Mesa Travel Guide
Mesa, population 440,000 (2004 est.), is in Maricopa County. It is Arizona's third-largest city, and is part of the Greater Phoenix urban complex.
Mesa was founded in January 1878 by Mormon (Latter-day Saint or LDS) pioneers and its population is still roughly one-tenth Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates one of its oldest temples in Mesa (the Mesa Arizona Temple), and the city is a hub for Latter-day Saints residing in the Phoenix Metro area. Mesa is one of the United States' fastest-growing cities, and currently ranks as the 37th-largest. 2006 Census Bureau estimates put the city's population at 460,155. The city has a larger population than better-known United States cities such as Cleveland, Miami, Minneapolis, Saint Louis, or Saint Paul.
Although it has a large population, Mesa is a "bedroom community." Neighborhoods across the city are diverse — some areas have experienced urban blight, while others contain elaborate custom homes.
If you happen to be coming from an "Easterly" direction (a.k.a. New Mexico), that means you'll probably be taking the State 60 highway right through the 17 exits that comprise Mesa, as part of the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area.
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is situated to the West of Mesa and is the major air hub for all of Arizona and the Southwest United States. Flights arrive and depart to domestic and international destinations. One tip: If you're prone to airsickness, try to get flights into this airport that arrive either before noon or after sundown, particularly during late spring and early summer. The high elevation, hot sun, and spring winds combine to produce thermals that can make afternoon arrivals an extremely bumpy proposition.
- Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport () 480-988-7600 () is situated in southeast Mesa, which is east of Phoenix. This airport offers flights to more than 35 destinations in the United States, mostly by Allegiant Air, with a small number by Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines. Currently, this is a smaller sized airport but is in the process of being redeveloped into a major regional airport.
The Valley Metro Light Rail runs through Mesa, connecting to Tempe and Downtown Phoenix. From Sky Harbor Airport, take the free shuttle to the light rail station.
Mesa is laid out on a straightforward north-south, east-west grid pattern as regards its major streets. Center Street and Main Street are perpendicular to each other and, as suits their names, intersect in the city center in a manner that provides an excellent reference point and makes city navigation relatively easy.
- Mesa Historical Museum, . Downtown museum is at 51 East Main Street, W-Sa 10AM-4PM; Lehi museum is at 2345 N. Horne Street, Sa 10AM-4PM. This rapidly growing museum, split between two buildings, features displays of the different phases of Mesa's history. The downtown location holds "Play Ball: the Cactus League Experience," an excellent exhibit on the history of baseball spring training in Arizona. $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children.
- Mesa Arts Center 1 East Main Street. Located in downtown Mesa, this uniquely designed building features theatres, art galleries, and contemporary public art spaces. It is also notable for being the largest arts center in Arizona.
- Mesa Mormon Temple 101 South LeSueur. This unique building, located just east of downtown is notable for being the third largest Mormon temple outside of Salt Lake City. A must see at night.
- Arizona Museum for Youth.. 35 N. Robson. Nationally renowned fine arts museum for children aged 1-12.
- Arizona Museum of Natural History.. 53 N. Macdonald. This rapidly expanding museum features an interesting array of cultural and natural history artifacts from the American Southwest.
- Commemorative Air Force Museum.. 2017 North Greenfield Road. Dedicated to the preservation in flying condition of the great war planes that dominated the skies of World War II. The Confederate Air Force Museum at Falcon Field is home to the authentically restored World War II B-17 bomber, "Sentimental Journey." Out of the 12,731 B-17s built during WWII, there are about 13 left flyable and approximately eight flying in the United States. In addition to "Sentimental Journey" the CAF Museum also maintains a B-25 Mitchell bomber, SNJ, C-45, and a Grumman Guardian.
- Cactus League Spring Training.. 1235 N. Center St. A treat for baseball fans happens every spring with the Cactus League Spring Training games happening all over Phoenix and Tucson.
- Fighter Combat International.. 5865 S. Sossaman Rd. Fly an actual dogfight mission in the cockpit of a jet. Starting at $750.
- <do name="Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitors Center" alt="" address="120 N. Center Street" directions="North of Main Street" phone="480-827-4700" url="" hours="Mon - Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m." price="" lat="" long="">Stop by the Mesa Visitors Center and pick up a Mesa Visitors Guide. The Visitors Center has many publications about Mesa and other other destinations around Arizona, including the metro Phoenix area. You'll also find knowledgeable staff and local coupons. You can also view the visitors guide online.</do>
- Stratum Laser Tag.. 1455 S. Stapley Drive. This unassuming building just off the freeway houses a huge multilevel labyrinth that is one of the biggest laser tag arenas in the world.
