Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Mesa, AZ

  • Published 2023/03/06

Mesa is a small but charming city east of Phoenix, Arizona.

As the third biggest city in Arizona, just behind Phoenix and Tucson, Mesa is a magnificent travel destination known only to few.

This city is full of unique museums, natural areas, parks, and an eclectic collection of local shops and restaurants.

Stop by its charming art galleries or perhaps watch a live performance at one of its local theatres.

You’ll also enjoy hiking through unspoiled terrain in the Sonoran Desert or watching an MLB game at its vast stadium.

Mesa offers dozens of exciting activities for you and your travel crew.

Here are the best things to do in Mesa, AZ:

Explore the Vast Usery Mountain Regional Park

Scenic view of Usery Mountain Regional Park

Harry Beugelink /

Usery Mountain Regional Park is the city’s most famous outdoor recreation venue.

Established in 1967, the Usery Mountain Regional Park spans 3,648 acres of unspoiled terrain, perfect for various outdoor activities.

People from Mesa, Phoenix, and Tucson visit Usery Mountain Regional Park during the weekends for picnicking, camping, hiking, and off-road mountain biking.

Pretty flowers along a Usery Mountain Regional Park trail

Mark Skalny /

If you want to start your Mesa travel adventure with something outdoors, head to Usery Mountain Regional Park.

This outdoor destination features more than 30 accessible hiking trails you and your travel buddies will enjoy.

In addition, it has a safe and cozy camping site to spend the night on.

Trail signs at Usery Mountain Regional Park

Mark Skalny /

See Vintage Warplanes at the Commemorative Air Force Museum

"Walk of Honor" at Commemorative Air Force Museum

Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whether you’re an aviation enthusiast or an average tourist, you should visit the Commemorative Air Force Museum.

This vast museum is dedicated to curating warplanes and equipment dating from World War II.

It features dozens of foreign and American warplanes and World War II artifacts.

Aircraft displayed in Commemorative Air Force Museum

Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marvel at the well-preserved World War II warplanes displayed in its exhibits.

At the same time, learn various fascinating information about these warplanes and their history.

Your kids will surely enjoy seeing the vast planes they only see on the television.

Aircraft in Commemorative Air Force Museum

Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out Local Artworks at Mesa Arts Center

West entrance of Mesa Arts Center

Cygnusloop99, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This vast arts center in downtown Mesa is another must-visit tourist attraction.

The Mesa Arts Center is a massive 210,000-square foot facility featuring the region’s best works in visual and performing arts.

In addition, the Mesa Arts Center is one of the biggest arts facilities in Arizona, making it a famous tourist attraction.

Don’t miss the chance to stroll its vast halls; marvel at the excellent artworks from various artists in its five galleries.

Exterior view of Mesa Arts Center

AdamBagindo /

If you’re looking for performance arts in Mesa Arts Center, catch a live performance at its 99-seater Farnsworth Studio Theatre.

Otherwise, watch shows at the larger 1,600-seater Ikeda Theatre.

You’ll enjoy watching Broadway shows, musical concerts, and drama at these theatres in Mesa Arts Center.

Walkway at Mesa Arts Center

Germany Feng /

Take a Breather at the Rose Garden

If you’re looking for the most tranquil place in Mesa, head to the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College.

This famous garden is home to more than 9,000 roses from 300 varieties, one of the most picturesque spots in Mesa.

Locals and tourists love to visit these precious roses.

Still, they’re also there to help you relax and unwind.

It’s also the largest rose garden in the Southwest.

Besides the rose garden, this place also has a botanical laboratory and a study area.

Mesa Community College collaborated with the East Valley Mesa Rose Society to open this gorgeous garden in 1997.

The best time to visit the Rose Garden is during spring and fall.

When the roses fully bloom, it creates a picture-perfect backdrop for your Instagrammable photos.

Watch an MLB Game at the Hohokam Stadium

Exterior of Hohokam Stadium

Thomas Trompeter /

Thousands of baseball fans converge at the Hohokam Stadium, formerly known as Hohokam Park, to watch Major League Baseball.

Hohokam Stadium is a fantastic place to watch baseball.

You’ll see 10,500 plus people packed into a single venue while vibing with the exciting atmosphere.

The field and seats of Hohokam Stadium

Thomas Trompeter /

Hearing the crowd roar will get your blood pumping.

The stadium fills with baseball fans when the Mesa Solar Sox plays during the Arizona Fall League.

So, buy your tickets early and choose the best seats in the stadium if you want to enjoy America’s pastime.

A baseball game in Hohokam Stadium

Keeton Gale /

Browse the Mesa Historical Museum

Exterior of Mesa Historical Museum

MesaHistoricalMuseum, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Head to the Mesa Historical Museum to learn about Mesa’s fascinating backstory.

The Mesa Historical Society manages this museum, which opened in 1987.

You can find it in a century-old building constructed in 1913.

