Ditch the tie and make memories this Father’s Day!
Dad’s a good sport. When he opens a box of new socks or a homemade magnet still dripping with glue on Father’s Day he’ll smile and say thanks, but this year might be the time to do something totally different on his special day. Maybe instead of the Hallmark card and the new grill apron you could take the outdoor dad on your gift list on a special road trip—an adventure he’ll never forget.
If you think that sounds like a fantastic idea but have no idea where you can take dad this year we’ve got nine great destination ideas. Odds are one of these is in your neck of the woods, but if not you could turn your adventure into a multi-day adventure—just please don’t ask dad to drive the whole time.
Cody Firearms Museum: Cody, Wyoming
Located at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Cody Firearms Museum contains over 7,000 guns from major manufacturers all over the world. The heart of the museum is the Winchester Collection, which contains some of the finest examples of early Winchester guns still on display anywhere in the world and which was donated to the museum by the Olin Corporation in 1988. But the Winchester Collection represents just a portion of the guns on display here from manufacturers like L.C. Smith, Browning, Remington, and others. As you might imagine, many of Bill Cody’s own guns are on display here including the .50-caliber rifle that he used to hunt bison on the American plains 9and which earned him his famous nickname). The entire Center of the West is fascinating, but if dad is a gun guy you’ll have to drag him away from the museum’s expansive gun collection. www.centerofthewest.org
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Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Elk Country Visitor Center: Missoula, Montana
If you can force yourself indoors after witnessing the breathtaking mountain views in Missoula it’s worthwhile to spend some time in the Elk Country Visitor Center where you’ll find plenty of interactive displays that educate the whole family about conservation in the American West. The big game mounts that are on display are breathtaking (including some of the largest elk ever harvested), so if dad’s a fan of big antlers then this is a must-see destination. Plus, you can learn about tracking, view videos that explain the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s mission and highlight current conservation projects and walk around the Center’s 22-acre property where you may see trout, eagles, wild turkeys and occasionally even wild elk. Best of all, admission is free. www.rmef.org
The National Shooting Complex: San Antonio, Texas
Stroll through the 671-acre National Shooting Complex in San Antonio and you might just bump into some of the top shooters in the world including Olympians and world champions. Or, if the Texas sun is too hot to stand outside, take a walk through the museum and the gift shop that is at the center of this massive shooting complex. The NSC is home to both the National Sporting Clays Association and the National Skeet Shooting Association, and if there was ever a place to pick up a few pointers on shotgun shooting this is the spot. You can even take a class here, and the courses are not limited to shotgun sports, either; this facility hosts a wide range of events and activities year-round. Even if you aren’t a shooter a day at the NSC offers a rare opportunity to witness some of the very best instructors and competitors smashing targets. www.nsc.nssa-nsca.org
The Greenbrier: White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
The Greenbrier was founded in 1778 and has certainly earned the title of “America’s Resort.” The optional activities here are just about unlimited; there are pools, a casino, walking trails, an off-road driving school, and even falconry classes, but the spot that dad will most likely end up is the Kate’s Mountain shooting complex where he can spend a few hours shooting on the world-class shotgun facility under the tutelage of some of the country’s best competitive shotgunners. Once you’ve finished with that dad can head to the links for a game of golf, head to a nearby trout stream to cast a fly, or simply kick back in the Greenbrier’s built-in movie theater. www.greenbrier.com
NRA National Firearms Museum: Fairfax, Virginia
One of the most extensive collections of firearms ever amassed are housed in the NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Virginia. The 15,000-square foot museum houses more than 3,000 guns in 85 different displays, everything from prototype firearms to military weapons to Hollywood guns used in some of his favorite films like Last Stand at Saber River, Book of Eli, and the .44 Magnum “Dirty” Harry Callahan carried. The massive Bob Petersen Collection was recently added and it houses many of Petersen’s personal weapons, and historians will appreciate the early nineteenth-century guns that helped shaped firearms design as we know it. www.nramuseum.com
Elk Creek Sporting Clays and Vineyard: Owenton, Kentucky
Not far off interstate 75 in the rolling green hills of northern Kentucky lies Elk Creek Sporting Clays, one of the premier shooting destinations in the country. Elk Creek offers 45 newly-paved sporting clays stations and no less than 35 different shooting fields where dad can spend the afternoon shooting with some of the best instructors in the country. In addition, the Elk Creek Vineyards offers a wide selection of wines and there are a number of different menu options if he works up an appetite on the shooting course. This is also a great place to shop for new guns and hunting merchandise, but be forewarned—a new Beretta sporting clays over/under is going to cost considerably more than a new tie. There are also hunting fields where dad can chase upland birds in season. www.elkcreekhuntclub.com
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Jack O’Connor Hunting Heritage and Education Center: Lewiston, Idaho
If dad’s a serious hunter he’s probably familiar with the name Jack O’Connor. O’Connor was one of the preeminent outdoor writers of the twentieth century, having hunted in such far-flung places as Iran and India while chronicling his adventures in magazines like Outdoor Life. At the Jack O’Connor Hunting Heritage Center he’ll be able to view O’Connor’s trophies as well as his prized firearms, many of which are almost as famous as the writer himself. But the O’Connor Center is more than just a place to view artifacts from a legendary writer—the center hosts educational programs that help spread the word about conservation efforts funded by hunters and hunting organizations. If he’s feeling adventurous dad can also book a jet boat or rafting tour of the nearby Snake River in Lewiston, too. www.jack-oconnor.org
Gunsite Academy: Paulden, Arizona
No matter whether he’s into shotgun, rifle, or pistol shooting the dad on your Father’s Day gift list is going to love a trip to Gunsite. Founded by the late Colonel Jeff Cooper, Gunsite offers a wide range of courses on everything from basic defensive pistol to field-prep courses for big game hunters, so no matter his skill level he’ll be able to schedule a class that will help him improve his shooting skills and become a more effective shooter. In addition, there’s a Pro Shop on the grounds with a wide selection of useful products and even a gunsmith who can tune his firearm while he’s learning to shoot. A trip to Gunsite will be an experience that dad will never forget. www.gunsite.com
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By Brad Fitzpatrick | GetZone.com Contributor