Why you need to visit Phoenix’s growing craft brewery scene

With the warmer weather finally here, I am sure that patio beers are on your mind. When I visited Phoenix, Arizona I was surprised to find out that their craft brewery scene was as hot as the weather.  In fact, at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival in Denver (basically the oscars of beer) four Phoenix breweries took home awards.

In the last year or so, the city has seen a run of craft beer bars, new breweries, and new local brews popping up all over the area. The total craft breweries in Phoenix surpasses 50, and so I just had to check some of them out for myself.

I joined forces with Arizona Brewery Tours. I really loved working with AZ brewery tours because they offer private brewery tours that fit your particular taste buds and beer preferences.

Stop #1: Helton Brewing Company

Our first stop of the night lead us to Helton Brewing Company, a cozy newly renovated brewery located in an old tire warehouse. The spot includes a beautiful outdoor beer garden, games, live music, and of course an endless drink menu. I loved that the fact the owner of the brewery created most of the furniture inside by hand and really cares about the product he produces. My personal favourite drink was the IPA, a perfect balance between citrus, floral, and fruit. Enjoy it with their delicious shrimp watermelon salad.

Stop #2: Mother Brunch

Next up was Mother Brunch. A fun family run brewery with a chalk list filled with their hand crafted beers. Julie and her husband William are serious beer nerds, and that shows clearly in their delicious drinks. What I really loved about this spot was the combination of delicious drinks and comfort food. The contemporary pub food has a unique twist. You must try the jalapeño infused mac and cheese. You will be licking your plate clean.

Stop #3: North Mountain Brewery

The last stop on the trip was North Mountain Brewery. This place is like a real life Cheers, the set where everyone knows your name. NMB celebrates the history and art of the Arizona desert culture. The decoration of this cozy microbrewery celebrates the history of brewing, and how the creation of beer has brought societies together. The goal here was to create a community feel, and they hit the nail on the head.

I was blown away by the quality of the breweries in Phoenix. Each one had its own personality and speciality that made each one unique. I wish I had more time to explore and discover the amazing breweries spread throughout the town.

Why Phoenix is the best spot for your next girls trip

I had always known the beauty of Arizona. From the stunning landscapes, the depths of the grand canyon, the colours of Horseshoe Bend, but I had always thought of Phoenix as a place where my parents would go for spa days and tee-off times. I was wrong. On a recent trip with some friends to Phoenix, I realized there is so much more to this city. Mixed in-between the desert sands and mountain range, is a bustling nightlife, craft breweries, and adventure that this is the perfect spot for your next girls weekend.

Sure, usually my ladies weekends are a trip away to Vegas or New Orleans. Yet in 48 hours with two close friends, we discovered all that Phoenix has to offer with the help of Visit Phoenix.

The stay

There are so many adorable boutique hotels in the heart of Phoenix, but during this trip we decided to stay a little outside of the hustle. We decided to check into Civana, located in the adorable town of Carefree and trust me the name says it all. This brand new wellness resort is a place of total R&R.

From the moment you walk inside the doors, you know this is a special place. Friendly staff, beautiful mountain views, and a stunning salt water pool surrounded by natural vegetation. It was truly beautiful.

The resort  believes in healing through movement. Civana offers complimentary daily programs including yoga, juice making classes, and local hiking, which I sure took full advantage of. It really has unique activities to fit whatever journey you are hoping for.

There are also plenty of other amenities on site that ensure a relaxing and rejuvenating stay. From their world class spa, to farm to table fine class dining this is spot is the perfect combination of luxury and wellness.

You can find out more about this beautiful resort on their website; https://www.civanacarefree.com/

 

What to do

trying to fit everything Phoenix has to offer into 48 hours was a whirlwind, but we honestly got to see and discover so many unique activities. Here are so of my top things to do with your girlfriends in Phoenix.

1) Enjoy some local brews

What I didn’t know about Phoenix is that it has over 50 craft breweries. We joined forced with Arizona Brewery Tours to discover some of the best spots in town to grab a cold one. What I loved about AZ Brew Tours, is they can organize private tours that fit your beer preferences, and they also provide a party bus from stop to stop.

The three stops we visited during the trip included the rustic “Beer Garage” at Helton Brewery, the open kitchen at Mother Brunch, and the funky North Mountain Brewery. I will have more on the specific breweries in an upcoming blog, but in the meantime you can find out more about Arizona Brewery Tours here;

2) Take a cactus selfie at the Gardens

Sure, Phoenix is filled with wonderful hiking trails, but where can you find and learn about all of the plants in one spot? the Desert Botanical Garden. They really create a world class experience through their exhibits, giving each guest the chance to discover and learn about the desert life. Have a chance to meet one of the gardeners and ask questions about the flowers and vegetation, get up close and personal with some flutter friends at the butterfly sanctuary, and take in the local art. This place is definitely a must see.

