A wide array of cactus at the desert botanical gardens

Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, opened in 1939 with a ‘simple’ mission to save the desert. Over the years it has expanded and now focuses on conserving and protecting the desert ecology while providing educational experiences for both locals and visitors, as well as providing a tranquil retreat in the desert.

Scenic Desert Beauty at The Desert Botanical Garden

With 140 acres, over 50,000 species of plants, and five different loop trails (each with its own theme), you can enjoy the beauty of the Sonoran Desert on your own, or with a guided tour. Hike to the top of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail for an expansive view of the surrounding mountains. Walk through the Center for Desert Living Trail and submerse yourself in the colors and fragrances that the desert habitat can produce. If the season is right, you can watch hummingbirds visiting the vibrant desert wildflowers and blooming cactus as you wander along the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail. To understand how the desert plants were used by native peoples, take the Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail.

There are many educational opportunities available – lectures and workshops are held year-round. With the addition of their new 400-seat reception hall, the Garden can now offer larger lectures, workshops and concerts. Take a guided tour – Birds in the Garden is just one of the tours offered. This Tempe Botanical Garden is happy to offer private tours and accommodate field trips for schools and scouts. Your kids will have fun playing Desert Detective Bingo as they scamper down the trails.

The Garden isn’t all serious, there are fun events too. Bring your dog for “Dogs Day in the Garden”. Attend the “Lit & Sip” – after you wander along the garden trails with your cocktail, dance the night away at the Silent Dance Party (dancers use headphones and dance to their own beat). Or, experience what has become an annual southwestern holiday tradition – Las Noches de las Luminarias. Sip your drink and nibble “lite bites” while you wander down the sparkling desert paths. Lit by over 8,000 luminarias, the dazzling lights will help you get into the holiday spirit.

The Garden is the perfect venue for wedding ceremonies, showers and receptions, corporate and non-profit events, award ceremonies, family reunions and memorial services. With its quiet serene beauty, the Desert Botanical Garden has become a romantic spot too.

The Tempe Botanical Garden’s hours vary slightly season to season, so check their website for current hours, information and admission rates. On Community Day, every second Tuesday of the month, admission is free and there is free admission every day for active military personnel with valid ID.

Visit The Garden From the Best Arizona Accommodations

Whether you are a student of desert ecology, or just enjoy wandering around the desert and want to learn a bit more about it, you must certainly visit the Desert Botanical Garden. What better way to do so then from a comfortable villa from Parsons Villas! Contact us to book today!

Clothes at the Scottsdale Fashion Square

Scottsdale Fashion Square

Scottsdale’s upscale luxury shopping destination is Scottsdale Fashion Square. Located in the heart of the city, this is the largest shopping mall in Arizona, and one of the largest in the country. Easy to get to from anywhere in Scottsdale (you can even take the trolley!), this is the place to go if you want to do some serious shopping, whether you are a local or tourist.

Shop Until You Drop at the Scottsdale Fashion Square

While there is a wide variety of shops at Fashion Square, it is their high-end luxury Scottsdale shopping that is their draw. Some of the luxury shops at the Scottsdale Fashion Square include Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Montblanc, CH Carolina Herrera, Cartier, Bulgari, Tiffany and Prada. The mall also includes more typical mall-centric stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch, A Hallmark store, Bath & Body Works, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Claire’s, Crate&Barrel, Foot Locker, Gap, J Crew, and Sunglass Hut. And there is an Apple Store and an Amazon POP-UP just to round things out.

And, of course, you can’t have a mall without a food court! There are several destination restaurants – like Nobu, Ocean 44 and Toca Madera – along with the more typical Charley Philly Steaks, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Five Guys, and Shake Shack. Plus, there are plenty of places to get a quick bite to keep your energy up as you shop –Jamba Juice and a Cinnabon, anyone?

Scottsdale Fashion Square prides itself on its commitment to sustainability. Along with the typical sustainable systems (energy efficient lighting, reduced flow plumbing fixtures and mechanical systems), the mall uses reverse osmosis water instead of bottled water and the security staff uses electric carts instead of gas-powered vehicles. Recently, the mall recycled over 530 tons of just cardboard, and when the mall expanded, they recycled 65% of demolished materials and waste. Nordstrom is also recycling restaurant waste for compost.

