Imagine if you had the ability to give your dad the best Father’s Day gift ever. What would you choose? Well, a sporting event is likely on the short list, but which one? And to what city? Sometimes it matters whether his (or your) favorite team is playing, but other times that fact is irrelevant. Some events are too grand to care about who is playing. Some cities host the same event year after year, and others are a part of a rotation of fortunate cities to play the host.

The main idea behind these events is that you do not have to be a fan of that particular sport to enjoy it. You don’t even have to like sports at all. These seven events are bigger than the game and are impossible to not enjoy.

The Masters: Augusta, GA

the masters golf

It’s a tradition unlike any other for good reason: the rolling hills, the fresh azaleas, the roars of the crowd that echo through the pine. It’s not the oldest major in golf, but there is certainly a case to be made that it is the best. Every year people from all over the world descend upon this small Georgia town to witness the greatest event in golf. Get there early to experience why they call it a tradition unlike any other, as three of golfing’s living legends—Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player—tee off to signal the start of the tournament. From Magnolia Lane to Amen Corner to the Pimento Cheese spread, everything about the course, including the prices, is kept just about the same year after year.

The deadline to apply for tickets to the rounds of play was June 1, but tickets to the practice rounds and the par 3 contest are still available. You could also find tickets to the first-fourth rounds through secondary websites.

Photo courtesy Brett Chisum: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brettchisum/7050784309/

NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four: Indianapolis, IN

Final Four 

What started as a fairly modest tournament played in normal-sized arenas has now turned into the biggest spectacle in college athletics, packing football stadiums to the gills with ecstatic fans. Cinderellas and Goliaths have been squaring off against each other for years, and with the sport’s exponential rise in popularity, will continue to do so for many more yet to come. From the agony of Chris Webber to the thrill of Mario Chalmers, the Final Four has provided countless memorable moments. You can make your own next April in Indianapolis.

Whether your favorite team makes it or not, the event is certainly a spectacle worth experiencing. Should you necessitate your alma mater to be in the Final Four before going, however, Houston is the host in 2016, while the jury is still out on the eight cities bidding to host 2017-2020.

Photo courtesy Daimon Eklund https://www.flickr.com/photos/slack13/4617525540/

Daytona 500

daytona 500

Since 1959, the 500-mile-long race has been held at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Never mind the sun, the palm trees and Universal Studios just a short drive away in Orlando. For one week every February, this is the place to be if you call yourself a NASCAR fan. It has become a weeklong event filled with all kinds of festivities, including concerts, tours from the Daytona 500 Experience, and tailgating as far as the eye can see. Known as the “Great American Race,” it is one of those events that is bigger than the sport itself. The race is best experienced as a road trip; rent an RV and park it in the infield of the track, and enjoy everything it has to offer.

Tickets go on sale in early June for next year’s race, so be sure to snag them early, as even a stadium that fits almost 100,000 people will sell out pretty quickly.

Photo courtesy Audi USA: https://www.flickr.com/photos/audiusa/6783238077/

Stanley Cup

stanley cup

It’s often hailed as the greatest trophy in sports: Lord Stanley’s Cup. Many vie for it, only one can win. Given that half the league makes the playoffs, it is always a crapshoot when trying to determine who will take home the trophy, but one cannot doubt the edge-of-your-seat excitement of the games along the way. Whether it’s teams like the Montreal Canadiens, who have won it 24 times, or the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have only won it once, the two cities involved shut down with anticipation should their team be one of the two hoping to win it.

Since no one knows who those teams will be until the last minute, making travel arrangements and finding tickets can be tough. But it is worthwhile to experience intensely devoted fan bases and to see that gigantic trophy in person.

Photo from http://boston.sportsthenandnow.com/2012/06/30/the-top-ten-tim-thomas-moments/

All-Star Game

all star game

True Americana exists at the MLB All-Star Game. The banners that overhang the façade, the gigantic American flag in center field, the flyovers; all for the game that is America’s pastime. From 1933 and onward, the yearly game has brought the best players, as voted by fans, together for a few days in July. Beginning with the fan fest and ending in the game itself, everything in between is truly all for you, the paying customer. There are plenty of opportunities for autographs (the celebrity softball game) and souvenirs (the home run derby). Get to everything early and reserve your spot, and your effort will be rewarded.

For the first time since 1985, the Minnesota Twins are hosting the game. And in their brand new outdoor stadium no less. Should you not be able to make it this year, the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is the host in 2015.

Photo via: http://gravessack.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/rolling-into-the-future/

Super Bowl

super bowl

The granddaddy of all American sporting events, the Super Bowl garners the highest TV ratings, the largest amount of dollars gambled, and the most pizza eaten on a single day. But all of that is moot compared to the spectacle of the actual game. It has become an entire week (longer if you watch ESPN) of prognostication and analyzation. There are concerts, autographs and a lot of other potential for free things. You have to miss out on the commercials, but hey, that’s why DVR was invented right?

You have until Sept. 1 to submit your name into a drawing for tickets. Next year’s Big Game is in Phoenix, Ariz., which has a retractable field. But should you not be able to make that one the 2016 Super Bowl is in Santa Clara, Calif., which will be the new home of the San Francisco 49ers beginning this year.

Photo courtesy MPR: https://www.flickr.com/photos/crackerbunny/3214798531/

World Cup

world cup 

This is the one month every four years when everyone can agree on one thing: soccer (or football, or futbol) is the best sport in the world. The masses descend upon Brazil this June for the monthlong tournament, and the event is always the pinnacle of anticipation, hard work and athleticism. Diving head first into a culture completely different from one’s own may just be the best part of the World Cup. The host country not only gets to put theirs on display, but also becomes a melting pot of fans from 32 nations anxious to cheer on their squad.

Tickets at face value are well gone for this year’s tournament, but the 2018 tournament is in Russia, and although there are a few stipulations to being able to apply for tickets (such as having a passport) it is well worth the effort.

Photo via: http://foundwalls.com/world-cup-brazil-national-football-team/

Olympics

rio de janiero

Along the lines of the World Cup, the Olympics are a once every four year event that captivates the world when it occurs. Since the inception of the staggered schedule of the Summer and Winter Games, we can now enjoy this illustrious event every two years. And next up is the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Even beyond us fans who are expected to travel to Rio, more than 10,000 athletes will be competing in the various events in an attempt to capture the ultimate prize in sports: a gold medal for their country.

Tickets for the games are not on sale yet, however numerous external sites are currently offering travel packages to what will certainly be the biggest sporting event of that year.

Photo from Future Timelines http://www.futuretimeline.net/21stcentury/2016.htm#.U3-ojFhdXKM

The Mecca of Sports Destinations

These are sporting events where money is no object, because you will look back on your experience and not remember or care about how much money you spent. You will know that it was worth every penny.

Thinking about taking your dad to one of these ultimate sports destinations for Father’s Day? Send him there in style with one of these fine gifts.