Payson isn't exactly a bustling metropolis. Most people come here to hide from urban sprawl and relax in the Rim country's bucolic charm.
But when the sun sets on the Mogollon Rim, Payson's nightlife heats up.
Local musician John Carpino said the Rim country, in spite of its small size, has plenty of things to do in the evening, especially in the local music scene.
"For a small town with few local venues, there's a lot of talent here," Carpino said.
Payson Parks and Recreation
Summer Concert Series
Swoon under the stars at Payson Parks and Recreation's eighth annual Summer Concert Series. The debut performance is scheduled for the second week of June. Bill Schwind, the department's director, said the series continues every Saturday for seven weeks. Musicians of every genre hail from throughout Arizona.
"It's very well attended," Schwind said. "It brought in about 1,000 people last year, and they had a great time."
Bring your own chairs, blankets, food and beverages. Admission is free. For more information about other park's department activities, call (928) 474-5242 ext. 7, or visit the department's website at www.paysonparks.com.
Payson Golf Course
If you're like most people, you don't have the bank account to be a member of the exclusive golf clubs off Highway 260. But that's OK because Payson has its own golf course for the average Joe. Throughout the summer, PGC hosts a weekly businessmen's league at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Just show up and they'll get you in a foursome, or you can make your own. Green fees and dinner are included. The clubhouse bar is one Payson's best-kept secrets. Prices are great, the atmosphere is quiet and sports are on TV all the time.
For other summertime tournaments, call (928) 474-2273 for more information. The course opens at 8 a.m.; after May, it opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.
Tonto Community Concert Association
The Tonto Community Concert Association brings finesse and flair to the Rim country with a sophisticated group of musicians, vocalists and performers.
"We estimated we grew about 10 percent from the year before," said TCCA publicity director Steve Solcz. "The quality of performers continues to improve and people are telling each other about us."
TCCA invites performers from all over the United States to entertain Rim country residents from fall through spring. Association members receive additional benefits.
For details about next year's program, or to join the concert association, contact Solcz at (928) 474-6723 or go to TCCA's website at www.tccarim.org.
Payson Choral Society
Twice a year, musically inclined Rim country residents gather to perform in two concerts: one in spring, the other during the holiday season.
For more information about the society's biannual performances, call (928) 472-6768.
Payson High School Drama
The award-winning Payson High School Drama Department presented many entertaining plays last year and collected food for the local food bank. In 2004, senior Anita Meggitttarted the first PHS Drama Haunted House.
Withssistance from PHS drama classes, seniors Mick Stern and Meggitt created Lords of the Drama, a thespian club for middle school students. They produced their first show in February entitled "Frankenstein Slept Here."
Stern and Hillary Scott created an improvisational comedy club called "The Schoolyard Jesters." The 14-member group performs every Wednesday during lunch at center campus (the natural area in front of the auditorium). To learn about upcoming plays for next year, contact Kathy Siler at (928) 474-2233.
Gambling aside, Mazatzal Casino is Payson's entertainment Mecca.
The casino offers stand-up comedy Thursday nights starting at 7 p.m. And if you're looking for a date, the casino's marketing director, Marc Kaplan, said bingo is a great place to meet other singles. Bingo starts every Monday and Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.; matinee bingo begins at 12:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
The Apache Spirits Sports Bar boasts the longest Happy Hour in town. Monday is Local's Night, from 3 to 10 p.m; Tuesdays appetizers are half price starting at 3 p.m., in the summertime," owner Madeline Manchio said.
Mad Dawg's and Mel's features the music of Jim Brookhart Wednesday through Saturday nights throughout summer.
In addition to live music, Mad Dawg's and Mel's hosts barbecues on the patio for both rodeos and for special events throughout the year featuring a great menu.
Happy Hour is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m with drink specials and appetizer starting at $1.99. Contact Mad Dawg's and Mel's for more information, (928) 474-4391.
Fargo's Steak House
Payson's premier steakhouse holds Happy Hour with drink and appetizer specials from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To learn more about their menu and or to make dinner reservations, call (928) 474-7455.
Rim Country Lanes
Bowling is all the rage in Payson.
Friday nights is Laser Bowl from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., complete with black lights, fog and hip music. Saturdays are Monte Carlo nights, where bowlers compete for cash and prizes. The fun starts at 7 p.m.
Other bowling events include: youth bowl for students in kindergarten through grade 12, Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Happy Hour bowl with drink specials, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day; Early Bird bowl, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to noon and Moonlight bowl with lasers, Saturday nights, 10 p.m. to midnight.
For more information about upcoming events or to schedule a private party, contact Rim Country Lanes at (928) 474-9589.
Located at the corner of historic Main Street and the Beeline Highway is Sawmill Crossing, home to Payson's one and only movie theater.
Featuring six screens and stadium seating, Sawmill Theatres plays first-run movies with all of the amenities you'd expect for a night at the movies.