3) Tea time with a twist

Visit the Camby hotel for a modern twist on Tea Time, in what we like to call a Tipsy Tea Party. Sip on classic teas like English Breakfast or Earl Grey infused with spirt and sparkling wine. The teas were delicious and refreshing. The drinks are also served with some favourite tea time snacks and a surprise sweet treats to finish off the night. It is the perfect afternoon treat for you and your girlfriends.

4) Take to the Skies

Ever wanted to know what it feels like to fly? What Phoenix looks like from a birds point of view? For as long as I can remember a hot air balloon ride had been on top of my bucket list, and I had heard Phoenix was the perfect place to make that dream come true. We woke up bright and early and joined Hot Air Expeditions for an high flying adventure. The views of the desert, mountains, and lakes was spectacular. We landed our balloon in the middle of the desert and had breakfast, complete with mimosas to cap off an incredible day.

5) Relax and unwind at the spa

Alright, there are plenty of adventures in Phoenix, but it is important to find some time to relax and unwind also. Phoenix has some of the best spas in the world, why not take full advantage. We stayed local and got a spa service at Civana. I enjoyed an amazing double exfoliating facial. It was the perfect way to finish the trip.

I learned something new about Phoenix on this trip. That beyond the beautiful exterior landscapes, there is a whole city filled with life waiting to be explored. For outdoor lovers to cocktail connoisseurs, there is something for everyone I will definitely be planning plenty of girls trips here in the future.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

Here are a few more snaps from Phoenix

48 Hours in Phoenix, Arizona: Vlog part 1

“great things never come from comfort zones”

April has been one of the busiest months of my life with work. Three home games for the Saskatchewan Rush, meant plenty of travel back and forth to Saskatoon. During our one bye week, all I wanted to do was sleep in my own bed until noon each day, but what would be the fun in that.

Instead an opportunity came up to hit the road yet again, but this time to Phoenix,  Arizona. What I knew about Phoenix was that it is desert terrain, it is hot, and it has great golf courses.

What I didn’t know about Phoenix was it has such a unique nightlife. It has an incredible craft brewery scene, a beautiful botanical garden, and is one of the best places in the world to fly a hot air balloon.

Guess what? On this trip I discovered it all. I will be sharing this trip with you through blogs and videos. My first vlog from the trip discovers the wellness resort, Civana Carefree that I had a chance to stay at, the beautiful hikes in the area, and a local brewery tour with Arizona Brewery Tours . 

Also don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube page so you don’t miss any of my future vlogs and travel tips!

xo

Mia

How to plan the perfect road trip

I have a love hate relationship with road trips. I love them because you get to see so much during a drive. You can stop when you want to and explore. See something that sparks your interest? Pull over and check it out. You are on your own time. I hate them, because sometimes I get a little car sick. In all honesty though, some of my most memorable experiences have been road trips.

Through the many road trips I have taken, I have created memories that will last a lifetime. I have seen world wonders like the Grand Canyon. I have taken in the views of the California oceanfront. I have dipped my toes in the turquoise waters of Lake Louise. The experiences have been truly special. 

I have had the chance to plan two very different kinds of road trips. Some had a very strict timeline. Hotels were booked in advance and the itinerary set in (almost) stone.  Others were a go with the flow kind of trip. I would see a town I liked and I would stop there for the night at the first 3 star hotel I could find on the map. It was carefree and adventurous. Deciding which type of road trip to do is completely up to you and your travel preferences. Today I just want to share with you some of my favourite road trips and how to make sure your road trip experience is enjoyable.

Favourite Road Trips

Toronto to Vancouver 

This road trip was particularly enjoyable for me because I got to explore the place I call home. I have lived in Canada for most of my life, but there are so many places in my own backyard I have yet to discover. This road trip gave me a chance to see more of the country. I got to see the lakes and parks of Northern Ontario. The flat farming lands of the Prairies. The unbelievable beautiful mountains of the Rockies. It truly was an incredible experience and one that I think every Canadian should try.

Nevada & Arizona 

I have written a lot about this road trip because it was spectacular. If you are at all interested in photography, this is the dream road trip. It included stops at the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Upper Antelope Canyon. Each stop unique and breathtaking. The great thing about this trip is every destination is  just a few hours apart so you can enjoy the views for longer. A little tip, make sure to have your camera nearby because there is so much beauty along the way.

 

Pacific Coast Highway 

This is the road trip of all road trips. Twisting your way along the coast of California you transition from hundred year old green forests to palm trees along the beach. I did a bit of a condensed version, a weekend from San Fransisco to San Diego. The views along this drive are magnificent.  Ocean on your right, rocky cliff on your left. Not for the faint of heart. Make sure to take the time to stop at secluded beaches along the way to stretch your legs. My personal favourite stop had to be Big Sur. 

