Looking for unusual trip ideas for Dad? You’ll find plenty in this collection of father-son and father-daughter trips that your fellow Dads have loved. Some of these celebrations of Dad even included the whole multi-generational family. These travelers all used The WOW List to find the right trip planner who could deliver the maximized experience and VIP treatment that Dads deserve when celebrating special milestones. Here’s how to get your own WOW trip.
From test-driving Ferraris to fly fishing in Italy
“After an initial discussion of objectives, Maria did an excellent job of planning a balanced trip of cultural sightseeing and fun activities inside, outside and on the water. Execution was flawless, and it was huge value having a digital personal itinerary (w/ contacts and maps) and Cristina, our local operations manager, a text away for any last-minute needed changes.
After the overnight flight to Milan, we literally hit the ground hiking from Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino, keeping our active boys moving while acclimating to the new time zone. Although a little risky with potential jet lag, this was a highlight hiking through the high serene hills for a couple of hours, with only the sounds of birds and a young wild boar and descending upon Portofino on foot. Portofino was a treat and the next full day at sea on a captained 40-foot boat to swim and visit the coastline at our leisure was awesome! Having lunch and snorkeling at San Fruttuoso was fantastic.
Additional memorable experiences included:
Maria chose excellent hotels for our stays, and the rooftop bar lounge and pool in Florence was a great way to end every fun day. We thought having private guides and transportation (car and water) made the trip much more memorable, as we received personal attention/treatment and allowed for personal interaction with locals to better understand the culture and way of life.
South of Rome, Sicily and the Lake region are next!” —Mark Mazzatta
A 3-generation family adventure in New Zealand
“My grandfather was in the Dutch Navy and spent time in New Zealand many years ago. He always spoke about how beautiful it was and how it was his favorite place he had ever visited. So when we asked my dad where he would like to go for his 80th birthday — he said New Zealand!
We just got back from the most incredible trip planned by Jean-Michel and his team. We were traveling with 6 people from 13 to 80 years old, and Jean-Michel did a great job finding activities that we would all love.
We had only 9 days so we stayed on the west coast of the South Island and there was plenty to explore. We started in Te Anu at the Fiordland Lodge and loved the beautiful lodge and surroundings. We hiked, went fishing, and explored Milford Sound by boat. The scenery was beyond breathtaking everywhere we went! Our next stop was Queenstown and we stayed at the historic Eichardt’s Private Hotel. We had a lovely wine tasting day in Central Otago with the best guide and driver (Beau Rapley) and our daughter even went bungee jumping from the Kawarau Bridge. She loved it!! The city of Queenstown & surroundings were great – plenty of walking trails, gardens, gorgeous lake and mountain views. Not to mention great food and wine!
The last place we visited was Wild Earth Lodge in Makarora. It was the most serene and beautiful little inn run from the home of Pete and Janine. They took great care of our whole family & cooked the most delicious meals! We spent our days there hiking to the Blue Pools and having some relaxing down time. We also had our most exciting day – a helicopter tour over Mt Aspiring National Park, a hike through Siberia Valley, and a thrilling jet boat ride back down the Wilkin River. The whole trip was outstanding and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without Jean-Michel.”—Alana Jacobson
Amazon river exploration for a dad and two kids
“Allie was essential to creating our trip to the Napo Wildlife Center in Ecuador’s Amazonia. She found the right lodge for our family (two kids, both around 10 years old) and got the perfect rooms at a time that was ideal. It was tough because we did not start planning long enough in advance, but Allie’s knowledge of lodges and the region made it possible to get everything lined up in an instant.
Napo Wildlife Center is a world-class lodge owned and run by the small local Añangu Kichwa community. They have committed to using ecotourism to save their community and their corner of the Amazon rainforest. Bottom line: They are knocking it out of the park. I cannot express how impressive their work and commitment is. In 1998, they were a small community, dealing with acute poverty, threatened by development, oil exploration, and the contamination of their water and forest. In that year, with little knowledge or experience in tourism, they decided they’d stave off the despoliation of their corner of the rainforest by starting a five-star ecotourism program. I am just brimming with awe and admiration for the Añangu and what they have accomplished.
