Bachelor parties, Father’s Day, or a big birthday celebration – there’s no shortage of reasons to get away with the guys. The next time you boys need some time off from the girls (ladies, you can check out our picks for the Top 10 Girl Getaways instead), skip the afternoon outing in favor of a full-blown guy trip! We’ve thought outside the sports-golf-beer-swilling box (though those vacations are all options, too) to round up the 10 best activities and destinations where you can hang with your bros. Think catching swordfish and marlin in Panama, smoking ribs and grilling steaks in Napa, and, yes, downing liters of beer in Munich, the capital of Oktoberfest (hey, it’s a cultural experience). Plus, we’ve hand-picked a package for each vacation destination, so you and the guys can plot your escape today. Get a preview of these dude-friendly destinations with our Guy Trips slideshow.
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BBQ in Napa
Guys who think cooking is “women’s work” obviously missed the memo, because the majority of the world’s top-rated chefs are men. You may never own a Michelin-starred restaurant, but there’s no better place to learn the basics than the Culinary Institute of America (www.ciachef.edu) in Northern California’s Napa Valley. The C.I.A. offers a variety of culinary Boot Camp vacation courses, including a very macho grilling class that teach students how to grill the perfect steak, smoke ribs, and concoct an authentic Kansas City-style marinade – meaning you’ll be the ultimate barbecue man on the block in no time. If it gets too hot in the kitchen, steer your guy trip towards one of Napa Valley’s superb restaurants, where you can sit back and let someone else do the cooking, or enjoy the fruit of the vine at one of the Valley’s 400-plus wineries.
Book It: The C.I.A.’s location in St. Helena (www.ciachef.edu/california) offers Grilling & BBQ Boot Camp courses in 2011 (August 29–30; November 16–17). The intensive two-day program is $895 per person and includes charcoal and gas grill orientation, lecture, hands-on cooking, one-on-one chef time, and your very own chef’s uniform. The school also has a more toned-down, half-day grilling course on barbecue basics for $250 per person (July 23).
Catch a Baseball Game in Boston
Even a die-hard Yankees fan can’t deny Boston's place in baseball history. The beloved Boston Red Sox (known locally as the Sawx) are such an integral part of the city’s identity that even ambivalence is considered blasphemy. Their fans are fanatical and their home, Fenway Park (boston.redsox.mlb.com), looks very much like it did when the first game was played there in 1912. The best time for a guy trip to see the boys of summer in action is – well, the summer – but no matter what time of year you visit Boston, you can always take a tour of Fenway Park for a behind-the-scenes look at one of baseball’s most famous franchises.
Book It: The centrally located Omni Parker House (www.omnihotels.com) offers an overnight deal on select Saturdays from June through September that includes deluxe accommodations and two tickets to a Saturday game from $221 per night.
Drink Beer in Bavaria
There may be no better place on earth for beer lovers than Bavaria, Germany’s largest state. The capital city of Munich is home to the world-famous Oktoberfest (www.oktoberfest.de), but there’s plenty of sud-sipping to be done in Bavaria all year long. Beer gardens and beer halls abound, as do centuries-old breweries whose output adheres to the strict "purity" standards set forth in 1516. With so many places to lift a glass and say prost!, you might not have much time for sightseeing; but if you do take a break from imbibing, there are plenty of castles, monasteries, medieval villages, lakes, and mountains to explore. For more great guy trip destinations to throw back a few, check out our Top 10 Cities for Beer Lovers.
Book It: BeerTrips.com (www.beertrips.com/trips/oktoberfest.htm) offers a 10-day tour of Prague, Munich (during Oktoberfest), and Bamberg this fall (September 14–24, 2011). The land-only price of $2,895 includes accommodations, transportation, brewery tours, and more.
Golf in Ponte Vedra Beach
Unless you’ve whittled your handicap down to scratch, you won’t be playing on the PGA tour. Instead, guy trips to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, can be rewarded with tee time at the TPC Sawgrass (www.tpc.com/sawgrass), home of The Players Championship. No matter what level you're at, playing a course that's as steeped in golf lore as this one is an experience best shared with the boys.
Book It: Priced from $499 per person (per night), the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa's (www.sawgrassmarriott.com) Stadium Package includes deluxe accommodations, one round at the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, breakfast at Sawgrass’s Café on the Green, a caddy, 20 percent off a purchase at the resort golf shop, and other goodies.
Off-Road in Death Valley
Former boy scouts looking for a wilderness camping adventure should plan their guys' trip to Death Valley, California, where deep-rock canyons, old mining camps, and the arid Panamint Mountains beg to be explored. See it all via 4x4 – and if you’re feeling really adventurous, spin your wheels in the sand of the Dumont Dunes (www.blm.gov), some of the tallest dunes open for off-road riding. Set up camp under the stars and test your survival skills, because you’ll be sharing the land with wild donkeys, coyotes, and snakes. Pack plenty of drinking water – about 2 gallons per person, per day – if you don’t want the park’s name to predict the outcome of your trip.
