Top 12 Attractions in Mesa

Last Updated on February 7, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Situated in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun just east of Phoenix, Mesa dazzles visitors through natural beauty, ancient history and contemporary culture. Beyond scenic red rock vistas, Mesa’s top attractions span from archaeological sites and riveting museums to vibrant public art and family fun.

AttractionDescription
Arizona Museum of Natural HistoryOffers insights into Arizona’s natural landscapes and inhabitants, featuring dioramas, a Dinosaurs in Arizona exhibit, and a collection of gemstones and minerals.
i.d.e.a. MuseumProvides hands-on learning for kids with exhibits around science, technology, and art, including construction, animation, and creative play areas.
Golfland SunsplashA water park with slides, a lazy river, mini golf, and dining options for family fun.
Mesa Arts CenterFeatures performing arts, visual arts, and arts education with theaters, galleries, and classes in a unique architectural setting.
Usery Mountain Regional ParkOffers desert recreation, hiking, horseback riding, camping, and spectacular views within a large natural area.
Organ Stop PizzaA dining experience with a massive Wurlitzer organ playing music, arcade games, and pizza and pasta offerings.
Commemorative Air Force Airbase ArizonaShowcases vintage aircraft with flyovers and history presentations, emphasizing World War II planes.
Desert Botanical GardenDisplays the evolution of Southwest flora, with outdoor trails and indoor galleries focusing on desert environments.
Hall of Flame Fire MuseumTraces the history of firefighting with a vast collection of restored emergency vehicles and firefighting equipment.
Riverview ParkA community park offering ziplining, obstacle courses, fishing, basketball, and various family activities.

Baseball fans also know Mesa as the spring training home for the Chicago Cubs. This guide covers Mesa’s standout attractions to see on your next Valley of the Sun getaway.

Arizona Museum of Natural History

Name and Location: The Arizona Museum of Natural History is located in Mesa, Arizona. It first opened its doors in 1997.

History and Significance: Founded by five Mesa families, the Arizona Museum of Natural History started as a small nonprofit with the mission to inspire people to learn about the natural history of the southwest region. Over the past two decades, it has grown into an important regional museum, hosting a range of permanent and special exhibits related to paleontology, geology, anthropology, astronomy, conservation, and more. Its dinosaur hall highlights real dinosaur fossils found in Arizona.

What to Expect: Visitors can expect to see an extensive collection of real fossils and dinosaur replicas, as well as exhibits on regional anthropology, geology, conservation, and more. Popular attractions include the Dinosaur Hall, the Walk Through Time exhibit, and the museum’s planetarium shows. Educational programs, events, and a museum store round out the experience.

Visitor Information: The museum is open 6 days a week, closed Mondays during the school year. Ticket prices range from $8-$10 for adults, with discounts for students, seniors, and children. Private events can also be booked. The museum is easily accessible from US 60 at the Power Road exit in Mesa. Parking is free.

Gain fascinating insight into Arizona’s rich natural landscapes and inhabitants at Mesa’s Arizona Museum of Natural History. This family-friendly museum features realistic dioramas of regional animals in their native habitats plus a lifelike Dinosaurs in Arizona exhibit with massive fossilized skeletons. The Dinosaur Mountain area even contains a Paleo Lab allowing visitors to watch paleontologists cleaning and examining real dinosaur fossils. Guests also wander through an expansive collection of gemstones and minerals unique to Arizona before leaving. It makes for an intriguing overview of Arizona’s natural history under one airy museum roof.

i.d.e.a. Museum

Name and Location: The i.d.e.a. Museum is an interactive children’s museum located in Mesa, Arizona.

History and Significance: Founded in 1980, the i.d.e.a. Museum started as a small local museum focused on providing hands-on learning experiences for children. Over the decades, it has grown into an important 45,000 square foot museum that hosts 350,000 visitors per year. Its mission continues to center around sparking creativity and imagination in children through interactive, educational play.

What to Expect: The i.d.e.a. Museum offers an engaging, interactive space for children 10 and under. Popular permanent exhibits let kids shop in a pretend grocery store, climb a fire truck, report on the news, build structures, and more. Special traveling exhibits also come through. Parental supervision is required.

Visitor Information: The i.d.e.a. Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, plus some school holidays. Admission ranges from $8-$10 per person ages 1+. Annual memberships offering free admission and other perks are also available. The museum can be easily accessed from US 60 near downtown Mesa, with free parking onsite.

