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10 perfect wellness escapes in the Grand Canyon state / GayCities Blog

10 perfect wellness escapes in the Grand Canyon state /

GayCities encourages you to stay safe during the Covid 19 pandemic. If you choose to travel, we recommend that you follow all CDC Travel Guidelines and adhere closely to all local regulations regarding face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures.

Couple enjoying the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix

After more than a year of restrictions, one thing we can all agree on is that we could use a bit more “me” time–especially outside of our homes and in the great outdoors.

So as we emerge from sheltering in place, make sure to take some time to plan meaningful trips that incorporate elements of healing.

From luxury resorts and their indulgent spas to nationally recognized Arizona gourmet health-food restaurants to the abundance of sunshine and nature that the state offers, Arizona is the perfect place to start your planning.

1. Experience the Iconic Arizona Biltmore’s Transformation


Rendering of the new Arizona Biltmore, poolside

The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, has undergone a major facelift. Check out Renata’s Hearth, the resort’s new Central and South American-inspired restaurant that celebrates grilling. Pair your meal with specialty tequila and mezcals at Spire Bar, the resort’s new outdoor watering hole anchored by a 1930s spire that serves as a tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright. Make sure to grab a Tequila Sunrise. Legend has it a bartender working at the hotel came up with the now-legendary cocktail to help quench Arizona sizzle. 

And don’t miss the Saguaro Pool, the resort’s adults-only swimming destination, where you can relax in the warm water and then retreat to the romantic alcoves and cabanas. And while sipping your mezcal by the pool, be sure to gaze at Arizona’s magnificent and second-oldest Saguaro, as she is absolutely perfect. 

2. Stargazing and Endless Hikes at ADERO Scottsdale

Perched high above the Sonoran Desert, ADERO Scottsdale is located within one of Arizona’s only Dark Sky Communities, making it one of the most inviting places for guests to experience the magic of the desert skies. The resort shows off breathtaking views of mountain peaks in every direction, and nearly all of the resort’s 177 rooms include private oversized balconies with telescopes so that guests can take in the starry skies from the comfort of their private spaces.

The views are just the start. In fact, you can even be part of the view. Guests can safely experience the resort’s 17 wide-open acres that provide endless options for enjoying the outdoors, from sunrise yoga among the canyons to picturesque hikes and mountain biking along 55,000 acres of desert terrain. The Adero Canyon Trailhead, which leads to endless hiking, is just a short walk or shuttle ride over from the resort.

3. Glamping with Under Canvas 

Set upon 160 acres of secluded forest, Under Canvas Grand Canyon is located about 25 minutes from the South Rim entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. It offers luxury accommodations near one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World with safari-inspired glamping. All tents come with always-appreciated (while outdoors) private bathrooms and are furnished with super chic West Elm furniture, ensuring a comfortable (and fabulously fashionable) experience surrounded by nature.

Camp amenities include a guest experience coordinator, on-site dining, a zen garden, and of course, a fire pit for s’mores.

4. Stay in North America’s First Landscape Hotel

A first of its kind for North America, Ambiente, a Landscape Hotel, (opening summer 2021) is uniquely designed to blend in with the mystical red rocks of Sedona while providing the opportunity to experience and embrace the natural beauty that surrounds them. The hotel is made up of forty cubed-shaped atriums elevated above the ground by steel piers and constructed using floor-to-ceiling, bronze-tinted glass. The glass reflects the nature around it at dusk, creating incredible mirrored silhouettes, and the atrium’s sleek design embodies elevated minimalism.

5. Dive Into a Water-Focused State-Of-The-Art Spa

The Spa at Civana Wellness Resort recaptures the honored art of healing through water. The spa’s hydrotherapy thermal circuit of hot & cold pools, cool waterfall shower, and beautiful solarium (offering humidity and heat from within) play an essential role in healing the body and calming the mind. This unique therapeutic circuit is one of the spa’s most important healing rituals of “taking the waters”: and all guests enjoying spa services are encouraged to begin their journey with this one-of-a-kind experience.

6. Soak in a Thermal Water Oasis After a Day Spent in Nature

Since it first debuted in the 1880s, no less than the likes of John F. Kennedy – not to mention various Vanderbilts, Astors, and Roosevelts – have sought out Castle Hot Springs’ three mineral-rich, 120-degree pools for their rejuvenating properties. Come here to take a good soak while relaxing your muscles and clearing your troubles. Afterward, unplug in one of the 32 guest rooms, or stay outdoors and continue to connect with Mother Nature through activities like hiking, climbing, horseback riding, stargazing, tai chi, and even gardening. 

