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Mystery Castle

by: Editor on 2/22/2018

 

Have you spotted that mysterious castle as you explore this gorgeous state? You’ll find it at the South Mountain Park foothills, and it’s been a landmark in the city since the 1930s. It was created by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter, Mary Lou Gulley—and since then, children have flocked to the site. Gulley had tuberculosis, and committed himself to creating her dream castle out of sustainable, affordable materials. Although he died in 1945, he left the castle to his wife and daughter, who moved in shortly after his passing.

It’s no surprise that the story made headlines. Named Mystery Castle by Gulley, there was a 1948 Life Magazine feature on the construction. Just a few years after the mother and daughter moved in, they began offering tours to the hordes of tourists who wanted a closer glimpse of this royal creation. You can still visit the castle today.

Fit for Royalty

Located at 800 E. Mineral Road, Phoenix, Mystery Castle is open 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Thursday – Sunday. Built on the memories of Gulley creating sandcastles with his daughter in Seattle, Gulley recalled Mary Lou asking, “Please Daddy, built me a big and strong castle someday that I can live in. Maybe you ought to build it on the desert where there is no water.”

To this day, the magic of the castle remains. Nobody knows if Mary Lou’s pleas were part of why he moved from Washington to Arizona. However, the massive 18-room castle with 13 fireplaces, a variety of crannies, parapets and antiques is a sight to behold. The castle is open October – May.

 

A Day Trip for Phoenix Chocolate

by: Editor on 2/10/2018

 

It’s not officially Valentine’s until you’ve had some homemade truffles or heart-shaped decadence. Phoenix is full of premium chocolatiers and patisseries, like Wei of Chocolate with organic options and melt-in-your-mouth sweets—and it’s all just a short drive away. Try the Gratitude chai bar, Salt Dark Chocolate, Lavender Gray Chocolate, and more. Wei has found a way to make chocolate good for you by going back to its roots.

Zak’s Chocolate is a café famous for its brownie flight. Can’t decide? This taster tray is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth while giving you the comfort goodie you crave—and introducing you to some zany new flavors. Take a chocolate tour, sign up for a class, or simply snag the ginger tangerine truffle and fall in love with a new flavor.

Sweet Surprises

The Cerreta Candy Company offers mostly homemade chocolates and baked goods, with a variety of gift box sizes to choose from. Customize your order, and don’t forget to sample plenty of the mints and truffles. Free tours are available Monday – Friday, but the most raved about sweets are the French Mints, perfect for a wintry evening in Phoenix.

Rayner’s Chocolate and Coffee Shop is where you can get a mocha or espresso with a generous side of sweet delights. Try the chocolate rose coffee, old-fashioned toffee, and adorable personal-sized cakes and baked goods. It’s the perfect place for a light lunch, quick snack, or simply to get that sugar rush you’re after.

 

 Desert Botanical Garden

by: Editor on 2/1/2018

Experience the natural beauty of Arizona at this sprawling outdoor desert garden and gift shop, open daily from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. (members are allowed in at 6 a.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays). Stay hydrated, apply sunscreen regularly and pace yourself at each loop. Summer might be officially over, but the desert heat tends to linger. Plan your visit for sunrise or sunset for the best lighting, views and experience.

The gift shop is open from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily and it’s where you’ll find one of a kind gifts and souvenirs including jewelry, books, apparel and more. All locations at the site are ADA friendly. Strollers are available to rent on a first come, first served basis as are electric scooters and umbrellas. No outside food or beverage is allowed, although there are plenty of delicious dining options on site.

Garden Dining

Enjoy Gertrude’s, where fresh, local ingredients are featured in a farm to plate environment. Open for lunch and dinner, along with weekend brunch, the menu shifts seasonally. There’s also the patio café (closed in the summer) for lighter fare. Take advantage of free admission every second Tuesday, and photographers are welcome with no reservations required.

Special events include Garden Flashlight Tours September 1 at 9:30 p.m., Birds in the Garden tours throughout the month for bird lovers (binoculars provided) at 7 a.m. daily, and pop-up events for kids. Check the events calendar and plan your trip to Phoenix’s paradise.