The innovative i.d.e.a. Museum delivers non-stop fun and hands-on learning for kids focused around science, technology and art. Exhibits let children construct buildings at Build It!, make cartoon flipbooks and stop-motion animation films at Animation Studio, climb a towering outdoor sculpture or get creative at Kidspace art studio. Parents join the engaging experiments happening daily in Think Tank classroom like creating towers to withstand “earthquakes” on shake tables or using lab tools to make ice cream. Every part of this museum connects families through purposeful play.

Golfland Sunsplash

Name and Location: Golfland Sunsplash is a popular amusement park located in Mesa, Arizona.

History and Significance: Open since 1983, Golfland Sunsplash started as small batting cages and miniature golf course. It has expanded over the years to include an arcade room, go-karts, bumper boats, water slides, roller coasters, and more – totaling over 100,000 square feet of attractions. As the largest family amusement park in Arizona, Golfland Sunsplash provides entertainment to thousands of visitors every year.

What to Expect: Golfland Sunsplash offers attractions suited for all ages, including miniature golf courses, arcade games, bumper cars, roller coasters, log rides, water slides, and more. Food, drinks, lockers, and cabanas are available for added convenience.

Visitor Information: Golfland Sunsplash is open year-round, with seasonal hours that extend during summers and holidays. Ticket pricing varies by age, height, and date. Annual passes are also available. The park is located off US 60 in Mesa, with free parking onsite.

When the desert heat soars, families keep cool at Golfland Sunsplash water park, an longtime favorite for affordable fun. Ride seven story slides twisting tandem or on solo rafts under the blue sky before slowing down drifting along the 275-foot lazy river. Little ones splash at their own pint-sized water playground filled with mini slides, tipping buckets, sprays and shallow pools. For additional thrills, gear up for 18 holes navigating cacti, coaster tracks and waterfalls across two signature mini golf courses housed within the expansive facility. With on-site dining, shaded seating plus live entertainment options, Golfland Sunsplash offers a complete family staycation.

Mesa Arts Center

Name and Location: The Mesa Arts Center is a performing and visual arts complex located in downtown Mesa, Arizona.

History and Significance: Constructed in 2005, the Mesa Arts Center quickly transformed downtown Mesa into a hub for arts and culture. The impressive 210,000 square foot complex hosts theater performances, comedy shows, concerts, art exhibits, festivals, and other cultural events. With multiple performance spaces, galleries, studios, and more, it enriches the local arts scene.

What to Expect: Visitors to the Mesa Arts Center can take in performances and shows, view art exhibits, attend classes and camps, dine at the onsite restaurant, or rent spaces for private events. Family-friendly festivals are also held on the outdoor plaza throughout the year.

Visitor Information: The Mesa Arts Center complex is open to the public daily, with some facilities closed Mondays. Hours vary by venue. Ticket prices vary greatly depending on the performance or event. Some visual art exhibits are free to attend. Parking garages offer free and paid options nearby off of Center Street in downtown Mesa.

As the stunning architectural showpiece at Mesa’s downtown arts core, the unique Mesa Arts Center brings together performing arts, visual arts and arts education resources across multiple airy glass and copper-colored cubes topped with solar panel shades. Inside find five intimate performance theaters, expansive museum galleries showcasing works by emerging talents and classes taught daily in light-filled creative studios perfect for making art, music, dance and literary craft. Guests tour innovative architecture, browse compelling exhibitions or catch a play, musical or dance performance within stunning public spaces day into evening.

Usery Mountain Regional Park

Name and Location: Usery Mountain Regional Park is a large park area located near Mesa in the Tonto National Forest, just east of Usery Pass Road.

History and Significance: Since opening to the public in 1977, Usery Mountain Regional Park has provided access to the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert for Mesa residents and visitors. Its over 3,600 acres contain diverse wildlife and terrain across the Usery and Pass mountains. Various trails cater to hikers and mountain bikers. It also offers campgrounds and programs year-round.

What to Expect: Usery Mountain Regional Park has hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails for all levels, totaling over 29 miles. Other amenities include a nature center, archery range, campgrounds, shooting range, picnic areas, and an aquatic center. Rangers lead regular programs spotlighting history, wildlife, astronomy and more.

Visitor Information: The park is open daily from sunrise to 10 pm. Entry fees of $7 apply per vehicle on weekends and holidays. Annual passes are available. Various trails, roads and facilities provide accessibility. Users should prepare for desert conditions and bring water. Restrooms also available throughout.

