All right, guys, this one is for you. Stand on any corner in Sedona, throw a crystal and you’ll hit a spa, salon, boutique, jewelry store, chocolatier or a health food restaurant. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point.) What’s a manly man to do? You could promise your firstborn in order to score tickets to the Super Bowl in Glendale in February, or you could check out one of these man-approved alternatives. After all, It’s a man’s world, even in Sedona.
Big Toy Playground
Remember how much fun you had playing with your Tonka trucks in the sandbox when you were a little tyke? What if you could operate the $150,000 versions of those trucks in a grown-man-sized sandbox? Larry and Sharon Fox knew guys would be all over that, so last fall they opened Big Toy Playground just east of Williams. The husband-and-wife team have owned Target Equipment, an equipment rental company and operator training school, since 2004. When Larry was at a John Deere training class last year, he had an epiphany. Equipment operators and owners from all over the country were lined up with big smiles on their faces, eager to try the latest and greatest machinery. What if anyone could operate a loader or backhoe in a safe environment and feel the power of 40,000 pounds of steel beneath their seat, Larry wondered. Today, the Foxs’ excavator, skid steer, loader and backhoe do double duty as toys for big boys (the playground is open to ages 14 or older) when they aren’t rented.
After receiving a safety briefing and donning a hard hat and orange vest, customers head out to a gravel pit studded with obstacles such as tires, logs and basketballs. Next it’s time to climb into your chosen piece of equipment. Big Toy Playground packages range from 90-minute sessions with one machine ($195-$270) to three- and five-hour sessions with two or three pieces of equipment ($425-$625). With the help of a two-way radio, an instructor guides you through your experience. Dig holes, push dirt around, rearrange giant logs, stack tires and scoop up basketballs in your own cordoned-off area. At the same time, trains on the nearby railway lumber along in the background, making it a unique setting. Big Toy Playground also hosts team-building exercises and kids’ demonstration days.
“Guys come off this equipment with a gleam in their eye,” says Sharon. “We’ve had people come from as far away as Australia and others who were as old as 88. I’ve heard many times that it’s the most fun they’ve had going slow.”
Big Toy Playground, 671 S. Garland Prairie Road in Williams (928-637-8808); www.bigtoyplayground.com
Verde Brewing Company and That Brewery
On a recent Saturday afternoon, a group of 20-something guys were gathered at a table at THAT Brewery in Cottonwood, snickering over a lively game of Cards Against Humanity and tossing back pints of amber and IPA microbrews. Nothing brings guys together like a cold one, right? Sedona has been home to Oak Creek Brewing Co. for almost 20 years, and with the opening of THAT Brewery and Verde Brewing Company in Camp Verde this summer, now there are even more options for sipping craft beer.
THAT Brewery, with its headquarters in Pine, is tucked away in a rollup-door industrial area of Cottonwood near the senior center. It has quickly become a gathering spot for friends and families. Aside from a trunk filled with board games, THAT boasts platforms for playing cornhole right next to the huge fermentation tanks. Nirvana and The Dead Weather play on the stereo, the beer selections are posted on a chalkboard and a food truck serving barbecue favorites sits in the parking lot. What more could a guy want on a Saturday afternoon?
Alex Goetting, the 25-year-old-owner of Verde Brewing Company, says the social aspect of drinking beer is part of what led him to open his own brewery. Alex’s family owns The Horn saloon and restaurant where Alex worked after graduating from the University of Arizona in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He was soon brewing his own beer in a space next to The Horn; he tapped his first batch in November 2013. The Horn sold the beer by the glass, but it became so popular that Alex expanded the production facility to include a tasting room. Next year, he plans to move into a larger building across the street where he will also open a brewpub.
“We’re a boutique brewery,” says Alex, who credits his older brother with igniting his interest in microbrews. “I’d say we’re taking a farm-to-mug approach by incorporating local ingredients into all of our beers.”