The Society turned the school building into the present-day museum.

In addition, the former school also had an auditorium constructed in 1930.

Both the school building and the auditorium now belong to the National Register of Historic Places.

This local museum in Mesa is a fascinating place to discover Arizona’s rich history.

One of the museum’s most fascinating displays is the replica of a historical adobe school.

You can also see an extensive collection of early-period farming tools.

Drop by the Temple Visitors’ Center (Mesa Arizona Temple)

Exterior view of Mesa Arizona Temple

midiman from Tempe, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints boasts a magnificent temple in Mesa.

For many locals, it’s not just another temple but rather one of the city’s tourist attractions.

People flock to the Temple Visitors’ Center for photos in front of the excellently constructed temple exterior.

However, you need to see the temple’s interior.

Mesa Arizona Temple decored with lights

Robertbody at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also called the “Lamanite Temple,” this religious place for Mormons boasts an interior covered with stunning murals.

It’s a must-visit place in Mesa, especially for art lovers and enthusiasts.

You can also find numerous exhibits inside the temple showcasing the religious beliefs of the Mormons.

You shouldn’t miss this great temple, whether you’re a devout Mormon or a curious visitor.

Take a Relaxing Drive along the Apache Trail

The road of Apache Trail

Beach Creatives /

Check out the views outside your car while driving down this thoroughfare in Mesa.

The Apache Trail was once an old stagecoach route that led travelers to Phoenix and the Superstition Mountains.

They eventually converted it into a thoroughfare that boasts the most scenic views of the Sonora Desert to drivers along the route.

Lake and desert views along Apache Trail

Autumn Sky Photography /

The tour takes you on a 64-kilometer route to the Sonora desert’s most scenic and rugged terrains.

You can stop by numerous natural attractions such as lakes and mountains.

At the same time, check out the numerous historical landmarks during your trip.

Roosevelt lake bridge at the end of Apache Trail

Autumn Sky Photography /

Harvest Fresh Fruits at Orange Patch

If you’re looking for a unique activity in Mesa, head to the Orange Patch.

You’ll be amazed at the dozens of fruit varieties you can harvest at its vast orchard.

Orange Patch features more than just oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, and other fruits you can pick yourself.

In addition, it has a farm store where you can shop not just for fresh produce but also for exciting souvenirs and food items.

This place offers a wholesome experience for you and your buddies in Mesa.

Don’t forget to buy the farm store’s famous preserves and jams.

Eat Pizza with a Song at the Organ Stop Pizza

If you’re searching for a unique dining experience, then head to the Organ Stop Pizza.

This Italian restaurant in Mesa not just serves mouthwatering pizza and pasta but also features a fully-working Wurlitzer organ.

During the silent film era, this organ provided the background music for movies screened in theaters.

You’ll find one such organ at the Organ Stop Pizza, where a musician regularly plays classical music for diners.

Explore the I.D.E.A Museum

Exterior of the I.D.E.A Museum

Kirs10 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This museum in Mesa features a unique and educational experience for the whole family.

I.D.E.A Museum, formerly known as the Arizona Museum for Youth, provides visitors with an exciting learning experience.

It features various interactive exhibits in the arts and a bit of science and history.

Bring your kids to this unique museum in Mesa and give them a fabulous time, especially if they engage in various activities.

Join the Exciting Tours of Desert Belle

If you’re searching for an unforgettable tour in Mesa, then head to Desert Belle.

Opened in 1964, this river steamboat on Saguaro Lake is one of Mesa’s most famous tourist attractions.

It offers visitors one of the best lake tours with four different themed tours to choose from.

The lake tour takes you through numerous picturesque sights that you should see before returning home.

You will see stunning views of canyons, deserts, local wildlife, and the majestic Saguaro Lake.

Hopping on this famous steamboat is a fitting finale to your Mesa travel adventure.

See a Show at the Mesa Amphitheatre

Performance at Mesa Amphitheatre

Clintus McGintus, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to watch a concert while touring Mesa, then head to the Mesa Amphitheatre.

It’s the best place in Mesa to catch a concert or live performance as it can accommodate up to 5,000 spectators.

It features top-notch amenities while you enjoy watching shows.

For years, the Mesa Amphitheatre featured both famous stars and local artists.

It has a tiered lawn to see the show from an excellent vantage point, even if you’re too far from the stage.

Visit the Arizona Museum of Natural History

Interior view of Arizona Museum of Natural History

Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Copper State is teeming with natural history, and the Arizona Museum of Natural History offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the region’s past.

The Arizona Museum of Natural History is a must-visit attraction for history buffs and nature lovers alike when visiting Mesa.

The museum features a variety of exhibits that showcase the region’s rich natural and cultural heritage.

Exhibit at Arizona Museum of Natural History

Elf, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visitors can also explore the museum’s Dinosaur Hall, which features a variety of real-life fossils and life-sized dinosaur skeletons that date back to the Mesozoic era.

