20 Creative Father's Day Activities to Plan for Your Kids & Their Dad

dad and daughter
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When we think of Father's Day, the first things that come to mind are usually barbecues, golf, and maybe a hideous tie or two. There's nothing wrong with these time-honored traditions, of course, but why not mix it up this year with some unique activities tailored to Dad's personality and interests?

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It doesn't have to take a lot of time or effort to plan a day that honors the man of the hour and manages to be fun for the whole family. Here are 20 creative ideas to get you started.

1. Have a Cooking Challenge

If Dad is one of the millions of wannabe chefs across the country and is obsessed with TV cooking competitions, stage your own cook-off. It's a great (if messy) way to bring everybody together ... and maybe even get dinner on the table! Have everyone try their hand at the same easy recipe, or let each contestant come up with their own take on a certain ingredient. Honor Dad by making it one of his favorite foods!

2. Go on a Scavenger Hunt for Dad's Present

A good one for dads who like to solve puzzles, a scavenger hunt can be as complicated or as simple as you like: Stick to the house or the backyard, or take it to the park or another favorite local spot. All the clues lead to Dad's gift (hopefully not a tie!).

3. Learn About Animal Dads

Head to the zoo to check out some animal dads up close, and pick up some fun fatherly facts: Penguin dads sit on their eggs! Marmoset dads carry newborns on their backs! (Lots of zoos have special Father's Day programs, too.)

4. Host a Mini Olympics

Active dads will love competing in a series of backyard events for the whole family (think DIY obstacle courses, tug-of-war, and water balloon battles). Dad gets a trophy whether he wins or not!

More from CafeMom: 9 Super-Fun Backyard Games Made Up by Creative Families

5. Volunteer as a Family

If Dad's top priority is doing good, spend the day helping others together. Look up local charities in your area to see which ones allow kids to help (many soup kitchens and nursing homes do, for example).

6. Make a Movie

Keep movie buff dads entertained for the day by writing and filming your own family film. No need for a fancy camera -- the one on your phone will do! When it's ready, pop some popcorn and have a screening.

7. Perform a Science Experiment

Do a search online for interesting experiments that can be done with household items, like making an old-school Brady Bunch–style homemade volcano with vinegar and baking soda or glow-in-the-dark play dough.

More from CafeMom: 10 Cool Backyard Science Projects You'll Love As Much As Your Kid Will

8. Build Something the Whole Family Can Use

For dads who are good with their hands (and kids who are old enough to help with projects involving tools), try building something together the entire family can enjoy, like a knock hockey table or a bench decorated with everybody's handprints.

9. Flip Through Photo Albums From When Dad Was a Kid

Just for a day, give Dad an excuse to talk about "when he was a kid" ... and give everybody else an excuse to tease him about his hair in high school!

10. Have a Summer "Snowball" Fight

Relive all the frosty fun you had as a family this winter with a "snowball" fight, where the snowballs are really made out of shaving cream and cornstarch

11. Go Sketching at a Museum

Bring your artistically inclined guy (and a few drawing pads and pencils) to your nearest art museum and sketch what you see. Then take your masterpieces home and hang them on the wall for a Father's Day art show.

12. Explore New Territory

Find a local nature trail you haven't yet explored as a family and go on an adventure! Pick a particular type of animal or bird and make a contest out of who can spot it first.

13. Let Him Relax 

Give Dad a break from responsibilities for the day: Have the kids make him breakfast, wash the car, take out the garbage ... all while Dad hangs out on the couch playing video games or relaxes in a backyard hammock. (Or whatever else he wants to do.)

14. Have Family Karaoke Night

No need for a fancy karaoke machine: There are plenty of karaoke tracks for hit songs available on YouTube. Set up a stage, make a fake mic, and let everybody pick a favorite tune to sing! 

15. Plant a Garden 

Eco-conscious dads will appreciate spending the day with their hands in the earth! Pick seeds that will grow into something your family likes to eat, or everybody's favorite flower.

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16. Play Disc Golf

Also known as Frisbee golf, disc golf combines two dad favorites -- golf and Frisbee -- for a game you can play on a course or even in the backyard! Check out the rules here.

17. Make a Sandcastle Village

If you're lucky enough to live near a beach, head to the shore and channel your inner architects by designing a sandcastle village. (A good choice for dads who actually happen to be architects!)

18. Visit one of Dad's Favorite Childhood Haunts

Find out some of the places Dad loved to visit as a kid (an amusement park, a special ice cream shop, a diner where he hung out) and hit the road!

19. Build a Toy Race Car Track

NASCAR fans will have a blast making a DIY toy race car track -- and chances are you already have all the supplies you need! (Instructions here.)

20. Open a Lemonade Stand for Charity

Take advantage of the summer weather and work together to build a stand and make a cool treat for the neighborhood. At the end of the day, donate your earnings to Dad's favorite worthy cause!

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