If you have shopped ‘til you are ready to drop, you can take a catch the latest blockbuster at the Harkins Camelview Movie Theater. Or, take in a Broadway musical or a play at the Desert Stages Theater, a non-profit performing arts theater. And both the Harkins Camelview Movie Theater and the Desert Stages Theater are located at the Scottsdale Fashion Square – you can just walk on over. Or, you can head to nearby Salvatore Vineyards and enjoy one of their wine tasting menus.

Parsons Villas, The Best Way to Experience Scottsdale

With over two million square feet of Scottsdale shopping, dining and entertainment, the Scottsdale Fashion Square will have many things to entertain you and keep you occupied during your stay in Scottsdale. Then, bring your haul to an amazing villa from Parsons Villas; contact us to book today!

The sign of ASU

Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) incorporates four campuses located across the Phoenix metro area. As one of the largest public universities in the country, ASU’s official enrollment was over 80,000 in 2018! The students and faculty of the university spread their energy and vitality throughout the community.


Classified as a research facility, the university offers over 350 degrees to undergraduates and 400 graduate and certificate programs. The 17 colleges spread throughout the four campuses and four regional learning centers, and each campus focuses on specific areas of study and has a unique atmosphere from the other campuses. A system of shuttles and a light rail provide ease of travel between the campuses.

The university’s research and grad school center are bustling with people and activity. This urban campus is centered in downtown Tempe and is enveloped by the Arizona State University Tempe  Arboretum. This is the largest ASU campus and the original campus. This campus houses all of ASU’s athletic facilities, and it is also home to the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Tempe Marketplace – the destination for shopping, dining and nightlife in Tempe – acts as a border for the campus to the north.

The Polytechnic campus focuses on professional and technological programs and occupies what was Williams Air Force Base, in Mesa, Arizona.

Urban and public programs (such as nursing, criminal justice and journalism) are located in the Downtown Phoenix campus. This campus has a very urban feel with its new academic buildings mixed in with the city’s commercial and retail buildings. Established in 2006, this campus combines new modern buildings with renovated buildings like the old Post Office which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law was recently relocated to this campus.

The West campus, located in a suburban area of Phoenix, is dedicated to interdisciplinary degrees and the liberal arts, and is almost completely powered by solar energy. ASU also has a strong on-line program, and a small undergraduate college in Lake Havasu City helps meet the needs for less expensive higher education.


ASU takes its commitment to the academics of sustainability seriously. Wind turbines and solar photovoltaic installations are spread across all campuses, as are recycling and composting areas. And in 2007, Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability was the first school to offer degrees in sustainability.

Famous Alumni

ASU has produced some pretty famous alumni over the years. Barry Goldwater, Jimmy Kimmel, Nick Nolte, Lynda Carter, Linda Ronstadt, and Kate Spade. Famous athletes include Phil Mickelson, Pat Tillman (Silver Star recipient), Barry Bonds, James Harden, Brock Osweiler and Terrell Suggs.

Campus Attractions

For architectural buffs, we’ve already mentioned the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium. In addition, the Arizona State University Tempe Art Museum at Fine Arts Center was designed by Antoine Predock.

The ASU Art Museum houses over 12,000 items and is well-known as a contemporary art mecca. The museum focuses on contemporary art, crafts (with an emphasis on post-WWII ceramics), prints (contemporary and historic, American and European), and Southwest Art (with an emphasis on Latino artists). The Ceramics Research Center at Brickyard houses their impressive ceramics collection – a must-see for any ceramics enthusiast. Visit their website for additional information.

The Arboretum surrounding the Tempe Campus offers guided tours, enabling visitors and students alike to learn more about the hundreds of native and arid-adapted trees from around the world. Several of the older trees are now designated as “Great Trees of Arizona”.

