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

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

 

Tips for Traveling on a Budget

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

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Ever since I was a little girl, I had the chance to travel with my parents as my dad took pictures around the world. As a teenager I traveled the world playing tennis tournaments. As an adult I travel the world both for work as a sports reporter, and for personal pleasure, as an adventure seeker. There is something so special when you have a chance to learn about cultures, see the beauty in a country, hear the stories of the locals. Traveling is my drug of choice as they say, but alas it can also be a very expensive drug. From flights, to hotels, to food, to activities it adds up. On top of that, as a freelancer when I am traveling I am not earning any money. If you are like me and love travel but also love having some money in the bank then you might find this blog useful. I wanted to share with you some of my tips on saving money when traveling.

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1. Keep an eye on flight deals 

A friend of mine who is a flight attendant once told me to always try and book your flight either late Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. In my experience, it has been a little cheaper during this time. Another idea is a lot of google searches will offer flight fare watcher and will update you if prices go down.

Along with booking dates, is airport locations. Living in Canada, it can sometimes be expensive to fly, so I will always check flights out of Seattle. I have found that doing so can save me about $200 a flight. Do your research because sometimes nearby airports may have a deal.

2. Travel on off-days

 Recently I was booking a trip to Arizona with some girlfriends. I was thinking of going from Friday to Sunday, but I couldn’t find a flight less than $500. Insane, I know. So I decide to search from Thursday to Saturday and boom, I found a flight for $250. I know that sometimes your schedule isn’t that flexible, but if it is this is one way to save.

3. Travel during the off-season

Sure, some places like the Caribbean have a hurricane season and you probably don’t want to travel then. But if you head to Europe in the winter, or south in the spring and summer everything is cheaper. From flights to hotels you are bound to find a deal and trust me, off-season traveling has its advantages. Sure the weather might not be as desirable, but a lot of the tourist attractions will be less crowded and easier to visit.

4. Reach out to Tourism Companies 

No one knows a city and their deals better than the tourism company of that city. Before traveling, let them help you plan your trip. Ask to see if there are any events going on while you are there and see if there are any discount codes for tickets etc. When we were in London, there was a tourism pass you could get that allows you to visit several attractions for a cheaper cost. I would never have known about it if I didn’t reach out to the tourism company first.

5. Book hotels through Hotwire 

I have become a huge fan of Hotwire over the last few years. When I was looking for a place to stay in downtown Rome, I used Hotwire. I got an amazing three star hotel right in the city centre for $60 a night. It was a steal. I know it can be a little scary not knowing where you are going to be staying, but they only work with reputable partners and it is kind of fun when your final hotel is revealed.

6. Stay outside of the main city 

When I was visiting London, I couldn’t find accomidation within my budget so I started to search outside of the city centre. I ended up finding a spot in Cambridge that was nearly half the price and it was still really easy to get to downtown. I only recommend going this route if it is a country you feel comfortable and safe in and if they have good public transportation.

7. Talk to the Locals

Visiting the super touristy spots and restaurants can get pricy because they know that they are well, dealing with tourists. Try and speak with the locals to find out where they hang out and eat. Usually places that are less known by tourists are more affordable.

8. Sign up for travel rewards 

From frequent flyer points, to hotel points, to visa points sign up for everything and anything because those points sure do add up. In fact I am heading to memphis this summer for free (thank you Aeroplan)

9. Follow on social media 

Sometimes hotels and airlines will offer deals that they promote on social media. If you are following you won’t miss any of it. The same goes for signing up for newsletters.

10. Have meals included 

When booking a hotel, especially in Europe, a lot of spots will offer breakfast. Try and also see if they have a kitchen area where you can store some food. Saving on your meals will mean more money left over for shopping right?

11. Earn on the go 

Why not go one step further and make money while traveling. On a trip to Thailand I was asked by some friends to pick up some special Thai pants and shirts only available at their markets. I decided to put the filler out on social media that I was traveling to Thailand and if anyone wanted anything. I then brought a separate carry on bag to store all the goods. Thailand is so cheap, that it was easy to make a small profit and have a chance to help out some friends.

Again I know that the dollars can add up and since I no longer earn allowance I have to pay my own bills. But you should never miss out on seeing the world because it is too expensive. Go out, explore, and do it all within your budget.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

some of my travel snaps