoliate the skin.

     All men worry about their hair regardless of age and certainly more so as they get older. Paul Brown Hawaii, Baxter of California, Austin Kyle, Tigi B, Paul Mitchell, Recitals, He’s a 10 (itsa10haricare.com) are salon-caliber shampoos. Grande Hair is a spray that purports to stimulate the follicles to give hair a fuller, thicker appearance.  Grande, Color Wow, and Dr Marder Scalp Relief Therapy make shampoos and conditioners that purport to fight hair loss.

      Managing facial hair is another thing guys obsess over. Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology is that company’s start-of-the-art manual razor. Harry’s (harrys.com) and Dollar Shave Club both have gift boxed sets of grooming products. Gillette, which has gift sets at Target, is now competing with Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club with its on-demand service  ondemand.gillette.com). Beau Brummell (beaubrummellformen.com) makes shaving ancillary items such as brushes, shaving cream, facial scrub, mask, and wash.

      No one likes razor burn and Exo’s (exoskinsimple.com) Bio-Digital Moisturizer and Visha (vishaskincare.com) Advanced Purifying Cleanser are good ways to ward off any facial irritations.

      The are endless home entertainment options available to the consumer. Consider a subscription to Hulu, the Rolls-Royce of streaming entertainment services, if your father is a fan of either classic or cutting edge television series. CBS All Access is another good televison subscription option since it allows access to a good chunk of past and current CBS TV series as well as exclusive programming such as “The Good Fight.”  If he is more of a movie buff, Netflix is a good choice. Cennarium is a streaming subscription that specializes in fine arts as operas and symphonies. ESPN Plus is the latest entrant in the TV streaming subscription biz and you can view every documentary in its massive “30 for 30″ film documentary library. 

     The popularity of the chefs on Food Network and the Cooking Channel have made more men  want to prepare their own meals. Kohl’s is selling a line of Bobby Flay woks, carving boards and skillets. For those who have outdoor space, Char-broil and Black & Decker (through its world-famous George Foreman line) and Kenyon manufacture numerous portable, electric and charcoal grills.  Hamilton Beach makes slow cookers and blenders which run in the very friendly $20-50 range.

       While on the topic of food, let’s get to the world of spirits. A number of medical surveys have indicated that red wine is beneficial for cardiac health. I am partial to Pinot Noir that is produced in the Pacific Northwest from wineries as Benton-Lane and Willamette Valley. Argentina’s Terrazas de los Andes’ Malbec, Chile’s Testa Aliwen and Undurraga red varieties  are also full-bodied wines that are easy to sip since they do not have a bitter aftertaste. If dad is a fan of California whites, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Pinot Grigio and Callie Collection Pino Grigio are solid selections. If he prefers reds from the Golden State, Mark West Pinot Noir and Josh Cellars Merlot and Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon are fine and reasonably priced options.

     Just as there are no shortage of good red wines, the selection of harder liquors is plentiful as well. While Johnny Walker is still the biggest name in scotch whisky, Macallan, Bowmore, Canadian Club, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Highland Park Valkyrie, Balvenie, The Fat Trout, Tyroconnell, Virginia Black, Grant’s Family Reserve, Dewar’s, (Dewar’s 18 is a particularly smooth scotch) are worthy competitors. Japan, which has long been known for great sake (TY KU is the leading brand here) is home to fine whisky brands as, Suntory, Yamazaki and Hamishu. Mexico is more known for tequila and the famous liquer, Kahlua, but it does have a good whisky brand, Sierra Norte, which come in three different varieties. Yellow, black, and white, based on the different corn mash that went into the fermentation process.

      Rum, vodka, and tequila are a little easier on the palate. Bacardi, Jose Cuervo, Don Julio, Herradura, Partida. Plantation, and Milagro are the best known rums while Belvedere, Stolichnaya, Smirnoff, Ketel One, Georgi and Reyka are their vodka counterparts. If you want top of the line Stoli, then try a bottle of their elit brand. Soltado is a tequila which has an extra kick to it because it contains Serrano chiles. Roca Patron is a milder, upscale tequila.

