Queer Ashland and Southern Oregon

Author: , November 4th, 2019

Central Point Sunset

In September, we drove up to Southern Oregon to visit some dear friends who live in Central Point – a little town just north of Medford. We spent a few days up there, and visited their town, a little bit of Medford, and the towns of Jacksonville and Ashland.

So we thought we’d share some of our favorite things about queer Ashland and Southern Oregon!

We’ll break it down below by food, shopping, and entertainment.

Eat It!

There are some great food choices here in the Ashland/Medford area. We only tried a few, but had a few stand-outs:

Lillie Belle Farms
Central Point
Best Chocolate

Lillie Belle Farms - Central Point

We liked this place as soon as we saw the purple building that hosues it. It’s filled with delectable chocolate offerings, including the chocolate covered mint oreos (I took home a small bag) and the hot pepper chocolate (take a bite and wait for it!). Everything we tried here was good, and they stack up favorably against chocolatiers in the big cities we’ve visited.

Lillie Belle Farms - Central Point

Rogue Creamery
Central Point
Cheese Curds!

Rogue Creamery - Central Point

Located right next to Lillie Belle is a fantastic creamery that sells one opf my favorite things in the whole world – cheese curds! These are the randomly-shaped pieces of cheese that are then pressed into bars or cheese, and they are fricking delicious! Pro-tip – pop one (or half a dozen) into your microwave for about seven seconts, then eat them quickly for a squeaky-melty treat. Best when eaten fresh.

 

Rogue Creamery - Central Point

Bella Union
Jacksonville
Best All-Around Restaurant

Bella Union - Jacksonville

The stand-out restaurant of our trip – we went there twice. The food was fantastic – my bread pudding dessert the second visit was one of the best I’ve had in ages. I wanted to lick the plate (actually, I might have LOL). But the star here is the absolutely gorgeous courtyard at the back of this place. Don’t come to Bella Union and sit inside.

Bella Union - Jacksonville

Buttercloud Bakery and Cafe
Medford
Best Breakfast (tie)

Buttercloud Bakery & Cafe - Medford

Oh my god, the decadence. This is one of our friends Nick and Kolby’s favorite breakfast places, and it’s easy to see why. The biscuits are world-famous, and so full of butter you might have a heart attack just breathing the wonderful buttery air.

Buttercloud Bakery & Cafe - Medford

Morning Glory
Ashland
Best Breakfast (tie)

Morning Glory Cafe

Another great breakfast option, this one on the south side of Ashland. It’s a bit out of town, but the food is great, and they have some of the biggest coffee cups we’ve ever seen.They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, made with fresh, organic ingredients. And those muffins… Hey Kolby!

Morning Glory Cafe

Morning Glory Cafe

Kaleidescope Pizza
Medford
Best Pizza

Kaleidoscope Pizza

If anyone asks you what the secret to a great pizza is, it’s the cheese. And this pizza place has the best cheese we’ve had since Pizzeria Aurora in Sorrento, Italy – tasty, stretch cheese that you just want to rub all over your body and… but I digress. No one should stop in Medford without a visit to this place, and the cheesy bread is absolutely divine, too, as Kolby (below) will attest to. Sorry I ate half the Hawaiian pizza…

Kaleidoscope Pizza

Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop
Ashland
Best Tapas

Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop

We only ate at one place in Ashland, and it was good but not fantastic. The tapas were tasty, but expensive for the portions offered. Then again, it’s in the hard of Ashland, right across from the square. And it’s really cool inside…

Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop - Ashland

Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop - Ashland

Buy It!

We found a few great shopping opportunities in the area, and we’ll share them with you below:

Carefree Buffalo
Jacksonville
Really cool knick-knacks

Carefree Buffalo

I love this store – so many cool little things, and such a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Carefree Buffalo

The Miners Bazaar
Jacksonville
Eclectic Cafe

The Miners' Bazaar - Jacksonville

We stopped into this eclectic cafe for a quick drink and found a strange mix of museum, cafe and shop, perfect for Jacksonville’s quirky spirit. Plus it’s the perfect place to sit in a rocking chair on the porch and watch the passersby. And check out this awesome fashion panel. Who says high fashion is only in Milan, London, Paris and new York City?

The Miners' Bazaar - Jacksonville

Lithia Artisan’s Market
Ashland
Great collection of local artists

Lithia Artisan's Market - Ashland

Along the edge of the Lithia Creek in downtown Ashland, there’s a great outdoor market on the weekends. We found all kinds of cool things here, from paintings to decorative outlet covers to animals made out of wool – the artist was creating a giraffe right before our eyes. It’s a fun outdoor market, and the perfect place to snag something cool to take back home. And while you’re there, check out the colorful mural that runs along part of the market.

