9 local experiences to give as Father’s Day gifts

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Courtesy of Jon Strayhorn

On behalf of dads everywhere, I have a dose of brutal honesty to dish up. Most of our Father’s Day celebrations are lame at best. Brunch after church just isn’t our thing and an afternoon at a brewery isn’t anything special – that’s called a typical weekend day. And don’t even get me started on the gifts – we really don’t need or want another cutesy tie.

We appreciate the thought though – really, we do – which is why we don’t say anything. That’s why I figured it was high time one of us has spoken up. The truth is, we crave something that honors our masculinity for the manly fathers that we are. An experience that allows us to be men and have fun with our kids at the same time.

For the Golf Dad: Topgolf

Sure, a day hitting the links with our friends would be great, but we realize (somewhat reluctantly) that we should spend Father’s Day with our kids – which makes Topgolf the perfect choice for the golf-loving dad on Father’s Day. With nine unique golf games to play (think of it as an arcade meets a golf course), the entire family will have a good time.

Topgolf is a popular place for Father’s Day. Be sure to make your reservations in advance. Topgolf, 8024 Savoy Corporate Dr.

Pro Tip: Top Scramble is a great way to get those new to golf acclimated as the playing field between expert and amateur is leveled with teams that resemble a traditional golf scramble.

Topgolf’s first Charlotte location, in Steele Creek. Photo by Larry Harwell Photography

For Water Sports Dad:  My Aloha

While the whole family might not be into a day of fishing on the lake, everyone can enjoy an afternoon of renting stand-up-paddle boards or kayaks on Lake Norman. If you’re new to either sport, book an hour-and-a-half or longer rental, and My Aloha will toss in a free 30-minute lesson.

Because it is Father’s Day Weekend, reservations are suggested. My Aloha, 17505 W. Catawba Ave. Cornelius.

Pro Tip: Want to send Dad off for a romantic Father’s Day experience? Book an adult-only Sunset or Full Moon stand-up paddle board cruise.

Courtesy of My Aloha

For Beer-Loving Dad: Sierra Nevada Brewery’s Trip in the Woods Tour

I know, I know – there are plenty of great breweries in Charlotte. The dad in your life probably hits them up on the reg already. But has he been to Sierra Nevada’s Mills River brewery outside of Asheville? If he hasn’t, plan to make a pilgrimage. Couple the visit with the Trip in the Woods tour. The tour includes a hike along the brewery’s massive grounds. Not only will the guide discuss the abundance of natural resources on property, but they’ll also talk about ways Sierra Nevada strives to protect these resources. And, yes, the tour ends with a beer tasting.

Trip in the Woods Tours are for ages 12 and older and are offered Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Be sure to book in advance. Sierra Nevada Brewing, Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River.

Pro Tip: For a true beer geek experience, book a Beer Geek Tour to learn about everything from ingredients to history. The three-hour tour is available Mondays and Thursdays and requires a reservation.

For the Need for Speed Dad:  Richard Petty Driving Experience

Is the dad in your life still collecting speeding tickets like a reckless teenager? Allow him to experience true speed with either a ride-along or behind-the- wheel NASCAR driving adventure with Richard Petty Driving Experience. Younger kids can participate with a Junior Ride Along (as long as they’re 4-feet tall). If they don’t make the height requirement, it’s still fun to watch.

Reservations required in advance. Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord.

Pro Tip: The NASCAR Hall of Fame is hosting a Father’s Day brunch to help round out the race-inspired experience.

For the Foodie Dad: 5th Annual NC Food Truck State Championship

On the Saturday of Father’s Day Weekend is the 5th Annual NC Food Truck State Championship in Randleman (a half-hour south of Greensboro). The juried food competition draws food trucks from throughout the state to see who reigns supreme for cooking in a tin box. Last year, Charlotte favorite Rue 72 took home the grand price.

Admission is free. Pay for what you eat. Downtown Randleman.

Pro Tip: Bring along some camping chairs and spend the day enjoying live music while you nosh.

For the Sports Lover Dad: A Charlotte Independence Game

The Charlotte Knights might not be in town on Father’s Day Weekend, but the Charlotte Independence are! Watch the USL team take on the Charleston Battery and see if Charlotte has enough soccer passion to host an MLS team. Be sure to stick around after the game for fireworks.

Buy your tickets online. Sportsplex at Matthews, 1505 Tank Town, Matthews.

Pro Tip: Charlotte’s newest brewery just opened in Matthews. Go early or stay late and treat dad to a pint or two at Seaboard Brewing.

For the Music Dad: Queen City Jazz Festival

One of my most traumatizing experiences as a child was the Kenny G concert my parents dragged me to. As if the nauseating drone of his weird looking saxophone meets clarinet thingy wasn’t painful enough, Michael Bolton opened for him. This isn’t that concert. The festival takes place June 16 at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre and includes both local and national acts playing all styles of jazz.

Tickets are available on Ticketmaster in advance of the concert. Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.

Pro Tip: Opt for lawn seats for a more casual, summery vantage point.

Courtesy of Jon Strayhorn

For the Adrenaline Fueled Dad: The US National Whitewater Center

This one sounds kind of trite, but I can’t think of a more perfect adrenaline-fueled, action adventure experience that the whole family can enjoy than the US National Whitewater Center. Whitewater rafting, SUP boarding, zip lines, rock climbing, and all the fun you’ve come to know and love at the Whitewater Center.

Buy a day pass or buy by the activity if you’re not sure the family will last the entire day. US National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.

Pro Tip: Not exactly on Father’s Day, but Sol Fest is on June 16 and is a beer-festival-meets-race-meets-concert.

For the Nature Dad: McDowell Nature Center and Preserve

Located within the Charlotte city limits is an often overlooked yet worthy of visiting nature preserve. The McDowell Nature Center and Preserve offers over 1,100 acres of rolling forested terrain on the banks of Lake Wylie. Hike the trails, tour Ozone Gardens, or fish off Copperhead Island.

The park is only open from 1p.m. to 5p.m. on Sundays, so plan accordingly. McDowell Nature Center and Preserve, 15222 South York Rd.

Pro Tip: Camping is available for the true outdoorsy families.

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