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Father's Day travel gift ideas with family appeal

Biking affords one of the best travel experiences a family can share  - here, we trek up from the Danube Bike Trail for a spectacular view where the Danube River doubles back
Biking affords one of the best travel experiences a family can share - here, we trek up from the Danube Bike Trail for a spectacular view where the Danube River doubles back
© 2014 Karen Rubin/

"Travel has a unique power of putting the world into perspective. It could be while soaking up an awe-inspiring view or chatting with a local about their community, but at some point while traveling you remember what’s most important in life," says the biking and adventure travel company Duvine.

Travel affords the opportunity to learn something new, try something new, share an experience, forge bonds and relationships like no other experience.

Here are more ideas for travel gifts for Father's Day that promote personal fulfillment and family ties (see For Father's Day, give the gift of travel that is a dream come true):

Fly Fishing, Falconry, Shooting, Driving Schools: The Equinox, Manchester, Vt., offers some programs with special appeal for fathers:

Land Rover Experience Driving School: features off-road driving instruction in all conditions. Participants experience numerous challenges on the 80-acre purpose-built course, with an extensive trail system for exploration. Here you will learn techniques on ascents, descents, side tilts and rocky terrain. The degree of difficulty is matched to the driver’s skill, and more advanced drivers are invited to explore expansive trails through the stunning Green Mountains.

Orvis Manchester Fly Fishing School: Expert instructors help you with setting up the rod, fly selection and knots and safely releasing your catch. Classes are held in the new Orvis schoolhouse directly across from the Orvis Flagship Store, on the fully-stocked casting ponds, and out on the famed Battenkill River. Courses include: intro to freshwater entomology and fly selection; requisite tackle and its function; mastering the essential fly-fishing knots; three separate casting clinics, designed to give you maximum hands-on exposure to the Orvis Progressive Casting Method. To book a course, call 866-531-6213 or visit

Orvis Shooting School: Novices and seasoned veterans can take advantage of an instinctive approach to shotgunning, based on the English Churchill method. The complete shooting system is applicable to upland hunting, waterfowling, and sporting clays (offered July 23-Oct. 19).

The Golf Club at Equinox has been named one of the "Top 75 courses in the U.S." by Golf Digest, and ranked in the "the top 3 Golf Courses in Vermont" by Golfweek. Enjoy crisp mountain air and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains at this par-71, 6423-yard Vermont gem of a course, which boasts challenging play on every fairway, bunker and green. Now managed by Troon Golf®, the leader in upscale golf course management. A package includes unlimited rounds of golf for two people, greens fee and cart (from $349/nite).

The Equinox, a historic hotel where Mary Todd Lincoln spent summers, has all the modern amenities of a luxury resort, offering a world-class spa, stunning Vermont scenery, outlet shopping in Manchester Center.

There is also boating and canoeing on Vermont's state parks at Emerald Lake and Lake Shaftsbury, where you can rent paddleboats or canoes, or, for a leisurely experience, canoe down The Battenkill River.

Just up the road from the Equinox is Bromley’s Sun Mountain Adventure Park, which offers a half-mile long, 50 mph, Sun Mountain Flyer, New England's longest ZipRider, Vermont's longest water-slide raft ride, America’s longest triple-track Alpine Slide, the Giant Swing, four Trampoline Things, SpaceBikes, Twinspin, the Adrenaline Zip Line, Shoot and Shower B-Ball, the 24' climbing wall, scenic chairlift rides, 18-hole championship mini-golf, the KidZone and free family entertainment most summer weekends.

Also nearby: hiking on Mount Equinox trails, plus Appalachian and Long trails are 4 miles from the resort and in the 2500 acre Merck Forest; horseback riding on scenic trail through the Green Mountains; mountain biking; tennis on three all-weather courts.

