It’s winter in the Valley of the Sun, which means scores of men roaming in packs, attending the big collector-car auctions and acting like big wheels. At any time of year, when I’ve had houseguests of the male variety—my dad, my brother, a long-distance boyfriend—I’ve treated them like big wheels by taking them to some of the following dude-friendly destinations. Several years back, with a childhood friend’s handsome older brother, the city and I did such an effective job showing off that the guy ended up moving here. He didn’t last here very long, though (and I don’t blame the city), so approach this Dude’s Day itinerary with equal parts open heart and level head, I guess.
8 am: Caffeinate
9 am: Mountain Climbing
You’ll need the jolt, and probably some carbs, to hike up either of the Valley’s most prominent mountains: Camelback or Piestewa Peak. Fifteen years ago I could summit and return from either in about an hour, but a recent assault on Piestewa, I’ll admit, left me walking like a rusty robot for a week. An exercise alternative for heights-averse dudes: Go ice skating in the desert during public sessions at the Ice Den; it’s the same ice used for practice by the NHL Phoenix Coyotes.
Alternatives for just plain exercise-averse dudes: Walk around inside Penske Racing Museum to see 13 victorious Indy 500 cars, various pace cars, high-performance engines and assorted racing memorabilia. Or, visit the Hall of Flame to look at—and in some cases climb aboard—firefighting vehicles domestic and foreign, historic and contemporary.
Noon: Food and TV
Watch a big televised game and eat some big food at The Lodge in Scottsdale or Alice Cooper’stown in Phoenix. The Lodge’s claims to fame: antler chandeliers and a bacon cheeseburger between two grilled cheese sandwiches instead of a bun. At Alice’s restaurant: extensive and obscure rock ’n’ roll and sports memorabilia and a 22-inch frankfurter named after former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy “Big Unit” Johnson.
3 pm: Fast Cars
Ogle an electric Tesla automobile at the non-sales “gallery” inside Scottsdale Fashion Square, and notice the glass-ship-shaped new Mercedes-Benz dealership across the street from Barneys when you leave.
6 pm: Dinner Options
If you’re a fan of beef and baseball, have dinner at Don & Charlie’s. The restaurant is a shrine to the big leagues, and steaks are served the right way: with foil-wrapped potatoes, relish trays and strong drinks, by waitresses who’ll humor you.
If you’re a lobster lover, head to the hidden-underground Salt Cellar. Start with oysters on the half-shell if you’ve got a lady with you (wink-wink); if not, skip right to manhandling a Manhattan and some massive crustaceans.
8 pm: Hobbyists Show Off Their Rides
If it happens to be Saturday night, take a lap around the weekly hobbyists’ car show in the McDonald’s parking lot at The Pavilions at Talking Stick. See what some of the local dudes are rebuilding, priming and pinstriping, and think, you could do that year-round in your garage or yard if you lived in such a temperate climate.
10 pm: Hanging Out With Cowboys and Bikers
Round out the night with beers at picnic tables beside fire pits at cowboy joint Greasewood Flat, or inside biker bar the Dirty Dogg; the latter sometimes gets so crowded that the only place the poor barmaids can dance is on the bar itself.