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Queens Chronicle

2016 Father’s Day gift and travel guide

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Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 9:49 am

It is impossible to truly thank one of the two people who probably most shaped your life, but Father’s Day is certainly an occasion to express appreciation for dad.

Before delving into gift selections, one shouldn’t forget the importance of the good old greeting card. If dad has a sense of humor and hopefully he does, both Paper Epiphanies (paperepiphanies.com) and Bald Guy Greetings (baldguygreetings.com) have cards (some bordering on the R-rated) that should put a smile on his face.

On the gift side, you can’t go wrong with shirts from such well-known makers as Armani Exchange, American Eagle and J. Crew. Haupt makes shirts for guys who aren’t afraid to wear bright colors and attention-grabbing designs. Lands’ End has both comfortable short sleeve dress and polo shirts that dad can easily wear through the early fall. Mountain Khakis, which is famous for its comfortable work pants, has expanded into the dress shirt market as well.

The keys to pants are style, comfort and durability. Lands’ End makes both comfortable dress pants for warm weather as well as stylish shorts for a summer outdoor social. If you want to treat dad to high-end European-style tailoring, Alberto Pants is a very good choice. There are a lot of jeans manufacturers but you can never go wrong with Levi’s. Another denim heritage brand, Wrangler, has always given the most bang for the dungarees buck and is always a comfortable wear.

Sears, Target, JC Penney, Burlington and Kohl’s (especially their Marc Anthony brand) sell coats and jackets in all sizes and weights for nearly every budget.

Men’s shoes have far more styles today than when I was growing up. Designer Steve Madden, who is synonymous with high-end women’s shoes and has long had a showroom and small factory in Sunnyside, is a player in the men’s footwear market. Crocs, which is still best known for its plastic beach clog, has expanded into the leisure dress shoe industry. Another new player in the men’s casual dress shoe market is Spira Footwear, which is best known for its running shows that contain metal springs in their heels.

The Original Muck Boot Company (muckbootcompany.com), Xtratuf (xtratufboots.com) and Kamik all make top-notch work and fishing boots. Xtratuf makes a summer boat loafer called the Finatic II Deck Shoe while Kamik also produces sandals for the season.

Of course you can’t discuss Father’s Day without that most clichéd of gifts, the tie. Things have changed over the years, however, as ties have become an integral part of fashion. This isn’t the 1950s Eisenhower era. Both Knot Society and ties.com make eye-catching neckwear.

Ranking right behind ties as the stereotypical Dad’s Day gift is the wallet. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad choice if your pop is walking around with a beat-up billfold. I know that I hold onto my wallets long past their rightful expiration dates. Stewart/Stand and NDK make durable wallets that won’t break your wallet to purchase.

Sunglasses are as much for fashion as to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Carrera and Ray-Ban are still the two big brand names in the industry particularly if you are a fan of aviator frames. You can’t go wrong with either Foster Grant or Polaroid if you are on a tighter budget. Another surprisingly affordable optical option is Marc by Marc Jacobs eyewear. Tiposi is a brand favored by golfers and outdoors aficionados of all kinds because of its terrific lenses, including photochromics that change with the light available akin to Transitions.

Sunglasses are a must for the beach, as is snazzy swim wear. Jantzen and Nautica are the two big names in the bathing suit business but there are a lot of newcomers who are giving them some much needed competition. Dry Fins claims that their board shorts (a hip term for bathing suit) do not chafe when they are wet and you are sitting on a sandy blanket. Mr. Swim (mrswimny.com) taps into the baby boomer market with its 1950s colors and styles. Tom & Teddy (tomandteddy.com) project a 1960s California vibe with their swimsuits and electric blue rash tops (their term for T-shirts).

Watches are the most popular form of jewelry for men, and they run the gamut in price. These days men treat timepieces as fashion accessories as much as women do. The funny thing is that an inexpensive watch doesn’t look all that different from its pricier counterpart and tells the same time. A good case in point are watches made by Little Neck’s own Armitron, and the Bedlam and Agent watch lines from House of Horology, which were created by Forest Hills High School alum Lawrence Leyderman.

Dakota, Fossil, Paul Frank and, of course, Timex have plenty of attractive time-telling options for well under $100. Another option in that bargain price area is Game Times Watches, a subsidiary of Geneva Watch Group, which makes timepieces with the logos of nearly every professional sport on their faces including our own New York Mets.

Sports memorabilia has a special place in the hearts of many men. Steiner Sports is the undisputed leader in autographed collectibles from nearly sport imaginable, while a smaller rival, Brigandi Coins & Collectibles, has a strong collection of New York Mets memorabilia.