Nearby Attractions

The “A” Mountain – Tempe Butte – is home to the famous “A” and its Sun Devil Stadium. The short, steep Tempe Butte hike is popular with students, locals and visitors alike.

Downtown Tempe and the Mill Avenue District are both close by and offer a variety of choices of large shops, small boutiques, restaurants and bars and activities. You can take a foodie tour of one of the local brew pubs and distilleries. You can paddleboard, kayak or raft on the many lakes and rivers in the area including popular Canyon Lake and the Snake River.

Staying in Style at Parsons Villas

Explore ASU, and other amazing attractions in Arizona, from the comfort and luxury of one of Parsons Villas’ rental villas! Contact us today to book your stay.

A sawfish at the Sea Life Arizona Aquarium

SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium

Here in the middle of the desert, at the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, you can get up close and personal with many of the ocean creatures your kids love. With thirty exhibits and displays housing thousands of creatures, the entire family will enjoy this small yet entertaining Tempe aquarium.

Amazing Sights at the Sea Life Arizona Aquarium

At SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium, you can watch daily feedings of all the creatures, and learn more about the different species through scheduled talks or from the information posted at each exhibit. Many exhibits are interactive and the kids (young and old) will love getting to touch and pet some of the marine life. What will your children do when they touch their first lobsters? How many other opportunities will they have to touch a live starfish or sea urchin? Give them a memory to last a life time.

Watch the rays get their lunch at the Bay of Rays while you are learning about this mysterious creature. Did you know they don’t have bones? It’s true. And, it can be mesmerizing, just to watch these fascinating creatures undulating through the water.

And what child doesn’t love sharks and sea horses? With an exhibit all their own – The Temple of the Seahorse – you can watch these extraordinary creatures swim about, then grab at the sea grass for rest. Over at the Ocean View exhibit, you can learn about that most fearsome of ocean dwellers – sharks. See them get fed while learning interesting facts about these creatures. You can also meet Ziva, the aquariums rescued sea turtle.

At Critter Canyon, you will have the opportunity to get ‘hands-on’ with some cool critters including snakes, turtles and hairy tarantulas. Take some time and visit with Mojave the tortoise and Hopi the Tarantula. Included in the price of your admission, this class is held several times daily.

Another interactive exhibit is the Rockpool. Your kids can get up close and personal with the unique inhabitants of tidal pools – touching sea urchins, crabs and sea stars.

Once everyone has had enough fish and water – head on over to the Lego Discovery Center. It’s right next door! With over 40,000 square feet and more than one million LEGOs®, there are rides, exhibits, and a 4-D cinema. Tour the factory or just let your kids loose in the LEGO® City Play Land. Explore the Dino Explorer Exhibit with its range of dino-centric activities and learning experiences.

Great fun for kids and adults alike!

Sharks, rays, lobsters, starfish, sea horses, clownfish, jelly fish, sea turtles – there all here at the SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium. Open seven days a week (10am to 6pm Monday through Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday), it will be easy to fit into your schedule. Visit their website for prices and class times. This Tempe aquarium is wheelchair accessible, and offers a military discount.

Experience this attraction, and many others, from one of Parsons Villas’ beautiful Scottsdale villas. Contact us to book today, or browse our available selection of rentals.

Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum

One of Arizona’s top-rated museums, the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum is located in Mesa, Arizona, at 2017 North Greenfield Road. The museum is home to hundreds of exhibits telling the story of military aviators. Their mission – Preserve, Educate, Remember – is on full display here.

Flying High With the Commemorative Air Force Museum

Get up close and personal with one of the vintage World War II planes housed in the museum’s hangers. If you ever wanted to experience a B-17, this is your chance. Other planes on display include a B-25 and C-47, along with bi-planes, an F4 Phantom, and plenty more.

Once you have toured the planes on the ground, take it to the next level by booking a ride in one of the restored planes. The “Sentimental Journey”, a B-17G (used as a water bomber) restored to wartime configuration, is available, and the “Secret Night Mission” on their C-47 (“Old Number 30”) is a great way to see the Christmas lights of the surrounding area.

