Mesa is the third largest city in Arizona and a suburb on the outskirts of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. With approximately 500,000 residents calling it home, Mesa is more populous than actual cities like Miami and New Orleans, earning it the title of America’s largest suburb.
Its location in the Valley of the Sun also means the area receives more than 300 days of sunshine in a year, which is just what snowbirds escaping harsh winters in the north come looking for.
Mesa is surrounded by the Tonto National Forest and Sonoran, but extra attractions make it the ultimate desert playground. From historical sites and beautiful rock formations on desert landscapes to countless outdoor leisure activities and the famous Fresh Foodie Trail, there is enough to warrant a visit by any ardent adventurer.
Here is a comprehensive guide to visiting Mesa and the best things to do there!
Best Time To Visit Mesa
Mesa’s sunny climate allows the city to welcome tourists all year round. However, the best time to visit is October based on affordable accommodation costs, cheaper flight fares, and more accommodating weather.
February sees the most tourist activity in the city, meaning flight and hotel prices experience a considerable hike.
Tourists are advised to book well in advance to avoid the peak season extortionist prices.
Summer in Mesa features temperatures as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit, so tourists should brace themselves for the blistering heat. The hottest month is July, with an average temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
July is also the rainiest month and the best time to see the sights as the sun stays around the longest during this time. Remember to pack t-shirts and shorts for the warm weather and maybe an umbrella for the mild showers.
During winter, night temperatures can be unforgiving, dropping to a low of 42 degrees Fahrenheit. It is advisable to pack a warm jacket and thermal blanket when traveling to Mesa at this time.
Spring season is also an excellent time for tourists looking for great deals. There aren’t many tourists in town, which reduces competition for accommodation and other amenities.
The lowest season is fall, and hotels are at the cheapest. Temperatures range between 104 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit, with little to no precipitation.
What To Know When Visiting Mesa
Woman overlooking a canyon in arizona
Mesa has earned the reputation for being the ultimate desert playground, a credit to its numerous attractions, fine tourism weather, and endless outdoor adventures.
The area boasts multiple museums, historical landmarks, and cultural artifacts of the native Hohokam community that once resided in the area.
The weather is generally sunny, which is perfect for outdoor activity all year round and guests from around the country come to Mesa to escape harsh winters.
Mesa has a lot of great neighborhoods waiting to be explored and receptive communities; tourists will have a wonderful time interacting with the locals and learning about their ways.
Finally, the city’s food culture is pretty diverse, with restaurants and eateries serving local and international cuisines, including Italian, French, American, Polish, Brazilian, Asian, and Mexican.
Where to Stay in Mesa
The Mesa area offers different accommodation options for tourists, ranging from 5-star hotels and luxurious villas lavished with amenities to affordable vacation rentals and cottages with a home-away-from-home vibe. Guests can expect to find something decent to suit their budgets.
A luxury resort in Mesa
Residence Inn Phoenix Mesa
- Address: 941 West Grove Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85210, United States
- Rates per night: $249 for 2 adults
- Amenities: Daily complimentary breakfast, fully equipped kitchens, separate living and sleeping areas, HDTVs, fitness center, outdoor pool
Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport
- Address: 6907 East Ray Road, Mesa, AZ 85212, United States
- Rates per night: $186 for 2 adults
- Amenities: indoor pool, a Jacuzzi, express check-in and check-out feature, 24-hour reception, a car rental desk, a courtyard, a fitness center
- Address: 200 North Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ 85201, United States,
- Rates per night: $161 for 2 adults
- Amenities: Wi-Fi and Parking for free, coffee bar, spa, wellness center, outdoor pool, on-site restaurant,
Sheraton Mesa Hotel at Wrigleyville West
- Address: 860 North Riverview, Mesa, AZ 85201, United States
- Rates per night: $169 for 2 adults
- Amenities: Wi-Fi, Parking, free Airport shuttle, heated pools, spa and salon, pool bar, landscaped courtyard, hot tub
Motel 6 Mesa South
- Address: 1511 South Country Club Drive, Mesa, AZ 85210, United States
- Rates per night: $84 for 2 adults
- Amenities: Free wifi, direct access to a parking lot, vending machine, refrigerator, cable/satellite TV
Dobson Ranch Inn and Suites
- Address: 1666 S. Dobson Road, Mesa, AZ 85202, United States
- Rates per night: $68 for 2 adults
- Amenities: Jacuzzi, heated pool, private parking, lush garden, gym, on-site bar, 24-hour reception
Where To Eat In Mesa
An eatery in Mesa, Arizona
Mesa’s rich tourism culture has led to a diverse society that can be seen in the kind of culinary offerings in the city. From French and Polish to Mexican and Hawaiian cuisines, tourists will be spoilt for choice as they sample the tantalizing flavors.
