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16 Fun & Best Things to Do in Mesa, Arizona

Mesa is the third largest city in Arizona by population and offers fun for the whole family. From baseball games to massive splash pads, interesting museums, hiking and biking, there’s something for everyone in Mesa.

The city is an outdoor playground where you’ll find fun around every corner and never run out of things to see and do. The top things to do in Mesa are all ideal for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.

Whether you’re in town for one night or are planning an entire vacation in Mesa, Arizona, you’ll be more than content spending your vacation immersed in cultural and outdoor attractions with the magnificent backdrop of the Sonoran Desert.

If you’re planning to visit Mesa, Arizona, this guide will help you build the perfect itinerary with fun and entertainment for the whole family. There are plenty of memories to be made in this lively town with a buzzing nightlife and unique history. Enjoy your stay! 

Hyatt Place Phoenix Mesa
1. Hyatt Place Phoenix/ Mesa Top Recommendation

Hyatt Place Phoenix/Mesa is a popular choice for both business and leisure travelers visiting Mesa. All rooms feature free WiFi, a fully stocked mini-fridge, a separate living area with sofa bed and large flat screen TV, a microwave and an electric kettle.

The Azure Hotel Building
2. The Azure Hotel

The Azure Hotel is a great place to stay with friendly staff and free parking. You can be sure that the room will be clean, well-maintained and fully serviced. The rooms are spacious and well equipped - you'll have everything you need at your fingertips!

Doubletree by Hilton Phoenix Mesa
3. Doubletree by Hilton Phoenix Mesa

Experience a quiet, convenient hotel in Mesa and explore nearby Phoenix attractions. DoubleTree by Hilton Phoenix Mesa features contemporary guestrooms with complimentary wired and wireless Internet access. Guests can enjoy room service beside the outdoor pool or relax on the sundeck during their stay.

T;LDR

  • Most significant landmark – Usery Mountain Regional Park
  • Best park – Riverview Park
  • Best free activity – Saguaro Lake
  • Best activity for kids – i.d.e.a. Museum
  • Best activity for adults – Salt River
  • Best food – Organ Stop Pizza
  • Best nightlife – 12 West Brewing Co.
  • Best all-around accommodation – Courtyard by Marriott Mesa

Best & Fun Things to Do in Mesa, Arizona

1. Usery Mountain Regional Park

Usery Mountain Regional Park

Address: 3939 N Usery Pass Rd, Mesa, AZ 85207

Mesa is home to Usery Mountain Regional Park, a large public park with multi-use trails for outdoor activities. Usery Mountain Regional Park offers camping, biking, archery, horseback riding, and much more.

Usery Mountain Regional Park is located at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains and is adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. If you’re interested in mountain biking, there are over 29 miles of trails to explore. You’ll cross the plains and enjoy views of the mountains and surrounding areas.

Visitors can hike up to the Wind Cave Trail, a 3-mile trek, or attempt the more challenging Pass Mountain Trail, a 7.1-mile hike that will showcase some of the most gorgeous views in the area.

Guests can camp at one of the 73 individual sites with RV space, water, electrical hookups, picnic tables, a barbecue, restrooms, and hot showers. You’ll find shaded outdoor fitness equipment near the Merkle Trailhead for full-body workouts.

See Related: Best Things to do in Arizona & Places to Visit

2. Riverview Park

Riverview Park Mesa Arizona

Address: 2100 W Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa, AZ 85201

As one of the most popular public parks in Mesa, Riverview Park is home to many outdoor activities. One is Sloan Park, the new Spring Training home of the Chicago Cubs and one of the busier spring training facilities.

Love to fish? Riverview Park has a community fishing pond where locals and guests alike come to try their hand at catching rainbow trout, catfish, bluegill, bass, tilapia, and more.

If you’re in Mesa with family, Riverview Park has a great splash pad and playground area for the kids. They will have a blast on the climbing towers, play structures, mesh climbing ropes, and shaded picnic areas for enjoying a relaxing lunch.

If it’s warm enough, you can all splash in the large splash pad to cool down. You’ll also find swings, a giant zipline, and open space to run around.

