Mesa

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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.

Understand[edit]

Mesa LDS temple

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.

  •    Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitors Center120 N Center St (north of Main St),  +1 480 827-4700, toll-free: +1-800-283-6372fax: +1 480 827-4704, e-mail: . M-F 8AM-5PM. Stop by the Mesa Visitors Center and pick up a Mesa Visitors Guide, which can also be viewed online. 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.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

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.

By plane[edit]

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport [1] 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 (IATA: AZA) +1 480 988-7600 (website) 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.

By rail[edit]

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.

By bus[edit]

Get around[edit]

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.

See[edit]

Hohokam ruins at Mesa Grande Cultural Park
  •    Mesa Historical Museum51 E Main St +1 480 835-7358. W-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 3-12).
    •    Lehi Campus2345 N Horne St. Sa 10AM-4PM. An annex for special exhibits.
  •    Mesa Arts Center1 E Main St +1 480 644-6500. 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 Temple101 S 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 of Natural History53 N MacDonald St +1 480 644-2230. T-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 11AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. This rapidly expanding museum features an interesting array of cultural and natural history artifacts from the American Southwest. $10 (adults), $9 (seniors), $8 (students 13+), $6 (children 3-12).
  •    Commemorative Air Force Museum2017 N Greenfield Rd +1 480 924-1940, e-mail: . Jun-Sep W-Su 9AM-3PM, Oct-May daily 10AM-4PM. 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. $12 (adults 13+), $10 (seniors 62+) $3 (children 5-12).
  •    Mesa Grande Cultural ParkW 10th St +1 480 644-3428. Th-F 10AM-4PM, Sa 11AM-4PM, Su 12PM-4PM. The site preserves a group of Hohokam structures dated from 1100-1400 CE. Ruins include a great mound, building remains, and several ball courts. $5 (adults), $2 (children 3-12).

Do[edit]

  • Cactus League Spring Training1235 N Center St. A treat for baseball fans happens every spring with the Cactus League Spring Training games happening all over Phoenix and Tucson.
  • Stratum Laser Tag1455 S Stapley Dr. This unassuming building just off the freeway houses a huge multilevel labyrinth that is one of the biggest laser tag arenas in the world.

Outdoor Activities[edit]

  • Desert Belle Paddleboat Cruises14011 N Bush Hwy. 90-minute cruises aboard the desert belle paddleboat on Saguaro Lake which is known for towering canyon walls, wildlife, and desert/mountain vistas.
  •    Park of the Canals1710 N Horne +1 480 644-4271. Sunrise to 10PM. 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. Free.
  • Saguaro Lake Ranch Trail Rides13020 Bush Hwy. Offering guides trail rides surrounding Saguaro lake. Desert scenery and mountain vistas. Sunset rides offered.
  • Salt River Tubing and Recreation1320 N Bush Hwy. 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 District5140 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.

Annual Events[edit]

  • Arizona Fall League1235 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 Festival12601 E US Hwy 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 Training1235 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.

Buy[edit]

  • Bass Pro Shops1133 N. Dobson Rd. 170,125 Square feet of any kind of outdoor equipment you could need.
  • Dana Park1700 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 Riverview1061 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.
  • Asylum Records108 w. main street (480) 964-6301. Open Tuesday through Sunday starting at 12PM-Closed Monday. Record store in downtown Mesa selling new and used records, CD's, DVD's and music memorabilia.

Eat[edit]

  • Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill1744 S Val Vista Dr +1 480 633-8226. Homemade tortillas, huge burritos, addicting taco salads with spicy avocado ranch dressing. Ahh the sweet pork.
  • Matta's (Mattas Mexican Grill, Mattas Grill and Cantina), Grill: 1105 N Higley Rd; Grill and Cantina: 1033 N. Dobson Rd (Grill: Brown & Higley; Grill and Cantina: Mesa Riverview),  Grill: +1 480 655-8646; Grill and Cantina: +1 480 964-7881. 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 original. Nice atmosphere with strolling mariachis in the evening.
  • Pete's Fish and Chips22 S. Mesa Dr +1 480 964-7242. 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. Can't beat the lunch special. Try the Poorboy.
    • Ned's: 1927 N Gilbert Rd, +1 480 464-0033.,1356 S. Gilbert Rd. Suite B-1, +1 480 898-8894.
    • Steves: 1211 N Country Club Dr Mesa, +1 480 835-0330,
      • or 6853 E Main Street (Power and Main next to Greenbacks), +1 480 924-SUBS.
  • Rosa's Mexican Grill328 E University Dr +1 480 964-5451. Mesa, AZ 85201;. The original Rosa's. Everything on the menu is excellent, a family favorite. Best shrimp tacos anywhere.
  • Waldo's BBQ4500 E. Main St +1 480 807-6475. Located in the eastern portion of town, Waldo's serves up everything you could ask from a BBQ place, all with a great atmosphere.
  • Organ Stop Pizza1149 East Southern Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85204 (SW corner of Southern and Stapley, off US 60),  +1 480 813 5700. About 5-9PM, more depeding on season.. 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. under $10 per person.
  • Rockin' R Ranch6136 E. Baseline (On Baseline Rd between Higley Rd and Power Rd),  +1 480 832-6793, e-mail: . F & Sa starting at 5:30PM. Old West Cowboy Dinner Show with Old Fashioned BBQ included in the price $20-$40.
  • Republica Empanada204 E. 1st Ave +1 480 969-1343. Mon - Thu: 11AM - 4PM, 11AM to 8PM Friday and Saturday, Closed Sunday. Latin American comfort food restaurant located in a midcentury building in downtown Mesa with the largest selection of empanadas in Arizona priced at less than $3 each and Lunch specials for $6.95 or $7.50 from 11AM to 3PM Monday through Saturday.

Drink[edit]

  • RT O'Sullivan's Bar and Grill1010 W Southern Ave +1 480 844-1290. This is a great place to watch the game but get there early because it fills up.
  • Desert Eagle Brewery150 West Main St +1 480 656-2662. Micro-brewery serving craft beers in downtown Mesa with happy hour from 3PM to 6PM.

Sleep[edit]

  • Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown Mesa651 E. Main St +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 Hilton1011 West Holmes Ave.
  • Westgate Painted Mountain Country Club6302 E. McKellips Rd, toll-free: +1-888-808-7410. Mesa, Arizona 85215. A Mesa, Arizona golf resort near Phoenix, offering family lodging and accommodations with panoramic views & featuring an 18-hole, par 70 championship golf course.

Camping[edit]

Connect[edit]

Stay Safe[edit]

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.

Newspapers[edit]

  • The New Times1201 E Jefferson +1 602 271-0040. 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).
  • East Valley Tribune ((formerly the Mesa Tribune)), 1620 W. Fountainhead Parkway, Ste. 219 Tempe, AZ 85282 +1 480 TRIBUNE (8742863). 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
  • La Voz200 E Van Buren St +1 602 444-8000. A popular Spanish language newspaper published by The Arizona Republic.
  • Asian American Times668 N 44th St, Ste 343. Excellent Chinese-American newspaper with articles printed in English and Chinese.

Go next[edit]

  • "Old Town" Scottsdale in the northeast Phoenix metropolitan area is the single most tourist friendly area in the valley.
  • Downtown Tempe has a lively night life, being a college town
  • There are many museums and other cultural venues in Downtown and Midtown Phoenix
Routes through Mesa
PhoenixTempe  W US 60.svg E  Apache JunctionSocorro
Payson  N Arizona 87.svg S  ChandlerEnds at I-10.svg
Phoenix/Camelback EastTempe  W Arizona 202.svg S  GilbertChandler


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