Playing around in Playa Del Carmen.

I was so excited to be heading over to Mexico, home of my favourite food, my favourite drinks and my favourite thing, adventure! It was my partners friend’s birthday, so we decided to go all out and book an all inclusive, adults only hotel in the heart of Playa. This resort is located on the Yucatan peninsula, right on the Caribbean shores.

We flew into Cancun after bottomless mimosa and drag brunch the day before in LA. We had booked transport through Booking.com which was quick and easy, Cancun is a busy airport though so be prepared to wait as they find somewhere to park. Luckily they sell Margaritas as soon as you leave the airport, so we got two huge frozen ones to share for the hour long journey.

We stayed at The Reef 28, a relatively new hotel found right in the centre of Playa, with a rooftop pool, 3 restaurants and a snack bar it was perfect for what we wanted. We spent many an evening playing pool, giant jenga and card games on the rooftop. It was also just 5 minutes walk to the beach, and Quinta Avenida or 5th Ave the next street over.

Here are a few fun things to do in and around Playa Del Carmen….

5th Avenue

This sprawling mecca of all things Mexico goes for at least 2km and is filled with restaurants, bars and shops. It’s a vibrant place and no visit to Playa is complete without a wander along here.

There is literally something for everyone, Senor Frogs for the Spring Breakers, up to classier restaurants like Catch and everything in between. Prices can vary from bar to bar so make sure you check a few out before deciding where your first margarita or tequila will be! I love street art and there were so many cool pieces dotted about as we wandered up.

You can check out the Frida Kahlo museum full of information about the famous Mexican painter, 3D museum of wonders or just tequila taste and souvenir shop! If you want something a bit more chill head to 10th ave, the next street over for restaurants and bars without the big crowds or for a big party 1st Ave is the place to be with 3 big bars/clubs on one corner.

For a little bit of culture/relaxation Parque Los Fundadores is a lovely little green space found on one end of the avenue. There’s an impressive bronze archway here, an adorable white church and traditional Mayan performances. Grab some fresh fruit from one the vendors, sit back and enjoy the shows!

Playacar

The beach at Playa is beautiful, white sand and clear waters, but it’s not the biggest due to development going almost right to the water and lots of areas filled with boats. Instead take a 30 minute walk or catch a bus to Playacar.

This gated and upmarket community has the best beach we visited. The water was warm and so blue, with palm trees lining the powdery white sand. Luckily The Reef has a sister hotel here we could use which was amazing, cocktails , ice cream and a huge lunch buffet to enjoy!

Make sure you stop off and explore some mini ruins on the walk there or back, just as you enter Playacar from the beach at Playa Del Carmen you can spot them, including a crazy palm tree that is growing sideways then vertically! It’s a nice little addition to a fun walk, and Iguanas are sunbathing on the ancient rocks.

Cozumel

This tropical island is found just 30 minuets by ferry from Playa. Get your tickets down near Parque Los Fundadores and head over for a great little day trip.

The ferries leave every hour on the hour which is simple to remember. There’s a wonderful square here where you can get some food and drinks, but if you head down the coast towards the South of the island you can find amazing snorkelling opportunites!

Unfortunately we arrived there on the same day as 5 huge cruise ships did, so taxi prices were super inflated so we didn’t make it as far as Playa El Cielo where there’s meant to be incredible snorkelling just off the beach with a natural reef.

Instead we walked along the road to find a beach club we could eat and swim from. It ended up being a great afternoon as we found El Cid La Ceiba beach! We had a great lunch here, beautiful quesadillas and then got to lounge on the jetty, with hammocks in the water, and hundreds of fish to marvel at while we snorkelled. Locals were chilling out here too which I always think is a good impression of somewhere.

The bar even has it’s own mascot, Cid the Pig! After swimming and relaxing here we walked back, spotting Pelicans diving into the water and Iguanas sun baking. A lot of locals were swimming in the rock pools along the street here too. Then we watched the sunset from the boat as flying fish scattered ahead of us.