(The Equinox Resort, 3567 Main Street Route 7A, Manchester Village, VT 05254, 800.362.4747,

World’s Top 100 Tennis Resorts and Camps: You know Dad has always wanted to enhance his tennis game. Tennis Resorts Online has just released its annual rankings of the Top 100 Tennis Resorts and Camps worldwide: Top 5 Resorts are: Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, FL; Kiawah Island Golf Resort, SC; Rancho Valencia, CA; Wild Dunes, SC; La Quinta Resort & Club, CA. Top 5 Camps are: Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks at Gstaad Palace, Switzerland; Cliff Drysdale Tennis at Omni Amelia Island Plantation, FL; New England Tennis Holidays at Sugarbush, VT; Saddlebrook Tennis (Hopman), FL; John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, TX (See the complete list:

Houseboat on the Erie Canal: Want an extraordinary experience that combines the best of RV'g, boating and biking, with history thrown in? Take a specially designed houseboat on the Erie Canal and let serendipity be your guide. A special thrill is going through the locks, and having bridges lift for you. The boats come with bikes (though if you are serious biker may want to bring your own, suited to gravel path which is the Erie Canal bikeway. You can go hundreds of miles. You can choose 3, 4, or 7 nights aboard your own canalboat - an amazingly comfortable houseboat with turning-heads charm. You decide where you want to go, where you want to tie up overnight, then go off and explore. This is truly a living history experience. They are surprisingly easy to drive (you only go 3 mph) and the experience of going through the locks (helped by the very friendly and accommodating lockkeepers) is unforgettable.

You don't need to have any prior experience boating. You get an intensive tutorial in driving, going through a canal lock, and docking the boats before you set out. (Contact Mid-Lakes Navigation Co., Ltd 11 Jordan St, PO Box 61 Skaneateles, NY 13152, 315-PO Box 61, Skaneateles, NY 13152, 315-685-8500, 800-545-4318,,

Sail aboard a Mane Windjammer: Some of our favorite travel experiences have been aboard the Maine Windjammers that ply the waters off of Rockland and Camden – many are historic sailing vessels with stories and personalities of their own. Each sailing experience is unique. Many of the sailings are themed or cater to special interests: New for 2014: “Beers of the Maine Coast” aboard Mary Day; “Writer’s Workshop with Pam Houston” aboard Isaac H. Evans; Down East & WoodenBoat Magazines’ “Penobscot Bay Food Cruise” aboard Stephen Taber. Back by Popular Demand: Knitting, lighthouses, astronomy, geology, guest musicians, storytelling, photography, wine-tasting, chocolate-tasting, puffin-scouting, Gloucester Schooner Race, gourmet food, seamanship and natural history cruises. This is ideal as a guy-getaway, a couples getaway, a father-child getaway, and a family getaway (some of the ships cater to families, but children should be at least 8 years old). Maine Windjammer Association, 207-374-2993,, or follow at

Sebasco Harbor Resort, Mid-Coast, Maine: This resort ("Pure Maine") manages to be a delightful cross between a fine resort and a camp, with plenty of opportunity be outdoors, while still enjoying such refinements as golf on a superb course, full-service waterfront Fairwinds Spa, plus marvelous activities like kayaking (do the moonlight kayak trip, it is beyond fabulous), boating.. Actually, you can imagine Sebasco being the kind of "camp" that the Gilded Age moguls would have for one of their holiday homes. Nestled among whispering pines on the rugged coast Sebasco is tucked away on 550 acres with breathtaking views and a wealth of activities the entire family can enjoy. We stayed in the converted Lighthouse for the most magical experience. Celebrating 85 years- having hosted people from Benny Goodman and Eleanor Roosevelt to Kenny Chesney and Cameron Diaz - check out special deals. (Sebasco Harbor Resort, 29 Kenyon Rd., Sebasco Estates, ME, 04565, 877-389-1161,,

Want something more rugged? Point Sebago is a resort spanning 775-acres on the shores of Sebago Lake in Casco, Maine. It has its roots as a campground, but now, while preserving its roots (there are still 100 RV, travel trailer and tent sites available), is a well-equipped resort affording small two-bedroom cabins, with a mile of sandy beach, an 18-hole championship golf course, and organized activities for kids and families - like a summer camp - with camp counselors, mini-golf, arts and crafts, kayaking, canoe races, boat rentals, fishing, swimming, sand volleyball, shuffleboard, tennis, basketball, games, happy hours with entertainment and free hors d'oeuvres, nightly entertainment for families and adults, dancing, shows, and s'mores by the campfire, free wireless internet access. Also, great bass and landlocked salmon fishing. The resort is next to Maine State Park at Sebago Park where there are hiking trails. In spring and fall there are special events, festivals and themed weekends like Pirates of Sebago, Murder Mystery, Monte Carlo, and Halloween. All-inclusive golf packages and golf clinics are available. this is a four-season resort - in winter, you can rent a vacation home and go skiing and snowmobiling. (In summer, Saturday to Saturday stay ranges from $1274-$1855 for the week.). Point Sebago's 18-hole, par-72 Championship Golf Course is hailed as one of the finest courses in Maine Set on 500 acres of spectacular white birch forest, it caters all levels of play, ranging from a challenging 7,002 yards from the back tee to a forgiving 3,200 yards from the forward tee. Golf clinics and golf schools with USGTF professionals and an extensive practice center are available to improve your skill and appreciation of the game. Point Sebago Golf Vacation Packages Include: accommodations in a Park Home, Resort Cottage or Vacation Home; Greens Fees; Golf Cart - 18 Holes; breakfast; dinner nightly. (Point Sebago, 261 Point Sebago Road, Route 302, Casco, ME 04015, 800-530-1555, 207-655-3821,,