     Gin is making a comeback. Nolet’s Silver Dry has a touch of fruit flavor to make it a bit less harsh than other gins. Actor Ryan Reynolds recently launched Aviation American Gin. Other options are France’s Citadelle Gin Reserve and Great Britain’s smooth Brockman’s Gin.

      Aperitifs are the candy of the alcohol world. Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua, Godiva Liquer, LeSutra Sparkling Liquer and Solerno Blood Orange Liquer are some of the popular choices. If you miss the days of Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers, Smirnoff Ice nicely combines fruit and booze.

      Seltzer is a calorie-free refreshing beverage. SodaStream Fizzi converts everyday H2O into sparkling water in seconds and it doesn’t take up much counter space.

      Getting moving in the morning doesn’t get easier as you get older. If dad likes his coffee when the day starts, Black & Decker has a number of inexpensive coffee makers. If he prefers his java with a little more pizzazz then get him the De Longhi Lattisma Pro. If he is more of a tea drinker Hamilton Beach makes a stylish copper kettle. 


      Of course for dad to truly enjoy a good meal and/or occasional drink without guilt it is important that he get exercise. Local gyms such as the New York Sports Club, Crunch, New York Health & Racquet Club, and Equinox generally have Father’s Day membership promotions.

     Your father may not be in training for the New York City Marathon but a good brisk walk can do wonders for both one’s physical and mental health. Brooks Running, New Balance, Asics, Avia, Reebok, and Nike all make footwear that are lighter than the traditional sneaker making it easier to go longer distances. 

     Nearly everyone likes to listen to music when hitting the treadmill at the gym or when talking that leisurely stroll. The cleverly-named Decibullz (decibullz.com) are custom-molded earpieces that provide great sound quality, and even more importantly, they’re comfortable on your ears. Jlab Audio (jlabaudio.com) also makes high-caliber earbuds.

     T-Mobile retail stores sell all kinds of headphones, bluetooth speakers, portable chargers, as well as all kinds of high-tech toys including drones which allow one to engage in aerial photography without having to be in an airplane or helicopter. France’s Parrot will be introducing its newest drone, the Anafi, in a couple of weeks.

     Going in the opposite direction of high tech, Marshall’s ( the discount retailer) is selling a retro-style outdoor AM-FM table radio complete with antenna. 

     If your father takes pride in being Mr. Fix-It then he is undoubtedly well-acquainted with Home Depot. You can find the Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+Lithium Ion Cordless Super Combo Kit that contains a drill, saws, work light, and chargers. If he enjoys summer barbecues, Home Depot has all of the big name outdoor grills.

     My favorite summer exercise is walking on the beach. It is refreshing when the surf goes over your feet and the upper calf muscles get a good workout in the process. Crocs, Okabashi, and the aforementioned Havaianas make footwear specifically for the beach. If your father needs arch support Aetrex has a line of pool shoes/water sandals.

    If dad has some old irons get him a jar of Colle (colleproducts.com) to restore their luster and prevent further tarnishing. If it has been awhile since dad worked on his game then send him out to the driving range at Alley Pond Park and the Pitch & Putt at Flushing Meadow Park.

    Topgolf is a national chain of driving ranges that wants to be for the casual golfer what Bowlmor and Lucky Strike are to non-league bowlers; namely a place to work on your game but to be entertained as well with fine food and music. Right now the closest one is located in Edison, NJ but my guess is that Topgolf will come to Long Island and possibly Queens in the very near future. 

     Summer is a time when nearly everyone does some overnight traveling so duffel bags are very useful gifts. Land’s End, Thule, Kelty, NDK, French Wink, and Helly Hansen all make durable and spacious duffels that can easily be placed in the overhead bins of aircrafts to help avoid the checked bag fees.

      Another way to avoid hefty airline baggage fees is to use the services of LuggageFree.com which will pick up all of what you need to ship and deliver it to you at your desired destination.

      San Diego is always a beautiful place to visit particularly in July and August when its balmy breezes are a welcome contrast from the New York heat and humidity. Queens’ own JetBlue has two flights a day between JFK and San Diego’s Lindbergh Airport.