Offering unparalleled access into the Gold Canyon passage of the Apache Trail, Usery Mountain Regional Park provides a wealth of desert recreation from hiking and horseback riding to mountain biking and camping across 3,648 inspiring acres. Follow trails up Usery Mountain winding past splendid saguaros and bountiful wildflowers in season before reaching dramatic sweeping valley views at Wind Cave overlook. After picnicking at the shaded tables, retire to comfortable cabins or RV/tent sites to extend your stay fully immersed within Usery’s pristine Sonoran Desert landscape.

Organ Stop Pizza

Name and Location: Organ Stop Pizza is a family pizza restaurant chain with a location in Mesa, Arizona. This Mesa restaurant has the distinction of featuring the world’s largest Wurlitzer pipe organ used for pop music.

History and Significance: Opened in 1975, the Mesa Organ Stop Pizza made a name for itself by installing a massive Wurlitzer pipe organ used for pop music performances. With over 6,000 pipes, it is one of the largest organs of its kind. Diners can enjoy the musical stylings of the organist while eating signature pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and salads.

What to Expect: At Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, visitors can enjoy fresh, hot pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and salads in a casual setting while listening to a variety of pop tunes played on the huge pipe organ several times per night. Musical requests are taken and birthday songs performed. Take-out is also available.

Visitor Information: Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa is open nightly for dinner, with lunch hours on Saturdays. Menu prices range from $10-$30 per entree. The restaurant is easily accessed right off US 60 at Stapley Drive, with free parking on site. Advance reservations are available but not required.

For family dining unlike anywhere else, the Organ Stop Pizza Parlor presents a one-of-a-kind experience delivering fresh arcade fun alongside delicious pizza and pasta with a boisterous musical twist. Throughout meals, diners sit stunned witnessing a massive Wurlitzer pipe organ rise dramatically out of the floor playing tunes flawlessly in synch with projected theater lighting. After enjoying arcade games galore, families leave smiling with full bellies having delighted equally in unmatched ambiance and quality meals blending entertainment into an evening centered around Mesa’s mightiest pizza organ.

Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona

Name and Location: Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona is a military aircraft museum located at the Falcon Field airport in Mesa, Arizona.

History and Significance: Founded in 1978, Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona started as a small group dedicated to preserving World War II combat aircraft. It has amassed an impressive collection of planes over 40+ years, many of which are kept in flying condition through extensive restoration work. Air shows allow visitors to see these rare aircraft soar.

What to Expect: At the museum, visitors can walk through over 75 vintage aircraft on display, including bombers, fighters, trainers and transports. Join one of their Discover History Tours for a more in-depth experience. Bi-monthly flight experiences and annual air shows also allow visitors to see the planes fly.

Visitor Information: The museum is open daily 9-4, closed New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for kids 5-14 years old. Free parking is available on site. Flight experiences should be booked well in advance due to popularity.

Aviation enthusiasts young and old admire rare vintage aircraft up-close then watch exhilarating flyovers and reenactments at Mesa’s Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona dedicated to preserving these flying pieces of history. This dedicated team maintains planes in flying condition for Airbase Arizona’s living history presentations including the iconic B-17 Flying Fortress and B-25 Mitchell from World War II fame ready for takeoff. Visitors also tour an impressive memorabilia collection inside the 1940s-style hangar to immerse into 1940’s history before heading out onto the tarmac. Enjoy affordable tours through rare sights and flight thrills.

Desert Botanical Garden

Name and Location: Desert Botanical Garden is a large living museum featuring desert plants from around the world. It is located in Phoenix, Arizona near the interchange of Papago Freeway and Galvin Parkway.

History and Significance: Founded in 1939, the Desert Botanical Garden played an important role in studying and conserving desert plants. Its unique living collection has grown to over 50,000 arid land plants showcasing a range of global desert ecotypes. As one of the world’s largest botanical institutions dedicated to deserts, the Garden has contributed extensively to education, conservation and research for over 80 years.

What to Expect: Visitors can wander 5 themed desert trails featuring global succulents, native Southwestern species, wildflowers, cacti and more. Interpretive signs identify key plants. Special art exhibits, events and classes also held. The Garden offers photography opportunities around every corner. Onsite services include a gift shop, cafe and restaurant.

Visitor Information: The Desert Botanical Garden is open daily, aside from July 4th, Thanksgiving Day and December 25th. Hours are 8am-8pm during spring and summer. Admission is $29.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids ages 3-17. Parking, lockers, wheelchairs and scooters can be rented onsite.