Biking Holidays are a quintessential experience that bring together a physical challenge, the outdoors, with cultural enrichment and most importantly, togetherness. Every trip is an odyssey of sorts. Choose a guided tour (operators also offer holidays geared to families with children as young as 8 years old) or self-guided trip (especially if you have adult children, as I did with my sons, on the Danube Trail from Passau, Germany to Vienna, Austria).

Some excellent tour operators, which collectively cover the entire world, include:

Bike Tours Direct, which represents more than 100 local bike tour companies with more than 400 tours in 70 countries worldwide. The company has specialized in Europe, but more recently has added programs to Asia, Africa, North and South America, and the Pacific Islands. We found the company offers excellent itineraries and very good value. Offerings include guided or self-guided, trips appropriate for families and first-time cycle tourists, challenging tours for experienced riders, bike and boat tours, wine and bike tours, mountain bike tours, and tours using dedicated cycle paths (, 877-462-2423 or 423-756-8907).

Backroads has grown from being a premier biking tour company to a foremost active vacations company, hosting thousands of guests on biking, walking & hiking and multisport trips worldwide. 183 trip itineraries showcase destinations from California's Wine Country to classic settings in France, from the pampas of Patagonia to the hill country of Thailand. There is hardly a corner of the world where they don't go. Top five active travel vacations for families: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons National Parks multisport tour; France's Loire Valley biking tour; Bryce, Zion & Grand Canyon multisport tour; Croatia's Dalmatian Coast multisport tour; Italy's Tuscany bike tour (800-GO-ACTIVE (800-462-2848), 510-527-1555,

Butterfield & Robinson offers an extensive roster of upscale guided and self-guided biking itineraries. since 1966 the company has been designing trips for people interested in seeing the world up close by walking or biking during the day and enjoying first-class cuisine and accommodations at night, and prides itself on Innovative itineraries and attention to detail. "Our motto is ―Slow down to see the world,‖ as we believe that a slower pace allows travelers to truly experience the cultural nuances of each destination." (866-551-9090,,

Duvine Cycling & Adventure Co. has just announced 2015 tour dates and is holding prices to 2014 rates until June 30,2014. Explore all the possible ways to satisfy your wanderlust – from the highlands of Scotland to the majestic Mediterranean coast and the rolling vineyards of Sonoma. Duvine is also mounting a philanthropy initiative, "Travel for Change": from now until June 30, 2014, book one of Duvine's classic, 6-day August bike tours and DuVine will contribute $150 per person ($300 per couple) in your name to one of a selection of charities (Duvine, 667 Somerville Avenue, Somerville, MA 02143, 617-776-4441, 888-396-5383,,

Bicycle Adventures: Scenic byways, four and five-star accommodations and local dining and visits to National Parks are trademarks of Bicycle Adventures, founded in 1984. Types of tours include Classic (25-50 miles a day), Classic Plus (50-60 miles a day) and Epic (70+ miles a day with the most demanding terrain). Value-driven Casual category trips offer budget-conscious lodging and meals, with the same full van support. Pre-set and custom tours embrace the Pacific Northwest into Canada, California and the Southwest, as well as Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, New York, Hawaii and New Zealand. (Bicycle Adventures, 800.443.6060, email:,

Pure Adventures specializes in self-guided biking trips, this year, Pure Adventures launched a new travel concept, Supported Self Directed Tours. The company has specialized in Europe, but this year, expanded to offer North America trips, and a new program in Andalucia Spain. Self-guided tours from Pure Adventures Travel in 2014 span Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the USA (800-960-2221,,

