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When the California State Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in May 2008, the Golden State quickly became one of the nation’s leading destinations for same-sex weddings and honeymoons. In fact, even before the ruling, plenty of inns, resorts, and hotels around the state encouraged same-sex commitment ceremonies and romantic getaways. But now with the ruling, gay couples are flocking to California. Of course, the state’s stunning scenery and wealth of sophisticated, luxurious hideaways has long made it an excellent choice if you’re planning a romantic vacation.
California has an abundance of inviting accommodation options, from 400-room hotels offering gay-wedding packages and assistance with planning to intimate B&Bs that ooze charm and are ideal for smaller, low-keyed nuptials and celebrations. Here’s a look at a dozen noteworthy wedding and honeymoon spots around the Golden State - from affordable, secluded inns to over-the-top, posh resorts.
Black Bear Inn, Lake Tahoe
California’s premier four-season destination, the Lake Tahoe region exudes romance whether it’s covered with fresh snow in January or abloom with flowers in July. Among the area’s many ultra-romantic accommodations, consider the gay-owned Black Bear Inn. The airy, contemporary main lodge (which has five guest rooms) and three private cabins contain river-rock fireplaces, beamed cathedral ceilings, and stylish rustic-chic furnishings and fabrics. Although the Black Bear is an intimate property, the owners enthusiastically welcome small weddings for the extremely reasonable rate of $300.
Groveland Hotel, Groveland
Anchoring the small mountain town of Groveland, not far from Yosemite National Park, the rambling Groveland Hotel opened in 1849 during the region’s gold-mining heyday. Friendly owners Peggy and Grover Mosley bought and completely renovated the property several years back. The mood at this charming, pet-friendly property is easygoing and informal, but two things make it notable as a romantic retreat: the inn’s restaurant serves astoundingly delicious contemporary American fare (with an emphasis on local, seasonal ingredients and well-chosen regional wines), and there are few more naturally stunning settings in California than Yosemite and the surrounding mountains and forests. Weddings at the Groveland can take place in the restaurant or, during the warmer months, outside in a picturesque garden courtyard.
Hacienda at Warm Springs, Palm Springs
Long one of the most luxurious and romantic gay-exclusive mini-resorts in Palm Springs, the Hacienda is more couples-oriented and low-keyed than some of its more festive, playful neighbors, and that makes it a fine choice for a honeymoon hideaway or even a small wedding. The inn’s helpful staff can assist guests with wedding arrangements (from finding an officiant to perform your ceremony to helping you order a fantastic custom wedding cake), and the Hacienda offers a lavish three-night Honeymoon Package that includes rose petals, breakfast in bed, complimentary bathrobes, and dinner at two of the city’s top restaurants.
Honor Mansion, Healdsburg
In recent years, the dapper Sonoma County town of Healdsburg has become one of California’s most esteemed wine destinations, its countryside rife with fantastic wineries (Seghesio, Gary Farrell, Passalacqua, and Porter Creek among them) producing superb pinot noirs, zinfandels, and sauvignon blancs. Close to Healdsburg’s attractive town green, the stately Honor Mansion rolls out the red carpet to wine-loving gourmands with its truly magnificent suites and rooms. You might book the Tower Suite, fashioned out of a historic water tower and with a loft sitting area with a fireplace and a wet bar, or the four capacious Vineyard Suites, all with private patios that hold spa tubs for two. Lavish breakfasts, which you can enjoy on a picturesque sun deck in warm weather, complete the experience.
Hotel Palomar, San Francisco
Same-sex couples planning a wedding or honeymoon in the Bay Area can’t go wrong with any of the nine stylish boutique hotels operated by Kimpton Hotel Group, which ranks among the most gay-friendly lodging brands in the world. But the artfully cosmopolitan Hotel Palomar, located in the trendy SoMa neighborhood just a short walk from Union Square’s famous shops and eateries, might be the most romantic of the bunch. Dashing color schemes and furnishings - from alligator-print carpets to handsome persimmon-wood headboards with geometric patterns - lend a whimsical look to the guest rooms, and hotel amenities include the Fifth Floor restaurant (with its memorable California-meets-South-of-France cuisine) and a terrific range of in-room spa services. The hotel enthusiastically welcomes same-sex weddings and receptions of up to about 40 guests, and Kimpton’s solicitous, highly personal service can’t be beat.
Le Rivage Hotel, Sacramento
The only hotel in California’s capital that sits directly on the picturesque Sacramento River (and its lovely bike-and-strolling trail and 25-slip marina), Le Rivage opened early in 2008 and has quickly become a hit with discerning travelers. The three-story property contains 100 tastefully decorated rooms with Tuscany-inspired furnishings and earthy color schemes - each has a marble bath with a deep soaking tub and separate rain shower. Amenities such as the serene Spa La Le and upscale Scott’s Seafood add to the romantic vibe, and gay-friendly Le Rivage boasts one of the city’s most appealing wedding spaces: a neatly manicured lawn overlooking the river.