7. Head to the Mountains for All-Inclusive Luxury

Located in the mountains outside of Tucson, the all-inclusive Miraval Arizona has more than 400 scenic acres for guests to enjoy. The resort’s award-winning Life in Balance Spa features treatments from all over the world, including Ayurvedic and Thai massages to Qi grounding rituals. Packages include credits for spending at the spa or on private sessions with the resort’s wellness experts. Additionally, packages include casita-style accommodations, healthy cuisine created from Miraval’s own organic gardens and beehives, and over 120 complimentary activities to choose from, including wellness lectures, mediation, art classes, hiking, and culinary courses. 

8. Pickleball for All at this Desert Resort

Set on 316 acres of sweeping Sonoran Desert, JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa embodies all things luxury, recreation, and rejuvenation. The on-site Revive Spa Fitness Center is complete with six Peloton spin bikes. Bikes can also be found as a guest amenity in six new Peloton rooms. Book the JW Peloton Room Package to conquer fitness goals from the comfort of your guest room, with up to 14 live-studio cycling rides streamed daily and over 4,000 classes on-demand. Just outside the fitness center, Revive Spa’s yoga lawn is lined with artificial grass, overlooking the resort’s 21,000-square-foot Chef’s Garden. The resort now also has 17 new pickleball courts that are professionally surfaced, including an expansive Center Court with a 400-person capacity. The resort has hosted USA Pickleball Association Tournaments and a competition with the Professional Pickleball Association, featuring the top players in the U.S. who competed for the largest purse prize in Arizona history ($75k).

9. Yoga Under the Moonlight or with Prosecco

Held outdoors under the moon and stars atop the rooftop deck at Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale, with the iconic Camelback Mountain in the background, this one-hour yoga practice incorporates insight into your horoscope and perfect poses. After the flow, enjoy a mini sound healing session featuring Tibetan singing bowls and tuning forks that create vibrations to relax the body & mind. After the transformational session, retire to The Living Room for a cocktail or glass of wine.

10. Rediscover Yourself at this Red Rock Retreat

The Southwest’s foremost luxury resort, L’Auberge de Sedona, offers endless opportunities for outdoor and personal discovery tucked into Sedona’s famed red-rock canyons on the banks of Oak Creek. It will welcome guests on all-new mindful Revitalization Retreats beginning the week of June 20. Professional Life Coach and Soul-Centered Facilitator Donna Bond is at the helm. She will guide guests throughout this 4-night, 5-day experience and offer the coaching, tools, and activities necessary to make the intentional and sustainable changes to have a positive and lasting impact on participants’ overall health and wellbeing.

Le Domaine de La Millasserie – Gay Owned Bed & Breakfast in Mauzac et Grand Castang, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Le Domaine de La Millasserie Gay Owned Bed & Breakfast in Southwestern France

Le Domaine de La Millasserie Gay Owned Bed & Breakfast in Southwestern France

Le Domaine de La Millasserie is a gay-owned B&B with pool in the heart of France’s Dordogne region, the ancient province of the Perigord. 

Our large guest rooms offer king beds, dining tables, comfortable chairs, and an armoire and dresser. Each room also has an en-suite bath, private balcony and entrance, and easy access to the pool.

La Millasserie is close to everything the Dordogne has to offer: gorgeous architecture, amazing French food, local music, art and antiques, historical sites, and a variety of sports: hiking, cycling, canoing, and even boat trips on the Dordogne.

La Millasserie is just twenty minutes from the Bergerac airport and in easy driving distance to the many medieval towns, villages and cities of the region including

* Beynac
* Domme
* Monpazier
* Les Eyzies
* Sarlat

We’re also close to all the chateaux of the Perigord.

See the Le Domaine de La Millasserie Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Nouvelle-Aquitaine Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Grand Rapids Restaurants You Need to Visit  – DOPES ON THE ROAD

Grand Rapids Restaurants You Need to Visit  - DOPES ON

 

In 2019, there was a huge push to eat more local, in-season produce and of course live a  more sustainable life. Something that Grand Rapids has been doing well before this year. When Meg Ten Eyck and I were invited by Experience Grand Rapids to visit this midwest city I knew almost nothing about the food. 

I found out that Michigan grows a greater range of produce than any state except California. That fact means eating locally grown, fresh and in-season produce has been a way of life for well, forever. By blending hearty and heavy midwestern food with a focus on fresh and seasonal you get some incredible combinations. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy eating your way through these Grand Rapids Restaurants as much as I did. 

