Outdoor adventure (and more!) awaits your visit to Mesa, Arizona. Get crafty or learn about the area’s history at the many kid-friendly museums in the area. Pick a cool morning and explore all the gorgeous desert terrain on a hike. We’ve got your Mesa vacation planned so read on and get packing!
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Step back in time the minute you walk in the doors of the Arizona Museum of Natural History. Here you can learn all about the prehistoric mammoths and other creatures who roamed Arizona. Head to the dinosaur mountain to hear the roar of dinosaurs and see a flash flood cascade down the rocks. Serve time in a territorial jail before you head outside to try your luck at gold mining.
Arizona Museum of Natural History
53 N. Macdonald
The i.d.e.a. Museum is the perfect place to explore imagination through art, science and technology. The museum features Artville for tots up to age four where they can explore art in a safe environment. Across the hall is HUB, a gallery with 11 different interactive stations to create. In the Design Your World station, you can build your ideal home using tons of different mediums. The Tech Table allows you to explore through the digital screen. All projects that you create at the museum can be taken home with you!
150 W Pepper Place
Part arcade, part bowling alley, part amusement park and totally fun, Jake’s Unlimited is the place to be when the temps go up and the kids need to burn off some energy. Your entrance fee gets you unlimited food until 8 p.m., which includes pizza, salad, baked potatoes and soft-serve ice cream. Choose from different packages to get access to the rides, arcade games, laser tag, bowling and mini bowling. Pro tip: head to Jake’s on Tuesdays when you can take advantage of their Family Tuesday special that gets you unlimited buffet, rides, non-redemption arcade games and laser tag, as well as one game of bowling and one game of mini bowling.
1830 East Baseline Road
Just a short drive gets you deep into desert country at Usery Mountain Regional Park Nature Center. The park offers miles of hiking trails and helpful park employees who are more than willing to share information about the area’s flora and fauna with you. Learn about native snakes and scorpions at educational programs for families. Make sure you stop at the Nature Center and ask them to point out the desert tortoise habitat. If you are lucky, you just might be able to spot Al as he makes his way around the property.
Usery Mountain Regional Park Nature Center
3939 N Usery Pass Road
Little airplane lovers must visit the Commemorative Air Force Museum before heading out of town. Head into the hangar to learn how aircraft evolved as a heroic partner to ground and sea operations from WWI to present. The working hangar has mechanics hard at work restoring the amazing aircraft and helpful docents are there to answer any question. If you are lucky you’ll be able to go inside one of the aircraft to truly feel what it was like to be a passenger or pilot during the time it flew. Exhibits about the Tuskegee airmen as well as the history of women in flight are special highlights.
Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum
2017 N. Greenfield Rd.
photo: Chris H. via yelp
Eat & Shop
For your one-stop eating and shopping destination, head to Mesa’s Mezona Market. Here you can get cactus-shaped everything, cool clothes to up your wardrobe game and a sweet treat to bribe the kids. A favorite spot is Sweet Cakes Cafe where you can grab a cinnamon roll or giant cookie to satisfy your sweet tooth. Plan your visit for a Friday or Saturday and you can enjoy Myke’s Pizza, a pop-up restaurant serving pizza (try the potato and bacon!) on the patio in front of the market.
21 W. Main St.
If you are looking to spend some time in Mesa, the Marriott Residence Inn provides all you need for your family. The newly-renovated suites offer ample room for families of all sizes to spread out, as well as a kitchen with fridge, oven and microwave to keep eating out to a minimum. Save your dollars for activities and enjoy the complimentary breakfast buffet (waffles anyone?) that is offered every morning. Mondays-Wednesdays you can enjoy evening socials with drinks and small bites. The hotel has helpful amenities like washing machines and a 24-hour on-site mini market.
Marriott Residence Inn
941 West Grove Ave.
Mesa, Arizona is full of history and is the perfect spot to make your home base for your next family adventure. If you need more tips on what to do and see when you are in the area, visit the Visit Mesa website for loads of helpful info.
—photos and story by Kate Loweth
This trip was paid for by Visit Mesa but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.