When you’re done with the vintage planes, tour this classic Mesa air museum. View the many exhibits on aircraft and war memorabilia, including displays on WWII and Vietnam. Find out more about the Tuskegee Airmen and Women Air Service Pilots, who, despite facing severe hindrances, served our country.

The museum hosts annual events including a speaker series. At the “Annual Gathering of Legends”, you can meet distinguished veterans from WWII to present day. Their busiest seasons are fall and winter with events like “Aviation Fascination” and the “Big Band ‘40s Dance”.

Drop by their gift shop on the way out and pick up a souvenir. How about a “born to fly” or Air Force pilot flight suite onesie for your kid or grandkid? Pick up some American flag art, a T-shirt, or aviator jewelry. How about matching bomber jackets for you and your dog? If you miss the shop, you can shop online later.

This Mesa air museum is close to other activities too. Watch an Arizona Cardinals game or spring training baseball game. Hike through one of the nearby parks and preserves, try tubing down the Salt River, or wander through downtown historic Gilbert for some shopping and fine dining. Visit the popular Riparian Preserve – a great place for photographers (and non-photographers too). Hike the trails through the desert landscape and around water features, watch the abundant wildlife and birds (close to 250 species has been sighted here), and see a dinosaur dig site. There is an observatory (open to the public every Friday and Saturday evenings) too.

The Commemorative Air Force Museum’s knowledgeable docents will be more than willing to answer any questions and to share inspirational stories of veterans from over the years. The museum is open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm (closed on holidays), and entry is free to active military personnel and disabled veterans. Veteran or not, if you love planes and their history, or military history, this museum is for you.

The Best Place to Come Home To: Parsons Villas

There is no better place to stay to enjoy this attraction, or any other in the area, than a comfortable and luxury villa from Parsons Villas. Contact us today to book your stay!

Experience Holiday Lights at Railroad Park

Holiday Lights at Railroad Park

Looking for a special, family-oriented holiday event? Look no further than McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. At 7301 East Indian Bend Road in Scottsdale, Arizona, the park opened in 1975 with train rides and a Wild West Shootout and is now one of Scottsdale’s most popular attractions.

Visiting the Park

Start your visit with the train museum or check out the Roald Amundsen Pullman Car (used by every president from Herbert Hoover through Dwight Eisenhower), many other railroad artifacts, and working train models on display. Or ride the restored historic Charros Carousel, with over 30 horses and two wheelchair chariots just waiting to take someone on a magical ride.

Get into that holiday spirit by listening to The Goode Time Carolers. Wearing costumes right out of A Christmas Carol, they will be performing in early December, as evening falls.

The festivities for the opening night of the Holiday Light Train’s run will include live music and a tree lighting ceremony while Santa arrives aboard a steam locomotive! Kids can visit with Santa in the historic Maricopa Depot.

Top your evening off with a ride on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad Holiday Lights train run through the park. With more than 100,000 lights, and holiday displays, this enchanting, family-friendly train ride will quickly become the highlight of your holiday excursions. Everyone loves taking train rides, and this will be no exception. The Scottsdale Live Steamer is a 7-1/2-inch gauge “ride-on” scaled miniature railroad which surrounds the Xeriscape Arboretum in the Park.

Add Some Flair to Your Holidays

The Holiday Lights train runs nightly through the month of December, with some holiday exceptions. Admission to the park is free, but train rides do require a ticket. To purchase your ticket for the train ride, review dates and times, and get general information, check the Railroad Park’s website.

Experience Las Noches De Las Luminarias

Las Noches de las Luminarias

One of the more famous events during December in the southwest is the Night of the Luminaries at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Imagine slowly meandering down winding desert trails as they sparkle with the soft light from over 8,000 hand-lit luminaries. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Scottsdale.

A Night at the Garden

Wander through the night on the Garden’s many trails, sipping hot cocoa or warm cider, listening to live music. Strolling mariachi bands and musicians play throughout the wonderfully cool evenings, a pleasing backdrop to the desert’s softly lit beauty.