Gay Playa Del Carmen

As our group consisted of 3 gay men, I had to have a little section on the gay scene here. While not huge, there’s definitely a lot going on. The main bar/club is Bar69 found just off 5th Ave down a side street. This place was pretty quiet in the week but on the weekend it was full!

They had drag queen performances and Gogo dancers, just make sure you have Pesos for the cover charge and drinks. We felt really safe in Playa and didn’t get any hassle when holding hands or arms around each other while walking along 5th Ave. There’s a good row of cash machines on 10th Ave. Don’t trust the ATMs on 5th they charge loads and most only give out USD.

There were also a couple of bars on Calle 6 which were gay friendly, and Billy Gin which an instagram friend 2minionsontour recommended. This was a great little place for a few drinks before heading to bar69. It was great to meet someone who actually had been living there so we got loads of great advice from Jeroen.

Day Trips!

There are soooo many activities and trips you can take from Playa. All the different cenotes (sinkholes you can swim in) Mayan ruins like Coba and Chichen Itza (Which we did) plus activity parks, diving and boat trips. Check out Flamingogaytours and meridagaytours for gay friendly tours all around the Yucatan peninsula!

We had such a great time in Playa, and we would love to visit again one day and see some more of the scenery and snorkelling opportunities. The all inclusive was perfect for what we wanted, but some of our best meals were when we headed out and did some exploring. My favourite street was Calle 38, it was so different to everywhere else, lined with trees and the coolest looking restaurants.

We ate at Amate 38 and it was so good! Lots of veggie options and we got to try some excellent Mezcal surrounded by nature. Check out my link to the Chichen Itza tour and doing a Tulum tour ourselves coming soon HERE.

Doin’ Dallas. The Top Sights.

Dallas is the 9th largest City in the United States, located in the vast state of Texas. It’s also the birthplace of the frozen margarita machine, the microchip and 7/11 stores! It grew as a trade center from it’s history of Ranching, farming and oil production. It’s now an important business, financial and tech center.

I was lucky enough to be in a situation where I could fly over and check out some of the best things to do in and around Dallas and I was super excited. I was staying in the gay district called Oak Lawn. Home to a street of LGBTQ+ friendly bars and businesses it was a good starting off point! Here are the top sights in Dallas.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

This place is jaw dropping from the outisde, an architecturally impressive masterpiece plus it’s an eco building which is awesome. As soon as I was greeted by a Diplodocus skeleton I knew would enjoy it.

It’s definitely a great place to spend with families but I noticed people of all ages enjoying the exhibitons. These range from history to science, culture to technology and space.

6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

This was a surreal place to visit, a massive moment in American politics. It’s the place that Lee Harvey Oswald used as a vantage point to shoot the 35th American President – John F Kennedy. It was fascinating learning about the lead up to the murder. There’s a no photo policy inside the museum so be aware.

However it was the aftermath, what happened, conspiracy theories and the outpouring of good will from around the world in dedication to a man who really seemed like he wanted to change people’s lives for the better. You can look out of the same window and there’s an X on the road below to mark where it happened. Walk along the road a little to a wooden fence with tributes from people carved into it.

Dallas CBD

I found the center of Dallas pretty non existant and mostly business buildings, but there are a few pretty cool points of interest if you have the time. Nearby the 6th Floor Museum is an interesting memorial to JFK with a whole plaza dedicated to him.

Near this is the John Neely Bryan Cabin, a replica of the founder of Dallas’ home. You can also see the Old Red Courthouse here, I didn’t go inside but it’s a beautiful old building with some interesting exhibits inside.

One of the coolest things I saw in central Dallas was Pioneer Plaza! This had a great sculpture of cowboys herding cattle, which as a big fan of cowboys when I was younger was pretty amazing!

Also look out for the big red pegasus, which started out on the top of the City’s first skyscraper, it’s said to look over Dallas and is a bit of a cultural icon nowadays. Head to Reunion Tower for for panoramic 360 degree views of Dallas, with the Central business district impressive from here at 470 feet in the air!