Tracing the evolution of flora across the Southwest region, the unique Desert Botanical Garden in nearby Papago Park captures cacti, succulents and desert wildflowers beautiful brilliance across outdoor trails and indoor galleries perfect for better understanding ecologically-fragile environments. Admire the Living Desert exhibit showcasing desert species up-close, then relax inside the peaceful Ullman Terrace with mountain views and rotating art exhibitions. Visitors also browse whimsical gift shop items benefiting conservation and research initiatives nurturing these arid yet vivid desert habitats for future generations.

Hall of Flame Fire Museum

Name and Location: The Hall of Flame Fire Museum is located at 6101 E. Van Buren St. in Phoenix, Arizona, near the Papago Park area.

History and Significance: Founded in 1961, the Hall of Flame is the largest fire museum in America and one of the oldest fire museums in the world, with an extensive collection that traces the development of firefighting technology over 300 years. Rare trucks, equipment and artifacts detail the evolution of fire engines, techniques and innovation. Of historical significance is a 9/11 memorial with World Trade Center steel.

What to Expect: The Hall of Flame Fire Museum chronologically displays over 90 fully-restored fire engines from 1725 to 1969 plus interactive fire safety exhibits. Visitors can climb on a 1916 hose wagon, operate alarm systems, slide down poles and try on fire gear. A memorial courtyard, gift shop and library round out the offerings. Guided group tours are available with advance booking for 8 or more people.

Visitor Information: General admission tickets to the Hall of Flame are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors over 65, $9 for kids 6-17 years old and free for children under 6. Free parking provided onsite. The museum is open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Years Day.

Uncover the fiery feats of firefighting tracing equipment advances decade-by-decade at the National Historical Fire Foundation’s Hall of Flame Museum housing the world’s most extensive display at over 90 restored emergency vehicles. This retired fire crew maintains countless pumpers, rescue trucks, paramedic wagons and a 1952 mini pumper fitting inside a helicopter to demonstrate fire response evolving with the times. Visitors climb driven rigs, slide down brass fire poles and use fire extinguishers on mini infernos during simulations illuminating true courage and history merged at Mesa’s engrossing firefighters tribute complete with memorial gardens outside honoring lives lost in service.

Riverview Park

Name and Location: Riverview Park is a large municipal park located in Mesa, Arizona spanning both sides of the Salt River with bridges connecting north and south areas.

History and Significance: For over 50 years, Riverview Park has served Mesa residents as a valued recreation area. Baseball and soccer fields accommodate leagues and tournaments, walking paths line the riverbanks, and fishing piers extend into the Salt River. Periodic flooding refreshes the riparian area into a regional attraction. Recent improvements enhanced sports facilities and walking trails.

What to Expect: Stretching over 360 acres, Riverview Park contains playgrounds, ramadas, lighted baseball/softball fields, soccer fields, basketball courts, sand volleyball pits, walking paths, fishing access to the Salt River, and open grass areas for picnicking. Restrooms and drinking fountains spread throughout. Visitors engage in sports, walking, jogging, fishing and family gatherings.

Visitor Information: Riverview Park is open daily from 5 am to 11 pm, with lighted facilities open later. No entrance fees. Parking lots positioned around the park’s perimeter offer convenient access. Leashed pets allowed. As a desert riparian area, summer heat can be intense so hats, hydration and sun protection are recommended.

Encompassing 222 acres, scenic Riverview Park beside the Salt River nurtures community connecting people and nature just minutes from downtown Mesa but feeling eons away. Families thrill ziplining over lakes, navigating aerial obstacle courses or pedaling go-karts across park trails. After picnicking streamside at ramadas, admire resident ducks, herons and turtles from walking paths. Also enjoy Month 45 splash pads, skate park, fishing docks, basketball courts, playground or indoor community center with crafts rounding out Riverview Park’s wealth of amenities keeping recreation lively across this desert oasis.

Conclusion

From fascinating museums and riveting performance venues to prehistoric sites and daring desert recreation, Mesa maintains dynamic attractions sure to hook adults and kids alike. Use this guide covering top attractions for trip planning inspiration embracing the city’s natural attractions and flair for hands-on family entertainment. Beyond the dozen attractions detailed here, Mesa also impresses foodies through diverse restaurants, golfers with 200+ sunny courses and culture lovers via performing arts staged impressively—more great reasons accelerating tourism in this Valley of the Sun destination.

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