Lithia Artisan's Market - Ashland Lithia Artisan's Market - Ashland

Lithia Artisan's Market - Ashland

Manzanita Home & Flowers
Ashland
Really cool kitchen stuff and the sexiest bunnies I’ve ever seen

Manzanita Home & Flowers

This is an awesome home store on Main Street with two of the sexiest bunnies you’ll find in Ashland.. and some really clever kitchen ware, among other things. I haven;t seen that good a “come hither” look since Elsa in the Lion King.

Manzanita Home & Flowers

Manzanita Home & Flowers

Renaissance Rose
Ashland
Great costume shop

Renaissance Rose

This is a simply awesome costume shop in the heart of Ashland that gets extra points for the pink fuzzy monster slippers, the steampunk helmet and goggles, and the rainbow stairs we found inside.

Renaissance Rose Renaissance Rose

Treehouse Secret World Vault
Ashland
My new favorite bookstore…

Treehouse Secret World Vault

This cute little bookstore/toy store reminded me of the favorite bookstore of my youth – te Haunted Book Shop – in Tucson Arizona. Like that one, this little store is full of fascinating things for kids, from the toadstool stool to the little doorways that reward the curious who dare to open them. A really cool shop for the kid in all of us.

 

Treehouse Secret World Vault

Treehouse Secret World Vault

Treehouse Secret World Vault

Treehouse Secret World Vault

See It!

There’s also a lot to see… we just scratched the surface in the few days we were there.

Bum Around Jacksonville

Jacksonville is just east of Medford, nestled against the hills of the Rogue Valley. It’s a cute, quirky town that reminded us of Nevada City, California. There’s lots of antique shopping and a number of galleries.

Plus it’s full of history:

Jacksonville

Jacksonville

Jacksonville

There’s even a ghost tour some evenings.

Walk up to Britt Gardens – it was once the home of one of the founding fathers of the city, and is now a beautiful outdoor concert venue. We were wandering around up there and ran into a family of deer. One of them as less than ten feet from me, and stood really still as if she hoped I wouldn’t see her.

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Britt Gardens - Jacksonville

Picnic in Lithia Park

Ashland’s Lithia Park is a gorgeous creekside park with charming bridges and walkways and wide open grassy areas perfect for a picnic. So grab some cheese and crackers at the Rogue Creamery and some chocolates at Lillie Belle, and head down to the park in Ashland. We spent an hour laying on the grass, munching and talking about life and the universe. One of my favorite parts of the trip.

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

Lithia Park - Ashland

See a Shakespeare Play

Did you know that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival offers fifty percent discounts on same day play purchases? We saw a play – Alice in Wonderland – in the gorgeous outdoor Elizabethan Theatre. And while I can honestly say it was one of the worst plays I have seen in a long time, the experience itself was great.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

 

There are so many things to do in the Ashland area, and we’ve only shared a few. We’ll be back again to find more the next time we visit Nick and Kolby. But we’ll leave you with this little gem from Jacksonville. Have fun exploring!

Jacksonville sign

Man Place B&B – Purgitsville, West Virginia

Author: , October 31st, 2019

Man Place B&B - Purgitsville, West Virginia

Welcome to Man Place, a unique bed and breakfast situated in the mountains of the Potomac Highlands in the Eastern Panhandle of Wet Virginia. Man Place sits on 65 private acres and clothing is optional both indoors and out. Located nearby over a million acres of national forest lands, numerous state parks and forests, thousands of hiking trails, and so many more recreational options, you’ll have a hard time deciding what to do first. And of course if you just want to get away and relax, Man Place is the perfect getaway to enjoy the peace and serenity you’ll find only in the mountains.

At Man Place each of our four guest rooms is individually decorated for a distinctive feel. Each room features its own unique perks. The master suite on the main level features the largest floor space of all our rooms and has an en suite private bath with tub and shower. In the Patio Room you’ll find an in room sink and a private covered patio accessed by a sliding glass door.

The East Room is the second largest space and has two large windows overlooking the yard to the east, a massage chair and a large closet. Smallest of the rooms is the Cozy Room where you’ll find an antique sleigh bed, a large closet and attached adult play room. All rooms except the Master Suite are on the lower level and share a bath with shower.

Our outdoor spaces include a large screened in porch with a grill and darts, an outdoor table and chairs, chairs on the deck, and numerous hiking trails around the property. Wildlife is commonly seen on the property by our guests. The views in every directions are spectacular with mountains everywhere you look.