 

Say Yes to Breakfast in Grand Rapids 

San Chez Bistro

Our first meal after getting to town was breakfast at San Chez Bistro. It set the tone for all the deliciousness we came to expect during the rest of the trip. The restaurant itself is two-tiered and brightly colored. The decor speaks with the same fun tone as the food at this Latin American meets Mediterranean spot. The breakfast empanadas with chorizo were to die for. The pro tip is to go ahead and double your order or the harissa sour cream, you’ll thank me later. They also serve tapas-style lunches and dinners!

Wolfgang’s

When you visit Wolfgang’s you can expect to leave absolutely stuffed. This homestyle breakfast and lunch spot is serving up some massive portions. If you go on the weekend expect a bit of a wait but trust me they have the fluffiest eggs I’ve ever seen. They also make homemade hash browns which I happen to believe is the highest form of potato. 

Anna’s House

A visit to Anna’s House means everyone in the crews getting exactly what they want. The breakfast menu here is gigantic. That big menu allows them to have options for all sorts of dietary restrictions. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free you name it Anna’s House has you covered. 

That Early Bird

If you’re looking for good vegetarian food in Grand Rapids look no further than That Early Bird. I think the coolest part about this spot is that the menu is super eclectic. Sure they have the traditional french toast and breakfast sammies but they also have vindaloo hash! The horchata iced latte is to die for. If you haven’t tried horchata its rice mike beverage popular in Latin America. 

Coffee in Grand Rapids

MadCap Coffee

Brick walls and, big windows and a lot of sunlight. Beautifully designed packaging. Knowledgeable baristas probably wearing beanies and or Blundstones. This place is oozing cool in every way. MadCap Coffee has three locations in Grand Rapids and we visited two of them. I really enjoyed getting to learn about the beans and the process from the Downtown Market location. 

 

Jam’n Bean Coffee Company

Struggling to decide if you want coffee or ice cream? Jamnbean is all about having both. The vibe here is cozy. It’s the perfect place to just chill with friends. I’m a coffee enthusiast but there’s a contingent of people who claim the ice cream is even better than the coffee. You’ll have to try both and decide for yourself. 

Beautiful women eating one ice cream in the street. Youth concept.

Outside Coffee Co

Outside Coffee Co is queer-owned, instantly making me fall in love a little more. As the name suggests Outside Coffee Co is well outside. They have fireplaces scattered about the space giving that perfect fall vibe. When it gets cold they put out adorable clear domes to stay warm in. I had what they call “chider” a chai tea and apple cider combo that was life-changing. 

Grand Rapid Brunch Spots to Indulge

Social Kitchen & Bar

Grand Rapids brunch lists will all include the trendy and vibrant Social Kitchen & Bar. The bunch menu has comfort food done in an elevated way. The thick-cut pork belly in bourbon vanilla glaze is sinful. Consider taking an Uber here because the bunch cocktail list is phenomenal. 

Electric Cheetah

I have a weakness for root beer the more unique the better. When I found out Electric Cheetah offered a full root beer menu I was sold. The brunch menu has a lot of American food favorites. The mac n cheese is what they’re known for so make sure to try it. This cool mural was just a few minute’s walks so I snagged a few pictures while waiting for a table. 

Terra GR

This Grand Rapids farm to table restaurant has a wonderful brunch menu. The Terra GR egg menu is a mile long but the woodfire pizzas grabbed my attention. They have a strong focus on being sustainable and serving local ingredients which is the type of business I love to support. They also have one of the best bloody mary’s I’ve ever tasted. 

Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe

When you come here expect a wait. I don’t mean that as a bad thing, I say to emphasize this place is so good people will wait! Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe is completely worth the wait. Crepes had a very important place in my early travel story so I think of myself as somewhat of a crepe critic. The crepes are thin and come in both sweet and savory options. They even have a crepe making class which I would 100% be doing if I live in the city. 

Great Restaurants Downtown Grand Rapids

The Old Goat

The Old Goat has a rustic-chic vibe that you could probably use the word hipster to describe. The place is the definition of stylish and chill. The service is great and makes for a good lunch or dinner stop. If you’re looking for food recommendations consider the cast iron pot pie or the garlic and white balsamic brussel sprouts. 

HopCat

HopCat is a brewery, in fact, it’s a great brewery in one of America’s leading beer cities. It’s no surprise that the menu here is everything you’d want to eat while drinking beer. Think chicken tenders, burgers and Fish and Chips. The food is great and no I wasn’t drunk when I had it. Pro Tip: their Cosmik fries were named the top 10 french fries in America by Food Network Magazine. 

