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Father's Day Fun: 5 Awesome Outdoorsy Things to Do With Dad

7/16/16 by Jeff Banowetz

Maybe it’s inevitable that we view our parents through a different lens than other people. They’re our authority figures, our protectors. It’s hard to picture them out enjoying the same things you do—regardless of their age. Your father may not be old, but he’s still your old man.

But chances are, you and your dad share some passions—and if not, there's a lot to be said for the bonding that can happen when you take an interest in his. After all, he had a life before you that almost certainly involved all kinds of adventures that unfortunately become less frequent once kids (that's you) and adult responsibilities entered the picture.

So, as Father's Day approaches, consider something a little more special than a typical backyard barbecue or afternoon on the golf course in favor of helping dad rediscover some of those passions from his youth. To get you inspired, here are five outdoorsy things to do with your dad that may just help you get to know him a little bit better—and remind him of what life was like before you came along.

1. Enjoy a Music Festival

Father-son moment.
Father-son moment. J Dimas

Who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful day outdoors (or night under the stars) listening to their favorite music? While you and your dad may not share exact musical tastes, perhaps he may surprise you. Outdoor music festivals have exploded in recent years, attracting folks of all ages and offering something for just about any taste. If he’s game, go big with one of the major festivals like Lollapalooza in Chicago, Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., the New Port Folk Festival in Newport, R.I., or the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Milwaukee’s Summerfest is recognized as the world’s largest music festival, with more than 800 bands over 11 days.

For a smaller-scale outing, scour local listings for a venue with live outdoor music or bands that your dad hasn’t heard in years. Pick his favorite genre and see what you can find, and who knows—you may just discover that you appreciate dear old dad’s taste more than you thought.

2. Hit the Rocks

Dad belaying.
Dad belaying. Jesse Wagstaff

For a certain subset of adventurous types, rock climbing is a passion that occupies most of their free time. But for the rest of us, rock climbing is a thrill that takes us out of the ordinary. If your father’s never tried it, why not give it a shot? Outfitters are available all over the country that can take beginners to some of the most scenic places around and get them up on the rock safely. A recommended place to start is a local climbing gym , where you'll learn the basics and find out more about the outdoor opportunities around you.

3. Explore Country Roads by Bike

A bike ride like Seattle to Portland is a great way to spend time with dad and escape the city.
A bike ride like Seattle to Portland is a great way to spend time with dad and escape the city. Joe Goldberg

Many of us learned how to ride a bike with dad running behind with his hand firmly on the saddle. Why not pay him back for all those back-breaking hours by creating a unique, off-the-beaten-path ride for him? If cycling is your father’s thing, choose a big organized ride, like the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic , which covers 200 miles over two days. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society hosts single- and multi-day rides in almost every state to raise money for MS, while you get to enjoy a supported ride through scenic country roads.

Or you can organize your own ride: For bonus points, create a route that includes stops at a great restaurant for lunch and, afterward, at a local watering hole that your dad will love for a post-ride pint.

4. Take a Dip in a Swimming Hole

Finding a swimming hole, like this one in Alabama's Little River Canyon, can make for a fun escape.
Finding a swimming hole, like this one in Alabama's Little River Canyon, can make for a fun escape. Sam Brown

A good swimming hole can feel like a delicious little secret, only shared among a group of in-the-know buddies. It takes a bit of effort to get to there, and once you’ve found it, you can often savor the privacy that’s missing from many other places to swim. That sense of both discovery and independence makes swimming holes so appealing when you're growing up and craving kids-only adventures with your friends on a hot summer day.

So, as the official start of summer approaches, it's an ideal time to help your dad relive those exciting days of his younger years. Do some research together to find a place that requires a bit of effort to find—you'll bond even more figuring out where to go and how to get there.

5. Reach the Summit of Something

Hiked to the top with dad.
Hiked to the top with dad. Adam Baker

Not everyone has a burning desire to reach the peak of Mt. Everest. But there’s still an innate sense of satisfaction that comes with summiting a mountain, hill, or even just a panoramic vista point and soaking up the surroundings. Maybe it’s the highest point in your state ? Maybe that means exploring a particularly scenic trail, like hiking to McAfee Knob in Virginia or to the top of Cascade Mountain in New York? Wherever you end up, find a challenging trail and focus on reaching the top together. The selfie you take when you get there is something you won’t soon forget—and neither is the journey itself.

Originally written by RootsRated for Marmot.