Fort Worth Stockyards

Actually a nearby City, Fort Worth was an important trading post for cowboys, and is located around 35 miles from Dallas. It’s now home to a historic district called the Stockyards which is a fully realised glimpe of the American wild west!

Full of restored shops, bars and hotels it’s like stepping back in time. Wander along and buy yourself a pair of cowboy boots, or a hat and watch the cattle drive. There’s a mini train to take you around some parts of it and live cowboy acts if you’re lucky.

It was pretty cool, and obviously we had to stop off for a beer in an old timey saloon! Lookout for the Texas trail of fame, a nod to the walk of fame in LA only with famous cowboys and pioneers!

Dallas Parks and Gardens

If you want a break from the City there are a few beautiful green spaces in and around the City. The Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are 66 acres of serenity where you can experience Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing.

It’s located on the shore of White Rock Lake, has stunning sculpted gardens and a cafe that serves food that utilises things grown there.

A really fun walk I did here was the Katy Trail, this recreational area runs 240 miles across America. In Dallas you can walk 3.5 miles of greenland in the heart of the City. Check out turtle creek along the way to spot snapper turtles.

I love it when a City really uses it’s space to create fun walking/running areas. Klyde Warren Park is the ultimate goal of a green City. Built over a freeway it’s 5.2 acres of parks with food trucks lining the street on the side of it. You can get lovely ice cream and street food snacks from here while you enjoy the fountains and shade in the heat of the day.

Deep Ellum

Known for it’s completely hipster vibe, this area has been totally regenerated and filled with street art, local brewpubs selling pale ales and IPAs, and quirky stores selling oddities.

It’s a great place to get lost in while checking out the murals, stopping off for a beer or coffee and enjoying some live music at one of the many venues around here.

I stopped off at braindead which had an amazing craft ale menu. It’s also super artsy in general around here with cool sculptures and small independent art galleries.

While here make sure you try some Tex Mex cuisine a staple of Dallas life, sip a frozen margartia while you do it.

Gay District – Oak Lawn

Head here for a night of pure southern charm, start off at JRs for a balcony view of the street and ice cold beers.They host drag shows and have great drinks offers.

For a real taste of gay culture in Texas head to the Round Up Saloon here you can either watch or get involved in some line dancing, I was told about it but until you see it you’ll never understand. The central dance floor is sunken a few feet and it was filled with people in cowboy hats and boots dancing in complete sync.

I didn’t have the guts to join in but I definitely enjoyed watching! I then headed over to Station 4. This place had GoGo boys dancing on poles and they also host awesome drag shows, Asia O’Hara from S10 Dragrace fame comes from Dallas! If you’re after something a little more interesting Eagle bar Dallas is a short taxi ride down the road, where you can enjoy a men only space with lots of fetish nights.

NASA Houston

Houston is a 4 hour drive from Dallas, home of Beyonce but more interestingly for me the home of NASA. I wasn’t sure if it was worth spending a night away from Dallas to do it but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

We drove through a huge storm which was pretty insane, but we did get to stop at iHop for a pancake breakfast! We got there in the afternoon and decided to head to Galveston on the coast.

It was fun to stand in the Atlantic ocean as Pelicans flew overhead. It’s a cute old school seaside resort and I enjoyed looking at some of the old buildings.

After some tasty Mexican we hit the hay and headed over to NASA early in the morning.

This is the birthplace of space exploration, and it was an absolutely incredible experience! From learning about the history of the space race, looking at all the flight suits and history, even getting to see the command centre where the immortal ‘Houston we have a problem’ happened, and the speaker where those and other amazing words came from.

You get to look around the science buildings and find out what NASA are working towards, and explore a real space shuttle. There were so many things to see and do we spent a good 5 or 6 hours, maybe more here!

Dallas might not be on a lot of people’s must see lists, but it’s a great City, a big LGBTQ+ friendly area and the locals are some of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered.

I’d love to head back to Texas and check out Austin and maybe Houston properly, Dallas was a great introduction to Texan life and really opened my eyes to a place that I wasn’t sure would welcome me with open arms. I didn’t make it there but I’ve heard the art galleries in Dallas are meant to be incredible too, so there’s definitely enough to keep you occupied for a few days at least here.