Stella’s Lounge

The walls are covered in graffiti and there are 80’s arcade games to play. Everything about Stella’s Lounge is fun, including the food. It’s mostly a pub menu serving some killer sandwiches. They also have some vegan comfort food options, like a sweet potato burrito. If you’re into whiskey Stella’s has 200 varieties. 

Ando Sushi & Bar

Veggie sushi is one of my favorite things in the world and Ando Sushi & Bar serves the best I’ve ever had. The restaurant is modern and minimal with a really pretty bar. My eyes were about 7 times bigger than my stomach so I got to taste a lot. The udon was rich and a massive portion and all the sushi was super fresh. Seriously, you’ve gotta try one of the veggie sushi options.

Donkey Taqueria

A former service station serving up Mexican street food-inspired dishes. Donkey Taqueria has a large outdoor patio for sipping a cocktail on the warm days and the garage door flood the interior with light year-round. Their taco menu is awesome but I recommend ordering at least on the order of flautas. They also have a really fun cocktail menu.  

Butcher’s Union

Meat eaters only! Not really but carnivores are going to thrive here. The menu itself has a strong international influence which is always fun. Butcher’s Union offers a big shareable menu which I love. In my opinion, it’s the best way to try a bunch of the option. Some of the shareable options include beef tartar, Caribbean meat pies, and roasted pork belly. 

Downtown Market

I love me a great market and the Downtown Market is just that. One of the first things I learned about the market as they have a garden on the rooftop Which I think is awesome for so many reasons. Once we got in I was stoked to find so many different food stalls. Almost all offered an option to take food to cook at home or eat there. That includes the seafood stand frying up and serving some of the freshest fish sandwiches. There are also 3 full sit down restaurants connected to the market. If you have time I highly recommend finishing your meal with the MadCap coffee flight and a cupcake from Sweetie-Licious Bake Shoppe

 

This conversation was sponsored by Experience Grand Rapids. As always all opinions are my own. 

 

15 Great Things to Do in Grand Rapids – DOPES ON THE ROAD

15 Great Things to Do in Grand Rapids - DOPES

We were able to spend a long weekend discovering all the best things to do in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Both Meg and I have been chasing summer for the better part of two years. So when Experience Grand Rapids invited us for a long weekend in the fall we were ecstatic. We’ve had a mutual obsession with hot beverages so we couldn’t wait to get our hands on all the cider, coffee and tea. 

Let’s be honest, many of us have no clue what to do in Grand Rapids. It is time for that to change. There are so many cool Grand Rapids activities and attractions. I always like to set up a list of the best things to do before we touch down in a city. Of course, making time to add in as many suggestions as we can get along the way. I can’t tell you how many great travel tips we’ve received from various Uber drivers. I took the original list, mixed in what we found along the way to give you 15 Best Things to Do in Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids Fun Facts: Aside from being the beautiful city that it is, Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in all of Michigan, it has a population of almost 200,000 (1+ million in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area).  It may surprise you to learn that the “River City” is a haven for the arts and culture community. Plus, as its name and the nickname would suggest, next to the city you will find the Grand River. 

Robinette’s AppleHaus

Everything about Robinette’s AppleHaus and Winery is storybook fall. The pumpkin patch, corn mazes, and hayrides were everything we’d hoped for when we took an Uber ride just a bit outside the city. While we loved the fall vibes it’s a cool place to visit year-round especially because of the winery. If you have the opportunity to try the donuts, do it! The day was cool, the donuts were warm. Meg and I sat on a hay bail away from the crowds laughing and enjoying more than our fair share.  

Fulton Street Farmers Market

Make sure you are in Grand Rapids on a Saturday because that means you can head down to the Fulton Street Farmers Market.  This market has been running for close to 100 years and features over 200 vendors every week.  Most are local farmers and artisans. We’re suckers for a good market, any country selling anything well probably want to check it out. As a bonus, this market is tented so you will be covered, no matter the weather. 

Grand Rapids Public Museum

You need to visit the Grand Rapids Public Museum.  This museum is over 150 years old and has shown no signs of slowing down since the day it opened.  With over 25,000 pieces in the museum, you can wander for hours. Expect to be amazed at just how much amazing Michigan history there is. Everything from antique cars, to fossils and more. Plus, the collections and exhibits change regularly so you can always find something new if you’ve already visited

ArtPrize

If you are planning your Grand Rapids trip, you might consider heading over in the months of September or October. Lucky for us that was exactly when our trip took place and Project 1 by ArtPrize was in full swing.  ArtPrize is a biannual art contest that transforms the city into an open-air art gallery for 19 days every year two years but the same folks who put on the contest have blessed Grand Rapids with art you can experience year-round.  

