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Father's Day: Give him an unusual Dad-related trip

June 14, 2012|By Mary Forgione and Catharine Hamm
  • The lobby of the historic Davenport Hotel & Tower in Spokane, Wash., the home of Sonora Smart Dodd, who helped bring about the celebration of Father's Day.
The lobby of the historic Davenport Hotel & Tower in Spokane, Wash.,… (Peter Hassel Photography )

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 (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 stepkids 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.

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