The lodge itself was magical. The staff was as friendly and helpful as could be. Really made us feel at home. In the TV room out back where the employees live, my son and I watched the World Cup finals with a bunch of staff and locals who had paddled in for the game. We were welcomed warmly, and we joined in and cheered with (or against) the rest of the crowd.
In hyperdiverse Amazonia, wow did we ever see wildlife. We saw six species of monkeys, and so many parrots, macaws, grebes, flycatchers. We saw snakes, frogs, and crazy-looking crickets. We watched caimans and paiche (400-pound river fish) from the boardwalk in front of our room. All to the spectral drone of howler monkeys in the distance, like a cold north wind gusting outside your door. And Napo Wildlife Center has nearly no biting insects! Magical place. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.” —John Strachan
Spring break on the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo—for a family of 9
“Our family group of nine just returned from a week-long spring break trip to the Maltese Islands, organized by Damon and Denise. The trip included grandparents, children, and grandchildren ages 16 to 10. The trip was exceptionally well organized due to the time Damon spent prior to the trip determining what our interests were and how to maximize time spent making memories with our grandchildren.
The itinerary was heavy on outdoor activities to keep the grandkids engaged. Our activities included quad-biking on Gozo; a multi-course picnic lunch with wine on a secluded bay, followed by bocce ball with local players; touring the ruins of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra temples; and an amazing afternoon with the local falconer, who brought an owl, Harris hawk, and Maltese falcon to share with the entire group. We took a private tour of Underground Valletta and a private Dghajsa boat ride across the Valletta harbor for more exploration. We visited a baker and his wife where we made a local pastry called pastizzi, spent time with a local artisan who made musical instruments, visited a honey farm, and ended the day with a visit to a sheep farm where we sampled some delicious cheeses.
We stayed in a beautiful villa in Gozo that included a heated indoor swimming pool! You can imagine how excited the grandkids were when they walked in the front door and saw an indoor pool. Our lodging in Valletta was equally impressive, but in a different way. It was a castle-like structure built in the late 1500s that had been updated to include all the amenities of the current day. Our driver throughout our adventure was Super Mario. He was absolutely delightful! Always on time, always helpful, and always attentive to everyone’s needs, which were often a challenge. The entire experience was exceptional.” —William Fisher
Hiking, kayaking, and Trottibiking in the Swiss Alps
“Switzerland was a beautiful country and our active hiking, kayaking, paragliding trip was exactly what we were looking for. We booked a trip with our 18- and 21-year-old children to celebrate graduation and be outdoors as much as possible. Nina and her staff helped us build an itinerary that maximized the experiences and minimized the hassle and travel time. We spent two days in Zurich/Rhine Falls, three days in Grindelwald, and three days in Lucerne. There is so much to do that we felt we could have stayed an extra week just in these three locations.
Our major interest was hiking, and we had a guided tour up Mt. Grindelwald first, which included a gondola ride up and a Trottibike ride down (highly, highly recommended). Then we took the train to the Jungfrau and even though it was pricey for that part of the trip, well worth it for the views and incredible Alpine experience. Thumbs up: Rhine Falls, Trümmelbach Falls, Aare Gorge hike, Lake Brienz kayak trip, and our full-day peak-to-peak hike on Mt. Rigi where we ate lunch at Berghaus Unterstetten on the side of the mountain with incredible views and good food.
All three hotels we stayed in were unique, terrific locations, and have fun quirks, such as the private funicular car that takes you up from Lake Lucerne to the Art Deco Hotel Montana….” —Andy Shafran
Costa Rica wildlife and boogie boarding with 3 kids
“My wife and I, along with our three children (elementary, high school, and college age), worked with Priscilla in the planning of a trip to Costa Rica in March. We were able to mix in plenty of activities with some relaxation.
Our first stay was at The Springs Resort and Spa in the Arenal Volcano area. The hotel offered plenty for the children to do beyond swimming. The waterfall rappelling excursion Priscilla recommended was very fun. At the hotel we spotted sloths and toucans, and the view of the volcano from the hotel room was spectacular.
