Mesa's story is one of mysterious American Indians, Spanish expeditions, early American explorers, Mormon migrations, a diverse community, and continual growth. Founded in 1878 and incorporated in 1883, Mesa is the Spanish word for "tabletop," describing a flat-topped, raised area. The first settlers built homes on a mesa above the surrounding area.
Now the third largest city in Arizona, there's plenty to do in Mesa from theater experiences, local events, museum hopping, a boat tour, spectator sports, and sporting activities like horseback riding, golfing, laser tag, tubing, swimming, and aerobatic airplane flying.
In 2005, Mesa built the largest arts complex in Arizona, the Mesa Arts Center. There you can enjoy local and national theater, concerts, art exhibits, art classes, and more.
Beat the summer heat at Mesa Golfland SunSplash. It's a waterpark, but also has miniature golf, bumper boats, race cars, a large arcade, and more. The water attractions are only open in the summer, but the other activities are available year round.
It's fun all year long, and cool in the summer. Both boys and girls love a trip to Stratum Laser Tag, where you can safely shoot your friends with colored lights in a huge laser tag arena. No equipment or special knowledge necessary to play.
Ride a horse through desert trails, Saguaro Lake and Goldfield Mountain in the Tonto National Forest with Fort McDowell Adventures. The immersion in nature will seem like a million miles from Mesa (but it isn't).
From dinosaurs to conquistadors, the American Museum of Natural History (formerly known as Mesa Southwest Museum) explores the rich and colorful history of Mesa and the southwest U.S. region. Featuring permanent exhibits on natural and cultural history, as well as a varied series of changing exhibits, the museum is designed with an emphasis on hands-on learning.
Float your cares away from May through September tubing down the Salt River. It's just a 30-minute drive northeast from Mesa, and it's a favorite Valley activity for all ages. Word of warning: expect drinking and rowdiness on the weekends.
At the i.d.e.a. Museum (formerly known as the Arizona Museum for Youth), children enjoy a visual introduction to the world of fine arts and experiment with hands-on activities that encourage art appreciation. Annual exhibits of museum-quality artwork educate and encourage creativity in its young visitors.
A nod to Mesa's farming past, at Superstition Farm you can get up close and personal with barnyard animals on this working dairy farm and learn about rural life. You can take a hayride, pet the farm animals, feed the horses, and drink up to 12 flavors of fresh milk.
Drop in and grind at Mesa's skate court at Reed Park. This is a skate-at-your-own-risk facility with a large bowl with different features, a doughnut bowl with a 12-foot long and 6-foot high spine, and a separate grinding area with raised boxes and a "baby bowl."
Take a leisurely tour on a large, slow, comfortable boat and learn about the mountains, lakes, flora, and fauna of the area. The Desert Belle narrated boat tour of Saguaro Lake is relaxing and pretty. You might even see a bald eagle.
Enjoy a round or two at Mesa's municipal golf course. Dobson Ranch Golf Course is a par 72, 18-hole championship golf course on a maturely landscaped course. It offers a 6,712-yard challenging layout and a lighted driving range.
Shop, play, eat, and admire the fish, bird, and animals displays at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World is best known as a store offering hunting, fishing, camping, and marine products, but is also a museum, art gallery, conservation education center, and entertainment destination. It has a restaurant, aquarium, shooting range, and archery options.
During the month of March, check out Cactus League spring training at Mesa's own Cubs Park, the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs. In the fall, the Mesa Solar Sox take over HoHoKam Park for Arizona Fall League Baseball. During the summer, you can watch free baseball games of the Arizona Rookie League to see the baseball stars of tomorrow.
Take a dip in one of Mesa's many public pools and aquatic complexes. There are 22 public swimming pools in the East Valley of the Phoenix metro area.
Take the Family to a Block Party
On the second Friday of each month, you can bring the family to downtown Mesa for a themed block party with art vendors, food vendors, music, and other activities. The 2nd Friday Night Out is free to attend.
Hang Out with Bikers
Bikers love Arizona. Mesa returns the love. On the first Friday of every month take a walk on the wild side at Motorcycles on Main. Bikers and their friends and admirers gather in downtown Mesa to show off their bikes, share experiences, and introduce newcomers to the biker world. No cars can drive on Mesa's downtown streets that evening—that privilege is reserved for bikers. Families are welcome, and it is free.
Eat, drink, play games, and enjoy rides at an indoor amusement park, Amazing Jake's. You can also enjoy family activities like indoor miniature golf and bowling.
The Mesa Amphitheatre is an open-air facility in central Mesa that can accommodate up to 5,000 people. It is a showcase for dance, concert, and dramatic performances. It has a tiered lawn large enough to attract popular events, yet intimate enough for everyone to have a good view of the stage.
The Symphony of the Southwest is the East Valley's classical music source for live, professional-level, symphonic and chamber concerts. Regular season classical and pops concerts are performed at the Mesa Arts Center.
Take the flight of your life at Fighter Combat International at Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa. Experience aerobatic and combat flights like rolls, spins, and the pull of the G-forces. No previous flying experience is necessary.
Visit a museum that celebrates Mesa's past at the Mesa Historical Museum. Learn about the Hohokam Indians, the explorers, the Mormon settlement, and more.