Make a reservation at the Garden’s restaurant and enjoy a holiday-themed meal, or purchase gourmet bites to sample as you saunter through the night. Special luminaria bags are available to honor a loved one, or to celebrate a special occasion with your personal message.

Established in 1939, the Gardens provide a wonderful way to learn about desert habitat, flora and wildlife. There are several trails winding through different parts of the garden and the Garden provides classes and events throughout the year, culminating in Las Noches de las Luminaries.

Tickets are required for this evening event, which lasts throughout the month. Botanical Garden Members can purchase tickets early, and non-member tickets go on sale in early Oct (and sell out rapidly). The garden, and this event, are universally accessible; a small quantity of electric scooters and wheelchairs can be reserved in advance if needed.

Plan Your Visit to Las Noches De Las Luminarias

While there are many wonderful events throughout the year in the southwest, end the year with one of the most alluring: Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Gardens. Regular garden hours are 8am to 8pm but vary during the year. There is free admission for active military personnel; just bring your valid government ID. Call or visit the Garden’s website for reservations, hours, and more information.

Contact Parsons Villas today to book your stay so you can visit and experience Las Noches de las Luminaries.

Pinnacle Park Park in Scottsdale

Pinnacle Peak Park

Located just north of Scottsdale’s main downtown area (26802 North 102nd Way), Pinnacle Peak Park is a short “in-and-out” hike. Its granite peak can be seen from much of the surrounding area and it offers spectacular panoramic views. Pinnacle Peak Park’s trail is 1.75 miles (one way), and it winds up towards the peak for a moderate hike.

Explore Pinnacale Peak Park in Scottsdale

Pinnacle Peak Park encompasses 150 acres and has an elevated gain of 1,300 feet. Public restrooms and drinking fountains are located at the trail head, and there is a paved parking area with bike racks. Hiking and running are allowed, but bikes and dogs are not. There are designated rock climbing areas for experienced climbers.

The trail has interpretive displays, or you can take a guided tour. Learn about the Sonoran Desert’s flora and fauna and the park’s geology as you hike from the trail head to the Grandview Lookout. You will also hear about the Hohokam, an ancient Native American culture centered in Arizona who are thought to be the builders of the original canal system around Phoenix.

For something different (and cooler), take a Full Moon Hike in the evening. Join the staff and volunteers on a guided walk through the moonlight to the Grandview Lookout. And, if you are interested in astronomy, attend one of the park’s Astronomy Evenings for a quiet desert evening under the stars. A short talk is followed by observation of the objects visible in the night sky through a cutting-edge Celestron telescope.

Pinnacale Peak Park in Scottsdale is a designated wildlife sanctuary, and you may be able to spot quail, rabbits, lizards, snakes, and if you’re lucky, a road runner. Your best chance of seeing wildlife is at dusk and dawn (park closing and opening hours); look for coyotes, bobcats, and mule deer, too.

The nearby McDowell Sonoran Preserve offers a range of activities and is great for bird and wildlife watching. The preserve also has three accessible trails, great for young children and those with mobility issues. Self-guided hiking, guided tours, biking, rock climbing, running, horseback riding (bring your own horse) are allowable. And your (leashed) dog can hike with you!

Wear comfortable hiking shoes, outdoor clothing and hat, and don’t forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen for this moderate hike. The trail may be short, but the views are breathtaking. Visit the park’s website for hours and events.

Staying with Parsons Villas

Although many of our rentals are located in the heart of Scottsdale, we also want you to be able to get out and explore the area’s natural splendor. Contact us today to book your stay and discover the great outdoors!

Experience Old Town Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale

Covering just over one square mile, Old Town is the heart of Scottsdale. An amazing variety of shops, boutiques, art galleries, salons, restaurants and bars fill this Old West-themed area of the city. There’s always a music or food festival taking place, and the holidays are magical in Old Town Scottsdale.

For art and cultural events, this small but dense area is perfect for leisurely browsing in the many shops and galleries. Meander along on your own or take one of the many tours offered. The Ultimate Art & Cultural Tour customizes tours, focusing on your interests—architecture, history, local art, Native American tours, and theater tours. There lots of things to do in Old Town Scottsdale.

