Dads come in all shapes and sizes, from the history buff to the outdoor enthusiast to the avid sports fan, and everything in between. This year, show dear old dad you appreciate him by treating him to some dad-approved activities in New Orleans, and he just might forget the time you threw a tantrum during the big game (side note: I never did this, however I did lock myself in my bedroom at the age of two causing a huge raucous with the fire department and dad needing to come home from work).
Father’s Day: Things to Do with Dad
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so food is the logical place to start. Dining options for Father’s Day are essentially endless in a city like New Orleans.
Steak is a favorite meal for many dads, and many local restaurants make a mean one. Crescent City Steaks on North Broad Street has more than 80 years of solid steak-making experience. Take dad a bit off the beaten path for a big piece of juicy goodness.
Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant Meril, named for his daughter, is the perfect place to take dad. The considerable menu is filled with the chef’s favorite dishes like crispy chicken livers, chorizo flatbread, and candied pork ribs that fall off the bone. With a menu like that, approved by chef and dad Emeril Lagasse, dad is sure to find something that hits the spot.
The good, old sandwich — and not just any sandwich — the po-boy (or as my dad still calls it, the “poor boy”) is a simple meal that all dads can enjoy. Crabby Jack’s, on the fringe of New Orleans, was opened by Jacques Leonardi of Jacques-Imo’s fame. Try the cochon de lait (suckling pig) po-boy or the fried green tomato with shrimp remoulade po-boy. There are po-boy spots aplenty around the city, including Gene’s Po-Boys, Parkway Bakery & Tavern, Domilise’s, Guy’s Po-Boys, and so many more.
Sometimes, all dads want to do is kick back and relax. Take him to taste test some local beers or hang out with a cold beverage watching sports.
For the dad who gets his entertainment from the athletically inclined segment of society, local sports bars are a fun and low-key place to spend time together. Cooter Brown’s Tavern & Oyster Bar (known as Cooter Brown’s for short) is a no-frills sports bar. With big screen TVs as far as the eye can see, plenty of seating, and tried-and-true bar food (buffalo wings, fried seafood platters) as well as raw oysters, you and dad can while away a whole afternoon.
For post-dinner drinks, take him to Barrel Proof, a dimly lit whiskey bar in the Lower Garden District. The bar has a sort of rustic, Louisiana vibe with mounted animals on the walls, animal skin rugs, and lots of wooden elements. The drink menu features a wide selection of Kentucky-made whiskeys as well as other spirits, beer, and cocktails. Bonus: Courtyard Brewery is right across the street if you’d like to get some fresh air (and craft beer).
Speaking of beer, the micro-brewery scene has really taken off in recent years. Order a flight at Parleaux Beer Lab in the Bywater and enjoy the casual backyard atmosphere. Looking for a dad gift? Parleaux sells logo trucker hats. Alternatively, take dad to NOLA Brewing Company’s Tap Room for locally-brewed beers and patio-sitting (plus mouthwateringly-delicious barbecue from the on-site McClure’s Barbecue). New Orleans has plenty of other great spots for beer, too: consult our guide to good beer here.
Dads like a little culture too, from museums, to outdoor exploration, to live music.
For the history buff dad, the world-renowned National World War II Museum is an absorbing full day (or more) experience. There is plenty to choose from in terms of exhibits (and eating), but I know exactly what my dad would like: the new exhibit So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope. Or, check out the D-Day Invasion of Normandy exhibit to learn about the preparations, struggles, and stories of this day– more than seventy years ago.
Swamp tours are a fun chance to escape the city limits for an immersion in the beautiful South Louisiana natural environment. During the summer in particular, wildlife like alligators, wild pigs, and birds are more plentiful, which makes swamp tours like a game of “Where’s Waldo.” Cajun Encounters and Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tours are two local companies with knowledgeable guides who discuss the wildlife, the environment, and the history of the area. Dads with a soft spot for the environment will love the Lost Lands tour, a kayak tour through Shell Bank Bayou.
One of the best things about spending an evening on Frenchmen Street is the ability to club hop to experience a wide variety of musical talents in one night. Start at d.b.a. or Spotted Cat before bouncing over to Maison, Café Negril, or Apple Barrel for some live music. If you and dad are out and about on Frenchmen earlier in the day, check out the Louisiana Music Factory so he can update his record collection.
Plan something active for Dad like outdoor exploration or an indoor activity to get his heart rate up.
Get an early start on June 17 with the Richard Newcomb Memorial Father’s Day Race at 8 a.m. for a scenic half-mile or two-mile trek through Audubon Park. Open to everyone — runners or walkers — this race lets you pair up for father/son teams, father/daughter teams, grandfather/grandchild teams, and more. Sign up on race day at 7 a.m. for $35 for adults and $25 for youth ages 20 and under.
Keep on enjoying the outdoors after the race is over by renting a kayak from City Park, Kayak-iti-Yat, or Bayou Paddlesports. Rent single kayaks or attempt a two-man kayak to build teamwork. Views from the water of birds, trees, and the occasional jumping fish, as well as the breeze, make paddling on a summer day worthwhile. A long day in the sunshine will almost guarantee dad will be sleeping soundly when Father’s Day is said and done.
Need to get out of the humidity but still want to be active? Take dad to the New Orleans Boulder Lounge (NOBL) for some bouldering bonding time. Bouldering, climbing at relatively low heights (12-14 feet) without a rope or harness, at NOBL is an indoor activity open to both newbies without any climbing experience as well as more seasoned climbers. Take dad outside of his comfort zone (don’t worry– the floor is padded to cushion any falls) for a unique experience together.
Sometimes dads like to go shopping, and New Orleans has several men’s clothing and accessory stores that suit that need. Take him to Aidan Gill and buy him a new tie and some swag socks. Then, get him a nice beard trim or hair cut at the old-fashioned barbershop at the back of the store (services include a drink on the house). He’ll leave feeling like a new man.
Happy Father’s Day, all you dads!