Category: Arizona Travel (Page 2 of 5)

Phoenix Area Hiking: Boulder Canyon Trail #103

Phoenix is a great city for hiking, if you have some common sense about heat exposure and keeping water on hand. There are many amazing mountain preserves throughout the city, one of the most famous of which is Camelback Mountain. What is less known to visitors is that the city is also ringed by several man-made lakes. Every one is unique, and they all offer a variety of outdoor activities. Canyon Lake is my favorite. And Boulder Canyon Trail is the best trail to get views of the lake, and surrounding mountains. Hike far enough, and you will also be able to see the Superstitions and Weaver’s Needle.

Boulder Canyon Trail

Level of Difficulty: Moderate; rocky trail, with consistent inclines. Easy to navigate within 3 miles of the trailhead.

Cost: $0

Where to Park: Canyon Lake Marina, dirt parking lot

Accessible to…: All vehicle types; the road leading up to the trailhead is paved, although windy and narrow at some points.

Necessities: Water, snacks, small first aid kit, map and compass, camera

Boulder Canyon Trail

Suggested Route: Unless you are very experienced with desert hiking and navigation, I would suggest just doing 3 miles in and then another 3 miles out (or less; out and back). This is straightforward and will afford you some amazing views. This is not a loop trail, but it does connect to the network of Superstition trails.

Trail Description: Boulder Canyon Trail starts across the 88 from the marina parking lot. You will be faced with an immediate junction, one trail to the left and one to the right. Follow the sign for Boulder Canyon to the left (if you go to the right, the trail is short and just follows the edge of the lake).

Boulder Canyon Trail

Once you get started, you will have to deal with a steady climb up Frog Peak. This mountain is quite rounded,  and more like a hill than anything else, but the trail is rocky and the climb is consistent. The plant and bird diversity is wonderful in this area, and even the rocks are little rainbows of lichen forests. When and if you find yourself puffing on the way up, be sure to pause and enjoy both the scenery and the unique ecosystem around you.

At the top of Frog Peak you will get some very beautiful views of Canyon Lake. The dam, marina, and canyon that gives the lake its name will all make an appearance. The colorful mountains that encircle this area are breathtaking as well. Honestly, I just can’t say enough how much I love this area. It is the epitome of desert beauty.

Boulder Canyon Trail

If you keep going past the cairn on the peak, the trail will wind you to the south along the mountains for a way. There are a few ups and downs here, but overall, nothing as strenuous as the trek up the first mountain. If you are feeling up to it, I highly suggest continuing on for a while. This is the part of Boulder Canyon Trail where you will get the best views of Weaver’s Needle, and you will have the opportunity to experience some of the lesser known mountain vistas in the area.

After this stretch, the trail will dip down towards a creek bed. This is where I typically turn around, either at the top of the descent or at the bottom if I want more of a work out coming back up. You can keep going, but Boulder Canyon Trail is quite long and connects with other trails, so for casual hikers or visitors, I wouldn’t suggest it. Plus, if you turn around, you will have more time to stop by Tortilla Flats for Prickly Pear ice cream!

Boulder Canyon Trail

For more info on the trail, read through Hike Arizona’s guide.

And if you are looking for more ideas for things to do in Arizona, our guide to the state will help you find unique events, hikes, and restaurants to visit.


Backyard Discoveries: The Tucson Rodeo

tucson rodeo

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (or Celebration of the Cowboys) is a time-honored Tucson tradition. What started at just three days of events and competition all the way back in 1925, has grown to a nine-day celebration every February, with its main draw being the Tucson Rodeo.

tucson rodeo

La Fiesta is such a large part of Tucson culture that the schools close for two days just so Tucsonans can go to the rodeo! After hearing that, Nightborn Travel had to check it out.

tucson rodeo

Tips to Know Before You Go:

  • You’ll want to visit the Tucson Rodeo website – there you’ll find a detailed schedule of events and a way to purchase your tickets online.
  • We went on Saturday of the opening weekend and were able to get cheaper general admission tickets (meaning you could sit anywhere in the stands) – we think it was because these were only qualifying rodeo events. You could always call their box office to be sure.
  • Seats are basically open bleachers, meaning that it might get a little toasty if the weather is nice and sunny. Bring hats/sunglasses and sunscreen. We also saw some very smart and prepared people who brought blankets/cushions to sit on.
  • Basically any bag larger than a wallet or clutch isn’t allowed in, UNLESS it’s a clear bag. If you think they’re joking about bag size, they’re not, so you can find a full list of DOs and DON’Ts here.
  • In our humble opinion, you don’t need to know anything about rodeo sports to enjoy it, but it sure helps.
  • In addition to the rodeo, there’s the Tucson Rodeo Parade, which apparently the world’s longest non-motorized parade.

tucson rodeo

Gates at the rodeo don’t open until 11 a.m., so if you make it down to Tucson next year for La Fiesta and the rodeo, we humbly suggest that you give this hike at Tanque Verde Falls a try in the morning and then reward yourself with some tasty lunch at Guilin.

tucson rodeo

Keep Tucson weird!



Our Favorite Spot for Tucson Chinese Food: Guilin

Whenever my friends and I travel to or through Tucson we all insist on going to Guilin Chinese Restaurant. Considering that most of us spent at least 4 years living in Tucson, this is pretty telling. We all have different tastes, and between the group of us, we’ve tried many of the restaurants in the area. Guilin is just one of those special, unassuming places that never disappoints. So, if you are looking for Tucson Chinese food (or are just in the area) consider giving this little place a chance.

Tucson Chinese Food

Aireona’s Thoughts on Guilin:

I had not had really good Chinese food until I had Guilin. While my husband would argue that there is nothing special about it, I just find that their food is delicious while not being heavy like some of the other places that I have eaten. Their ingredients are consistently good, and I have never had a disappointing meal here. Service here is also fast, and while there are usually people in the restaurant, it’s rare that you have to wait at the door. Not only is this my favorite place for Tucson Chinese food, Guilin beats any where else that I have been.

Pro Tip:

Go during lunch for some amazing deals! Lunch at Guilin includes soup and either an eggroll or ragoon, plus your entree and rice.

Favorite Dish:

Mongolian Beef

Tucson Chinese Food

Katie’s Thoughts on Guilin:

There are so many amazing restaurants in Tucson – El Guero Canelo, Zemams Brooklyn Pizza and Bobo’s – to name a few. But Guilin is the one I visit every time I go back to Tucson, without fail.

Aside from the nostalgia of it being one of my frequent broke college kid haunts, I’ve never been able to find a comparable tofu dish anywhere else. I think about this dish from time to time. I have dreams about it. Any attempt I have made to make this tofu doesn’t even come close. And honestly, it’s probably for the best, because if I knew how to make it, I would eat it ALL the time. Bye, bye balanced(ish) diet. Besides, this way, I have an excuse to visit my old stomping grounds and support a local business.

Pro Tip:

Try the veggie dumplings – they’re the perfect light appetizer. Crispy outside with a soft cabbage filling, served with a tasty dipping sauce.

Favorite Dish:

Tofu with Black Bean Sauce


4445 E Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85711

Tucson Chinese Food

A Hike Worth Hollering About: Tanque Verde Falls

It’s rare for us Nightborn Travel gals to pass up a chance to hike. On our recent trip down to the Ol’ Pueblo (or Tucson, as normal people would call it) we decided to venture out to Tanque Verde Canyon for our first time hiking Tanque Verde Falls.

View from the top of the trail – close to the trailhead.

This trail is located east of Tucson, just barely outside of the city – maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Take note that the paved road leading to the trailhead becomes a dirt road, so take that into consideration if your vehicle isn’t suited for dusty and slightly bumpy (but still driveable) terrain.

A comically angry-looking cactus near the creek bed. You’re welcome.

The hike itself is only about 2 miles long, but if you want to actually make it to the falls, there’s one BIG thing to take into consideration, and that’s water. Should you bring it? Yes. But also, has it rained lately? Because if it has, the creek along the trail will be running and while it will be beautiful, it will make your hike to the falls less of a hike and more of an… attempt.