Our next stop was La Paloma Lodge in Drake Bay, on the Osa Peninsula. The Sunset Rancho offered a fantastic view of the ocean, and the meals were great. Our excursion to Corcovado National Park was a highlight and we were able to see Howler Monkeys and troops of both White Faced Capuchin and Spider Monkeys. We also saw an arboreal anteater, Coatimundis, and a saltwater crocodile. Priscilla set up a wonderful night tour where we were able to see snakes, frogs, spiders, a scorpion, and even a fleeting glimpse of a Kinkajou. Cocolito Beach by the lodge offered some great waves for boogie boarding and never felt crowded. From beginning to end, Priscilla and the team provided a lot of details/organization so we could just enjoy the trip.” —Nelson Mongiovi
Eye-opening journey through Morocco for a father and two daughters
“This trip was for myself and two daughters, aged 50 and 46. We went the first part of April 2023 during Ramadan. All three of us concluded that the trip was beyond expectation. The weather was perfect this time of year, the Riads were exceptional, the sights were amazing, and the Moroccan people were very warm and welcoming. The trip was paced perfectly, but definitely the highlight for us was our absolutely wonderful guide Mohamed and driver Majid. They were such a pleasure to travel with, always on time, always with a smile or a joke, always with our safety a priority. We felt completely safe and pampered.
Our favorite cities were Fes and Essaouira. The ceramic work and tannery in Fes were especially interesting and dinner at a local host was most enjoyable. The Medina was fascinating. The cooking class was so much fun going to the market with our chef. In Marrakesh we had the honor of being invited to Mohamed’s house to break fast with his lovely family. We learned so much about Islamic architecture and religion, and we were very impressed how our two guides were able to fast all day and still be bright and cheerful without ever complaining.
In Essaouira we got to see the goats climbing the Argon trees and visit a woman’s cooperative where they processed the oil. Also of interest was visiting the old Jewish quarter and the synagogue. Every city and place had interesting things to see. My daughters went home after 10 days, and I went on to Tangier and then took the one-hour ferry over to Spain. We all agreed it was an exceptional trip, and we left with hundreds of photographs and wonderful memories. We would definitely recommend a trip to Morocco arranged by Hicham and Radia, and many thanks to Wendy for the recommendation.”—Leon Malkin
Paragliding, jet boats, and canyon swings in Switzerland
“Nina created an itinerary that included many excellent suggestions that we were not aware of, even though I had done a fair amount of research on my own to know what Switzerland had to offer. Paragliding in Grindelwald, a canyon swing, a jet boat in Interlaken, a private cave tour, glacier trekking, a helicopter transfer from Jungfraujoch to Gstaad, the Via Ferrata in Mürren-Gimmelwald, the Gorner Gorge adventure in Zermatt….AWESOME! The execution of the trip was flawless: When the helicopter landed in Gstaad in a grassy field, the driver was right there waiting for us. There would have been no way to plan this trip on our own and have everything run as smoothly as it did.” —Travis Schmitt
A week in Portugal wining and dining
“We submitted Wendy’s questionnaire and then had a very substantive call with Goncalo to talk about what we particularly enjoyed about prior trips and specific likes and dislikes. Our travel dates were totally inflexible because they were dictated by our kids’ summer camp schedules. This meant we had only one week for Portugal—in peak season. Our goal was to somehow thread the needle between exploring a country we’d never visited, having deep and personal experiences, avoiding tons of crowds, not bouncing around too much, and relaxing. Got it? Goncalo put together an itinerary that fit exactly what we were looking for. He had us stay in three different, small, unique, hotels—Areias do Seixo (on the coast an hour north of Lisbon), Barrocal in the Alentejo, and Santiago de Alfama in Lisbon—and each really enriched our experience of the location.
