From its humble beginnings in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1938, Dairy Queen has grown from a delicious experiment in soft-serve ice cream to a household name with more than 5,900 restaurants around the world. The shop's signature frozen delights are built upon frosty foundations of creamy chocolate or vanilla soft serve, which swirl idyllically into cones, cups, sundaes, Peanut Buster parfaits, and the chain's iconic Blizzard treats, blended with crumbled candy and other mix-ins. Ice-cream cakes cleverly conceal surprise fillings of fudge and chocolate crunch between layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, providing sweet, sliceable sustenance for birthday parties and other special occasions.
Fruit rules the roost on the other side of the slushy emporium, where Orange Julius blends its signature frothy drinks crafted from fruit juice, ice, and a "magic” powdered sweetener that explains why they disappear from most customers’ cups minutes after the first delicious sip. Real fruit purée forms the basis for the shop's smoothies, which also come in diet-friendly light versions that boast one-third fewer calories than regular smoothies.
In 1966, Chuck Mabery bought a cattle ranch that dated back to the late 19th century, planting the seeds of the Blazin' M Ranch. After stints herding and growing vegetables, the flood of 1993 forced the Mabery family to start over, inspiring them to show off their musical talents at a traditional chuck-wagon dinner staged on the property. Fully renovated in 2010, the ranch now hosts an authentic Arizona frontier town where visitors can experience the cowboy life through such activities as lassoing mechanical steers, shooting wax bullets out of a real Colt .45, and learning how to easily covert ten-gallon hats into metric. A selection of shops fits customers out in Western-themed apparel, the copper Spur Saloon serves local wines and microbrews, and a museum delves into the history of the ranch, pioneer-era Arizona, and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. An old-time photo studio, "Pistols and Petticoats", allows groups to have their likeness captured while wearing Victorian costumes. At the museum, the unique Wood'n West Gallery enthralls visitors with moving dioramas of Western life, hand carved over 30 years by a master whittler.
In about a century's time, the city of Cottonwood has gone from mining to artisan cheese making, Al Capone to craft beers. Once known as the bootleg capital of Arizona, it later served as a location for Wild West films before becoming a destination for fine foods. Old Town fixture Crema Cafe reaches out to neighborhood pubs, bistros, bakeries, and chocolatiers to assemble afternoons of strolling, sipping, snacking, and soaking up history for vacationers and hungry locals alike.
Sunlight spills across Sedona's red rocks, causing the sandstone to glow with brilliant reds and oranges. Shugrues Hillside Grill sits by a nearby hill, its walls of windows and its outdoor patio enveloping customers in the area's natural beauty. This scenic locale is the workplace of Chef Michael Mullins, his wife Shelly, and two of their children, but it’s also home to the chef’s critically acclaimed seafood menu. Inside, visitors can peek at the restaurant's Best Seafood of Sedona Awards, which its website claims it has won more than 20 years in a row. It’s an impressive feat, but perhaps not a surprise to anyone who's met Chef Mullins, or snuck a surveillance device into his chef's hat.
To complete his menu, the chef flies in fish from around the world, bringing a taste of the sea to Arizona. On any given night, he can be seen grilling, sautéing, and blackening ahi tuna, or stuffing fried tilapia with crab, though diners aren't restricted to seafood. He also braises racks of lamb, grills steaks, and whips up a full weekend brunch menu with favorites such as buttermilk biscuits and gravy. Imported wines, beer, and specialty cocktails also complement each dining experience.
The Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa seduces sojourners with lavish quarters, boutique-style hotel amenities, and a full-service spa on premises. Rekindle old flames in one of the deluxe Sedona guest rooms, which boast Spanish- and Mediterranean-inspired interiors and lush linens. The overhead rain-shower in the private bathroom cascades gentle drops, complimentary WiFi hovers in the atmosphere, and most rooms are outfitted with a patio or step-out Euro-balcony overlooking the garden or pool. After a soothing sleepover in a king- or two queen-sized beds topped with super plush pillow-top mattresses and covered with down comforters, feast upon mouthwatering comfort foods at Red’s Restaurant, which boasts live entertainment Tuesday through Saturday evenings.
If drinking tea makes one wise, WhiteAugust has more wisdom than a microfiche containing two centuries of Greek philosophy. Green teas such as the Meyer-lemon-infused Playful Daydream ($5.50 for 50g, $10.50 for 100g) and the raspberry- and pomegranate-flavored Morning Geisha ($9.25/$17.75) satisfy the greenest cravings, while spicily colorful Kaleidoscope ($5.95/$9.95) and bold, vanilla-beaned Constellations ($15/$29.95) represent the richness of moderately caffeinated black teas. Whites, oolongs, herbal reme-teas, and the audacious new Camellia Sin teas help round out an impressive collection of rejuvenating extracts that will soon overflow and overwhelm the earth with pungent potabilities.