See the Man Place B&B Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

West Virginia Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

 

The Perfect Italian Afternoon in San Francisco’s North Beach

Author: , October 28th, 2019

Acquolina - North Beach

We’ve been to North beach in San Francisco a number of times, but I always complain about how it’s only restaurants and coffee shops – no other real parts of Italian culture seem to be represented.

Well, that’s changed, and for the better. If you’re an Italianofile like Mark and I, there’s now an Italian bookstore in the heart of North beach, chock-full of Italian language books.

So we thought we’d share some tips for a perfect Italian afternoon in North Beach.

Start at Libreria Pino

In Italian, libreria means bookstore, while biblioteca means library. I know, confusing, right? This little bookstore on Greenwich Street, just a block east of Washington Square Park, is worth seeing. It’s only Italian language titles, making it perfect for both native speakers and those of us who are studying the Italian language.

Stop in about noon and browse the titles – there are so many to choose form, including a comprehensive children’s section at the back, and the owner, Joseph Carboni, is friendly and can help you zero in on the perfect book.

Libreria Pino - North Beach

Lunch at Acquolina

This cute little Italian restaurant faces Washington Square Park at Greenwich and Stockton, which most times is a big plus, but which was sadly more of a negative since there’s currently a big fence all around the park while it undergoes a renovation/rehabilitation. Still, it’s a cute little place.

The food here is fantastic – we had a salad with green apples and balsamic and a simple pepperoni pizza, and they were amazing, which makes sense, since acquolina means “mouth-watering.”

But the best part was our waiter, Marco, a recent transplant from Italy – I called him a twenty-five-year-old with a forty-five-year-old’s mustache (see the first photo above). He’s a cute, friendly guy who was more than willing to speak Italian with us, and he made the meal.

Pizza - Acquolina - North Beach

Pizza - Acquolina - North Beach

Dessert at Lush Gelato

Top off your perfect Italian Afternoon just a block down Stockton at Lush Gelato – I had a cinnamon chocolate scoop of gelato there that was devine. Eat there, or take your gelato trean – an afternoon snack in Italy is called a merenda – and stroll through North Beach on a passeggiata (casual stroll) like a real Italian.

Lush Gelato - North Beach

Find lodging in and around North beach here.

Queer Albuquerque

Author: , October 26th, 2019

queer Albuquerque

We’re just back from the GRL (GayRomLit) con in Albuquerque – part of my “other” life as a queer writer.

We explored downtown and Old Town, and thought we’d share some of our favorite things about each. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in the heart of the “new” downtown. Albuquerque is clean and quiet – at least in October. We were both surprised by the paucity of public art – there are very few murals or public statues and sculptures here.

But the city is pretty, and the mountains that surround it reminded me of my home town, Tucson, just a few hundred miles away to the southwest.

The restaurant scene is also a lot smaller than what we’re used to in our current home town, but we did find an awesome place to eat in the heart of Downtown – Brixens:

Brixens - queer Albuquerque

This is a cool, reasonably priced modern restaurant that combines a comfortable atmosphere with a mix of New Mexican and American cuisine, and some innovative touches as well. The menus are all touch screen tablets, which allows them to change the mix regularly. Each item has its own page, with an appetizing picture, price, details about the ingredients, and all kinds of options for picky diners. The swipe and click interface is easy to use, and I loved all the info at our fingertips.

Each table also includes an ice bin in the middle, covered by a board with a hole in it, to keep your beers cold.

We ate here three times over the five days we were in town – the burger was great, as was the flatbread – but the stand-out here was the desserts, especially the fry bread – it’s big enough to easily serve four, and I’m convinced that the one I had was responsible for half my six pound weight gain on this trip:

fry bread at Brixens - queer Albuquerque

Another restaurant just down the street intrigued us:

The Library - queer Albuquerque

We were in town for a book convention, after all – but it was a bit too much of a dark, hooters style bar for our tastes.

We spent most of our one non-conference day over in Old Town, the (touristy) heart of the city. I liked Old Town. Yes, there were about ten thousand shops selling the same things, most of it made overseas. But it has a certain charm, and we managed to find a few gems there.