Traveling with young children can be stressful, and Riverview Park makes it easy for kids to work off some energy. Catch a baseball game at Sloan Park if the Cubs are playing, cast a line to see if the fish are biting, and enjoy the sunshine with your family.

Looking for a spot to rest your head nearby? The Courtyard by Marriott Mesa has fantastic reviews and is located right in the complex.

3. Phoenix Zoo

Phoenix Zoo
Gregory E. Clifford / Shutterstock.com

Address: 455 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008

The Phoenix Zoo is a 20-minute drive from Mesa and is worth spending a full day. The Phoenix Zoo is the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the United States and has an impressive number of animals, reptiles, shows, and things to do.

With over 3,000 animals, you’ll find something interesting for the whole family. From elephants to cheetahs, turtles, otters, and tarantulas, there are many exciting attractions and opportunities to learn at the zoo.

There are four trails at the zoo to see animals and critters in their natural habitats. The Africa Trail will introduce you to zebras, lions, baboons, giraffes, and more. The Arizona Trail is home to coyotes, javelinas, mountain lions, bobcats, and other creatures.

The Children’s Trail offers an up-close look at emus, an ocelot, a caracal, siamang gibbons, and golden lion tamarins. At the end of the Children’s Trail is Harmony Farm, with a petting zoo and farming demonstrations.

Want a behind-the-scenes look at the Phoenix Zoo? Visitors can schedule 90-minute tours that offer up-close looks at the animals at the zoo.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Phoenix, Arizona

4. Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden Mesa Arizona
Oleg Kovtun Hydrobio / Shutterstock.com

Address: 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Another popular spot near Mesa is the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. It’s a 140-acre garden in Papago Park with thousands of unique plants and stunning desert landscapes, showcasing the Sonoran Desert and Phoenix Mountains.

There are five trails at the Desert Botanical Garden to be explored; the trails have thematic details such as conservation, desert living, plants and people of the Sonoran Desert, and desert wildflowers.

Popular trails include the Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail, which has breathtaking views of Phoenix and the Desert Botanical Gardens. You’ll see unique desert flora, saguaro cacti, and many other plants and flowers.

Make a stop at the butterfly pavilion during your visit to the Desert Botanical Garden. Witness thousands of butterflies in their natural habitat and discover how they care for and protect the desert environment.

The Desert Wildflower Loop Trail showcases the beauty of desert wildflowers, blooming cacti, and three species of hummingbirds.

The gardens are home to many public events, live music, cultural celebrations, and family events. It’s a must-see location in Arizona and an easy 20-minute drive from Mesa.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Jerome, Arizona

5. Mesa Historical Museum

Mesa Historical Museum
Image by MesaHistoricalMuseumCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 2345 N Horne, Mesa, AZ 85203

Curious about the history of Mesa, Arizona? Plan a visit to the Mesa Historical Museum for a fascinating history lesson. The quaint Mesa Historical Museum aims to preserve Mesa’s past and discover the city’s future through public outreach, community events, and exploring regional heritage. If you love exploring some of the country’s best museums, you’ll love spending a day here in Mesa.

Current exhibits include a collection of theater, music, and television objects and photographs that highlight the entertainment industry for over a century. There’s also an exhibit on early Mesa settlers with extraordinary details about the city’s founding families.

You’ll explore a stunning art display by Karen Kuykendall, including paintings, jewelry, and papier-mâché. Experience her creativity throughout the years and witness her creation of a fantasy world filled with Cat People that inspired her paintings and sculptures.

Visitors can walk through the Adobe Schoolhouse replica from the 1880s. The Mesa Historical Museum hosts several local events throughout the year, from silent auctions to fundraisers, arts and craft fairs, and book fairs.

Mesa Historical Museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesday through Saturday. General admission is $7, and children under 5 get in for free.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona

6. Kayak the Salt River

Kayak the salt river
GoodFocused / Shutterstock.com

Address: 9200 N Bush Hwy, Mesa, AZ 85215

Located in the Tonto National Forest, the Salt River flows near Mesa, Arizona, and is around 200 miles long. In April and May, guests and locals flock to the water to rent inner tubes to float down the Salt River.

