This is but one installment of 37 Things a Man's Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September. Stay tuned all month for more.
The biggest crisis facing American men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.
And according to a study out of Oxford University, there’s one very simple way to fix this: spend more time with your friends.
So we compiled five superlative boys weekends near San Francisco, engineered to satisfy every budget and preferred method of fraternizing.
Want to sleep by the ocean ... for $6 a night? Practice your spearfishing? Get in some alpine hot-tubbing?
It’s all in there. Howling at the moon optional — though certainly encouraged.
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The Shoestring: Backpacking Under the Redwoods
Pile into a couple cars and head for the Golden Gate: we're headed three miles north of Fort Bragg, just far enough away to eliminate the day-trippers. ... Book now for an oceanside camping site at Mackerricher State Park. Bring seven of your closest friends, and you'll be paying about $6 a person to fall asleep with the sound of the surf in your ears ... Rainy afternoon? Stake out a place at local favorite Welcome Inn, with cheap cocktails and three pool tables ... Abalone are off-limits for the season, given their depleted stocks — so instead of diving for them, sign up for a day class covering an arguably more transferable skill: spearfishing … Cook up the fruit of your labor over curated hard and soft firewood — as cheap as $5 a bundle from Fort Bragg Firewood (marshmallow sticks included at no extra charge) … Then head inland to Jaxon Keys, where — thanks to its alembic still — you can book an appointment to sample three single-vineyard bourbons. Bottoms up.
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The Post-Grad: Truckee
Truckee has the Tahoe charm without the price tag — and better bars to boot. An Airbnb will let you stay on the edge between town and wilderness, like this sleeps-four cabin on the banks of the Truckee River … The lake’s northern shore is a 30-minute drive; keep going south to our favorite Tahoe park, D.L. Bliss. The Rubicon Trail has staggeringly gorgeous views of the water … Hot day? Head to High Camp Pool above Squaw Valley, accessible by aerial tram (or an overlong hike) … Back in Truckee for the night, live music starts on Saturdays around 9 p.m. at the Bar of America. Doesn’t matter who’s playing — just get there in time to get a seat at the bar and a glass of the Cock-Tail, a ridiculous but tasty signature concoction that’s basically a mishmash of liquors stirred together with a rooster feather. Really.
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The Rainy-Day Fund: Portland
You know you’re thinking about heading somewhere cheaper, wetter, greener. Consider this a chance to taste the best of the Pacific Northwest while circumspectly eyeing up some real-estate listings. Southwest flies direct from SFO — and no other airline offers better customer service … The rooms are a little, uh, pastel at the Hotel deLuxe, but the soft touches are worth it for the easy access to the well-dressed crowd at the hotel’s craft cocktail-intensive bar, the Driftwood Room … For lunch? There’s basically one thing on the menu at pop-up-made-good Nong’s: a Thai distillation of classic Hainanese chicken and rice. Good thing it’s hailed as the best on the West Coast … The Scandi-chic Loyly is the best spa in town — and a 75-minute massage is only $100 … Husband-and-wife team Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñonez Denton won the James Beard Award for best chefs in the Northwest last year. Taste their best at Ox, a PDX-Argentine mash-up, with hits like inventive charcuterie plates of a fried oxtail terrine, caramelized shallot aioli, soft boiled egg, frisée and apple salad and fennel pollen.
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The Splurge: Tokyo
Bring a book; you’ll be fine. United flies direct but our top choice is JAL … Book into the Park Hyatt: if you’ve seen Lost in Translation, this is the place. They’ve got Aesop products in the gym (which, by the way, has views of Mount Fuji) … Unless you’re making a trip out of town, burn off your jet lag at superior Tokyo onsen/hot baths complex Oedo Onsen Monogatari … Ask the hotel to help you get a seat at Jiro’s counter — assuming you’ve seen the doc and want to try the real thing … Do it for the ‘Gram: The new Digital Art Museum is 10,000 square feet of computer-generated amazingness that’ll put the Museum of Ice Cream to shame … There are books written on the subject, but trust that Tokyo is the best city in the world for shopping for menswear. Start at Beams … If you can’t land one of Jiro’s 10 counter seats, try for your three Michelin sushi-centric stars at Kanda (English-language website, plus online res).
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The No Budget: Rainbow Trout Fishing in Alaska
If you’ve got “best rainbow trout fishing in the world” on your bucket list, this is the place. A superior Alaskan fly-in lodge, the Cooper River Lodge typically books around three-quarters of its rooms to repeat guests — which should be a testament to its highly satisfying stays and the need to book early. There’s only room, which fits six guests at a time … Expect to fly commercial to Anchorage and then by air taxi to the lodge itself. The only thing you’ll need to bring? Alcohol. The lodge will put your shopping list on your plane to the resort ... Once there? Put the phone away (you can use the lodge’s landline if you must). There’s wifi, but wouldn’t you rather be on the river? … Stay in late July and you’ll be in prime position to join the bears on their hunt for sockeye salmon on the Copper: in peak season, more than 5,000 salmon cram into a mile-long stretch of narrow river, often under 20 feet wide … That too much work? Get a bird’s-eye view of the terrain from a flight-seeing trip on a float plane.