Sonoma Orchid Inn, Guerneville
Genial innkeepers - and gay couple - Dana Murphy and Brian Siewert run this elegant yet reasonably priced historic farmhouse inn set on a shaded hillside in one of California’s favorite gay vacation spots, the Russian River. You can choose from cozier, more affordable rooms in the 1906 original inn, or larger and more private suites in separate cottages. Breakfasts - which feature eggs laid by the inn’s own organically raised chickens - are the perfect start to your day in this region known for its acclaimed wineries, funky shopping, and scenic hikes beneath towering redwoods. The inn’s inviting grounds are ideal for wedding ceremonies, and a Honeymoon Orchid Package comes with a two-person aromatherapy massage, a personal vanilla cake decorated with candy flowers, and other fun perks.
Stevenswood Spa Resort, Mendocino
In the tranquil village of Mendocino, which hugs a dramatic stretch of Northern California coastline, the swank 10-suite Stevenswood Spa Resort is acclaimed for its snazzy and spacious accommodations, first-rate restaurant serving creative contemporary fare and local wines, and eco-friendly spa that uses earth-friendly products. This delightful gay-owned getaway actively courts the same-sex-wedding business, and it’s become a favorite romantic hideaway with urbanites from San Francisco (150 miles south) seeking a peaceful break from the city. Mendocino, though tiny, abounds with great restaurants and boutiques.
Sunset Marquis, West Hollywood
Looking to combine romance with the bustle and glamour of Los Angeles? West Hollywood’s gay-popular Sunset Marquis is situated steps from the glitzy nightlife, dining, and retail of both Santa Monica Boulevard and the Sunset Strip. Accommodations at this boutique hotel with discreet service and first-rate amenities run the gamut from rangy suites with marble baths and sleek, contemporary furnishings to super-plush villas with fireplaces, expansive terraces, and even baby grand pianos in some cases. The Sunset Marquis features a gay-popular Romance Package complete with chilled champagne, fresh flowers, a four-course dinner, and a slew of complimentary amenities and services, from valet parking to soft robes.
Surf & Sand Resort, Laguna Beach
In the artsy, gay-popular beach town of Laguna Beach - which sits midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, the luxe Surf & Sand Resort lies just steps from the Pacific Ocean and is notable for its state-of-the-art spa, top-notch Splashes Restaurant, and smartly furnished rooms and suites, all with ocean views and some with Jacuzzi tubs, beam ceilings, and wood-burning fireplaces. Most of the weddings held at this mainstream but gay-friendly resort take place on an open-air patio with unobstructed, panoramic ocean views. But the hotel is also happy to help you plan a ceremony right on the beach, with the crashing surf as your backdrop.
U.S. Grant Hotel, San Diego
For a truly dazzling, over-the-top sumptuous urban vacation, it’s hard to beat downtown San Diego’s gloriously restored U.S. Grant Hotel, a 1910 stunner that completed a $56 million top-to-bottom restoration in 2006. Rooms are magnificent throughout, but for a special occasion, book one of the Signature Suites with their 8-by-8-foot showers outfitted with six(!) shower heads. Weddings accommodating up to 270 guests can be held in one of the lavish event spaces, with their spectacular chandeliers and ornate architectural details. The U.S. Grant is steps from the historic Gaslamp Quarter and its wealth of charming restaurants, and a short drive from leafy Balboa Park and the hip-and-happening Hillcrest neighborhood.
Wyndham Hotel Orange County, Costa Mesa
The openly gay general manager of this upscale chain property in Costa Mesa has long marketed to those seeking same-sex commitment ceremonies. Although this is a primarily business-oriented hotel during the week, on weekends the upscale mid-rise hotel offers a wide range of affordable deals that have made it popular with the leisure market. It’s in the heart of the city’s Theater and Arts District and makes a great base for exploring Orange County’s fab shopping malls and stunning beaches. The hotel has a lovely, romantic lakeside plaza that’s perfect for exchanging vows before a group of up to 250 onlookers. Guests at the Wyndham have access to the chichi Spa at South Coast Plaza, just a few steps away.
The Litte Black Book:
Black Bear Inn www.tahoeblackbear.com
Groveland Hotel www.groveland.com/main.htm
Hacienda at Warm Springs www.thehacienda.com
Honor Mansion www.honormansion.com
Hotel Palomar San Francisco www.hotelpalomar-sf.com
Le Rivage Hotel www.lerivagehotel.com
Sonoma Orchid Inn www.sonomaorchidinn.com
Stevenswood Spa Resort www.stevenswood.com
Sunset Marquis www.sunsetmarquishotel.com
Surf & Sand Resort www.surfandsandresort.com
U.S. Grant Hotel www.usgrant.net
Wyndham Hotel Orange County www.wyndham.com/hotels/SNAOC/main.wnt
Andrew Collins is the author of Fodor’s Gay Guide to the USA and eight additional travel guides. He can be reached at OutofTown@qsyndicate.com.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe and get tested!
You can schedule COVID-19 Test at curative.com, and receive results in 24-48 hours.
Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
· Non-invasive cheek swab (video) that is more accurate (~90%) than a nasopharyngeal test (~80%)
· Can be self-collected under supervision by lightly-trained individuals (so no onsite medical professional required)
· Results within 24 hours of receipt at our lab
· Lab capacity to process tens of thousands of additional tests
· Manufacturing capacity to meet any order size
· Minimal PPE requirement due to the test’s self-collected method
Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at email@example.com.