It’s a rowdy sight to see, with hundreds of beer coolers as the 21-and-older guests make their way down the cool river, having the time of their lives. If you want to experience the Salt River and its stunning views from a more outdoorsy perspective, we recommend visiting by way of a kayak tour.

You’ll paddle past lush riverbanks and enjoy the view of the iconic red cliffs of the Sonoran Desert. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of wild horses, bald eagles, and some stunning desert landscapes. If it’s hot enough (which it probably will be), you can take a dip in the cool water and enjoy swimming with your group.

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

7. Explore the Arizona Museum of Natural History

Arizona Museum of Natural History
Image by Marine 69-71 at en.wikipediaCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 53 N Macdonald, Mesa, AZ 85201

For history buffs, a visit to the Arizona Museum of Natural History should be included in your Mesa, Arizona trip. Explore the museum and its fascinating exhibits that focus on archaeology and paleontology. You’ll explore the southwest cultures of the native people, including Paleo-Indians, Desert Cultures, and the Hohokam.

The Arizona Museum of Natural History features the Dinosaur Hall, with life-sized examples of the creatures that roamed the Earth for 150 million years. The Arizona Museum of Natural History also houses exciting artifacts about the history of Arizona, including the Spanish conquistadors and priests who first came to what is today Arizona with Coronado in 1541.

Tour the Arizona movies exhibit, where you’ll learn about Arizona’s role in the film industry. You can even catch a glimpse of the O.S. Stapley Company Stagecoach that carried passengers along the Apache Trail in the early 1900s.

The Arizona Museum of Natural History is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm. Tickets are $13, and children under 2 get in for free.  For a safe and clean hotel nearby, The Azure Hotel is right down the road from the museum.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Prescott, Arizona

8. Catch a Game at Hohokam Stadium

Hokokam Stadium
Thomas Trompeter / Shutterstock.com

Address: 1235 N Center St, Mesa, AZ 85201

If you’re in town during March or April, catch a spring training game at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona. Hohokam Stadium seats nearly 10,500 guests and is a great place to enjoy some baseball in Arizona.

Home to the spring training program of the Oakland Athletics, there’s fun for the whole family at Hohokam Stadium. If you’re seated on the third base side, you’ll be able to catch a stunning view of the Superstition Mountains.

There are plenty of activities for the kids, including tee-ball home run derby, baseball skeeball, and more in the Stomper Kid Zone. Families can grab seats in the stands or spread out in the grassy area for extra space and comfort.

As for ballpark food, try the Oakland Dog with green chili mac and cheese and bacon bits, or the California hot dog with guacamole, tomatoes, and cheese. Choose from various beers, sodas, and classic ballpark snacks like cotton candy and popcorn.

Hohokam Stadium offers a fun and relaxing atmosphere and great baseball. The sunny weather is usually perfect, and you can spend the day outside for wholesome family fun. Play ball!

9. i.d.e.a. Museum

Entrance of i.d.e.a. Museum
Image by Kir s10 used under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 150 W Pepper Pl, Mesa, AZ 85201

Filled with interactive activities, art, and hands-on experiences for kids of all ages, the i.d.e.a. Museum is a great place to spend the day. Kids will find fun around every corner, with exhibits like the ArtVille Café, where they can order and prepare meals as they imagine operating a café.

In the farm area, there’s a play space with a large barn and pretend farm animals for imaginary play. There’s also a library on site where you can read and explore alongside your little ones.

The museum has an RV space where kids can take a road trip, play with mirrors, perform an imaginative story in the performing arts space, and build with gears, blocks, and tangrams in the Design area.

If you have a tiny tot, there’s a designated space for babies to crawl and explore safely in a matted area. For older kids, the Hub area is worth exploring. It offers many interactive areas, including spaces to create urban art, create structures from recycled materials, write and draw stories at an animation station, and enjoy costume play in a blacklight room.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Pine, Arizona

10. Visit the Mesa Arizona Temple

Mesa Arizona temple

Address: 101 S Lesueur, Mesa, AZ 85204

Explore the temple grounds at the Mesa Arizona Temple and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and appreciate its beauty and exquisite architecture. The Mesa Temple recently reopened after three years of renovations and is a sight to see.

