If you’re a Hallmark store lurker like yours truly, you know that Father’s Day is very much a cookie cutter set of ideas about traditional American masculinity. Dad wants to hit the golf ball, eat the steak, drink the beer, watch the sports, go fishing, and stuff like that. Everything to do with Father’s Day seems to involve a time machine to the 1950s. It’s not that any of that stuff is bad. I love burned cow and an Astros game as much as the next Texan.
Houston, though, is a place where we pride ourselves on our diversity. We can offer a lot more than the bare expected cultural minimum. Here are a few suggestions.
10. Chess at Agora
This is probably the closest thing to a cliché on the list, but Agora remains one of the best coffeehouses in Houston. Whether you’re popping in for caffeine, dessert or some fine beers on tap, it’s one of the most chill spots in the city. It’s also a great place for a game of chess, and Agora provides the pieces. If you or your dad doesn’t know how to play, teach each other. Otherwise just relax, talk, and play.
9. Visit the Maritime Museum
Houston has a well-deserved reputation as a museum town, but one of the museums that never seems to get enough love is the Maritime. Right now it’s still in its old location in the museum district, but it’s still an oddly fascinating place to learn about the history of the Gulf Coast and the ships that have sailed it. By next year they are slated to be in a new location near the Port of Houston with a much more ambitious set-up. Plus, it will be next to the Sam Houston boat tours, adding a day on the water to the outing.
8. Paint With the Family
One of the main annoyances with the traditional Father’s Day stuff is none of it ever seems to emphasize the creative side of fatherhood. Rectify that by visiting one of the Painting With a Twist locations all over Houston. They run an amazing array of classes open to the public and focused on fun. Or if you prefer something more practical…
7. Take a Cooking Class at Sur La Table
Nothing brings a family together better than a meal, and there is simply no higher example of the ideals of hearth and home than the preparation of that meal. Improve that skill and strengthen the bonds of family by attending some of the cooking classes available at Sur la Table. They even have special ones designed specifically for fathers and their children this Father’s Day weekend.
6. Have Tea at the St. Regis Hotel
I have a six-year-old daughter, which means I have been to more tea parties than Ted Cruz in a primary. Joking aside, though, there really is something very decadent about a proper, formal afternoon tea that you don’t usually get to feel as a father. To really get the best experience the St. Regis Hotel has an amazing daily tea service, though at $40 a person it’s not cheap. If you go, I’d spring for the $55 per person as it comes with champagne and an English trifle. Another decadent option…
5. Get a Facial
Pop media has made sure that we see spa treatments as the sort of thing only women bother with, and pop media has lied to us so hard. Facials are amazing, particularly for men who are taught that these kind of pampering luxuries are off limits. After a facial you’re positively chocked full of endorphins and you glow for days. My personal recommendation is with Jessica Stone at Maison Luisant, but you can also get good facials at Chrysalis Skin & Body, Bare Necessities and even Massage Heights, which is pretty good for a chain.
4. Go on a Geocache Treasure Hunt
If you want something more active and outdoorsy I recommend getting involved in the geocache scene. If you haven’t heard of it it’s basically a huge online treasure hunt involving finding hidden items in real-world locations with a GPS-enabled device. You can sign up here to play, and there are a ton of Houston-based ones to hunt down. It’s a fun community activity.
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3. Take a Bayou Kayak Tour
Houston is the Bayou City for good reason, but they’re more than just a thing to drive over on the way to work. You can spend a few hours paddling down the waterways in a rented kayak with dad, watching everything from native wildlife to bustling downtown. Make sure you bring sunscreen and bug repellent, though. It can get a little swampy.
2. Play Video Games at Game Guys
The best thing about gaming as a medium is that now we’re seeing solid second and even third generation gamers. There are lots of places that cater to social gaming (Joystix especially comes to mind), but my pick for a great Father’s Day of gaming is definitely Game Guys. They do everything from classic arcade and pinball to hardcore LAN party set-ups. Plus, $15 for unlimited play is a great deal by any standard. If you want something more esoteric, though…
1. Play Virtual Reality at Exitus VR
I had the opportunity to experience this awesome VR set-up a little while back, and what struck me the most about it was how much it brought people, even strangers together. Immersed in an exploding spaceship, Exitus VR unites a group of players to solve their way out of the mess. It’s meant more for team-building, but it works with families as well. Plus, since we last reported on them they’ve decided to drop the price of a visit considerably. You want something off the wall for dad? Take a trip to space together. It'll definitely be more memorable than most traditional Father's Day outings. .