Book It: Western Adventures (www.4westernadventures.com) offers three-night guided 4x4 tours of the region starting in the town of Trona, California, and continuing through the area’s mountains and valleys (a $100 refundable deposit applies; participants are responsible for all of their own food, fuel, site fees, and personal expenses).
Party Like a Sports Star in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is the ultimate spot for excess, a place where boys can be boys and indulge in the activities guys love: gambling, girls, and nightlife. The Hardwood Suite at the Palms Casino Resort (www.palms.com) will transform your trip into one of Hangover-esque history – think a basketball half-court and scoreboard, a massive hot tub, a full bar, and ”NBA-sized” beds. More basketball touches like a lavish locker room and jerseys are courtesy of Palms owner George Maloof, who also owns the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Models wearing cheerleader and referee uniforms will even act as hosts for your special night. And if you're looking for ladies, we've got you covered – we recommended Vegas as a top girls getaway, too.
Book It: Nightly rates for the Hardwood Suite start at a whopping $25,000. Two master bedrooms and three extra-large Murphy beds, plus a living room, sleep 10. But if you’re just there to party, the max capacity is 350 – invite all your closest friends and get your game on.
Play Cowboy in Lajitas
Nestled between Big Bend National Park (www.nps.gov/bibe) to the west and the Rio Grande to the south, the rugged landscape of small-town Lajitas, Texas, can inspire even the slickest city slicker to don a ten-gallon hat, pack a pistol, and settle in for a heated game of poker with his pals. The best place to corral your inner cowboy is during a guys' trip the upscale Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa’s Badlands Hotel (www.lajitasgolfresort.com), which recreates a Wild West frontier town feel – complete with tumbling tumbleweeds and a wooden boardwalk, albeit with modern comforts and amenities. Resort guests can easily arrange outings into the great outdoors from hunting to hiking to horseback riding.
Book It: The 25,000-acre Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa offers a two-night Born to Be Wild package from $369, which includes deluxe lodging for two, daily breakfast, a bucket of beer and wings at the Thirsty Goat Saloon, a picnic lunch, and a river road map to help navigate the property's Old West terrain (purported stomping grounds of outlaws of yore). Complement your stay with some skeet shooting, a cowboy shoot-out (instruction on Old West-style guns is available), an ATV tour, or a sunset horseback ride.
Spa in Chicago
Cubs-crazed Chicago is tailor-made for guy trips; but after you’ve had your fill of sports, pizza, and jazz, head out for a relaxing day at the spa. If you secretly love to be pampered, you’re not alone – about a third of U.S. spa-goers are men. Get a superb hot-lather shave, haircut, or your back massaged (or waxed) in masculine surroundings – think pool tables, brown leather chairs, and ’40s pin-up-girl posters – at the 316 Club Barber Spa (www.316barberspa.com). Don’t worry: If you have to miss the Cubs game because your skin is still exfoliating, you can catch it one of the numerous flat-screen TVs in the lounge and treatment "cabanas."
Book It: The 316 Club Barber Spa attracts guy’s guys with its players-club ambiance (free beer and wine, and a Vegas-style odds board). The Pit Boss package includes a massaging shampoo, haircut, hand massage and detail, five-step shave, and shoeshine, all for $95.
Sport Fish in Panama
If the only thing you know about Panama is that is has a famous canal, it’s time for a trip to Central America. Panama is full of surprises; that it’s an excellent spot for sport fishing is one of many. Grab the guys and head south for a “reel” good catch – Panama’s waters are home to swordfish, marlin, and even some shark species. Even if the fish aren’t biting, the landscapes alone are worth a guys' trip trek – exploring the country’s tropical rain forests and untouched beaches isn’t a bad way to spend a weekend with the fellas, either.
Book It: Go sport fishing at the edge of Panama’s remote Darien Gap at Tropic Star Lodge (www.tropicstar.com). Pricing from $2,850 per person (plus a $500 airfare transfer fee) gets you three meals daily, resort accommodations, and three to six days of fishing from aboard a captain-equipped yacht.
Surf in Sydney
The “Man” in Manly Beach isn’t the only reason for its guys' trip allure. Known as the Bondi Beach of the north, this strip of Sydney sand attracts hordes of visitors looking to kick back and ride the waves (and perhaps steal a glance at topless sunbathers, a regular sighting on local Australian beaches). Bikinis (or lack thereof) aside, men who'd rather focus on the water can master killer waves by enrolling in a local surf school and learning from the pros. Plus, once the sun goes down, you can head out and enjoy Sydney’s legendary nightlife.
Book It: The Manly Surf School (www.manlysurfschool.com) provides programs with qualified instructors for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Group lessons starting from $60 are available, as are private lessons from $90/hour.