Mmmm, sweet brown rainwater. (We did not drink this water, nor do we endorse drinking this water.)

Why am I telling you this? Because it’s exactly what happened to us. We made it about halfway up the trail before a mini-waterfall blocked us from going forward. We talked to a couple locals who told us that if the creek is dry or at least more of a trickle, you can scramble your way up the falls.

The mini-waterfall that hike-blocked us.

And here’s another thing to consider, the trail going down to the creek bed is relatively easy going, but from there on you’ll be encountering rock pile after rock pile and some times it will feel less like hiking and more like bouldering.

Rocks on rocks on rocks.

That being said, the area the trail is in is wonderful and the falls are said to be worth seeing, so there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be back. And, keeping what you’ve read in mind, we’ll hope you visit, too (if you’re not a big hiker, it’s a great little spot to find a rock along the creek and relax).

Happy hiking!


Original Chai Tea In Phoenix: Copper Star Coffee

Phoenix Chai Tea Adventures

I am building a guide for Phoenix chai tea for anyone else who might be as enchanted by this tea as me (or anyone looking to experience Phoenix coffee shops and cafes). My third spotlight is for one of the most unique coffee shops in the area, Copper Star Coffee, which is one of the few coffee shops with original chai tea in Phoenix.

The Tea!

downtown phoenix coffee shop

Food and chai tea out on the patio (c) ABR 2017

Reviewer(s): Aireona (the sugar-lover)

Brand: Copper Star has a house chai!

Flavor: You can’t get this chai anywhere else, because the lovely people at Copper Star have a house chai! Even as much as I love Maya, there is something wonderful and unbeatable about a chai that you can’t get anywhere else. Luckily for me, since I love the sweet, fakey chai that’s all over the US, this is a nice sugary latte. But Copper Star’s tea has a very nice balance of spice to help counteract the sweetness. While not quite as spicy as Maya, I really enjoy the smooth flavor of this chai, and on top of it, I think it has a complex of spices that really make it interesting and enjoyable.

original chai tea in phoenix

The Locale

original chai tea in phoenix

Location: 4220 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

WIFI: Free wifi provided!

Atmosphere: Copper Star Coffee is situated in a repurposed gas station. I think this is pretty awesome, because there are few mundane things more sad than an abandoned building. The inside of their shop has a rustic warehouse feel, with original art work, and a few long tables for work. There is also a nice patio to enjoy the awesome Arizona weather in the spring and fall. Parking is a bit scarce, but there is a little dirt lot behind the psychic that the coffee shop shares with them. There is also street parking that you might be able to snake into. No worries if there aren’t any spots though, they have a sweet drive through so that you can enjoy their rendition of chai at home or on the road.

The Best of Copper Star

original chai tea in phoenix

Staff: The people at Copper Star are wonderful. They can get pretty busy there. This is quite the popular spot, but they work as fast as they can crafting your delicious drinks. Busy or not, they are friendly, and seem very genuine to me. This isn’t an equation for friendly baristas that we see at Dutch Bros and Starbucks. These are cool people at a legitimately unique spot in our little suburban expanse.

Pros: Copper Star is one of the few places with original chai tea in Phoenix. I love visiting for the taste I can’t get anywhere else. On top of that, they also have a great assortment of pastries (cupcakes, pie, lemon squares and the like) and lunch food. I have yet to try their lunch food due to my schedule, but I love their desserts.

Cons: There is a lack of parking that I think could be a problem at times. The coffee shop is also a little cramped and a bit loud when it is busy. I find it a little distracting as a place to work, but I like hanging out with friends there.

original chai tea in phoenix

Want to see the rest of the guide? Check out Your Guide to Phoenix: Chai Tea Adventures.