Your father may not be in training for the New York City Marathon but a good brisk walk can do wonders for both one’s physical and mental health. Brooks Running, Asics, Avia, Reebok and Nike all make footwear that are lighter than the traditional sneaker, making it easier to go longer distances. Spira Footwear’s Stinger II has metal springs in its heels, which reduce the pressure on your foot when it strikes the ground.

My favorite summer exercise is walking on the beach. It is refreshing when the surf goes over your feet and the upper calf muscles get a good workout in the process. Crocs, Havaianas and Okabashi make footwear specifically for the beach.

Speaking of health, vitamins are a good Father’s Day “stocking stuffer.” Nearly everyone can benefit from a good multivitamin. If your father needs a little help in lowering his cholesterol, Quality of Life’s CardioChol, Nature Made’s Cholest Off and CoQ10, as well as New Chapter’s Garlic Force, all purport to help lower bad cholesterol. Rise-N-Shine, as the company name indicates, makes supplements that help with sleep and energy issues.

Women’s products have long dominated the fragrance and skin care industries but men have chipped away at the market share. Contrary to popular belief, Mary Kay, Amway, Shiseido, Turo, ReVive, Organic Doctor and Avon now all make colognes, aftershaves, cleansers, and yes, anti-aging serums for men, while Menaji, Jack Black and Anthony Logistics have always made products exclusively for guys. A good fragrance choice is Dossage 8 for Men from former Jackson Heights resident Tara Durkin, who set up her company in LA.

All men worry about their hair regardless of age and certainly more so as they get older. Paul Brown Hawaii, Baxter of California, Austin Kyle, Tigi B, Paul Mitchell and Recitals are salon-caliber shampoos. Grande Hair is a spray that purports to stimulate the follicles to give hair a fuller, thicker appearance. Both Grande and Purador (purador.com) make shampoos and conditioners that purport to fight hair loss.

Managing facial hair is another thing guys obsess over. Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology is that company’s state-of-the-art manual razor. Harry’s (harrys.com) and Dollar Shave Club both have gift boxed sets of grooming products.

Personal computers and smartphones have also become popular devices for enjoying music. Samsung’s Level Box is a wireless speaker that produces powerful clear sound akin to those big stereo speakers that we grew up with while using very little space. It can fit easily onto a nightstand or coffee table.

T-Mobile, the aggressive cellular phone retailer and provider, is as eager nowadays to sell you musical listening devices as they are, well, phones and phone service. All of its stores are selling UE Roll and JBL Flip 3 blue tooth speakers for under $100. And yes, T-Mobile, like other telecom providers, is selling the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge smartphones.

One can certainly listen to music in bed and read at the same time. Mighty Bright’s Hammerhead LED Book Light (mightybright.com)is a portable, pocket-sized lamp that throws off a lot of cool white light. It can also double as a flashlight. Eno also makes circular nightlights that can double as a flashlight or a reading light.

There are endless home entertainment options available to the consumer. Consider a subscription to Hulu if your father is a fan of either classic or cutting-edge television series. If he is more of a movie buff then consider signing dad up with Netflix.

Video games seem to be more popular than ever. If dad is hip enough to handle a console, consider the Nintendo Wii U gaming system.

The popularity of the chefs on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel have made more men want to prepare their own meals. Kohl’s is selling a line of Bobby Flay woks, carving boards and skillets. For those who have outdoor space, Char-broil and Black & Decker (through its world-famous George Foreman line) manufacture numerous portable, electric and charcoal grills.

With cooking comes the inevitable cleaning up afterwards. Dyson’s latest cordless vacuum is the Absolute V6, and it has three times the suction power of competing models and can clean up both big debris and microscopic particles. For fans of old-school uprights, try Dyson’s powerful Cinetic Ball. Bissell makes a number of lightweight vacuums as well.

From the topic of food, let’s get to the world of wines and spirits. A number of medical surveys have indicated that red wine is beneficial for cardiac health. I am partial to pinot noir that is produced in the Pacific Northwest from wineries such as Benton-Lane and Willamette Valley. Argentina’s Terrazas de los Andes’ Malbec, Chile’s Testa Aliwen and Undurraga red varieties are also full-bodied wines that are easy to sip since they do not have a bitter aftertaste. If dad is a fan of California whites, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi pinot grigio is a solid selection. If he prefers reds from the Golden State, Mark West pinot noir and Josh Cellars merlot and cabernet sauvignon are fine and reasonably priced options.

Just as there is no shortage of good red wines, the selection of harder liquors is plentiful as well. Johnnie Walker is still the household name in whisky while Macallan, Canadian Club, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, The Fat Trout and Grant’s Family Reserve are worthy competitors. Japan, which has long been known for great sake (TY KU is the leading brand there), is home to fine whisky brands such as Yamazaki and Hamishu.