As the 7th dedicated temple in operation, the Mesa Arizona Temple welcomes visitors from all walks of life to explore its stunning grounds and structures.

The Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors Center offers a self-guided tour that centers on the church’s origin in Mesa, including indigenous people’s role in assisting the early settlers with establishing the church. There’s a community garden coloring wall to add your own touch of creativity and inspiration.

Explore the intricate, detailed 3D model of the Mesa Temple on display in the Visitors Center. Also on-site are reflection pods, a play area for children, computer stations, teaching rooms, and more.

The Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors Center is located at 55 East Main Street in Mesa. It is open Monday through Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm. All are welcome! 

11. Rose Garden at Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College
CactusPilot / Shutterstock.com

Address: 1833 W Southern Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85202

We know what you might be thinking – roses in the desert? But feast your eyes, it is true! Home to nearly 9,000 rose bushes in Mesa, the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College is a community landmark and a centerpiece of the city.

It’s the largest public rose garden in Arizona, with over 300 varieties of roses to explore and admire. If you’re curious about the best times of year to visit, the Sonoran Desert roses are best seen from April through June and again from October through December.

When you visit, you can take a self-guided tour of the gardens by following signs throughout each exhibit and listening to prerecorded messages about the various species in each display. You can also schedule a guided tour, where a volunteer will take you around the garden and provide helpful and interesting information.

The Rose Garden at Mesa Community College is free to the public and open every day of the year.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

12. Commemorative Air Force Museum

Commemorative Air Force Museum
Joseph Creamer / Shutterstock.com

Address: 2017 N Greenfield Rd, Mesa, AZ 85215

Explore the world of aviation at the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa. The only one of its kind in the Phoenix area, you’ll learn all about the history of aviation and how it evolved to serve as a valuable entity from World War I and World War II.

Featuring unique exhibits and aircraft displays, you’ll be fascinated by the history at the Commemorative Air Force Museum. Wander through a huge airplane hangar, climb aboard bombers and cargo planes, or book a flight on one of the museum’s warbirds. You’ll browse artifacts and photographs and read stories about the brave pilots that fought for a better world.

If you’d prefer a guided tour, check the availability when you arrive at the museum. Volunteer docents offer guided cockpit tours and group tours for large parties.

The Commemorative Air Force Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. General admission tickets are $15, and children under 5 get in for free.

See Related: Things to Do in Page, Arizona

13. Saguaro Lake Marina

Saguaro Lake Marina
Badger13 / Shutterstock.com

Address: 14011 N Bush Highway, Mesa, AZ 85215

Ready for a day of fun in the sun? Plan a day at Saguaro Lake Marina, where the entire family can enjoy 22 miles of shoreline for swimming, kayaking, sailing, fishing, and boating right on the Salt River. It’s about a 30-minute drive from downtown Mesa and is definitely worth visiting!

Visitors can rent a runabout, fishing, or pontoon boat to spend the day on the water. If you’d rather do a tour, you can book a Desert Belle boat tour, which does a full lake tour and drops guests off at the nearby ShipRock Restaurant.

At Saguaro Lake, there are casual hiking trails with opportunities for bird watching and seeing other wildlife. If you plan to spend the day, there are many picnic areas around the marina, so you can enjoy some shade and a meal.

For a wonderful day outside, Saguaro Lake Marina offers all the best boating activities and fun things to do in the water. Be sure to carve out a few hours to visit the lake and experience the warm desert climate for yourself!

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14. 12 West Brewing Co.

12 West Brewing Co.
Image by TripAdvisor

Address: 12 West Main Mesa, AZ 85201

Once you’ve tucked the kids in for the night, it’s time to head out for some grown-up fun! Head to downtown Mesa for a night full of beer, tasty small plates, and socializing at 12 West Brewing Co.

The brewery features a large tap room with various beers and delicious food. Popular beers include the Kettle Sour with berry and peach, the Phantasaurus IPA, and the Radial Spines American Lager. If you’re coming for dinner, choose from an assortment of sandwiches, burgers, tasty salads, mac and cheese, wings, and more.