Cave Creek Hiking: Go John Trail

There is alot of variety to Cave Creek hiking, and Go John Trail is one well known trail in this area. It was previously showcased by Sweat Magazine as reader’s choice best hike.

go john trail

Sonoran desert from Go John Trail (c) ABR 2018

General Information

Location: Cave Creek Regional Park
Run By: Maricopa County
Fee: $6 per car
General Difficulty: 2.5 (1 being easiest and 5 being hardest)
Round Trip Length: 5.4 miles (8.7 km)
Accumulated Gain: 1,260 feet (384 meters)
Crowd Levels: Moderate
Other activities: Camping, picnicking, visiting the nature center


Go John trail is a good place to visit if you are a local who hasn’t been, or a visitor looking to experience lots of Sonoran plant diversity. There are better trails for scenery and work outs. This trail is also fairly far from the city center.


First Half

go john trail

Sonoran desert from Go John Trail (c) ABR 2018

The Go John Trail starts at the parking lot at the very end of the road in the recreation area. It is a loop hike that you can start heading north or east. The first section of the trail (if you head north on the Maricopa Trail) rises up over a saddle in the mountains. It’s not a particularly steep incline, but it was sustained enough to get my heart rate up. This is the hardest part of the trail, in my opinion, and after you make the top of this rise, Go John will take you down into a valley where you will meander through fluffy, desert washes.

Before you descend onto the main length of the trail, however, I would suggest pausing to enjoy the view. The saddle is a great place to snap some pictures of the valleys to either side, one with the heart of Phoenix and one still wild. The rest of the trail is fairly low elevation, so there aren’t tons of other spots for pictures until  the end. That being said, the mountains in Spur Cross will  be at eye line for most of your trek, so the horizon-to-horizon beauty is there.

Second Half

go john trail

Sonoran desert from Go John Trail (c) ABR 2018

Once you hike down into the washes, you will have some wonderful opportunities to see Sonoran desert biodiversity, with a multitude of plants growing in this relatively lush part of the Phoenix valley. Birds abound as well, and if you know where to look (and how to be both safe and respectful of the animals) there is also come good herping here.

The way back towards the trailhead goes require you to gain some elevation again, but it is much more gradual than the first half of the trail. The descent to the parking lot is really nice and gradual as well.

go john trail

Tempe Chai Tea at Cupz

Phoenix (Tempe) Chai Tea Adventures

I am building a guide for Phoenix-area coffee shops for anyone wondering where to eat in Phoenix. Today I am highlighting one of my favorite spots for Tempe chai tea, Cupz Coffee, which is was my favor coffee shop while I was working at ASU. The cafe is just a stone’s throw from campus, and has a great atmosphere for anyone who likes to get some work done at the coffee shop.

The Tea!

Tempe chai tea

Reviewer(s): Aireona (the sugar-lover)

Brand: Big Train Chai

Flavor: The chai tea that Cupz serves is very sweet. I would actually say that I don’t get much of a spicy hint at all when I drink this tea, but for anyone that loves sugary drinks (like myself), it has an amazingly rich flavor. It is a great, milky drink for cold mornings and I find that it is also more hearty than many of the other chais I have had. If you prefer sweet, rather than spicy, this is definitely a chai that you might enjoy. I love this tea, but I’m giving it a 2.5/5 just because it strays so far from the classic chai flavor.

chai tea in phoenix

The Locale

tempe chai tea

Location: 777 S College Ave # 101, Tempe, AZ 85281

WIFI: Free

Atmosphere: Cupz has a classic coffee shop atmosphere, and it is one of my favorite places to work. There’s lots of original art on the walls, and a nice couch corner for anyone looking for a comfy place to enjoy some drinks and food. The area near the cash register is also home to some really cute coffee humor that I always appreciate while waiting for my chai.

tempe chai tea

Staff: A bunch of the staff at Cupz are ASU students, so stopping by here is a great way to support the community in more ways than one. They are also some very sweet people, which may not be quite as outgoing as Starbucks employees, but I always enjoy chatting with them. A few of the baristas here are also very good at their jobs, and I often get a cup of chai that is artfully put together.