Old Town surrounds a central square, and funny story – when we were there, a wedding was taking place in the gazebo in the heart of the square. We checked it out from afar, and saw that the bride and groom were in t-shirts – “Second Amendment Rights” t-shirts, to be exact. So yeah, there’s that. As I remarked to the hubby – “hey, at least they found each other. Once the wedding party was gone, Mark strode around the gazebo’s interior a few times to dispel the gun karma with a little fairy dust of his own:

gazebo - old town - queer Albuquerque

St. Felipe de Neri

On the north side of the square, a beautiful peach-colored church dominates the block. This is St. Felipe de Neri, named for an Italian saint Philipe di Neri. The church was built in another location, burned down, and when it was reconstructed in its current location, it was funded by Spain and King Felipe, named for the original saint. It’s a beautiful little church that has gone through three or four reconstructions, from Jesuit to Franciscan, once hosted a convent, and and which is still an active community church:

St. Felioe de Neri - queer Albuquerque

There’s also a lovely side courtyard/garden to wander through:

St. Felipe de Neri courtyard - queer albuquerque

And the inside is simple but beautiful:

St. Felipe de Neri interior - queer Albuquerque

Bonus, there’s a cute little gift shop attached to the church. We found a beautiful hand-made angel ornament there for a friend, and I bought a miniature replica of the church to take home as a memento of our time in queer Albuquerque.

La Choco

This is a cute store and candy shop on the eastern side of Old Town, perfect for a quick chocolate pick-me-up. But it also had some really cool merchandise, including balloon ornaments designed by the owner and made in Mexico. You can see some of them hanging from the ceiling in the second picture:

La Choco - Queer Albuquerque

La Choco - Queer Albuquerque

Genuine Southwest Arts and Gifts

This was our favorite shop in Old Town. The whole place is chock-full of art made by local artists, and while you could spend a whole lotta money here, you can also get some great things at reasonable prices (including the beautiful turquoise-colored earrings I found for my Mom – don’t tell her)! The shop is tucked away on the Eastern edge of Old Town, but it’s well worth the search. here are a few of the pics we took there of their beautiful gifts and art (including a few rainbow finds):

Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts - Queer Albuquerque

Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts - Queer Albuquerque

Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts - Queer Albuquerque

Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts - Queer Albuquerque

Church Street Cafe

When you wind down and want a nice place to eat, check out the Church Street Cafe. It’s about a block north of the square. The food was good, if not the best Mexican I’ve ever had, and the back courtyard was beautiful.

Church Street cafe - Queer New Mexico

The sopapillas after dinner were hot and delicious, especially with a little honey (though we wished they had honey bottles instead of packets).

I won’t mention the name of another restaurant – this one on the square – that was out of almost everything, and that served us a “salad” of green lettuce with no dressing that was basically cooked by a helping of poor quality dark meat chicken put on top too hot, and smothered with cheddar cheese.

All in all, we had a great time in Albuquerque, and hope you enjoy it too!

Here are a few ore pics of Old Town from our trip:

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

Queer Albuquerque

 

 

Benchmark Inn – Gay Provincetown Bed & Breakfast

Author: , October 26th, 2019

Benchmark Inn - Gay Provincetown Bed & Breakfast

Benchmark Inn, located on a quiet side street very close to the center of Provincetown, is welcoming you with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The inn has 7 beautiful guest rooms, all with fireplaces, private entrances, and either a jacuzzi tub or a generous shower. Many feature wet bars, a coffee maker, private or semi-private outdoor space and spectacular views. All rooms are centrally air conditioned.

Dan and Daniel, who own the inn since 2011, are dedicated to make their guests stay a memorable one. A extended continental breakfast with fresh fruits, cheeses, homemade breads and jams and coffee from their Swiss “Jura” coffee maker are prepared daily.

See the Benchmark Inn Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Provincetown Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

 

My Palm Springs Friend – Gay Palm Springs Bed & Breakfast

Author: , October 25th, 2019

My Palm Springs Friend - Gay Palm Springs Bed & Breakfast

Why stay at an impersonal hotel when you can enjoy attentive care from a local host at My Palm Springs Friend? Here, you’re more than a guest, you’re a friend. Ideally located in a quiet and safe neighborhood at East Mesquite and South Farrell Drives, relax within a gated condo community surrounded by a swaying palms, beautiful desertscaping, cool refreshing lawns and colorful, fragrant flowers.

We’re located less than 1/2 mile from Smoketree Commons and Smoketree Village shopping plazas where you’ll find casual dining and fast food restaurants, two supermarkets, Walgreens pharmacy, several banks, post office, gas station and a Coldstone Creamery when you get the urge for a refreshing ice cream dessert. Downtown shopping and entertainment are less than five minutes away. We’re 3-minutes from Palm Springs International Airport and are happy to offer free airport pick-up/drop-off.

Start each day of your visit with freshly made coffee/tea and homemade muffins baked by your host. At the end of the day your queen size Sleep Number (TM) bed, fitted with 1600-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, awaits your peaceful night’s slumber.