- Desert Belle Paddleboat Cruises.. 14011 N. Bush Highway. 90-minute cruises aboard the desert belle paddleboat on Saguaro Lake which is known for towering canyon walls, wildlife, and desert/mountain vistas.
- Outback Safari Company.. Take a hummer tour of the Sonorana desert surrounding Mesa.
- Park of the Canals.. 1710 N. Horne. This 31-acre park includes evidence of ancient Hohokam Indian canals dating back to 700B.C. and a beautiful desert botanical garden featuring a wide variety of cacti.
- Rose Garden at Mesa Community College.. 1833 W. Southern Ave. Largest rose garden in the Desert Southwest includes 4,600 bushes and more than 450 varieties. Open year-round with peak bloom in April.
- Saguaro Lake Ranch Trail Rides.. 13020 Bush Highway. Offering guides trail rides surrounding Saguaro lake. Desert scenery and mountain vistas. Sunset rides offered.
- Salt River Tubing and Recreation.. 1320 N. Bush Highway. Float down the Salt River East of Mesa on a inflatable inner tube. Enjoy the desert views and wildlife along the way. This activity is known as a very popular party spot.
- Tonto National Forest, Mesa District.. 5140 E. Ingram St. Stop into this Park Ranger office and pick up a map before heading out on the hiking trails. The Tonto National Forest is the fifth largest in the United States. Desert to Mountain terrain.
- Arizona Fall League.. 1235 N. Center St. The Arizona Fall league is known to feature the up and coming baseball stars of tomorrow. Mesa Hohokam park is home to the Mesa Solar Sox whose players include those from teams such as the SF Giants, Cubs, and Reds.
- Arizona Renaissance Festival.. 12601 E Us Highway 60. Starting the second weekend in February, and for eight weekends and Presidents' Day, take U.S. 60 east through Mesa and Apache Junction to Gold Canyon, to the Arizona Renaissance Festival. Jousting, juggling, Ded Bob, music, mirth, mayhem, turkey legs, cinnamon almonds, falconry, acrobatics, Cast In Bronze, Scratch the Village Lout, Three Guys and a Bunch of Drums, beer, onsite ATMs, and indoor plumbing!
- Chicago Cubs Spring Training.. 1235 N. Center St. Spend an afternoon watching the MLB Chicago Cubs take on any number of teams during spring training at Hohokam Park. Spring training runs from late February to late March annually.
- Jesus the Christ. (Mormon Passion Play/Musical) Billed as "Mesa Arizona's Easter Pageant," this free "community Easter celebration" is apparently, according to its promoters, the "Largest Annual Outdoor Easter Pageant in the World." You might want to get your seats or spots on the lawn well in advance of its April showtimes.
- Bass Pro Shops.. 1133 N. Dobson Rd. 170,125 Square feet of any kind of outdoor equipment you could need.
- Dana Park.. 1700 S. Val Vista Dr. Upscale, boutique style shopping with sparkling fountains and merchants offering jewelry, home accessories, fashion clothing, gourmet foods, and unique dining.
- Mesa Riverview. 1061 N. Dobson Rd. A brand new outdoor shopping center. Stores include Bass Pro Shops, Cinemark Theatre, Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond, Petco, Walmart, Marshalls, Office Max, Sports Authority, and Jo-Ann Fabrics.
- Superstition Springs Mall.
- Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill, 1744 S Val Vista Dr, 480 633 8226. Homemade tortillas, huge burritos, addicting taco salads with spicy avocado ranch dressing. Ahh the sweet pork.
- <eat name="Matta's" alt="Mattas Mexican Grill, Mattas Grill and Cantina" address="Grill: 1105 N Higley Rd; Grill and Cantina: 1033 N. Dobson Rd." directions="Grill: Brown & Higley; Grill and Cantina: Mesa Riverview " phone="Grill: 480-655-8646; Grill and Cantina: 480-964-7881" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">The Mexican restaurant on the east side of town since 1953, hosted by the Matta family. The original location on Main street closed in 2008, but in 2002 the family opened a fast/casual-style location called Mattas Mexican Grill, and in 2010 opened Mattas Grill and Cantina, which is closer in style and menu to the origional. Nice atmosphere with strolling mariachis in the evening.</eat>
- Pete's Fish and Chips, 22 S. Mesa Dr., 480 964 7242, . Eight other locations in the Phoenix Valley. Forget the tartar sauce -- "Pete's special sauce" is to die for. Family owned and operated since 1947. Only cash is accepted.