Fittingly, more than 600 restaurants, cafés, and food houses are spread across the region to cater to this. If tourists don’t mind a bit of spice in their meals, they can pass by the Indian Oven on Gilbert Road.
Specializing in authentic Indian cuisine, this is a nice joint to enjoy a laid-back meal and sample their special vegan menu.
For pizza lovers, the Organ Pizza Stop offers a unique dining experience, allowing guests to request and enjoy live music played on the organ while biting on their favorite treat.
T.C. Eggington’s is another location famous for its fantastic breakfast and extensive menu offering variety.
Mesa’s nightlife is just as impressive as the daytime dining experience, with distinct neighborhoods providing entertainment.
Those who enjoy craft beer can exercise their taste buds at the Desert Eagle Brewing Company while listening to exciting live performances or try a glass of wine at the Salut Kitchen Bar.
Best restaurants for breakfast: T.C. Eggington’s, Crackers & Co. Cafe, Broken Yolk Cafe, Cozy Corner Cafe, Sassy’s Cafe & Bakery
Best restaurants for lunch and dinner: Organ Pizza Stop, Indian Oven, Red White And Brew, Osaka Japanese Steakhouse, Blue Adobe Sante Fe Grille, Bobby Q, Four Peaks Restaurant
Best bars and pubs: The Draft Sports Grill, Salut Kitchen Bar, Ohso Brewery and Distillery, Goldwater Brewing Co., Desert Eagle Brewing Company
Best Neighborhoods In Mesa
The largest suburb in America features many neighborhoods that curious visitors want to tour and get an up-close taste of the local lifestyle.
Downtown Mesa sits in the city’s business epicenter, and tourists will enjoy all the amenities of a modern town, including restaurants, wineries, coffee shops, and even museums.
Further from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Mesa, Queen Creek is a more peaceful neighborhood with a cozy small-town feel. Famous for its family farms, the hospitable locals welcome visitors with open arms.
Tourists might also want to visit Red Mountain Ranch. Named after the community’s country club, the neighborhood boasts a variety of parks and open spaces that are perfect for exploring.
Another great choice to visit is Dobson Ranch, one of the Mesa region’s largest neighborhoods. What sets it apart is the collection of mobile home parks and old properties constructed as far back as the 1970s.
Top Things To Do In Mesa
Visit the Arizona Museum of Natural History
History buffs will feel right at home at this magnificent facility in Mesa. Dedicated to the preservation and study of the state’s natural history, the museum was founded in 1992 and exhibits everything from native plants and animals to its natural geology.
They also display Native American artifacts from the Hohokam people, an indigenous tribe that once occupied the area.
This is a great place to learn about the area’s history through various interactive activities and have some good family fun in the museum’s expansive outdoor area.
- Admission: $13(adults), $7(3-12 years), $10(seniors), $8(students), free (2 years and below)
- Hours: Tuesday to Saturday (10 am-5 pm) Sunday (noon-5 pm), Monday, and most holidays (closed)
Have Fun at Golfland Sunsplash
Tourists looking to spend a fun day outdoors should set a date to visit Golfland Sunsplash. This 25-acre amusement park offers unadulterated fun for kids and grown-ups, with over 30 rides and several other attractions.
For an adrenaline-filled experience, try one of the many water slides or join others in a fast car racing game.
But if tourists want to take it easy, there is an 18-hole golf course in the facility where they can test their golf swing.
Other indulging games include go-kart racing, air hockey, bumper boats, and laser knights.
- Admission: General ($49), junior ($46), senior ($46)
- Hours: Monday-Thursday (11 am – 10 pm), Friday & Saturday (11 am – 12 am), Sunday (11 am – 9 pm)
Go on a Culinary Adventure with the Fresh Food Trail
Food enthusiasts can enjoy the ultimate experience on this unique road trip along the Fresh Foodie Trail from the south to the east of Arizona. This private guided agritourism affair features stops at farms, wineries, and breweries in Mesa, Queen Creek, and Gilbert.