24 Hours in L.A.

How do you spend a short amount of time in a City as vast as Los Angeles? Part of it depends on where you’re staying, and what you’re interested in.

Flying through from London on my way through to Melbourne, it almost felt like the pressure was off to see and do things in L.A. However, I was meeting Craig there and we had 2 nights and one full day to try and capture at least a small essence of California life.

Our hotel was a little far out (Woodland hills) and we knew traffic could be horrendous and time consuming, but after a chilled first night we were ready to go. The LACMA was high on our list, mostly for the amazing Urban Lights installation. A collection of lamp posts might not sound interesting, but check out the pics! Definitely an instagrammable spot.

The LACMA itself was actually closed on a Wednesday! So we had a little wander around the grounds, checking out some of the weird arty installations and the Brea tar pits, where I met a lovely giant sloth! I thought this was a cool little side quest to the main adventure of the day.

We then walked over to The Grove, an outdoor shopping area which is pure USA. We stopped at Sprinkles cupcake and picked the tastiest looking one.

Next up on our list was Monty’s burger, a purely vegan burger place that was recommended to me by a friend. Located in Koreatown it was so easy to take the bus along West 3rd Street. The best thing is that even the ‘plastics’ and containers are compostable.

Monty’s was amazing! A little pricey but the burgers and tater tots were soooo good, made from impossible fake meat patty’s we took 2 doubles and shared the tots. The vibe inside was very cool too. Another perfect Instagram moment.

Our next stop was downtown and the Arts District, so we hopped back on the bus, only costing us $1 each for the ride into the City. We got off near Pershing Square and walked over to 4th Street to start the Arts trail. This end of downtown is a little run down with some interesting characters, but there was some very cool street art to be found.

I had noticed a couple of brewery’s on Google maps and the Arts District brewery was out first stop. It’s located in an old warehouse and there’s plenty more street art to be seen around this area including a few pretty famous ones.

The beer was good, the weather was amazing and we sat outside watching the world go by. Angel City Brewery was next up and even better, their outside space is amazing, free water and some cool pieces of art to look at as you drink. I also had a great pineapple beer here and there was such a great vibe. If you are in L.A. for a while I’d definitely recommend it.

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Our plan was sunset at Santa Monica, and after getting a bus that didn’t really go anywhere, we checked and realised we could take a train the whole way. So we jumped on the blue line, and realised we were on the wrong blue line 😆. So we quickly got off and made our way onto the correct train.

It took about 45 minutes to get over to Santa Monica and there were some nice views over the City. We arrived just in time to get to Santa Monica pier for the sun to set. It was absolutely stunning and we loved wandering up the pier and being on the beach.

At this point we were starving, so we went to 800 degrees for pizza and salad, once you get over the weird ordering system the food was so good, it was pretty cheap, around £30 for mains and drinks total. After both of us flying across the Atlantic and Pacific respectively we were pretty tired so it was a cab ride home and bed.

The next day we only had a few hours to spare before flying on to Australia. So we decided to do the Getty museum, located on the 405 near Beverly Hills, it was built by the Getty family, a huge oil tycoon who loved art. The best thing? It’s free!

Our Uber took so long because of traffic, so always bear that in mind when planning L.A.

The architecture of the place is actually incredible, and there are some interesting pieces from Turner, Monet and Van Gogh. I liked the contrast of each building housing different examples of art such as photography or historical pieces.

The highlight for us was the central gardens, with beautiful landscaping and views over the City, we loved just wandering through looking at the different plants and flowers.

We had our lunch in the cafe, this was a nice food court type place with plenty of choice, even for vegetarians. Knowing the traffic could be bad we headed back to Woodland Hills and got some snacks and booze to take back to Australia from Westfield mall.

L.A. is so big it can feel a little daunting to get around and see things, but it’s definitely worth making that extra effort. If the weather has been a little less windy on our first day we would’ve hiked up to the Hollywood sign which is still on our list! I hope this gives you a little inspiration of things to do with limited time and budget.