By Judy Hedding
Mesa's story is one of mysterious 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 "table top," 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!
- In 2005 Mesa built the largest arts complex in Arizona. It's the Mesa Arts Center, where you can enjoy local and national theater, concerts, art exhibits, art classes, and more. Check out these beautiful photographs of the Mesa Arts Center.
- Spend an evening out with friends, or celebrate a special occasion. Mesa has one of the few dinner theatres in the greater Phoenix area. At the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner followed by a professional Broadway-type show.
- Ride a horse in the Tonto National Forest at Saguaro Lake Trail Rides. Desert trails, Saguaro Lake and Goldfield Mountain views. It will seem like a million miles from Mesa (but it isn't).
- 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 a museum you can really "kid" around in! At 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. Three annual exhibits of museum-quality artwork educate and encourage creativity in its young visitors.
- 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.
- From dinosaurs to conquistadors, the Arizona 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 beyond Mesa, and it's a favorite Valley activity for all ages. Word of warning: there's more drinking and rowdiness on the weekends.
- 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 tour of Saguaro Lake is relaxing and pretty. You might even see a bald eagle, like I did.
- Yes, there are still farms in Mesa. At Superstition Farm you can get up close and personal with farm animals on this working dairy.
- Drop in and grind at Mesa's skate court at Reed Park located at 1601 E. Broadway. This is a skate at your own risk facility with a large bowl with different features, a donut bowl with a 12' long and 6' high spine, and a separate grinding area with raised boxes and a "baby bowl."
- During the month of March check out Cactus League Spring Training at Mesa's own Hohokam Stadium, spring training home to the Chicago Cubs. In the fall, the Mesa Solar Sox take over HoHoKam Park for Arizona Fall League Baseball.
- Enjoy a round or two at Mesa's two municipal golf courses. Dobson Ranch Golf Course offers 18 holes of golf on a maturely landscaped course. Riverview Golf Course offers golfers a challenging 9 hole course.
- Shop, play, eat, and admire the fish, bird and animals displays at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.
- Take a dip in one of Mesa's many public pool/aquatic complexes.
- On the First Friday of every month take a walk on the wild side at Motorcycyles on Main. Bikers, bikes, music and vendors. Families welcome, no admission charge.
- Eat, drink, play games and enjoy rides at an indoor amusement park, Amazing Jake's. There are family activities, too, like indoor miniature golf and bowling.
- The Mesa Amphitheatre is open-air facility is a showcase for dance, concert and dramatic performances.
- 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.
- The Mesa Arizona Temple Gardens Christmas Lights and Concert and the Arizona Easter Pageant are the two hugely popular public events at The Mesa Arizona Temple (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). There is a Visitors' Center that is open all year long.
- Visit the museum that celebrates Mesa's past at the Mesa Historical Museum. Learn about the Hohokam Indians, the explorers, the Mormon settlement and more.
- Take the flight of your life at Fighter Combat International at Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa. Aerobatic and combat flights, and no previous flying experience is necessary.
Enjoy yourself in Mesa!