As tourists enjoy sumptuous meals prepared from locally sourced ingredients, they also get to sample drinks from the finest craft breweries and wineries in Arizona.
The tour is also an excellent opportunity to take in the magnificent sights of the manicured desert landscapes while reveling in the sunny Arizona weather.
- Rates: $1200
- Duration: 6 hours 30 minutes
Break a Sweat at Usery Mountain Regional Park
Ardent adventurers and lovers of open spaces should test their might at the Usery Mountain Regional Park. Stretching across 3648 acres, the park features over 30 miles of trails with various difficulty levels that both hikers and bikers can try.
Tourists looking for something less hectic can take advantage of the numerous picnic areas, get on horseback for an easy ride, or shoot some arrows at the on-site archery range.
There are also campsites for RV camping and two mountain peaks, Wind Cave Mountain and Pass Mountain, that offer panoramic views of the surrounding areas.
- Admission: $7 per car for day use, or $3 per person -hiking or biking into the park. Camping fees start at $20 per night.
- Hours: 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily
Best Way To Get Around Mesa
Mesa is generally an easy city to navigate thanks to a well-developed public transport system and infrastructure. Visitors have several options, including buses, trains, and taxis.
In West Mesa, the Valley Metro Light Rail takes tourists to all routes connected to Downtown Mesa.
This region has a good share of the area’s attractions, including the Mesa Arts Center, restaurants, and shops.
However, the light rail journey stops at Mesa Drive, where guests must find alternative transportation to continue beyond this stop.
- Hours: Operates All days of the week between 10 am and 9 pm
- Fare: $4 1-day trip, $20 for 7 days, $33 for 15 days, $64 for 31 days
Another option to get from point A to B is through the city’s bus system, which comprises the regular route service and Dial A Ride service.
The latter was instituted for customers unable to use the regular route service, and passengers have to call in advance to schedule the pick-up.
The Valley Metro bus route system is well-connected and links numerous routes in the city for easy navigation.
- The fare is the same as in the light rail system
Furthermore, visitors can call a taxi to conveniently get around the city. These usually park outside public areas like bus stations, train stations, airports, hotels, etc.
But to be sure, tourists are advised to call a Mesa taxi agency ahead of schedule for a more convenient pickup.
Fares involve a meter counter that is government regulated and remains constant across all service providers.
How To Spend The Perfect Day In Mesa
Entrance to the Phoenix Zoo, Arizona
Mesa packs an impressive tourism punch thanks to its numerous attractions. Tourists will have a challenge squeezing time to tour all of them into a day’s itinerary, but they can try to make the most of it.
A typical day should start with a visit to the Mesa museums, including the Mesa Arts Museum, Arizona Museum of Natural History, and i.d.e.a Museum. The last one is an excellent place for a family outing, promising all the fun to keep the kids preoccupied.
Tourists can head to the many exciting spots in the area for brunch. What’s Crackin Café offers an upbeat dining experience featuring healthy meals prepared with fresh and garden-sourced ingredients.
The afternoons are best spent in the open spaces doing different adventurous activities. Guests can choose between a thrilling hike on Wind Cave Trail at Usery Mountain Regional Park or a boat tour exploring the Saguaro lakeside paradise and all its exotic wildlife.
When the sun starts to set, tourists can wind up the day by discovering the breweries and wineries in Downtown Mesa.
Numerous watering holes in the area provide a perspective of the local drinking culture while entertaining first-timers with freshly brewed drinks.
Q: Is Mesa a Nice Town to Live in?
Mesa has been termed as one of the best areas to reside in Arizona. The city offers a charming suburban feel with peaceful communities that own their homes. The neighborhoods also boast public amenities like parks, restaurants, coffee shops, and some of the most incredible places worth visiting in Arizona.
Q: Does Mesa have Scorpions?
Being in Arizona, scorpions are an expected phenomenon in Mesa, and the Arizona Bark Scorpion is the most common species. Unfortunately, the scorpion poses a danger to people and can climb walls and trees, enhancing the possibility of human encounters.
Q: Is Mesa Cooler than Phoenix?
Arizona is famous for having some of the hottest cities in the country. This is true for Mesa, located in the “Valley of the Sun”, and receives a lot of sunny days in a year. The heat lingers in Mesa longer than in Phoenix, making it the hotter of the two.