Rum, vodka and tequila are a little easier on the palate. Bacardi, Jose Cuervo, Don Julio, Herradura, Partida and Milagro are the best-known rums, while Stolichnaya, Smirnoff, Ketel One, Georgi and Reyka are their vodka counterparts. If you want top-of-the line Stoli, then try a bottle of its elite brand. Soltado is a tequila which has an extra kick to it because it contains Serrano chiles. Roca Patron is a milder, upscale tequila.

Aperitifs are the candy of the alcohol world. Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlua, Godiva Liquer, LeSutra Sparkling Liquer and Solerno Blood Orange Liquer are some of the popular choices. If you miss the days of Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers, Smirnoff Ice nicely combines fruit and booze.

Getting moving in the morning doesn’t get easier as you get older. If dad likes his coffee when the day starts, Black & Decker has a number of inexpensive coffee makers. If he prefers his java with a little more pizzazz, then get him the De Longhi Lattisma Pro. Both Starbucks and Caffe Bene sell break-resistant coffee mugs.

Of course, for dad to truly enjoy a good meal or occasional drink without guilt it is important that he get exercise. Gyms such as the New York Sports Club, Crunch, New York Health & Racquet Club and Equinox generally have Father’s Day membership promotions.

Golf is a great way to get exercise and fresh air, although it can be a very frustrating game. Callaway and Titleist both make terrific clubs for both the novice and those on the PGA Tour. Golfsmith is a nationwide retailer that has both good prices and plentiful choices for both the pro and the duffer.

If dad has some old irons get him a jar of Colle (colleproducts.com) to restore their luster and prevent further tarnishing. If it has been awhile since dad worked on his game, then send him out to the driving range at Alley Pond Park and the Pitch & Putt at Flushing Meadows Park.

Hitting the links after a lengthy layoff may cause strain on a variety of muscles. A massage at the various spas around town, such as the Red Door, the Marilyn Monroe Spa in the Hyatt Times Square or Truman’s, is a great way to improve blood circulation. A warning, though: The old saying of “No pain, no gain” was probably derived from a masseuse. Log onto the spaweek.com website to learn about various discounts and promotions from spas in our area.

Summer is a time when nearly everyone does some overnight traveling, so duffel bags are very useful gifts. Thule, Kelty and Helly Hansen all make durable and spacious duffels that can easily be placed in the overhead bins of aircraft to help avoid the checked bag fees.

A lot of dads are sports fans, and it’s always a lot of fun to see your favorite team on the road. San Diego is always a beautiful place to visit, particularly in July and August when its balmy breezes are a welcome contrast from the New York heat and humidity. The Mets have already played the Padres at beautiful Petco Park but the Yankees will be there for most of July 4 weekend.

Queens’ own JetBlue has two flights a day between JFK and San Diego’s Lindbergh Airport.

There is no shortage of reasonably priced lodging in the San Diego area. The historic Grande Colonial, located in La Jolla Village, recently celebrated its centennial. The hotel is located a block from the Pacific Ocean. The sunsets at La Jolla Cove are spectacular.

The Grand Hyatt La Jolla is located a couple of miles east of the Grande Colonial Hotel in the University Town Center section of San Diego which is reminiscent of Queens in many ways because of its neighborhood feel, numerous stores and restaurants, and public transportation. The Grand Hyatt La Jolla has an Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool and large Jacuzzi that certainly capture the spirit of Southern California.

The West Inn & Suites is a boutique hotel located just north of San Diego in the town of Carlsbad. The West Inn provides a lot of amenities including a complimentary local shuttle bus, hot buffet breakfast and even milk and cookies before bedtime (ah, the kid in all of us!) for a very reasonable rate.

If dad wants to work out and eat healthy, I have a place for him. The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu takes pride in getting one into the best shape of one’s life with hiking, yoga, calisthenics and healthy meals throughout the day. The Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz. is similar to the Ranch at Live Oak except that there is more emphasis on meditation and less on calisthenics.

Summer is understandably the off-season in South Florida, and the ritzy Turnberry Isle Resort located just north of Miami Beach in the town of Aventura offers heavily discounted packages that include lodging, food and of course a round of golf on its championship course. Two great golf resorts just up the road from Aventura on 1-95 in Palm Beach County are the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens and the Seagate Resort in Delray Beach.

Hawks Cay Resort is located on Duck Key and is a 90-minute drive south of Miami, halfway between Key Largo and Key West. Hawks Cay is famous for its deep-sea fishing, and two popular cable TV fishing shows, “Saltwater Experience” and “Into the Blue” have had many episodes filmed here. Tennis legend Cliff Drysdale has an academy there that works with all levels of players.

If you want to go to the Miami area, check out Sunny Isles, which used to be known as the Motel Row section of Miami Beach. Those bargain-priced mom-and-pop properties are long gone, as is the area’s famed deli, the Rascal House, and in their place are gleaming skyscraper resorts which fortunately do have competitive prices for the leisure traveler.