Pros: Cupz is super close to campus and has a good atmosphere for working, with free wifi, lots of tables, and couches. They have plenty of breakfast food options , and a very nice selection of drinks besides chai. Their staff is genuine and its a generally a welcoming place that’s great for regulars.

Cons: The quality of the food can vary here, depend on who’s working, but I likely only noticed this due to the fact that I visited 1-2 times a week for 5 years. They also don’t have a bathroom in the shop, which can be a bit problematic if you plan on staying there for a long time.

tempe chai tea

Want to see the rest of the guide? Check out Your Guide to Phoenix: Chai Tea Adventures for more information on Phoenix and Tempe coffee shops.

tempe chai tea

Phoenix Chai Tea at 32 Shea

Phoenix Chai Tea Adventures

I am building a guide for Phoenix chai tea for anyone else who might be as enchanted by this tea as me (or anyone looking to experience Phoenix coffee shops and cafes).

The first coffee shop to be highlighted here is 32 Shea, a neighborhood favorite, with tasty chai, lots of food options, and a zen atmosphere.

The Tea!

phoenix chai tea

Food and chai tea out on the patio (c) ABR 2017

Reviewer(s): Aireona (the sugar-lover)

Brand: Maya Chai (Sweet version)

Flavor: Maya Chai is a Tucson company that has stolen the hearts of several of my chai tea-loving friends, and for good reason. They have two different varieties, sweet and spicy (Devi), and both strike a very nice balance between both of these flavors (as far as American tastes go, we love our sugar). For me, it is the afternote of this tea that is really special, and speaks to the artistry of its creators. While it maintains the sweet flavor that American chai has come to exemplify, the final notes of either Maya chai is reminiscent of more traditional, spicy teas. It is this perfect, subtle blend of spices that makes Maya so special, and for those of you that haven’t tried it (I have no idea how prevalent it is outside of Arizona), it is worth seeking out when you are looking for Phoenix chai tea.

The Locale

Location: 10626 N. 32nd St. 85028, Phoenix AZ

WIFI: Password Protected

Atmosphere: I love 32 Shea’s atmosphere. The building itself is quite small, and the inside has a warm feel with a wood-surfaced bar, and seating along some large windows. The patio outside, with its Buddha statue, vibrant greenery, and babbling fountain, is a very relaxing place. There are big shade trees along the fence that creates this little, private area, and umbrellas around the tables. It really feels like its own little world, although it is quite hot out here in the middle of summer.

Phoenix chai tea

Staff: The staff at 32 Shea are amazing. They are very welcoming, and don’t mind helping you navigate the menu. I have also gotten some really good recommendations for food from them. Overall, they are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable about the menu.

Pros: This coffee shop has a lovely building, and they are a special part of the community. Their menu will have something for you from breakfast to lunch and dinner. In particular, their dinner menu is pretty stellar. For those pasta lovers out there, I would suggest the lobster mac & cheese with some nutella cheesecake for dessert. They even serve cocktails later in the day. 32 Shea has great staff and they have one of the best chai tea brands out there.

Cons: So far, I have just found their lunch food to be ok. I am never blown away by how good it is, but it is never bad either. There is also limited space and it can be hot during the summer.

phoenix cofee shop

Want to see the rest of the guide? Check out Your Guide to Phoenix: Chai Tea Adventures.

Where to Hike in Southern Arizona: Coronado National Memorial and Tumacacori Mission

If you’re wondering about what to see and/or where to hike in Southern Arizona, I have two off-the-beaten-path destinations for you. These are Coronado National Memorial and Tumacacori National Historic Park. Taking a weekend Southern Arizona trip to see these will take you through Sierra Vista, and small town AZ. It will also introduce you to some beautiful Southern AZ trails and the unique history of the South West.

We have a weekend itinerary for you guys at the end of the post. If you need more ideas for what to see in Arizona, check out our Guide to Arizona.