     There is no shortage of reasonably priced lodging in the San Diego area. The historic  Grande Colonial, located in La Jolla Village recently celebrated its centennial. The hotel is located a block from the Pacific Ocean. The sunsets at La Jolla Cove are spectacular.

      The Grand Hyatt La Jolla is located a couple of miles east of the Grande Colonial Hotel in the University Town Center section of San Diego which is reminiscent of Queens in many ways because of its neighborhood feel, numerous stores and restaurants, and public transportation. The Grand Hyatt La Jolla has an Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool and large Jacuzzi that certainly capture the spirit of Southern California.

       If you are going to visit southern California you might as well spend some time in the Los Angeles area which is approximately 120 miles north of San Diego which depending on the time you travel can be anywhere from a two to four-hour trip up I-5.

       Santa Monica is ideal because of its location at the end of Interstate 10. The very Santa Monica is an independent city in Los Angeles County and it has enough shopping and restaurants and mass transit to make a New Yorker feel quickly at home.

      West Hollywood (or as the locals refer to it, “WeHo”) is an ideal place to stay if you want a more centralized area to stay in LA. Like Santa Monica, it is very easy to be a pedestrian in this independent city and there is ample mass transit, shopping, dining, and entertainment (it’s home to the famous Sunset Strip) Toney. Beverly Hills and Century City are neighbors to the west while Hollywood (a.k.a. Tinseltown”) is just to the east.

      West Hollywood has plenty of lodging so prices are competitive. The Ramada Plaza Hotel & Suites located at the intersections of Santa Monica and La Cienega Boulevards has clean spacious rooms, a charming pool, and laundry facilities on each floor.      

      Working out and eating right is crucial to health at any age but it’s particularly crucial for older folks.. The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu takes pride in getting one into the best shape of one’s life with hiking, yoga, calisthenics, and healthy meals throughout the day. The Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona is similar to the Ranch at Live Oak except that there is more emphasis on meditation and less on calisthenics.

     Summer is understandably the off-season in South Florida and the ritzy Turnberry Isle Resort located just north of Miami Beach in the town of Aventura offers heavily discounted packages that include lodging, food, and of course, a round of golf on its championship course. Two great golf resorts just up the road from Aventura on 1-95 in Palm Beach County are the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens and the Seagate Resort in Delray Beach.

      If you want to go to the Miami area, check out Sunny Isles which used to be known as the Motel Row section of Miami Beach. Those bargain-priced mom-and-pop properties are long gone as is the area’s famed deli, the Rascal House. In its place are gleaming skyscraper resorts which fortunately do have competitive prices for the leisure traveler.

      This is also the quiet season for Caribbean resorts and there are also bargains to be had. It should be noted that the sea breezes keep a lot of the islands from getting unbearably hot or overly humid.

      Dad can scuba, kayak, sail, or just enjoy white sand beaches at Viceroy Sugar Beach Resort in St. Lucia, the Atlantis and Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, Bahamas, the Westin St. John Resort & Villas in the US Virgin Islands,  the Hyatt Regency Aruba, and the Mango Bay Barbados Resort. If he wants to hit the links in the Caribbean he should try the Magdalena Beach & Golf Resort in Tobago.

        You get great bang for the buck in the Dominican Republic and the city of Punta Cana has become one of the world’s most popular resorts because of the number of terrific all inclusive resorts such as the Grand Palladium, Excellence, Dreams, and Secrets where nearly everything is included in your room rate. 

      JetBlue, which has service throughout the Caribbean as well as to most of the domestic destinations I have detailed here, has just started twice-a-week service to Grenada. While there is a “rainy season” here, this picturesque island nation rarely gets summer or early fall hurricanes or even all-day wet weather. Grenada is known for its family-run boutique resorts such as the popular Spice Island Beach Resort which last year received the highly coveted AAA five Diamond Award but it does have chain all-inclusive properties such as Sandals that is located at Pink Gin Beach.