The museum also has exhibits highlighting the rich history of the Hohokam people, Natives who resided in the Mesa area over 1,000 years ago.

With interactive displays, hands-on activities, and multimedia presentations, the Arizona Museum of Natural History offers visitors of all ages a unique and fun experience.

Kids engaged in Gold panning at Arizona Museum of Natural History

Marine 69-71 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Splash and Have Fun at Golfland Sunsplash

Castle at Golfland Sunsplash

Golfland Entertainment Centers, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Like other places in Arizona, Mesa can get pretty warm, especially during the summer months.

If you’re looking for a place to cool down and have fun, Golfland Sunsplash is a popular family-friendly entertainment center that you can visit.

The water park features a variety of water slides, pools, and attractions, making it a great place to cool off on a hot Arizona day.

Besides its water attractions, Golfland Sunsplash also features many activities, including a mini golf course, go-karts, bumper boats, laser tag, and a water park.

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting way to cool down under the heat of the Arizona sun, a day spent at Golfland Sunsplash is undoubtedly to hit the right spot.

Watch a Baseball Game at Sloan Park

Entrance to Sloan Park

Thomas Trompeter /

If you love to watch a baseball game, Sloan Park is one of the best places to do that!

Sloan Park is a beautiful state-of-the-art baseball stadium that serves as the spring training grounds for Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs.

The stadium features high-tech facilities, including a grass berm, luxury suites, and a party deck.

Seating area at Sloan Park

Thomas Trompeter /

Visitors can watch a local baseball game or catch a Cubs spring training game when they’re in town during the summer.

You can also tour the behind-the-scenes stadium and discover its architectural and engineering marvels.

With a friendly staff, great concession food, and a fantastic baseball atmosphere, Sloan Park is a must-visit destination to enjoy America’s favorite pastime.

Field at Sloan Park

Around the World Photos /

Explore Mesa Grande Cultural Park

Arizona is a literal gold mine for archaeological opportunities, and the Mesa Grande Cultural Park is at the forefront of that exploration.

The Mesa Grande Cultural Park is a fascinating archaeological site that features the ruins of an ancient Hohokam village between 1100 and 1400 AD.

Ruins at Mesa Grande Cultural Park

Marine 69-71 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visitors can go on a guided tour through the ruins and learn essential things about the Hohokam people—topics include the daily life, customs, cultures, and beliefs of these Natives.

The park also features a museum with exhibits centered on the history of the Hohokam culture.

With its unique blend of history and natural beauty, Mesa Grande Cultural Park offers an unforgettable experience you wouldn’t want to miss.

Go on a Shopping Spree at Superstition Springs Centre

Fulfill all your shopping needs at Superstition Springs Centre.

This premier shopping destination features over 60 stores, including various national and local retailers.

Visitors can shop for fashion and beauty products, home goods, electronics, and more.

The center has various dining options, including casual restaurants, cafes, upscale bistros, and other fine dining opportunities.

With its wide selection of stores, Superstition Springs Centre is a go-to spot for all your shopping needs.

Other Things to Do Nearby

See the Majestic Animals of Phoenix Zoo

Entrance to the Phoenix Zoo

Gregory E. Clifford /

Grab the chance to visit nearby Phoenix, Arizona, and its famous attractions, such as the Phoenix Zoo.

It’s just 18 minutes away from Mesa.

A leopard at Phoenix Zoo

Abdellmoez esleem /

After exploring Mesa, head to Phoenix, starting with the Phoenix Zoo.

You’ll come across more than 1,400 animals from the African safari, North American wilderness, Amazon, and Asia.

A spider monkey at Phoenix Zoo

Casey K. Bishop /

Established in 1962, this vast zoo is home to tigers, lions, giraffes, elephants, and other animals you’ll only see on television.

Bring your kids to the Phoenix Zoo to see the animals and join various activities.

A macaw under a straw umbrella at Phoenix Zoo

Jon Kraft /

Hop on the Dolly Steamboat

One of Mesa’s most famous tourist attractions, the Dolly Steamboat, takes you on a 90-minute cruise through the Salt River.

The Dolly Steamboat has been treating visitors in Mesa with memorable river cruises since 1987.

Dolly Steamboat features two trips for everyone; the Twilight Dinner Cruise and the Nature Cruise, which takes you back to when riverboats became vital transportation vessels along the river.

The steamboat’s name came from its owners, Dolly and Paul Kennedy, who started a tour company in 1983.

Four years later, they leveled up their tour company to a river cruise that remains famous throughout Arizona up to this day.

Final Thoughts

Despite its rapid urbanization, Mesa remains a charming small city near Phoenix.

After your visit, you’ll know why thousands of tourists travel there every year.

Mesa is full of hidden gems waiting for you to explore.

Start planning your Mesa trip today!

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