Coronado National Memorial

coronado hiking

Grasses and rolling hills of southern Arizona (c) ABR 2017

This National Park Unit is just south of Sierra Vista, right on the border between the US and Mexico. It is home to the rolling hills and mountains of grasslands and forests that I love in southern Arizona. As the name suggests, this beautiful spot on the southern edge of the United States had been preserved due to its historic significance, particularly, the entry of the Coronado expedition into the US.

coronado hiking

Coronado and his men didn’t have a luxury of trails when they passed through (c) ABR 2017

If you remember the story, Coronado, his soldiers, employees, and slaves, were on an epic journey in search of the famed Seven Golden Cities. All they knew was that these treasure troves were across a desert to the north, and thus, they travel north! And more north… and more… north… all the way up from Mexico to what is now Kansas. Sadly, as you might guess (or know), they did not find any cities of gold, but they did start the movement of Spanish colonization up into the Southwest.

coronado hiking

An imposing but beautiful landscape (c) ABR 2017

It’s easy to imagine the awe and trepidation that the people in Coronado’s expedition would have as they worked their way up into unknown lands when visiting the national memorial. And the park does a great job of educating you on aspects of Spanish exploration that you likely didn’t know. For instance, they had people counting their steps every day, just so that they knew how far they had gone. (Any one hiring for a step counter these days?).

Coronado hiking

(c) ABR 2017

If you aren’t interested in the history, no fear, Coronado National Memorial has plenty of Southern Arizona hiking and a very cool little cave that you can explore. One of the trails goes up to the highpoint of the Huachuca Mountains (Miller Peak), another will take you down to a memorial on the border, and you have an option to hike the length of the park, and through the low grasslands too.

cornado hiking

A passage through Coronado Cave (c) ABR 2017

For the cave, all you need to explore is a good pair of shoes, a trusty headlamp (plus a back up light source), and some caution (it’s a bit of a steep climb in if you aren’t used to hiking). It won’t be fascinating to the cavers among you, but for the rest of us, it’s a great place to organically explore the subterranean world.

Entrance Fee: Free
Suggested Trails: Coronado Cave Trail, Coronado Peak Trail, Yaqui Ridge Trail
Hours from Phoenix: ~3.5 hours
Visitor Center Address:
4101 W Montezuma Canyon Rd, Hereford, AZ 85615

Tumacacori National Historic Park

visit tumacacori

The mission (c) ABR 2017

A few hours from Sierra Vista, to the west, is the Tumacacori Mission where you can learn about Arizona’s mission past, and hike the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. This Southern Arizona hike commemorates another Spanish exploration party and is a great area to see some desert riparian, or river, ecosystems.

national historic trail

The river along the Juan Bautista de Anza trail (c) ABR 2017

After Coronado led the way up north from modern-day Mexico, it wasn’t long until other Europeans began exploring Arizona. One of these early colonists was Father Kino, a Jesuit priest, who established the Tumacacori mission in 1691 with the help of the local Tohono O’odham people, who built the sanctum that still remains to this day.

visit tumacacori

The interior of the mission (c) ABR 2017

Missions are a mainstay of southwestern US history, and they are inextricably tied to the subjugation of native peoples like those of the O’odham. At face value, they were a way for Spain to hold the northern frontier, and for Jesuits and Catholics to convert Native American people to European religions. However, many missions were also places where native peoples were forced to work, hunted down when they tried to leave, and it was also a system used to dismantle indigenous cultures.

visit tumacacori

We should not forget what happened here (c) ABR 2017

As with many tragedies, places of contemplation, about the wrongs of the past, are key to understanding the kinds of futures that we want to live in. For me, Tumacacori is one such place.

visit Tumacacori

We all love a good door (c) ABR 2017

The mission is beautiful, although the NPS modus operandi of maintenance not reconstruction is apparent here. You can see the brick-work under the stucco. But there is still faded paint in the nave, and the inspiration of European cathedrals is obvious in the design and architecture. When I went, there was a flowered cross where the priest would have preached, looking out on beautiful wooden doors. There were flowers in the old graveyard too.

visit tumacacori

(c) ABR 2017

It’s a peaceful place now, the perfect spot to remember, and continue the journey that the Spanish made up through United States. If you want to know about the history of the US, this is definitely a place that you should visit, because the story of the missions is not one that we should forget.