Vermont Bicycle Tours (VBT): it's been a very long time since this company expanded beyond the bounds of Vermont. It now offers biking and active itineraries throughout the world. VBT offers deluxe, small group bicycling and walking tours worldwide, including destinations throughout Europe, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, Peru, Argentina, and the United States. Each trip includes all accommodations, many meals, two expert local Trip Leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities and on-tour vehicle support. VBT also includes roundtrip international airfare from over 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. New this year: Cycling Italy’s Middle Ages: Lucca to Pisa, in the northwest corner of Tuscany joins VBT’s line of Italian vacations with six fall departures starting Sept. 7, 2014. (800-245-3868,

Discovery Tours (Vt) offers a select menu of domestic and international trips (notably Ireland and Spain) and has just introduced a new three-day ride through California's wine country ($1098), (,, 1-800-257-2226).

Fulfill A Bucket List

Everybody has a bucket list with places they want to go, experiences they want to have, a journey or an odyssey they want to fulfill. I'm betting that many of these can be found with special interest and adventure tour operators:

National Geographic Travel: Set out on a voyage to the magical Galápagos or an active hiking adventure in Ireland, or surprise the photo enthusiast in your life with an opportunity to learn firsthand from top photographers. A full line of itineraries range from small-ship expeditions and rail journeys to active adventures and family trips to all parts of the globe (888-966-8687,

Sierra Club Outings, which offers opportunities for voluntourism, exploration and adventure, with extended tours and treks, and outings designed for military, adults and youth (415-977-5521,

Earthwatch offers the opportunity to join real scientists doing important research in places where you would otherwise not have access as well as expeditions. Areas of expertise include archeology, climate change, wildlife and ecosystems, ocean health (800-776-0188,

Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel), a not-for-profit leader in educational travel since 1975, offers 5,500 educational tours in all 50 states and 150 countries. Alongside local and renowned experts, participants experience in-depth and behind-the-scenes learning opportunities, from cultural tours and study cruises to walking, biking and more, at relatively modest cost (11 Avenue de Lafayette, Boston MA 02111, 800-454-5768

Smithsonian Journeys is the expert-led travel program of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex. Founded in 1970, Journeys is a vital part of the Institution’s educational outreach activities, supporting the Institution’s mission of the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.” A world leader in expert-led travel, Smithsonian Journeys offers more than 200 land and cruise journeys on all seven continents and is the nation’s largest museum-based travel program. Smithsonian Journeys tours feature exclusive access and unforgettable experiences, uncovering the authentic culture of each destination and providing access unavailable to most travelers. The Smithsonian Journeys tour collection includes small-group (18-24 travelers), air-inclusive tours, small-ship cruising, trips by rail, intergenerational family travel, luxury private jet experiences, and tailor-made travel options. There are Polar trips, and around-the-world itineraries.(Smithsonian Journeys, 855-330-1542, 989-393-3218,

Zegrahm Expeditions features a line-up of small-ship cruises and overland adventures, from exploring the most intriguing islands of the vast Philippines archipelago and revealing nearly 3,000 miles of Coastal Brazil, to setting out on a Himalayan adventure in Nepal and Bhutan or discovering Colombia's incredible diversity (855-241-7748, 206-745-9514,,

A Blast to the Past: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is offering the opportunity to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy with an all-inclusive “Paris & Normandy” cruise. Guests explore the D-Day museum in Mulberry Harbor and venture to the Juno and Omaha Beach landing sites. The American Cemetery serves as a haunting reminder of the Allied forces’ hard-won fight for freedom, and Uniworld guests attend a wreath-laying ceremony and moment of silence to honor the fallen American soldiers. This itinerary deftly combines history with culture, cuisine and the brilliant landscapes of northern France. Watch the evening lights dance along the Seine River in Paris, marvel at Notre Dame’s sneering gargoyles, and behold the scenery that inspired some of the world’s greatest artists. Breathe in the fragrance of Monet’s garden in Giverny and walk in the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise. “Paris & Normandy” is an 8-day river cruise from Paris to Paris. Prices start at $3,199 per person, land only (800-733-7820, ).

See also:

For Father's Day, give the gift of travel that makes a dream come true

Spas, Dude Ranches, Grand Hotels - Favorite Travel Gift Ideas for Mothers Day

Karen Rubin, National Eclectic Travel Examiner


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