The Heritage of Scottsdale

No matter what you are looking for—contemporary, Native American, western-themed, fine art or fun, tacky souvenirs—one of the galleries will have it. They feature local artists as well as artists from around the world. Art One Gallery, Inc. represents students from Arizona universities, colleges and high schools as well as local artists. At the Method Art Studio, you can watch artists create their art. Gently work up an appetite with the Art Walk every Thursday night, before you head out for dinner and the nightlife.

And, speaking of food and drink, whatever you are in the mood for can be found in Old Town Scottsdale. Any cuisine—from fine dining to bar food, casual to dressy, comedy clubs to world renowned restaurants, organic/vegetarian or steaks—it’s all here. Or, just treat your sweet tooth at the Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant or Super Chunk Sweets & Treats.

Shopping ’til you drop has never been so enjoyable. Discover unique ceramics, jewelry, or fine art. Shop unique boutiques and galleries like the Buffalo Collection (featuring handcrafted buffalo leather furniture and accessories) or visit old favorites like Tiffany & Co. Or, relax and enjoy a food, wine or beer tasting tour.

If you are looking for outdoor activities, there are many nature preserves and parks nearby. You can hike, bike, rock climb or take a horseback ride. And for indoor sports, try indoor rock climbing at AZ on the Rocks, or hit one of the casinos.

Discover Old Town Scottsdale with Parsons Villas

With such a variety of choices for dining and nightlife, browsing and shopping, Old Town Scottsdale truly does have something for everyone. And, with the numerous event and meeting facilities scattered throughout Old Town, it is the perfect location for your next family reunion, business meeting or conference or wedding. Book your stay with Parsons Villas today!

Visit Mill Avenue District

Mill Avenue District

The Mill Avenue District, located in Tempe, is overflowing with restaurants, bars, and shopping. At first glance, it may seem similar to nearby Old Town in Scottsdale, but this place has a more dynamic and youthful vibe. Close to Arizona State University and its students, Mill Avenue District benefits from their spirited nature and energetic lifestyle.

The Heart of Tempe

Mill Avenue District in Tempe  runs north-south for about four blocks and is filled with public art. One public installation is the “She Tempe” public art project, where eight local female artists have created artworks that are installed on the news racks along the avenue. Take a guided art tour, or just grab a map from the news rack and hit the streets. The weekly 6th Street Market offers local artists, live music and food year-round.

Wander the avenue, browsing through boutiques, small shops, and larger name brand stores lining both sides of the avenue. Temp your sweet tooth with candy from The Candy Addict, which offers retro and historic sweets, international brands, gourmet chocolate bars and delicious truffles. Dining options run the gamut from casual sports bars to upscale dining establishments perfect for date night.

Of course, the nightlife can be wild! Choose from college hangouts, neighborhood bars, sports bars, piano bars, breweries, and dance clubs. Attend a Broadway performance at the ASU Gammage or the Tempe Theater for the Arts. Try a performance at the Indie Stray Cat Theater or check out a comedy club.

Walk a little farther north to Tempe Town Lake with over five miles of shoreline, where you can walk, run, bike, roller blade, and rent a boat or kayak. The Tempe Center for the Arts is there, too, a free art gallery featuring Tempe’s talented local artists. The Phoenix Zoo is nearby, with animal exhibits and events throughout the year. Adjacent to the zoo is Papago Park, home to the Desert Botanical Garden.

Party on Mill Avenue District in Tempe

As one of its adjacent suburbs, Tempe is only ten minutes from downtown Phoenix. Head on over for a dose of lively shopping and people-watching and end with a bit of dynamic nightlife. There is something happening year-round at Mill Avenue District in Tempe. And Mill Avenue is the perfect place to enjoy the 4th of July Fireworks Festival, Oktoberfest, the Tempe Festival of the Arts, and the Insight Fiesta Bowl New Year’s Block Party—the street party to end all street parties!

Make sure to contact Parsons Villas today to book your stay so you can experience Mill Avenue District!