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

Another must-visit art activity in Grand Rapids is the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.  This park is well known for featuring some of the best and most unique cultural pieces throughout the entire Midwest. With over 150 acres you will find such beautiful natural art as a rock garden, indigenous plants, and a waterfall, plus over 300 sculptures from local and world-famous artists alike. Regretfully the day we planned to go it poured so the pictures didn’t turn out. 

Grand Rapids Art Museum

Pencil drawings, paintings, print work, sculptures and more fill the approximately 20 thousand square feet of The Grand Rapids Art Museum that is dedicated to exhibits.  With all of this space and countless types of art, there is something for everyone. They even have pieces that date all the way back to the Renaissance period!

Rainbow Photoshoot

Located between the children’s museum and the public library you’ll find a strip of road painted rainbow. We’ve been traveling in search of rainbows for a few years now and this is one of the best. If you’re looking for Instagram spots in Grand Rapids make time to stop here. The address we used to find it is 11 Sheldon Ave. Check out the photo I got and hear a bit of my coming out story here

Gerald R. Ford Museum

Grand Rapids, Michigan was the birthplace of U.S. President Gerald Ford.  The Gerald R. Ford Museum is a place to celebrate the life and achievements of the President and Mrs. Ford.  The main exhibit is an interactive video and holographic presentation of President Ford’s life and experiences and allows those watching to feel as though they are traveling around the world with the president.

Grand Rapids Downtown Market

It’s a well-documented fact that I love to eat like really love to eat.  So there was no chance I was skipping the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. Downtown Market is located south of Heartside Park and features over 20 vendors, two full-scale restaurants and more. It was super hard to narrow down what we were going to eat with each stall offering fun options. My favorite part was the three-part coffee tasting we did with MadCap Coffee. Obviously it was fun to drink but I also really enjoyed learning about the beans. We sat at the bar, enjoyed a couple of cookies and quizzed each other on random facts from our lives. Ten out of ten would recommend as a go-to Grand Rapids date spot. 

John Ball Zoo

The John Ball Zoo is arguably one of the best zoos in the country.  It is home to over 1,000 animals and has received awards for its habitats which are created to mimic the animals’ natural habitats.  There are other activities within the zoo as well such as camel riding, zip-lining and more. 

The Pump House

If you love the nostalgia of an old fashioned soda shop, you need to head to the Pump House during your visit.  Porch swings, wooden benches, sorbet, artisanal yogurt, gelato and over a hundred toppings to choose from? Yes, please! The Pump House makes this a visit worth making.

Rumors

Rumors is an LGBTQ nightclub that’s a huge part of the Grand Rapids gay scene. We had a bunch of people reach out encouraging us to visit while we were in town. It’s the perfect spot to dance, support the drag queens or just meet local queers. The community found in smaller city gay bars is always special. 

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum 

The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is an absolute must-visit for families that are visiting.  The museum is designed for children ages 2 through 12, and many of the exhibits and displays are interactive. Some of the favorite exhibits include a replica farm, a children’s theater, and an awesome treehouse. 

Additionally, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is housed inside one of Grand Rapids’ most beautiful buildings. The entire front of the building is made completely of glass so passers-by can watch all of the interactive exhibits from outside.

Brewery Vivant

There is a reason that one of Grand Rapids’ nicknames is “Beer City.” There are so many great breweries and options for you to enjoy and Brewery Vivant is one of the best.  Brewery Vivant is popular because of its extensive beer list and its unique history. We heard the building was home to daycare and then a funeral home before it became a brewery. The food is also absolutely delicious with a Belgian and French-inspired menu.

 Meyer May House

If you are an architecture enthusiast, or if you simply love Frank Llyod Wright, you need to head on over to the Meyer May House.  This house was designed for local businessman Meyer May in the early 1900s by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  This house is built in a Prairies style and has been restored through the years back to its original glory. It is open to the public and features original furniture and other collections of antiques that are original to the home.

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts

Another Grand Rapids must-visit location for art lovers is the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids. Truthfully we stumbled in here as a way to dip out of the rain and fell in love. The exhibits were interesting and thought-provoking plus the space is absolutely beautiful. The entryway with all the signs was stunning. 

 

This post is sponsored by Experience Grand Rapids. As always all opinions are our own.