See the My Palm Springs Friend Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Palm Springs Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Visiting Vegas’s Valley of Fire (With Kids) – 2TravelDads

Author: , October 20th, 2019

Visiting Vegas's Valley of Fire (With Kids) - 2TravelDads

Before we visited the Valley of Fire with kids it just looked like an Instagram heaven. That’s all that we knew about it, all from photos that people had taken and posted to Instagram. And then we visited and hiked and had up close wildlife encounters and fell in love. Valley of Fire State Park is the best Las Vegas day trip you didn’t know you need to do.

We’re going to help you plan and have the best visit possible, seeing some of the most amazing geology Nevada has to offer. And you can do it all on a trip to Las Vegas or as part of a southwest road trip. Watch our video guide to Valley of Fire State Park below!

LOCALE OF VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK

Located less than an hour Northeast of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is an easy drive to take you into another world off the Vegas strip. In the Moapa Valley (park area), you will find all kinds of unique sites. You might not find pyramids or waterfalls flowing off the tops of hotels, but there our windswept hoodoos, carved out caves and passages, and petroglyphs that predate any sort of pirate display in Las Vegas.

The geology and formations of Valley of Fire State Park are very different from what you might find in Utah, and if you are on a trip to Las Vegas and want to do a day trip into some of the most incredible nature around, this is an easier option than driving the two and a half hours up to Zion. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love Zion National Park but for business travelers or people without enough time to go that far north, Valley of Fire State Park will wow you and fill the need to connect with the earth.

Full Story at 2TravelDads

Nevada Gay Travel Resources

 

Reiss House – Gay Friendly Lake Placid B&B

Author: , October 19th, 2019

The Reiss House Bed & Breakfast

The Reiss House is not a Bed and Breakfast in the conventional sense. In addition to ‘traditional’ overnight guests, the Reiss House welcomes small retreats, private meetings, and music and art conventions.

The three suites have a total of six bedrooms with queen size beds. The ‘Cathedral’, our largest suite, is an 800 sqft attic with a large living room, two bedrooms and provides absolute privacy for 4-6 patrons. The Duchess’ & Princess are two charming rooms, both have balconies, facing south and east, decorated with antique German flower paintings, antique rugs and antique furniture. The Emperor and Knight’s are the rooms on the opposing side of the house, with golden color and majesty, and wall prints of the royal times of central Europe and Germany, and books from far away.

A delicious German breakfast with freshly made house-made German rolls and whole-grain bread is served every morning between 8:30h and 10:30h in the Tea Room, which also functions as a meeting and dining room. A fine, catered dinner a la carte is available for the hotel guests if desired.

The grand heritage room is ideal to lounge and listen to music, be it a live musician playing the amazing Baby Grand, or from the large selection of classical, Jazz or contemporary music. A pool billiard table becomes the center of attention at night.

In the warmer season, the porch, the balconies, the fire pit and large yard are very inviting to just hang out.

See the The Reiss House Bed & Breakfast Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Adirondack Mountains Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Horizon Guest House – Gay Owned B&B on the Big island of Hawaii

Author: , October 15th, 2019

Horizon Guest House - Gay Owned B&B on the Big island of Hawaii

There is a uniqueness to Horizon Guest House not often found in other bed and breakfasts. If you are looking for a place to relax and take a deep breath, you’ve found it.

Set on the slopes of Mauna Loa at an elevation of 1,100′, each of our suites has a 20 mile unobstructed view, overlooking the Pacific Ocean across miles of green pastures.

Surrounded by a working cattle ranch on all sides, there are no neighbors. Perched on the slope below the house is the double-edged infinity, solar heated swimming pool. There is also a jacuzzi built into the corner of the pool, adding to the tranquil and elegant setting.

See the Horizon Guest House Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Kona Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

 

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park – 2TravelDads

Author: , October 12th, 2019

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park - 2TravelDads

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park just north of Yellowstone is a remarkable place to explore. A must see on a Western Montana road trip, the caverns are an easy addition to any number of travel plans, including a cross-country drive. In this article we’re going to tackle the who, what, why, when and where of the Lewis and Clark Caverns (but not in that order).

Located about forty minutes south of Butte, Montana, the Lewis and Clark Caverns are just off Highway 2. If you’re driving across the state, taking the detour to the Jefferson River Valley is easy and won’t put you terribly off track. The highway actually loops back onto I-90 so you don’t even have to back track!

From Yellowstone National Park, Lewis and Clark Caverns is about 2 hours from the Gardiner, MT entrance and just under 2 hours from the West Yellowstone entrance. There are plenty of other attractions in the area, including Big Sky and Virginia City, so if you need to interrupt your Yellowstone trip, you’ll have plenty of other interesting sites and activities to make the day additionally worthwhile.

Full Story at 2TravelDads

Montana Gay Travel Resources