     St. Maarten has long been regarded as one of the jewels in the Caribbean and not surprisingly it was one of the most expensive to visit as well. The island nation was just as devastated by Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria last September as Puerto Rico was and a number of resorts there had to shut down and rebuild.

    Government officials from St. Maarten were in town last week as part of the annual Caribbean Tourism Organization week of events in New York. They conceded that a number of resorts had to shut down and rebuild. The good news is that a lot of them are back up and running and there are bargains to be had for tourists, a term previously unheard of in St. Maarten.

    President Trump probably won’t be vacationing in Mexico anytime soon but our southern neighboring nation has some beautiful getaway spots. Cabo San Lucas located in the country’s southernmost point in the Baja California peninsula is one of the most beautiful resort towns in North America. Rock guitarist Sammy Hagar saw Cabo San Lucas as his answer to Jimmy Buffet’s Key West and opened his Caba Wabo nightclub here. There is no shortage of resorts in Cabo. The Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort clearly isn’t short on amenities and its adults-only policy makes it a perfect spot for dads who want to enjoy some quiet.

     Up the coast from Cabo San Lucas is Mexico’s largest Pacific resort town, Puerto Vallarta. The Casa Velas, and its sister property, the Velas Vallarta are all inclusive resorts that include golf packages with one of Mexico’s two top country clubs, the Vista Vallarta or the Marina Vallarta Golf Club.

     The Canadian Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island are understandably popular summer getaways. While they are renowned for their great fishing and beauty, what isn’t well-known about them is that they have a lot of golf courses with very reasonable green fees.

      Maine has always been a popular summer getaway for the rich and famous. President George HW “41″ Bush has long kept a home in ritzy Kennebunkport. If you want to see why he has always enjoyed being here, you can stay at a number of the boutique lodging properties that comprise the Kennebunkport Resort Collection.

    Rockland, located about 90 minutes north of Portland on the Maine coast, has charming boutique hotel properties as the 250 Maine Hotel. You can experience a sailboat vacation by enjoying the hospitality of the crew of the J.& E. Riggin which sails out of Rockland. Log onto Mainewindjammer.com for schedules and more information.

    Portsmouth, New Hampshire is located 45 minutes southwest of Portland and its lodging rates tend to be less than Portland. This charming city takes up most of New Hampshire’s 18-mile Atlantic coast. You can take quick drives to New Hampshire’s bigger cities such as Nashua and Manchester as well as discover numerous places for camping and hiking. It should be noted that there is no sales tax in the Granite State.

    Boston is an easy long weekend destination. The Loews Boston Hotel offers terrific weekend packages and is close to the city’s major attractions as well as Fenway Park if dad wants to catch a Red Sox game..

    The success of the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct has forced nearby gaming casinos to be more competitive. The Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut gets in the biggest names in entertainment to perform in its arena and it has top-notch restaurants, a world class spa, and even professional sports, as it’s the home of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.

     If you do go to Mohegan Sun try to set a day or two aside in nearby and beautiful Newport, Rhode Island where you can see historic mansions, the first synagogue in the United States, and the Tennis Hall of Fame. The Castle Hill Inn offers “learn to sail” packages in honor of Newport’s rich maritime history. The America’s Cup used to be held here every three years. Rhode Island’s capital, Providence, has undergone a renaissance as there are now lots of new restaurants and parks, and it’s approximately a 40-minute drive from Newport and the hotel rates are a lot more reasonable than those of Newport during the summer.

      If you enjoy sensible gambling but prefer the mountains to the ocean, the Mount Airy Casino in the Poconos, should be to your liking. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from as well as name entertainment on many weekends.

    New York State’s Finger Lakes region can rival California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys when it comes to both quality wines and the number of wineries one can visit. The annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival will take place July 13-15 at one of the most famous motor sports racetracks in the world, Watkins Glen International.

      There is of course plenty for dad to do here in New York City. With summer upon us a dinner cruise on either World Yacht or Spirit Cruises is a very enjoyable way to spend an evening. The warmer weather is also a great time to see the Big Apple’s various attractions. CityPASS and New York Pass allow you to see a lot of sites for one price but there are time restrictions. 

    Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

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