I thought it would be fun to write a guide to traditionally masculine activities in the world of the modern U.S. male. Too many of us spend our time looking at screens, big or small, so my goal is to provide you with options for traditional male recreation that will get you out from in front of your screens.
Your dad and granddad are probably familiar with some (if not most) of these hobbies. You might even have some experience with them, too. But, with a list of 10 activities to choose from, you’re sure to find something you might enjoy getting started with.
Betting on the big game while smoking a cigar and drinking some whiskey is as manly as it gets. Getting outside by camping and fishing (or hunting), you can escape the tyranny of screens that most 21st century men are living under.
1- Betting on Sports (and Other Gambling)
The entire focus of this site is about how to do better while betting on sports. Of course, in the 21st century, many of us do use screens for this purpose. But since this post is largely focused on an American audience, we also need to consider where you’re betting on sports from.
Many states have legalized sports betting (and yes, Arizona is FINALLY on that list!), but even if you live in an unenlightened state where they haven’t yet, you can usually find a neighborhood bookie or a buddy to take your action.
Betting on sports isn’t the only kind of gambling that men traditionally participate in. Playing poker, live or online, is also almost synonymous with being a man’s man. And casino gambling is also a lot of fun; traditional brick and mortar casinos are easier to find now than at any previous time in American history.
2- Playing and/or Watching Sports (Especially Golf)
I have buddies who play in a sober softball league, and they love it. I have other friends (from Europe, mostly) who participate in amateur soccer leagues – although they call it football. I’ve even had a lot of fun at the batting cages with some of my pals.
But for actual participation, I’ve rarely found anything that seems more ubiquitous among males looking for some sporting fun than playing golf. One of the nice things about golf is that it’s gentle enough that you can continue to play even in old age.
Or, if you want to combine #1 and #2 on this list, you can bet on golf, either with your buddies or with a bookmaker.
3- Smoking Cigars
Smoking cigars offers many benefits compared to other types of nicotine ingestion. I don’t know anyone who’s bold enough to assert that smoking cigars is a healthy activity, but since you don’t inhale, it’s almost certain to be better for you than smoking cigarettes.
Smoking cigars is a traditional way to celebrate various big events in a man’s life. It’s still traditional to smoke a cigar to celebrate the birth of a new baby, for example. But men also smoke cigars to celebrate other traditional milestones in life, like the marriage of a family member or a retirement.
4- Drinking Whiskey (and Other Beverages)
Many people who smoke cigars enjoy pairing them with whiskey or other spirits. I have friends who are masters of picking the right cigars to go with the right whiskey, but I also have friends who smoke cigars with appropriate beers.
I don’t drink alcohol anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have hobbies involving beverages. I’m a huge coffee fanatic these days. I’ve spent some time learning how to make different coffees. And since I haven’t given up cigars yet, I’ve started getting good at pairing cigars with various coffee beverages.
5- Barbecuing and Grilling
For years, the extent of my knowledge about barbecuing and grilling was limited to burning some burgers and hot dogs at family gatherings and during holidays. As it turns out, with a minimal outlay of funds, you can do some interesting and fun things cooking out on the grill.
I started learning more about barbecuing and grilling by reading a few of Steven Raichlen‘s books. I heard him on the Howard Stern Show one morning and picked up a copy of his book The Barbecue Bible, and my life as a griller hasn’t been the same since.
6- Camping, Fishing, and Hunting
My dad used to take me fishing 3 or 4 nights a week when I was growing up. When I told my daughter about this, she said, “Well, YOU had a good dad, didn’t you?”
She’s always teased me like that, and I’ve rarely taken her fishing, so she’s not wrong.
I enjoyed camping a lot when I was in my twenties, but I haven’t gone camping in years. Dad used to go hunting with some of his buddies, but he was there mostly for fellowship. He never fired a gun that I recall, and he always told me that his role on those hunting trips was just to cook.
I always wondered if that was just a story he told us kids, but when I was in my 40s, I asked him, and he insisted that he never fired a gun at an animal when he was on those hunting trips.
7- Riding and Working on Motorcycles
I’ve never ridden a motorcycle, but I have a lot of friends who do, and they love it. And when they’re not riding their motorcycles on the weekends, they’re working on them.
Motorcycles aren’t as male-dominated as you might think, either. I know plenty of women who also enjoy riding motorcycles, with or without a male friend.
8- Driving and Working on Cars
My dad loved working on cars, but he didn’t learn to work on cars because he thought it would be fun. He grew up poor and didn’t make a lot of money until he’d gotten into his 50s. Learning to work on cars, for him, was a necessity.
He always hoped that I would enjoy working on cars, but the most complicated thing I learned how to do when working on cars was changing the oil. And, since I make a good living, I just pay someone to change the oil for me these days.
9- Carpentry Work
Nothing says “masculine” like the smell of sawdust. Carpentry is another skill that my father possessed that I never picked up on, but I would have liked to. I read a lot, so it would be nice to be able to build my own bookshelves.
And, from what I understand, building shelves is a lot like just building a shallow box. I’ve seen multiple articles and blog posts about carpentry that suggest learning how to build bookshelves as a first step into learning how to do carpentry.
10- Shooting Guns
I’m from Texas, and I don’t share in the fetishization of guns that’s so common here. I do have lots of friends who enjoy shooting, though. It seems like now, though, shooting guns has become almost as much a female hobby as a male hobby.
Even some of my liberal friends (and around here, there aren’t many) like to shoot guns. It’s not something I’ve ever gotten into, but my friends who participate in this particular hobby just love it.
Modern life for males is complicated, and it’s easy to forget how simple joy used to be during our parents’ generation. Not only can the activities on this list provide you with some fun, they can also improve your self-esteem, build your skillset, and contribute to new friendships.
It doesn’t matter if you want to win more sports, smoke better cigars, or grill a perfect steak. If you try new things that don’t involve being on your phone or your computer, you’ll get more satisfaction from your life. After all, the way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives.
Make your dad and granddad proud. Do some traditional masculine stuff.