Our favorite stop was the Alentejo region, and we would highly encourage others to include it in their plans. It’s beautiful, serene, has very special medieval towns, is extremely welcoming to visitors, and is much less visited than Lisbon, Porto, and the Douro Valley. Barrocal, a farm converted into a 5-star hotel, was a phenomenal home base there. Our single favorite experience was visiting Herdade de Esparao winery, where we somehow spent almost six hours on a sweltering 104-degree day. Our private tour was followed by a private tasting and then an amazing five-course lunch with wine pairings. It was probably the best meal we had in Portugal.” —Jeremy Silverman
“The right mix of adventure, nature, fun, and relaxation” in Western Canada
“Our family of four had an amazing time in Vancouver, Whistler, and Sonora Island, British Columbia. Marc put together an itinerary that met the various wish-list items of everyone in the family, with the right mix of adventure, nature, fun, and relaxation. For an active family there is no end to the amazing experiences that can be had in Whistler, where we particularly enjoyed the zip-line, whitewater rafting, and tree-top adventure course. The second half of the trip was at the Sonora Resort, which was everything Marc said it would be and more. From the hiking to the photography, fishing, eco-tours, and fine dining, it was a wonderful experience and a relaxing time to reconnect as a family.” —Jay Matthews
A father-son quest in Vienna and Prague
“I told Gwen that our 17-year-old son is passionate about playing piano, particularly the music of Classical- and Romantic-era composers. She asked questions to understand how we like to travel, especially when it came to what would interest our son, and then planned and executed an absolutely amazing trip to Vienna and Prague for us. Our itinerary included visits to Mozart’s and Beethoven’s apartments in Vienna; the cemetery where Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, and Schönberg are buried; and an exhibit that included one of Mozart’s original manuscripts. In Prague she arranged visits to a collection that included the original score to Beethoven’s third symphony, as well as access to the Strahov Library, which travelers typically only get to view from a distance but where we got to wander among the stacks!” —Adam Amsterdam
Castles and horses in Romania for Dad and daughter
“Raluca found us extraordinary accommodations in Romania. She tracked down a private residence in Bucharest where we had a private suite and were treated like personal friends of the family. We had three nights in Brasov in a lovely three-room hotel and four nights in Maremures in our own house on a 70-hectare property. The house was probably 100 years old and had been saved from destruction in the local village, moved to the host’s property, and completely remodeled inside. Raluca even arranged for a cook to come to the house and make us breakfast and dinner—truly special. Greg, our guide, made adjustments to the itinerary on the fly to accommodate our requests and suggested activities as he came to know us. For example, he arranged a trail ride for our daughter at a horse ranch. And Wendy, thanks for the WOW Moment. We really enjoyed getting to visit the highest tower at Bran Castle, an area generally off-limits to the public. Our very experienced guide had never been there.” —George Stephens
Southeast Asia for spring break
“We used Andy and Josh to plan our two-week trip to Cambodia and Laos during our kids’ spring break. We had many amazing adventures, from giving alms to the monks as they walked down the street, to being blessed by the elder monk and meditating in a monastery before sunrise, to ox cart rides through a local village and swimming below a waterfall. We spent hours on a river boat visiting floating villages where not many tourists venture; we had a specialized cyclo-ride architectural tour in Phnom Penh, which helped us understand the history of the capital as well as the politics of the country; and we did a tuk-tuk dine-out city tour. We were able to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat, and for the most part the guide avoided the crowds, which we very much appreciated. We took our kids to a couple of night markets—which was fun and far from the tourists—and visited the restaurant Villa Chandara, where Andy has created an oasis in the midst of cow fields and a local village for a truly memorable afternoon and evening. We had fantastic family time and loved both Laos and Cambodia—their people and their sights!” —Elliot Laskin
This trip was arranged by a WOW List candidate. Here’s what that means.