For the latest schedule, check out the Payson Roundup, log onto www.sawmilltheatres.com, or call the theater at (928) 468-7535.
Famous Sam's boasts two happy hours. There's your standard daytime happy hour Monday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. All beverages are generously priced, and food specials are available. Famous Sam's also hosts an evening happy hour, Monday through Thursday, and Sat from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. Drafts, appetizers and some sandwiches are on special. Card sharks can also join no-entry-fee Texas hold'em tournaments every Wednesday starting at 7:30 p.m. Famous Sam's has various other events and live music throughout the year. Call (928) 468-0407 for details.
Nearly every day of the week, there's something going on at Sidewinders. Texas Hold'em tournament, Tuesdays; coed pool tournament, Wednesdays; ladies pool tournament, Thursdays; karaoke, every other Friday, and shuffleboard and darts tournaments throughout the week. They also blow it out for big sporting events with their four large-screen televisions.
Sidewinders hosts special parties with live music three times a year: Memorial Day, Labor Day and New Year's Eve.
"We have the best New Year's Eve celebration," owner Cindy Maack said. "We provide a free buffet and lots of security and transportation for Pine and Strawberry residents."
Sidewinders also has a bar menu with a wide selection of sandwiches and appetizers.
Call (928) 476-6434 for more details.
In the summer, from Memorial Day weekend through Oktoberfest, the Rimside Grill sparks up Pine's nightlife with live music and outdoor entertainment most Fridays and every Saturday night.
In October, Rimside hosts their version of Oktoberfest. Owner Tamara Logsdon and Steve Morgan say they have a beer garden, live music and lots of food. They also have special dinners and events for featured holidays such as New Year's Eve, Valentine's Eve, St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day and Halloween, to name a few.
For upcoming events, contact Rimside Grill at (928) 476-3349.
Pine Verde Mexican Restaurant
Come up to Pine for Pine Verde's shredded beef tacos and karaoke. Pine's newest hangout, which opened Sept. 1, 2004, offers karaoke every Friday and Saturday.
Happy Hour, with drink specials, is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to close seven days a week. Pine Verde serves food every night until 10 p.m.
For more information, call the restaurant at (928) 476-4485.
The Star Valley gentlemen's club holds amateur contests every two months for all you would-be exotic dancers. Ladies night, with male strippers, happens every three months. Performers are imported from the Valley every weekend.
Pete's Place also hosts special events for both rodeos and has a full bar.
For upcoming events, call (928) 474-9963.
The Ron Gibson Band plays country music almost every Friday. Sunday is karaoke from 2 p.m. until whenever. Happy Hour is every day from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays until 2 p.m. Strait Country has new drink specials every day.
For more information, call (928) 474-0111.
If you want to meet some bikers, head on down to the Spur Bar. Happy Hour is 4 p.m. to 6 p.m Monday through Friday. The offer specials on domestic beer and well drinks.
To find out more, call (928) 474-3414
Ladies, drive out to Tonto Village for the ongoing ladies pool tournament, every other Tuesday night. Shooting starts at 6:30 p.m. on weekends, a coed tournaments starts at 3 p.m.
Happy Hour is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Food is served until 8 p.m. during the week, and until 9 p.m on weekends.
For more information, contact (928) 478-4332.
This year is the Landmark Saloon's fifth annual Jimmy Buffet tribute event, Parrots in the Pines. Two thousand parrot heads showed up last June for the beach party in the forest, complete with two Jimmy Buffet tribute bands, lots of fun and, of course, cheeseburgers in paradise.
From March to November, the Landmark features live music every weekend. On Sundays they take the music out onto their patio during the day.
Every other week, they host a ladies' pool tournament on Thursday evenings and a men's tournament every Sunday at 2 p.m.
Throughout the year, the Landmark also features special events.
"We just entertain ourselves," owner Kevin Mystrom said.
For information about upcoming events, call the Landmark Restaurant and Saloon at (928) 478-4472.
Rancho Tonto Catch-A-Trout
Rancho Tonto Catch-A-Trout is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week through September.
Creekside Steak House and Tavern
If you're looking for a quiet dinner and drink, come out to Christopher Creek for the lobster. And if lobster isn't your thing, Creekside serves breakfast all day long.
The dining room opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m., and the bar stays open late.
Contact the Creekside Steak House and Tavern at (928) 478-4389.
Rye Bar & Grill
Rye Bar & Grill is known for its live music and good food. Every Friday and Saturday night, they bring in talented performers from throughout the state. In the dining room, Fridays are fish fry nights, Saturdays are two-for-one steak specials. Sundays, weather permitting, the Rye Bar & Grill, opens one of their two large patios for jam sessions featuring local musicians.
Mondays through Thursdays, Rye Bar and Grill serves dinner only; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Rye Bar & Grill also hosts special events, such as a rockin' New Year's Eve party, throughout the year. For a schedule of performances, call (928) 474-6671.