Whether you’re grabbing a meal or spending the evening at 12 West, you’ll find plenty to see and do. The location has a 2-level patio, full kitchen, 12 beer taps, and full spirits and wine. Stop in for live music and entertainment Thursday through Sunday evenings and Geek Trivia on Tuesdays.

For a great location in downtown Mesa with tasty beer and food, look no further than 12 West Brewing. This location is open til 12 am on Friday and Saturday nights and til 10 pm every other night. They are closed on Mondays.

15. Mesa Arts Center

Mesa Art center

Address: Mesa Arts Center, 1 E Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201

Mesa Arts Center is an iconic visual and performing arts center in downtown Mesa, Arizona. The art campus is an architecturally magnificent facility in Mesa that can not be missed when in the area. 

The arts facility puts on a wide assortment of shows, concerts, comedy nights, and other performing and visual performances throughout the year. At Mesa Arts Center, you’ll find Broadway plays, musicals, jazz and dance performances, and musical concerts of all genres.

The Arts Center also offers art studio classes open to the public; guests can learn the ins and outs of ceramics, drawing, painting, glass blowing, jewelry making, photography, sculpting, theater, and movement.

There are also a variety of youth classes your kids can take at Mesa Arts Center; from ceramics to dance, theater, media, and drawing, there are great options for your kids to learn something new and develop their artistic skills while in Mesa, Arizona.

Mesa Arts Center is also home to an art museum featuring five galleries of curated exhibitions of contemporary art by emerging and internationally recognized artists. Art workshops are available through the museum, along with art lectures and free docent tours. 

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16. Organ Stop Pizza

Organ Stop Pizza
Image by TripAdvisor

Address: 1149 E Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ 85204

In the mood for pizza with a side of organ music? Look no further than Organ Stop Pizza, a tasty pizza parlor with a unique musical offering since 1972. As one of the last “Pizza and Pipes” restaurants in the US, this is a must-see spot in Mesa for guests and locals.

Featuring the largest Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ in the world, Organ Stop Pizza welcomes guests from all over the country each year to hear its unique sounds. The organ has over 6,000 pipes and ranks that sound like an orchestra.

When it comes to pizza, things are just as interesting! Guests can build their own 8-inch, 12-inch, or 14-inch pies or choose from specialty pies with a classic, crispy crust. Organ Stop Pizza also offers pasta, sandwiches, a salad bar, and mouthwatering desserts.

As you enjoy your pizza, one of the talented staff organists will play some stellar sounds, explain the history of the Wurlitzer organ, and provide a fascinating experience for all ages.

On your way out, make a stop in the gift shop for a CD or a documentary DVD of the Wurlitzer pipe organ to commemorate your visit.

FAQ

What are the best things to do in Mesa, Arizona with kids?

Your kids will love all the things to do in Mesa, Arizona. The i.d.e.a. Museum provides entertainment for hours at an affordable ticket price. Explore one of Mesa’s many public parks, like Riverview Park, for a splash pad and playground adventure. Catch a spring training game at Hohokam Stadium or meet with incredible animals at the Phoenix Zoo.

What are some fun things to do in Mesa, Arizona?

For fun things to do in Mesa, head out into the great outdoors! Embark on an intense hike around Usery Mountain Regional Park or have a picnic at Riverview Park. Rent a boat for the day and play on the water at Saguaro Lake Marina.

What are some things to do in Mesa, Arizona, when it’s raining?

Don’t let the rain bring you down! Mesa is home to several unique museums, including the Museum of Natural History and the Commemorative Air Force Museum. You can always catch a theatrical performance at the Mesa Arts Center or grab a slice of pizza and enjoy organ music at Organ Stop Pizza while you wait out the rain.

What are the best tourist attractions in Mesa, Arizona?

Feeling outdoorsy? Hike to the Wind Cave Trail at Usery Mountain Regional Park. Take a kayak tour of the Salt River and enjoy stunning views of the Sonoran desert. Phoenix Zoo has many unique desert animals and wildlife. The Desert Botanical Garden offers beautiful views through its many hiking trails. 

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