A family celebration for 10 in Costa Rica
“We were traveling to Costa Rica with ten people, including four active teenagers who are up for any adventure and my father who didn’t want his physical disability to stop the adventure or fun for his grandchildren. Priscilla found us the perfect home on an amazing beach where we could watch the sunset daily and take day trips scuba diving, surfing, and fishing. After five days, we moved to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for the sky walk, zip-lining, and endless hikes. What really made this trip special was the planning that Priscilla did in finding us the perfect naturalist guide, Eddie, as well as the perfect physical therapist, Alonso, to travel with us for the 10 days we were away. Alonso provided my father with the best care possible and had the knowledge and ability to work with him in the pool and help him do things he has not been able to do, like taking short walks on the beach. Having Alonso with us allowed my mom to get the vacation she so needed and took all the daily stress away. As for Eddie, the naturalist guide, from the moment we met him at the airport, he got the kids engaged and interested in learning about Costa Rica. When we were out hiking, he not only helped us find the monkeys, quetzals and sloth, but educated the kids on the Cloud Forest and the environment. It was an amazing trip!” —Kristen Ebner
Summertime fun in Atlantic Canada for Granddad and grandkids
“For our three-generation family trip to Atlantic Canada—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland—Jill arranged excursions which we never could have arranged by ourselves and about which my three grandchildren never stop talking. These included a boat trip where we dug for clams, pulled up lobster traps, gathered fresh mussels and oysters, and had a wonderful lobster boil on a secluded beach. Another boat excursion was to islands dark with puffins, murres, razor bills, cormorants and other birds, and a boat tour of coastal resettled communities during which we saw whales. We also had a songfest in a private home with guitar and accordion. And we (and some say this was the best) hiked along the shore with Lori, a chef, who pointed out plants which were edible and then used them to make a sumptuous lunch. The vistas of inland lakes, pine forests, and ocean fronts were magnificent. This was a visit of a lifetime.” —Richard Goldin
Big family beach trip to Belize
“We worked with Patricia to plan a special vacation to Belize with our adult children and a girlfriend. We loved literally every minute but, if there is one aspect of the trip that deserves special mention, it is our WOW Moment at Naia Resort in Placencia, on the Caribbean coast. We really didn’t know what to expect as we were escorted down to the beach… until we could hear the beating of the drums and see the flaming bonfire awaiting us at sunset. Richard and his family taught us about the indigenous Garifuna people and their very interesting history and culture. The entire resort came out to watch and dance with us.” —Stephen Lerner
Private, custom-tailored itinerary through Egypt and Jordan
“We often book small group tours, but were unable to find any single tour that covered everything we wanted in Egypt and Jordan. After consulting Wendy’s list of travel experts, we decided on Jim. He listened carefully to our desires and then put together a trip plan that met our needs. But Jim didn’t stop there. Based on his understanding of our interests, he suggested several additions: Jerash, an ancient Roman city nearly as impressive as Ephesus; a stay in a Bedouin camp at Wadi Rum where we found the best scenery of our trip; the Temple of Philae, one of the single nicest temples we saw in Egypt; and the Tombs of the Artists, which provide a perspective on Pharaonic Egypt not available in the better-known Valleys of the Kings and Queens.
In addition Jim suggested adjustments to our requests. We asked to include a one-week cruise down the Nile. Jim suggested that we would be better served by taking a three-night cruise instead, and then spending the extra days on land in Aswan and Luxor. His advice was spot on. We also told Jim that although we wanted first class lodgings, we weren’t interested in paying for luxurious hotels that cater to the jet-set crowd. Jim encouraged us to allow him to make one exception during our visit, and as a result we found ourselves in premium suites at the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan. Each oversized suite featured 26 foot wide balconies with a spectacular panoramic view of the Nile and Elephantine Island. Our three-night stay there was a highlight of our trip.
Jim’s deep roots in the area paid off in several ways. He was able to secure upgrades at our hotels. He got us top-deck suites on the Sonesta Star Goddess cruise ship. His long relationship with the owner of the Sakkara Carpet school landed us an especially good price for an Egyptian rug after only a little haggling. Finally, Jim was able to secure the best guides for us. Our guides were uniformly excellent. Each was knowledgeable about all aspects of the areas we were visiting. For example, our Egyptologists could read hieroglyphics. Our guides worked hard to get us to locations either before or after the cruise ship crowds arrived. For example, when we visited Tutankhamun’s tomb, we were the only people there. When we decided at the last minute to add a hot air balloon ride, our Luxor guide made special arrangements with the operator to insure personal attention, including securing the best spot in the balloon basket for viewing the monuments as we glided by. When the ride took longer than expected, our guide worked with the ship captain to make sure we still had a hot breakfast awaiting our return onboard after everyone else had already departed.
And then there was our WOW Moment. I am guessing that Wendy had some input from Jim on what would make a good WOW Moment for us, because it was inspired. Our planned trip included almost everything a visitor might hope for, with one exception. We had not included a visit to the tomb of Nefertari, generally considered to be the nicest tomb in all Egypt. That turned out to be our WOW Moment, and it was perfect. The tomb has restricted access, with a vault door at the entrance to enable better climate control than at the other tombs. Signs everywhere note that stays are limited to 10 minutes. Not only were we able to stay for 15 minutes, but we were the only people there. It was a magical moment, a perfect capstone to our trip. —Stephen Behnen
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