21 Explorer Father’s Day Gifts

Do you ever feel like Father’s Day gets a little forgotten? Between Mother’s Day just a month before and school ending and summer travel, I feel like it doesn’t usually get the attention it deserves. But I’ll tell ya what, I’m dang grateful to get to explore with that guy on the left. He’s patient and interested and has a memory for facts and history and words like no one I’ve ever met. He loves sharing knowledge with our kids, and loves learning himself.
I put together a quick list of some of our favorite Father’s Day gifts for dads who love to explore – at home or afar. It has a mix of experiences and items we’ve loved for travel. I hope you find something the dad in your life will love!
Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there!!
1. Campground reservations. Find a beautiful site, pick a weekend, make the time.
2. Treat gift card. I don’t know any dads who’d say no to treats. Get him a gift card to a doughnut shop, ice cream parlor, or just coupons for gelato if you’re traveling in Italy like us. Even better if he can use them for individual kid dates.
3. Multipurpose wallet tool. Dan keeps this handy little thing in his ultra slim wallet and it’s helped us out so many times.
4. Plan a hike and picnic. Google for some good ones in near you (I’ve shared a bunch of great, kid-friendly ones in the Bay Area), pack an easy picnic (we like to do simple caprese sandwiches, nuts, fruit, and some easy veggies like snap peas, plus a fizzy drink), and spend a day outside together. Throw in some swimsuits and a towel if it’s near water or a beach!
5. Tickets to a sporting event. Doesn’t have to be expensive. Baseball games tend to have cheap tickets on stubhub (or the San Jose minor league team always has free tickets in local grocery stores). Even a local high school football game is fun if dad likes the sport and wants to explain it to the kids! My sister gives my dad, who is a giant tennis fan, tickets to a tournament in their city every year.
6. Carabiners. Sounds strange, but we got a giant pack of sturdy carabiners and they’re so great for travel or local adventures. We’ve used them to hook water bottles on the outside of backpacks, to attach stuffed animals by their collars, to hold a combo lock, and a million other things. So useful. (Also, when I asked Dan if he had any ideas, he immediately said carabiners. And he said he’d get even bigger ones to attach things to the top of the suitcase. Ha!)
7. Find a local summer evening event. Our town does jazz in the park on certain nights, and there’s free Shakespeare in the park on certain Sundays. We went to see The Merchant of Venice last Father’s Day since Dan loves Shakespeare and took a picnic of salads along. It was delightful and summery and allowed dad to spend time with the kids – one of the biggest reasons for the holiday. The event doesn’t even have to be on Father’s Day; just make him a card with the details all planned out, and have the kids explain the celebration – they’ll be thrilled to share.
8. Folding backpacks. We got the kids each one of these for Christmas and they’ve been awesome to have along. They’re super lightweight and fold up, but then if we have extra little things with us (like food), or need to wash one because peach juice got all over it, then we have an extra to use and fold back up when we’re done.
9. Do a dad photo shoot. You can pay a photographer, of course, or you can just go to a playground in the late afternoon for good light, have your kids swing on swings and climb structures with Dad, and snap a few photos with your phone. They won’t be perfect, but they will be real and you’ll be so grateful to have them.
10. Water bottle. I love this water bottle because it keeps things cold for over 24 hours (I’ve had ice survive for up to 36), it’s leakproof, it has a hook so you can clip it on things (with a carabiner!), it’s slim so it fits in water bottle pockets, and you can drink one handed. I don’t love straw water bottles (they ick me out) so I don’t love the hydroflask, so this one is my fave since water flows out of the spout, and it has a cover to keep it clean, too.
11. Plan an international night for his favorite country. Make dinner from that country, watch a relevant movie, eat a treat (Trader Joe’s is great if you don’t want to make stuff). A couple years ago, I had my kids learn a children’s church song in Portuguese since my husband was a missionary for our church in Brazil. It was so fun!
12. Packing cubes. I was debating between taking one big suitcase for all of us or a couple tiny ones + backpacks, and several of the folks who voted carry ons said it would be more organized. Packing cubes keep everything organized even in one big pack. They are AMAZING and we don’t travel without them. Is it overstating things to say they are life-changing?
13. Inflatable raft. I’m laughing as I type this because Dan loves it and I find it somewhat annoying. But HE loves it! He loves bringing it along camping if there’s a reservoir or lake, or taking it out near us. He thinks it’s so fun to paddle the kids along, and they love it, too.
14. Books, of course. It could be one for him to read, but even more fun, I think, is a children’s book for him to read with the kids. Dan has always loved “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” and we didn’t have a copy, so when our oldest was about 18 months old, I had him “give” Dan a copy. My friend Janssen is the queen of children’s book recs!
15. Museum pass. It’s an awesome, regular activity Dad can do with the kids, and there are tons of options from children’s to science to art.
16. Wool socks. They’re awesome for travel because they dry quickly and don’t get stinky easily.
17.  A date a month pass. Have your kids come up with activity ideas they want to do with Dad, and make a coupon for one each month. Our kids have loved the
18. Travel towels. Lightweight and absorbent and dry quickly. They’re awesome.
19. A game. Some sort of outdoor one (like a kite!) is always fun, or you could do a board game (we love The Labyrinth).
20. Bow ties. Anyone who knows my husband knows he’s a big bow tie fan. Plus, they’re great for travel because they take up less room than a regular tie!
21. Favorite breakfast. Obvious, but sometimes that’s all you need! No need to complicate things. I don’t particularly care for sweet rolls, but Dan loves them. So every year for Father’s Day, we make caramel pecan rolls and he loves it.

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