By Kristen Roberts and Michael Hallisey
He makes the best pancakes in the world and he’s a whiz at turning a stormy mood around with a big bear hug. He’s an efficient and entertaining taxi driver, regaling his captive audience with goofy jokes and tales about “back in the day.” He’s up for a game of catch, but he’s not opposed to having his nails done if the pint-sized manicurist insists.
Is this guy great or what?
This year, show the best dad in the world a small token of your gratitude with one of these great gift ideas. And a BIG hug. Don’t forget the hug.
1. Why are all the store fliers trying to convince us that dads want grilling utensils? They’re everywhere. Special sets made out of titanium or sporting carved handles with artisanal carrying cases. If the guy likes to grill, chances are he already has what he needs to get the job done.
Maybe what he really wants is barbecue that he doesn’t have to make himself.
This may not be Texas, but the Capital District has some pretty good options when it comes to ’cue. Capital Q Smokehouse, 329 Ontario St., Albany, doesn’t disappoint with its huge selection of smoked meat and sides (don’t miss out on the mac and cheese), although they are best known for their brisket. The restaurant’s a little on the small side, so you might consider this for takeout. If you’re looking for a place to sit down and spread out a little, head over to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 377 River St., Troy. Dad can get messy as he tucks into a rack of ribs, and a well-thought-out kids menu means you don’t have to worry about finding something for the little ones to eat.
2. Dad may not have a Death Wish, but Father’s Day is as good a time as any to start. You’d have to have been in deep hibernation all winter (not judging here) to have missed the news about this little local coffee startup that had an ad play during the Super Bowl. Well, it turns out the coffee is pretty good – and strong. You can buy it locally and at www.deathwishcoffee.com for $19.99 per pound. Not strong enough, you say? Death Wish recently teamed up with Albany Distilling to create Death Wish vodka. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
3. Mowing the lawn is hard work, but it’s not that bad, and it can sometimes be a pleasant zenlike experience. Finding time to mow the lawn is the real chore. So many times a short window of opportunity is thwarted by bad weather or more pressing things, like a child’s softball match or recital. Take this one off Dad’s plate by hiring a mowing service or the neighbor kid to keep the yard tidy. It will run you around $25 a week, but it is money well spent.
4. How about you take Dad out to the ballgame? Major League tickets are great and all, but don’t overlook the baseball experience you can have on your own home turf. Opening Day for the Valley Cats, a minor league baseball team based in Troy and affiliated with the Houston Astros, is Friday, June 17, and tickets will only set you back $7-$12. Oh, and there will be fireworks, too. Home games take place at “The Joe” on the Hudson Valley Community College Campus, which is easy to get to from most points in the Capital District.
If Dad is looking for a real “I saw him before he was famous” moment, then check out the Albany Dutchmen, who play during June and July at the Christian Plumeri Sports Complex, 20 Frisbie Ave., Albany. The Dutchmen are part of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Tickets are a modest $5 a pop, and it is some of the most authentic baseball you’ll see. Go to www.dutchmenbaseball.com for more info.
5. In a similar vein, you may want to tap into the childhood hobby of sports card collecting. Coffee table books provide for great conversation pieces, as do the backs of baseball and football cards. This is an easy project you can start by obtaining a three-ring binder and a handful of nine-pocket folder pages you can score online. However, for best results, you should venture to Finnigan’s Sportcards on Central Avenue in Colonie. Some cards of the baseball and football greats of Dad’s youth can be purchased for less than a dollar each. You don’t have to fill out the book on your own. Let Dad do it, with some help from the kids for a great bonding experience.
6. Sunday, June 19, also marks the day of what is bound to become a new Capital District tradition — Dad’s Fest. For 68 years, Albany’s Tulip Festival has been a weekend celebration of Mother’s Day. But, now, a similar festival has started in earnest at Jenning’s Landing on the banks of the Hudson River. It’s a day full of live music, food, beverages and a variety of retail vendors. Music, food and drink are three things on the top of every man’s list. A day out in the sun, along the river and with family is what good memories are made out of. Oh, there’s also friendly competitions and games, such as a moustache contest.
7. If Dad doesn’t sport a moustache, and would rather present a clean-shaven look, send him off to Rumors IV Men, 626 New Loudon Road, Latham. Moms know about Rumors. It’s the place they go to have their hair styled and to be pampered. Well, the male equivalent is across the street. Here, Dad can walk in, be presented a drink, and watch ESPN on television while enjoying Pearl Jam on the radio. Aside from the shampoo — oh, yeah. guys like that, too — and haircut experience, Dad can receive a shoulder rub, and warm towel on his face, followed by a nice, lathery shave. Call them at 782-4636 to book an appointment.
8. Speaking of books, if Dad is an avid reader, you could venture off to I Love Books at 380 Delaware Ave., Delmar. This enchanting spot is full of today’s favorites and yesterday’s classics. Local authors are showcased opposite the cash register, so you can get the local flavor on either fiction or non-fiction. You may even be able to find a journal for Dad to jot down his thoughts, creative ideas or record the wonderful memories he has with his family.
9. Material things are nice, but you really don’t have to spend a dime to give Dad one of the greatest gifts of all – an afternoon of uninterrupted TV time. (It doesn’t have to be TV; it can be anything he enjoys vegging out to.) Bonus points if you keep him well-stocked with his favorite snacks and beverage of choice. Company is welcome, but questions and comments should be kept to a minimum. Dad gets to watch whatever he wants, and if he starts to “rest his eyes” halfway through, you still can’t change the channel.