Central Florida is best known of course for its gigantic theme parks such as the various Disney properties, Universal Studios, Sea World and Busch Gardens. The Kennedy Space Center an hour east of Orlando has countless NASA-related exhibits as well as the Astronauts Hall of Fame, and in my opinion is every bit as memorable as Disney and Universal.

This is also the quiet season for Caribbean resorts and there are bargains to be had there too. It should be noted that the sea breezes keep a lot of the islands from getting unbearably hot or overly humid.

Dad can scuba, kayak, sail or just enjoy white-sand beaches at Viceroy Sugar Beach Resort in St. Lucia, the Atlantis and Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, the Bahamas, the Westin St. John Resort & Villas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Hyatt Regency Aruba and the Mango Bay Barbados Resort. If he wants to hit the links in the Caribbean he should try the Magdalena Beach & Golf Resort in Tobago.

You get a great bang for the buck in the Dominican Republic, and the city of Punta Cana has become one of the world’s most popular resorts because of the number of terrific all-inclusive resorts such as the Grand Palladium, Excellence, Dreams and Secrets, where nearly everything is included in your room rate.

JetBlue, which has service throughout the Caribbean, has just started twice-a-week service to Grenada. While there is a “rainy season” there, this picturesque island nation rarely gets summer or early fall hurricanes or even all-day wet weather. Grenada is known for its family-run boutique resorts, such as the popular Spice Island Beach Resort, but it does have chain all-inclusive properties such as Sandals, which is located at Pink Gin Beach.

The Jamaica Inn, located in that island nation’s resort town of Ocho Rios, tries to give a Robinson Crusoe feel with its pristine white beaches and the fact that there are no radios or TV sets in its rooms. You can, however, plug in your Wi-Fi devices. The same deal goes for the Round Hill Hotels and Villas in Montego Bay.

Donald Trump probably won’t be vacationing in Mexico anytime soon but our southern neighboring nation has some beautiful getaway spots. Cabo San Lucas, located in the country’s southernmost point on the Baja California peninsula, is one of the most beautiful resort towns in North America. Rock guitarist Sammy Hagar saw Cabo San Lucas as his answer to Jimmy Buffet’s Key West and opened his Caba Wabo nightclub there. There is no shortage of resorts in Cabo. The Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort clearly isn’t short on amenities and its adults-only policy makes it a perfect spot for dads who want to enjoy some quiet.

Up the coast from Cabo San Lucas is Mexico’s largest Pacific resort town, Puerto Vallarta. The Casa Velas and its sister property, the Velas Vallarta, are all-inclusive resorts that include golf packages with one of Mexico’s two top country clubs, the Vista Vallarta or the Marina Vallarta Golf Club.

The success of the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct has forced nearby gaming casinos to be more competitive. The Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. gets some of the biggest names in entertainment to perform in its arena and has top-notch restaurants, a world-class spa and even professional sports, as it’s the home of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.

If you do go to Mohegan Sun, try to set a day or two aside in nearby and beautiful Newport, RI, where you can see historic mansions, the first synagogue in the United States and the Tennis Hall of Fame. The Castle Hill Inn offers “learn to sail” packages in honor of Newport’s rich maritime history. The America’s Cup used to be held there every three years. Rhode Island’s capital, Providence, has undergone a renaissance as there are now lots of new restaurants and parks, and it’s approximately a 40-minute drive from Newport.

Atlantic City is synonymous with gambling but has been forced to diversify as there are now plenty of other activities to keep one busy. Walking its world-famous five-mile boardwalk is great exercise. Both the Taj Mahal, located at the north end of the boardwalk, and the Tropicana, located towards the south end, have excellent restaurants and entertainment. They provide excellent value particularly midweek. My guess is that news of the town’s fiscal woes will only add more downward pressure on room rates.

If you enjoy sensible gambling but prefer the mountains to the ocean, the Mount Airy Casino in the Poconos should be to your liking. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from as well as name entertainment on many weekends.

New York State’s Finger Lakes region can rival California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys when it comes to both quality wines and the number of wineries one can visit. The annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival will take place July 15 to 17 at one of the most famous motor sports racetracks in the world, Watkins Glen International.

Maine has always been a popular summer getaway for the rich and famous. President George H.W. Bush “41” has long kept a home in ritzy Kennebunkport. If you want to see why he has always enjoyed being there, you can stay at a number of the boutique lodging properties that make up the Kennebunkport Resort Collection.

There is, of course, plenty for dad to do here in New York City. A dinner cruise on either World Yacht or Spirit Cruises is a very enjoyable way to spend an evening. The warmer weather is also a great time to see the Big Apple’s various attractions. CityPASS and New York Pass allow you to see a lot of sites for one price, though there are time restrictions.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

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