North of Spain to South of France

This was the road trip that I left up to my GPS and chance and it was amazing. I started the drive in Barcelona and finished in Cannes. I didn’t have a single hotel booked along the way. I would stop in towns that looked appealing and beautiful, ones that had oceanfront views or interesting architecture. Once I decided where I wanted to stay overnight, I would search nearby hotels in my GPS. The trip included 5 star luxury stays, beach front motels, and even a hotel that doubled as an art gallery dedicated to Gaudi. It was the adventure of a life time.

Planning the Perfect Road Trip 

Again what type of road trip to take is completely up to you. Are you the kind of person that likes to have a plan in place or one that likes to go with the flow? Here are my top road trip tips to make sure that no matter what you chose, it is going to be an unforgettable vacation.

 

  1. Be safe: Driving in an unfamiliar country or on unfamiliar roads can be a little scary so make sure you have the right equipment to have a safe trip. Pay extra for road side assistance from the rental company. Make sure you have a map and compass in your car in case you enter a zone that has no cell reception. Have a blanket in the car in case it breaks done. Have proper tools in case of a flat. There is nothing worse then something going wrong in a foreign place and being unprepared to handle it.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the area you are traveling: I speak French fluently, so I felt comfortable driving around in France, however ahead of the trip I made sure to familiarize myself with the route I was taking. I tried to understand how far each city was from one another so even without a planned stop, I still knew I wasn’t going to be stranded in a small town after too many hours on the road. Make sure you feel confident that you know where you are heading.
  3. Try to avoid driving at night: When I drove the Pacific Coast I made a grave mistake. I started the drive too late in the day and had already booked my hotel for the following night. By doing so, I ended up driving one of the scariest roads in the pitch black. Not only did I miss out on the stunning views, but I also didn’t really feel safe. Try and time out the trip properly so you avoid driving in the dark. Plus how can you take insta worthy pictures of the views when you can’t even see them?
  4. Go hands free: Another huge safety aspect is making sure you are able to drive hands free. Driving in an unfamiliar place you are probably going to need a GPS. Ask the car company if they have ones for rent because they usually come with a proper mount. If you would rather use your phone or own device, make sure you have something to mount it in the car. I personally love the QLYX. It is small enough to travel with, super easy to use, and comes with some awesome features.
  5. Pack Snacks: You don’t really know when you might be able to eat from meal to meal so it is important to have snacks readily available. Have a cool bag to keep water, drinks, and snacks available for the long haul.
  6. Have gas: Gas is a good thing for a long road trip. The last thing you want to do is run out so make sure you are prepared or at least know where you can fuel up along the way.
  7. Factor in your must sees: Sure, it might just take a few hours to get from A to B, but don’t forget to factor in the places you want to stop along the way. If you are doing the road trip with someone else, make sure you are both clear on the stops you want to make along the way so that no one misses out and you can still leave yourself enough time to get from one spot to the next. Another important part of this is to make sure you plan your stops properly. During my cross Canada drive, I really wanted to see Moraine Lake in Banff. I didn’t take into consideration it was a long weekend and the park was packed. I didn’t get to see the lake because we didn’t arrive early enough and I was pretty disappointed. Lesson learned for next time.
  8. Music is everything: Alright, now that we have the safety tips out of the way it is time for the fun. Spending long hours on the road is so much more enjoyable when you have some great music to rock out to. I usually make a road trip playlist on Spotify before I start my journey. That way I know I won’t have to listen to commercials on the radio or deal with static from one city to the next. I can just jam and enjoy. Can’t agree on what music to listen too? Only fair that everyone gets a turn to play DJ in the car.
  9.  Plan some fun: Check out the site roadtrippers. It has a ton of quirky road sights to different accommodations from around the globe which can help make the trip a little more interesting.
  10. Be a local: The amazing thing about a road trip is you are driving alongside the locals, so why not really embrace the culture you are experiencing by staying away from chain restaurants and hotels.

Well now that I have shared with you some of my favourite road trips as well as how to make the trip safe and enjoyable, it is time for you to hit the open roads. Are you planning a road trip, or have done an awesome trip that isn’t on my list? I would love for you to share with me in the comments below.

Happy traveling my friends. I know I cannot wait to go M.I.A. again.

xo

Mia

New York Hotel Guide

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” –  Tom Wolfe

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New York, New York ah the city that never sleeps. I love visiting the Big Apple because there is truly so much to see and do that you can’t possible conquer it all in one trip. From incredible Broadway shows, to world class shopping, to amazing speak easy bars, and fine dining to drool over, this city truly has it all.