- Ned's or Steve's Krazy Sub, Best subs in Mesa. Cant beat the lunch special. Try the Poorboy.
- Ned's: 1927 N Gilbert Rd, 480 464 0033.,1356 S. Gilbert Rd. Suite B-1, 480 898 8894.
- Steves: 1211 N Country Club Dr Mesa, 480 835 0330,
- or 6853 E Main Street (Power and Main next to Greenbacks), 480 924 SUBS.
- Rosa's Mexican Grill,328 E University Dr, Mesa, AZ 85201; Tel. (480) 964-5451. The original Rosa's. Everything on the menu is excellent, a family favorite. Best shrimp tacos anywhere.
- Waldo's BBQ, 4500 E. Main St., 480 807 6475. Located in the eastern portion of town, Waldo's serves up everything you could ask from a BBQ place, all with a great atmosphere.
- <eat name="Organ Stop Pizza" alt="" address="1149 East Southern Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85204" directions="SW corner of Southern and Stapley, off US 60" phone="480.813.5700" url="" hours="About 5-9 PM, more depeding on season." price="under $10 per person" lat="" long="">Organ Stop Pizza is an informal restaurant with a twist: It is home to the world's largest Wurlitzer pipe organ. Each night guests are treated to music from "The Mighty Wurlitzer", played by one of the staff organists who have all received "Organist of the Year" awards by the American Theatre Organ Society. Good pizza, salad, drinks, and a variety of other choices are available at great prices.</eat>
- <eat name="Rockin' R Ranch" alt="" address="6136 E. Baseline" directions="On Baseline Rd between Higley Rd and Power Rd" phone="+1 480 832-6793" email="firstname.lastname@example.org" fax="" url="" hours="F & Sa starting at 5:30 PM" price="$20-$40">Old West Cowboy Dinner Show with Old Fashioned BBQ included in the price</eat>
- <drink name="RT O'Sullivan's Bar and Grill" alt="" address="1010 W Southern Ave" directions="" phone="+1-480-844-1290" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">This is a great place to watch the game but get there early because it fills up.</drink>
- Arizona Golf Resort, 425 South Power Road, +1 480 832-3202, Toll-free: 800 528-8282, . Located 30 minutes from Phoenix, it feature a championship golf course, meeting facilities, onsite dining as well as many other amenities.
- Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown Mesa, 651 E. Main Street, +1 480 621-6375, . Discover the Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown hotel in Mesa, Arizona. Our affordable lodging offers comfortable family guest rooms, spacious suites and a convenient location near exciting local attractions.
- Mesa Hilton. 1011 West Holmes Avenue.
- Quality Inn & Suites, 1410 S. Country Club Drive, +1 480 964-2897,
- Sleep Inn, 6347 E. Southern Ave, +1 480 807-7760,
- Westgate Painted Mountain Country Club, 6302 E. McKellips Road Mesa, Arizona 85215, 1-888-808-7410. A Mesa, Arizona golf resort near Phoenix, offering family lodging and accommodations with panoramic views & featuring an 18-hole, par 70 championship golf course.
- <sleep name="Courtyard Phoenix Mesa" alt="" address="1221 South Westwood Ave" directions="" phone="4804613000" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long=""></sleep>
Mesa has a fairly high crime rate compared to some other American cities, but most of it is property crime of more concern to residents than to visitors.
- <listing name="The Arizona Republic" alt="" directions="" address="200 E Van Buren St" phone="+1 602 444-8000" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">The city’s main newspaper that is read throughout the city and state.</listing>
- <listing name="The New Times" alt="" directions="" address="1201 E Jefferson" phone="+1 602 271-0040" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">A great source of independent news and information about events, music, food, etc. The closest thing Phoenix has to New York's Village Voice (and the two have recently come under common ownership).</listing>
- <listing name="East Valley Tribune" alt="(formerly the Mesa Tribune)" directions="" address="1620 W. Fountainhead Parkway, Ste. 219
Tempe, AZ 85282" phone="480-TRIBUNE (480-874-2863)" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Freely distributed "voice of the East Valley". Their yearly Best of East Valley readers contests are very helpful for finding great food, drinks, entertainment and shopping; their editors fill the East Valley Guide with their own recommendations, which also includes a calendar of local events </listing>
- <listing name="La Voz" alt="" directions="" address="200 E Van Buren St" phone="+1 602 444-8000" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">A popular Spanish language newspaper published by The Arizona Republic.</listing>
- <listing name="Asian American Times" alt="" directions="" address="668 N 44th St, Ste 343" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Excellent Chinese-American newspaper with articles printed in English and Chinese.</listing>
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