Entrance Fee: Free
Suggested Trails: Juan Bautista de Anza Historic Trail
Hours from Phoenix: ~2.5 hours
Visitor Center Address:
1891 I-19 Frontage Rd, Tumacacori, AZ 85640

History and nature are inextricably linked, and if you hike in southern Arizona, you won’t be disappointed in the stories that you create and discover.

Suggested Weekend Itinerary

Friday Night: Drive to Sierra Vista (~3 hours)
I highly recommend getting dinner at La Casita Mexican ; the food is great and their mango/chili margarita is delicious.

Saturday: Explore Coronado National Memorial.
Drive towards Tumacacori (~2 hrs from Coronado), and consider staying in one of the smaller towns in between, like Patagonia.

Sunday: Explore Tumacacori.
Drive back to Phoenix (~2.5 hrs), and consider stopping at Tubac on the way home for lunch and art.

hiking southern arizona


Please visit the park visitor centers to ask questions and learn more about safety and the difficulty of the trails. Rangers will help you find the perfect path for you!

Nightborn Travel covers some off-the-beaten path locations, sometimes focuses on solo travel, and often includes outdoor exploration such as hiking. So, please be aware of the following (adapted from Hiking, traveling and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends. It is your responsibility to travel and explore responsibly and take care of your own safety.

Phoenix Chai Tea Adventures: Calibration Post for Starbucks (Tazo)

chai tea phoenix starbucks

An Introduction to the Series and Example: Starbucks

I LOVE chai tea, and while I was in Europe this summer, I really started to enjoy trying different cafes and their take on this delicious sugar/caffeine boost. When I came home, I decided to start exploring all the different options that my home town has to offer, and I wanted to build a guide for anyone else who might be as enchanted by this tea as me.

To get us started, I want to make a calibration post (forgive the scientist in me!) using a standard coffee shop that we all know (and love?), Starbucks. This post will cue you into my chai tea tastes, so that you know how your own preferences for flavor compare, and walk you through how these little guides will work.

The Tea!

chai tea phoenix starbucks

Reviewer(s): Aireona (the sugar-lover)

Brand: Tazo Tea

Flavor: On a scale of sweet to spicy, Tazo’s take on chai tea makes an effort to balance traditional flavors with American preferences for sugar, but it is definitely leaning on the sugary side. Based on past conversations with people, I would even go so far as to say that those of you who really love traditional chai probably dislike Tazo’s version (or consider it to be in its own category altogether, like… Taco Bell is to Mexican food). Since I am a sugar lover myself, I find Starbuck’s chai tea to be a good comfort chai when I am on the go and I want to know just want I am getting into. I would describe it as being light and sugary with a slight hint of spice, but mostly sweet and milky.

The Locale

chai tea phoenix starbucks


WIFI: Free

Atmosphere: Starbucks is pretty standard, and has what I would consider to be the corporate distillation of coffee shop decor. With plenty of dark colors, most Starbuck’s have a professional feel, but most of their character comes from all the marketing that is carefully arranged in all directions. It’s actually not my favorite place to work, since it is just insanely busy in the morning, but once again, it’s a great place to go when you are still getting the lay of the land and need somewhere familiar and safe to charge up on caffeine.

Staff: The staff at Starbucks are like the rest of the chain in my opinion, professional and pleasant. Their product is pretty reliable, their baristas know their stuff, and you are almost always guaranteed a warm smile, if nothing overly friendly (perfect for us introverts out there).

Pros: If you need chai tea and are lost in a strange city, there’s likely to be a Starbucks within walking distance in all directions. You know what you will get in terms of taste and the coffee shop feel. Starbucks is also known to treat its staff well which earns it a plus from me, even if it is a giant corporation.

Cons: Starbucks won’t offer you a unique expression of the local coffee shop scene or local culture, and it often competes with smaller cafes.

Want to see the rest of the guide? Check out Your Guide to Phoenix: Chai Tea Adventures.

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