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Your guide to Mesa
All About Mesa
Saguaro cactus reaching to the sky, expanses of terracotta-tiled roofs, and the constant presence of the arid, imposing Superstition Mountains characterize this south-central Arizona city. While Mesa may technically be a suburb of Phoenix, it certainly doesn’t take a back seat. As Arizona’s third-largest municipality, Mesa has more than its fair share of cultural offerings, recreational activities, and entertainment options. Mesa is home to stylish cafes, a thriving nightlife, and talented chefs exploring the intersection of Mexican, indiginous Southwest, and European cuisines. The Mesa Arts Center is the largest art park in the Southwest, with over 200 sculptures, theaters, and galleries.
The city’s proximity to the Sonoran Desert and accompanying nature reserves provide plenty of opportunities to explore the area’s world-renowned red rock formations. Hiking and mountain biking are popular activities here, with easy access to hundreds of miles of trail systems snaking through the deserts. For a reprieve from the heat, you can always head onto the Salt River or one of several nearby lakes, joining the other paddle boarders, kayakers, and swimmers cooling off in the water.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Mesa?
Mesa boasts over 300 days of annual sunshine, with accompanying desert conditions, but the temperature does shift from season to season: from sunny and warm during the winter to scorching (and sunny) in the summer. Because of the extreme heat, winter and the shoulder seasons may be the ideal times to look for vacation rentals in Mesa — especially if you’re planning on hiking and mountain biking. Regardless of the time of year, it is important to be prepared for the heat and sun when visiting Mesa. Be sure you always have access to cool clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water when you’re outdoors (many locals also keep water in the car in case of emergencies).
What are the top things to do in Mesa?
Lost Dutchman Museum
Set on a 15-acre plot of land at the foot of Superstition Mountain, this museum highlights the history and folklore of southern Arizona. Geological displays will help you look at the ancient rock formations in a new light, and an exhibition on the region’s Native American roots traces the history of human habitation here back more than 12,000 years. Adjacent to the museum are the remnants of the Apacheland Movie Ranch; during its heyday, the facades of storefronts and streets you’ll wander around were used to film several now-famous Westerns.
Arizona Museum of Natural History
Arizona’s arid climate conditions have preserved the area’s geological, anthropological, and ecological history extraordinarily well. The Arizona Museum of Natural History showcases the wide-ranging varieties of fossils archeologists have found in this region, including those belonging to dinosaurs and long-extinct North American megafauna.
Usery Mountain Regional Park
Half an hour outside town, this nearly 4,000-acre nature park lies at the mouth of the Sonoran Desert. Hiking, biking, and horse riding trails lead you through terrain as varied as rugged mountaintops and vast stands of saguaros. If you’re up for a late-night drive, park’s desert air also provides some of the most pristine stargazing opportunities in the country.