 

 

Start Your Morning at Theia’s Cafe

by: Editor on 1/27/2018

 

Located in the heart of Sedona at 361 Cedar Street, Theia’s is a favorite breakfast, brunch and lunch spot where the pastries are decadent, the coffee and tea are strong, and if you’re headed for a workout, the protein shakes give you a great start to the day. Pastries and bagels are provided by NY Bakery and Deli of West Sedona.

Free Wi-Fi is available, making Theia’s a popular spot for virtual workers and business meetings. There’s also a play area for children, and live music is showcased on Saturdays and Sundays. Local art is regularly featured. At Theia’s you can get a real taste of Sedona, meet up with friends or colleagues, and keep the little ones entertained while sipping on a flat white, caramel latte, or milk chocolate iced mocha.

What’s for Breakfast?

Whether you like your coffee as a macchiato, as a breve, or with coconut, soy, almond or rice milk instead of dairy, Theia’s has something for everyone. Get a chai latte, Yerba Mate tea or a white hot chocolate. There are also Italian sodas, juice, milk and iced tea. Caffeine fixes come in all tastes and styles.

Smoothies like the blueberry-banana and mango-orange are the perfect way to cool down. Protein shakes are available in chocolate, vanilla or berry. Add in extra protein boosts with whey, hemp or rice, and add in chia seeds, an extra banana or spirulina. How do you like your morning to start?

 

Aligning Light Center of Sedona

by: Editor on 1/21/2018

 

Sedona has long been a destination for those on spiritual journeys, and the Aligning Light Center of Sedona has everything you need to make this trip one to remember. Located at 333 N. SR 89A #5 Matterhorn Shoppes, the metaphysical and art store offers readings, personal tours and journeys, and plenty of sacred tools for your own unique journey. Special workshops and retreats are held throughout the year.

Find your fairy artwork, Native American jewelry and pottery, crystals, sage, oils and more. From dream catchers to smudging feathers, herbs to musical instruments, Aligning Light is where empowerment skills training takes place and positive changes begin. Sign up for life coaching, join a new moon event, or take a labyrinth journey.

A Different Type of Vacation

Throughout the month, there are special celebrations for the full moon, medicine wheel retreats, and neuro linguistic programming (NLP) sessions. The owner and staff are knowledgeable, friendly and happy to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

One of the newest workshops includes CBD Oils, however there are always new classes being offered. Simply looking for local, one-of-a-kind gifts? Stop by and check out the unique treasures, like stone gecko sculptures handcrafted by nearby artists using Sedona materials. What will you find at Aligning Light?

 

Free National Parks Entry for MLK Jr. Day

by: Editor on 1/12/2018

 

The National Park Service (NPS) offers free admission to all national parks in the country to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day—and there are plenty near Sedona. If you’ll be in Red Rock country for the three-day weekend, take advantage of the cool-weather (for Sedona) hiking options and see how many trails you can tick off your bucket list. Whether you’re a hiker, trail runner, horseback rider or mountain biker, there’s a perfect trail or two for you.

The famous Red Rock State Park is located at 4050 Red Rock Loop Rd. Considered the millennial of the national parks, it opened in 1991 and is known for the gorgeous canyons and red sandstone. Many hikers’ Sedona wish lists include the riparian habitat found in the park’s Oak Creek. Head out early to avoid the crowds and enjoy the coolest weather.

Take a Hike!

There’s also Slide Rock State Park, located at 6871 N. Highway 89A. It was named after the natural “waterslide” that was created from Oak Creek. It’s just a seven-mile drive from Oak Creek Canyon and interconnects with parts of Red Rock State Park, making it an easy addition to your planned day hike.

Don’t forget the nearby Tuzigoot National Monument at 25 Tuzigoot Rd. in Clarkdale. The multi-level preserved pueblo can be found at the base of a stunning sandstone and limestone ridge. It hovers 120 feet above the Verde River. Camp Verde is home to the Montezuma Castle National Monument, a well-preserved abode of the Sinagua people. You’ll find it at Montezuma Castle Rd.