There’s an interesting mix of things to do in Mesa, AZ for everyone, but it will be of particular interest to visitors with kids. Let’s do a bit of background first… Mesa is a city in the southwestern state of Arizona. It’s located only 20 or so miles from the state capital of Phoenix. The city has the largest suburban population in the United States with an estimated population of 509,000 people. When Mesa was first incorporated in 1883, it had a population of 300. As with many areas in Arizona, Mesa played an important role in the US Military. In the 1940s, there was an army base and an army airport in the city, which caused a dramatic increase in the city’s population. The military airport at Falcon Field is still operational today and is used by Boeing to manufacture Apache Military Helicopters. Mesa is known for its excellent year-round temperatures and the stunning views that surround the city.
So, let’s take you on a quick journey and explore all the great things to do in Mesa, AZ, on your visit.
Mesa Arts Center
Mesa Arts Center is located in downtown Mesa and comprises four distinct venues. These include the Ikeda Theater and Farnsworth Studio Theater. There are also five gallery spaces, which are based within the Mesa Contemporary Arts wing. The center architecture has won awards, and it certainly is unique. The center holds many downtown Mesa events throughout the calendar year and is a good free thing to do in Mesa, AZ, with all the family.
Usery Mountain Regional Park
Usery Mountain Park is enormous. Like, really enormous. It covers a staggering 3,648 acres of land. We can’t even imagine how big that is, to be honest. Anyway, it’s a great thing to do in Mesa, AZ for camping, hiking, walking, cycling, and anything else you can think of, really. Usery has 29 miles of dedicated walking trails and vary in difficulty and length to suit all levels of fitness and age. One of the park highlights is the Wind Cave Trail, which winds through the high forest on to Tonto National Forest. Usery also puts on a range of events, such as kid’s movie showings, educational programs on rattlesnakes (yikes!) and other native wildlife, and their awesome Night Safaris.
Tickets required for specific activities, available from the park visitor center, $2-$55
Arizona Museum of Natural History
A day at the Arizona Museum of Natural History is a day well spent as far as we’re concerned. The AMNH is an outstanding educational facility and, perhaps even more importantly, is almost too much fun. As if going anywhere that has a dinosaur busting out its exterior wall could be anything but. Anyway, the collections cover archaeology, paleontology, geology, and a whole lot of other ologies. Also, they have some really sweet public art. It’s a great thing to do in Mesa, AZ for kids, but it’s also got a load to offer adults and…well, everyone, really.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $8-$12
Mesa Grande Cultural Park
This Mesa Cultural Park contains the remains of the Hohokam community from the Salt River Valley. It’s estimated that the area was inhabited by the Hohokam between around 1100 – 1400 AD. The site was pretty impressive for its time, with a range of water canals, axes and arrowheads found. The highlights of the park are the massive adobe platforms and wall which were, presumably, used as shelter or housing. In 2013, the city built a dedicated visitor center for the site to detail the historical significance of the area. A visiting is a fun thing to do in Mesa, AZ, but be aware that the site does occasionally close if the weather is too hot.
Tickets required, available from the visitor center, $2-$5
Orange Patch Too
Head over to Orange Patch to pick your own fresh citrus fruit under the Arizona sun. This beautiful 200 acres citrus grove was started by two Mesa natives back in 1967. After setting up a roadside stall to sell the fruits they were growing, they soon realized they needed more space. The fruit was of such high quality that demand became so high, they eventually opened a huge store. Since those days, the business has branched out into selling a range of specialty foods, gifts, and homeware, as well as their delicious citrus fruits. The gift boutique is particularly special, with a huge range of American-owned small businesses having their wares on display there. A trip to Orange Patch Too is a fun thing to do in Mesa, AZ to meet local people and sample local produce.
The IDEA Museum, which stands for Imagination, Design, Experience, Art, is an interactive museum aimed at younger children. It aims to educate them on the importance of art and imagination, and creativity. IDEA is located in the downtown area in a converted grocery store and has more than 20,000 square feet of space for exhibitions and events. When the museum opened in 1980, it was the only one children’s museum in the United States with a specialty in fine art. If you’re looking for things to do in Mesa, AZ with kids, this is a unique way to stimulate their brain cells.
Tickets required, available at the entrance, $9
This kiddie orientated attraction is split into two distinct parts. Golfland is open throughout the year, while Sunsplash operates only during the summer months. Golfland has three miniature courses, boats, go-karts and arcades, while Sunsplash has an impressive 29 rides. The park looks and feels a lot like Disney attractions, which can’t be a bad thing. Highlights include the Stormrider, Thunder Falls, and The Revolution. All could make you lose your lunch, so do make sure you don’t eat immediately before boarding. Both attractions are fun things to do in Mesa, AZ with kids.
Tickets required, available online or from the ticket office, $18.47-$33.99
Off-beat things to do in Mesa
We like to mix our unusual things to do in Mesa, AZ with eating pizza, so book a table at Organ Stop Pizza and enjoy a great, if not slightly off-beat, evening. The restaurant has a huge Wurlitzer Organ, originally built for the Denver theater, and in place since 1927. The organ attracts world-class musicians who perform in the restaurant on a regular basis.
FAQs About Mesa
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the city and things to do in Mesa, AZ. These will help your research, planning, and general education about all this Arizona city has to offer residents and visitors alike.
What is there to do in Mesa AZ for free?
If you’re looking for free things to do in Mesa, AZ then take a drive along the Apache Trail. The trail runs for 50 miles, of which 22 miles are unpaved roads. It started life as a stagecoach trail through the Superstition Mountains and was named for the Apaches who were the most frequent users of the route. The scenery along the route is spellbinding, but driving it is not for the fainthearted. As roughly half of the route is not paved, conditions can be kinda rough. Also, there are few safety barriers along this stretch, and some of the drops are quite literally deadly. It’s not recommended for campers of RVs. If you like a bit of danger and are an experienced driver, it’s a really beautiful route.
Things to do in Mesa az when it rains?
Head to the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum and learn, first hand from veterans and volunteers, about the impact of the aircraft and what they were used for. The museum has many craft to see and has one of the largest collections of commemorative aircraft in the world.
What is there to do in Mesa AZ at night?
Catch a baseball game at Hohokam Park in downtown Mesa and take in the atmosphere. The stadium is used by a variety of teams throughout the year, including Oakland Athletics Spring Training and various baseball tournaments and show games. It has a capacity of 10,500, and taking in a game is a great thing to do in Mesa, AZ on your vacation.
Mesa is a quintessentially southwestern city with unique charm and a great year-round climate. The city is known for its diverse culture and the rich history of its Native American people. Mesa benefits from being located in close proximity to the larger cities of Scottsdale and the capital, Phoenix. It has a wide range of attractions and historic sites, and there’s plenty of things to do in Mesa for all members of the family. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and Phoenix SkyHarbor Airports serve the city, and there’s a good range of budget and high-end accommodation to choose from.
We hope we’ve persuaded you of all the great things to do in Mesa, AZ on your vacation.