Coming up with gift ideas for guys can feel like wandering around a maze where all the paths end in shaving kits or grill-tool sets. But if commercials for low-calorie soda or men’s only salons have taught us anything, it’s that guys are rugged wildmen who crave adventure. Happily, Austin has plenty to offer in that arena. Whether your guy’s idea of excitement is soaring above the mountains in a light aircraft or struggling through what could arguably be Texas’s spiciest meal, our gift guide has you covered with our list of brag-worthy experiences.
Things To Brag About Eating
When it comes to finding unusual gifts for men, most people overlook the gourmet angle. The key is to think more about the experience than the dining. Consider a restaurant that specializes in curious meats—such as Evangeline Cafe and its chicken-fried alligator—or whole animals like La Condesa, which will roast up an entire suckling pig for special occasions given 72 hours notice.
If you’re buying for a no-holds-barred thrill seeker, you can’t go wrong with dishes that require him to sign a waver—the Ghostland Burgatory burger from Hopdoddy Burger Bar, for example. This taste-bud sadist piles on the heat with habanero, serranos, pepper jack cheese, and the Scoville-chart-topping ghost pepper. For an idea of how hot that is, here’s a quick breakdown.
Things to Brag About Drinking
Austin is home to at least 18 craft breweries, but thanks to strict state licensing and distribution laws, most of those beers never leave Texas. So your best chance for sampling Austin craft beers is within the city limits—and that’s where Texas Winos comes in. The group hosts marathon eight-hour tours, during which guests sample some of the most exclusive brews the city has to offer. Better yet, folks can pick up their favorite bottles to build little beer gift baskets for later. For a distilled list of our favorite Austin craft-beer hot spots, check out our local brewery guide.
Things to Brag About Driving
Outside of a stolen zeppelin, there isn’t a much more braggable vehicle to drive than a stock car—especially in the home of the Sprint Cup. Thanks to racing experiences at the Central Texas Speedway, guys don’t have to spend years hitting the local karting circuit to get behind the wheel of a real-world stock car. Without any formal training, your gift getter can marshal nearly 500 horsepower to push the Cup-style racecar to somewhere around 150 miles per hour. If luxury is more his speed, exotic sportscar experiences let guys trade in the stock car for a top-of-the-line speedster, including Lamborghinis, Audis, and Porsches.
Things to Brag About Flying
Right off the bat you’re thinking airplane. But if you’re buying gifts for adventurous guys, you want to go full bore. Hang-gliding lessons from Fly Texas let folks channel their inner James Bond—Roger Moore actually took lessons to pull off convincing landings in Live or Let Die—and tandem flights give them sweeping views of the mountains outside Austin.
If futuristic flight is more their speed, flyboarding sessions at Austin Lake Fun give people a chance to pull off daring stunts. Thrill-seekers strap into a water-powered jetpack and navigate the serpentine bends of Lake Travis. Best of all, flying in the contraption only takes about five minutes to learn.
Of course, if the guy you’re buying for watches Flight on repeat and loves epaulettes, then flying lessons are the way to go. (Here’s a run-down of what you can expect out of a flying lesson.)
Things to Brag About Climbing
Texas isn’t exactly known for its rock climbing, but it’s not entirely the plains, either. The state’s awash in rock formations of easy to moderate difficulty, including the supremely weird Enchanted Rock. The dome rock formation, located about two hours outside of Austin, dazzles newcomers with its natural pink granite and otherworldly outcroppings. Rock About—a climbing outfit based in Austin—takes folks on excursions to Enchanted Rock where they lead classes for all levels. These destination classes make for a great rock-climbing gift, and beat learning on an artificial, indoor rock wall any day.