But as I get a bit older, I realized even in the City that doesn’t sleep, I still enjoy to get my beauty sleep. Another aspect that I love about New York is the unique buildings and hotels. It can be overwhelming because each part of town offers dozens of hotels ranging from 5 star to boutiques to hostels that it can be intimidating to try and navigate. During my several trips to NYC, I have had the chance to stay at some incredible hotels and I wanted to share with you some of my favourites to hopefully make organizing your stay a little less intimidating.

Library hotel 

This boutique hotel is in the perfect location, right in the center of Midtown Manhattan. It is just steps away from the New York Public Library, 5thAvenue Shopping, and Time Square. Aside from the unbeatable location, I truly loved this hotel because it really sticks to its unique theme, making it really stand out from other spots.

The moment you walk through the doors at the Library hotel, you are greeted by bookshelves filled with over 6,000 books of every possible genre. There are even quite areas with comfortable seating so you can take the books right off the shelves and read. The hotel goes a step further and organizes their rooms and floors based on the Dewey Decimal System. The 10 floors of this hotel honour 10 different categories. Fittingly, I was on the Communications floor.

Another great part about this hotel is the amazing amenities. The Library hotel offers complimentary continental breakfast buffet and when you need a midday pickup, the hotel also offers a complimentary afternoon happy hour complete with wine or prosecco and snacks. Another amenity that I loved about this hotel is you don’t have to get off track, you can take complimentary classes at any New York Sports Clubs in Manhattan.

My personal favourite part of this hotel though, was their beautiful rooftop patio. Each drink on the menu is named after a book or author and all of them are delicious!

Hotel Giraffe 

Another one of my favourite boutique hotels in New York is Hotel Giraffe. This hotel is located in the classy NoMad neighborhood, right in the middle of Manhattan and downtown. It is surrounded by amazing shops and restaurants. The hotel also stays true to its giraffe theme, with statues and pictures throughout the hotel. The architecture itself reminds you a bit of a giraffe, elegant and gentle. The design was inspired by the Art Modern period, which is a common trend in the NoMad neighbourhood.

Aside from the beautiful design and convenient location of the hotel, it also has unbeatable amenities. Again it  offers a free continental breakfast, a three hour wine and cheese hour complete with a live piano player, workout classes at the New York Sports Clubs, and refreshments and snacks available 24/7.

This hotel boasts outside patio complete with stunning views of the city, and a relaxed area to unwind after a day of shopping. Downstairs they have the delicious Bread and Tulip restaurants, which offers 20% discount to hotel guests. A V.I.P. treatment if you ask me.

The Pod 51 and 39 

On one of my first trips to New York I stayed at the Pod 39, and absolutely loved this quirky and surprisingly affordable spot. The Pod 39 is located in the heart of Manhattan, and their motto is to create a comfortable and functional yet compact spot and not charge an arm and a leg. In fact, when I stayed here I slept in a bunk-bed and loved it.

It was actually hard to leave the hotel because it has so much to offer. Challenge a friend to a ping pong showdown in their playroom. Devour some delicious Mexican cuisine at their lobby restaurant, Salvation Taco. Grab a drink at their stylish rooftop bar that has become a staple in New York.

Class and comfort at an affordable price, this place is almost too good to be true.

The Ace Hotel 

History meets modern design at the Ace hotel. The hotel is a historic midtown Manhattan building, and on the outside that is what you get, but as you walk through the doors you get the hustle and bustle of modern New York. The lobby of the hotel is lined with local art and décor. The hotel is centrally located and easy to get to museums, shops, and of course the theaters all by foot.

There is also plenty to do right in the hotel. One of my favourite coffee shops, Stumptown Coffee is right in the lobby, while The Breslin Bar offers live music most nights.

What I loved most about this hotel was their rooms. Compact but oh so comfortable. The beds were some of the most comfortable I have ever slept in. There was also an old school bath tub right in the middle of my bed room. Told you compact meets comfort.

 

The Soho Grand Hotel 

Ready to spend a pretty penny on a luxurious stay? Well then you have to check out the Soho Grand Hotel. The first truly luxury downtown boutique hotel located right in the heart of SoHo. The hotel is just steps away from world renowned art galleries and shops. It truly offers the perfect New York location.

Inside prepare to be amazed. When you walk in the doors you are greeted by the hotel’s stylish lobby. There is plenty of art hanging from the walls and romantic furniture lining the room. As for your rooms, no detail is spared.  Expect art and decoration to be in rich chocolate palettes complemented by vintage décor. This hotel is a masterpiece in itself. Get this, you can even request a pet goldfish if you want a friend for the week.

What I really loved is the hotel also offers complimentary bikes to their guests so that you can get around town in style.

No matter where you stay in New York, you are going to have an amazing time. This city is so full of life, that you probably won’t spend much time in your hotel, but trust me, if you stay at one of these spots the time you do spend will be enjoyable.

Happy Traveling my friends,

xo

Mia