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Queens Chronicle

Father’s Day gift and travel guide

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Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2015 1:59 pm

While we owe unlimited thanks to the people who brought us into the world and most shaped our lives, Father’s Day is certainly a key occasion to express appreciation for dad.

Getting him a tie is a Father’s Day cliche, and if you go that route you might check out the Esquire line available at Men’s Wearhouse as well as the limitless choices found at ties.com.

Beyond the tie, 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. Outdoor Life, a Sears label, makes quality shirts for guys at affordable prices.

The keys to pants are style, comfort and durability. Haggar has long been one of my favorite labels. Another pants brand that gives great consumer value is Structure, and it’s also available at Sears.

Lands End, 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. If you can spend a bit more, Mackage.com offers almost every leather jacket you can think of. The German designer Iris Von Arnim has a huge collection of cashmere sweaters and jackets.

Luxor Linens’ Egyptian cotton bathrobes are a great way to relax around the house after a bath or shower.

Men’s shoes come in far more styles today than when I was growing up. Designer Steve Madden, who is synonymous with high-end women’s shoes, has long had a showroom and small factory in Sunnyside and has now entered the men’s footwear market. Dr. Scholl’s, known for shoe inserts, is now making dress shoes for guys. Another recent entrant into the high-end men’s shoes market is Tribeca-based Paul Drish. Even Crocs, which is still best known for its plastic beach clog, has expanded into the leisure dress shoe industry. If you are looking for a stylish work shoe, Beckett Simonon has the quality of Allen Edmunds but at a price roughly a third of the well-known New York retailer because its shoes are made in Poland and are sold only online.

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 names in the industry, with Smith Optics, Maui Jim and Shauns California rapidly gaining on them. You can’t go wrong with either Foster Grant or Polaroid if you are on a tighter budget. Another surprisingly affordable option is Marc by Marc Jacobs eyewear.

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. Good cases in point are watches made by Long Island City’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 timepieces for well under $100.

If dad is a sports fan, New Era will certainly have a T-shirt, jacket and cap of his favorite team. The hip T-shirt company Sportiqe makes terrific NBA apparel, including a number of retro logos and styles. Old Navy, Modell’s and Sears are good places to go if you want to get a good deal on Major League Baseball apparel. Aeropostale does not have licensing agreements with any of the professional leagues but it does have one in place with the NCAA, so it’s a good place to buy apparel that features the name of your father’s alma mater.

Athletic Recon doesn’t have licensing deals in place with the big sports leagues but it does make T-shirts, pants and windbreakers for those who are serious about working out.

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

Levi Strauss is to jeans what Kleenex is to tissues, a brand so dominant that it is almost synonymous with the product it makes. Levi’s may make the most comfortable and durable jeans, but the company has faced significant competition over the years. Taking on rivals along with a still tough economy has encouraged the San Francisco-based corporation to create budget lines such as Signature and Denizen, which offer Levi’s quality but at Wrangler and Lee prices and their lighter weight makes them a good summer purchase. On the other end of the price spectrum, Alberto pants makes premium jeans that go well with Armani or Carl Gross sport jackets

Staying fit is important for everyone but it’s particularly vital as one ages. Bicycle riding through Flushing Meadows Corona Park is great exercise, especially in warm weather as Schwinn, Cannondale, Xtracycyle and Mongoose all make high-quality bikes for all levels of cyclists. A fairly new bicycle manufacturer, Priority, takes pride in its line being maintenance-free because of a gearless belt drive instead of the traditional chain.

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 Oka-B 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.

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. Another good 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. Grande also makes a high-quality shampoo.

Managing facial hair is another thing guys obsess over. Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology is that company’s start-of-the-art manual razor. If you want to see other high-tech shaving instruments from Gillette and other companies, log onto harrys.com.

Gadgets are always popular gifts. Hewlett-Packard’s HP Spectre 360x is a PC whose 13.3-inch screen is one of the best in computing today, and its battery can last around a dozen hours before it needs recharging. HP’s latest notebook is the EliteBook 1020. Samsung’s Galaxy 6-S is a popular smartphone that can also double as a tablet. Amazon’s Kindle Fire is still the most popular 7-inch tablet, while the very budget-friendly Acer has recently developed the Iconia A1-830 8-inch Android tablet.

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, but it uses very little space. It can fit easily onto a nightstand or coffee table.

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

Another handy item, for every room in the home, is a quality vacuum cleaner. 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 bigger debris and microscopic particles.

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, as well as a number of George Foreman indoor grills. For those who have outdoor space, Char-broil manufactures numerous portable, electric and charcoal grills.

While on the topic of food, let’s get to the world of 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 and 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. Another California vino option is to try Wine by Design’s varieties featuring the logos of many Major League Baseball teams, including the Mets and the Yankees.

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 here), is home to fine whisky brands such as Yamazaki and Hamishu. And of course, let’s not sell America short. Jack Daniel’s is iconic but Russell’s Reserve bourbon and American Alibi whisky show that the USA can produce quality hard booze as well.

Rums and vodka 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.

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.

With or without a drink the night before, 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 likes his java with a little more pizzazz, get him the De Longhi Lattisma Pro. Both Starbucks and Caffebene sell break-resistant coffee mugs.

While it’s not wise to encourage smoking, there is little harm if pop enjoys a cigar for special occasions. Macanudo, CAO, Cohiba and La Gloria Cubana (all made in the Dominican Republic) are top-notch brands.

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

Golf is a great way to get exercise and fresh air, though it can be a very frustrating game. Callaway Golf makes terrific clubs for the novice and for those on the PGA Tour. 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 or the Pitch & Putt at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Hitting the links after a lengthy layoff (after the miserable winter we endured, that applies to nearly all golfers who weren’t in Florida or Arizona the first quarter of the year) 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 and 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.

Amazon.com got its start selling books online and now you can buy almost anything on it. If dad is handy, Amazon sells both Stanley and DeWalt hand and power tools at discount prices.

A lot of men are automobile enthusiasts. While only a select few in the world can afford to even think about buying a Rolls-Royce, the company used its display area at the recent New York International Auto Show to promote its leather tote bags with the Rolls symbol on them. An art-related gift idea would be to purchase framed covers of past issues of Car & Driver, which are available on that magazine’s website.

If you need even more gift ideas, there are a number of full-service retail websites such as the aforementioned amazon.com, ideeli.com, luvocracy.com, thefind.com, redenvelope.com and those cable shopping websites, hsn.com and qvc.com.

A lot of dads are sports fans and it is 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 relief from the New York heat and humidity.

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 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 you are looking to go just a little off the tourist-beaten path in Southern California, try the Lake Arrowhead Resort in the San Bernardino Mountains which is renowned for some of the region’s best fishing. Another SoCal option is the Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, which takes pride in getting you into the best shape of your life with hiking, yoga, calisthenics and healthy meals throughout the day.

Las Vegas has no shortage of hotels and that competition is great for travelers. The Cosmopolitan is one of the town’s hipper and more offbeat lodging properties, while the Cromwell and LINQ are two of Sin City’s best boutique hotels. The Wynn Las Vegas is recommended for those who want a big, full-service luxury hotel on the Strip. For those who prefer a classic hotel that always has the middle-class leisure traveler in mind, Caesar’s Palace is still going strong at 50.

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 I-95 in Palm Beach County are the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens and the Seagate Resort in Delray Beach.

Miami may be hot and humid in the summer but there were times last July and August when it was more bearable there than here. One thing that is not in dispute is that it is off-season for some of the town’s toniest hotels, such as the legendary Fontainebleau, and South Beach properties such as the Mayfair, Bentley, Gale and Sanctuary. Ask for a package that includes a spa treatment.

It wasn’t that long ago that downtown Miami was a scary and deserted place after 5 p.m. These days it is as modern and exciting as South Beach across Biscayne Bay. The Conrad Miami, a Hilton property, is offering a summer $100 rate promotion. The nearby Epic Hotel also has some great rates.

Hawks Cay Resort is located on Duck Key, which is a 90-minute drive out of Miami and is 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 there. Tennis legend Cliff Drysdale has an academy there that works with all levels of players.

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

Don’t worry if dad doesn’t hit the links. He can still enjoy the beaches and spas of the Viceroy Sugar Beach Resort in St. Lucia, the Atlantis and Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, Bahamas, the Westin St. John Resort & Villas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Hyatt Regency Aruba.

You get 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, 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 all-inclusive chain properties such as Sandals, located at Pink Gin Beach.

Back at home, the success of the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct has forced nearby gaming casinos to be more competitive. Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. gets 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 it has been forced to diversify and 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 and Resorts International, located at the north end of the boardwalk, provide excellent value particularly midweek.

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 10 through 12 at one of the most famous motor sports racetracks in the world, Watkins Glen International.

There is of course plenty for dad to do here in New York City. With summer upon us, 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 sights for one price, but there are time restrictions.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

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