Just across the Natural History Museum is the Mesa Contemporary Arts (built 1976 and renovated)-- a wonderful place with 5 galleries showing contemporary art by international and getting-famous artists. The entrance fee is only US$3.50 and so, people usually swing by from the more expensive Natural History Museum --- you see Dads with strollers crossing the street (I was like that before - thank God the twins don't use strollers anymore!).
Just to name one of the shows --- For Feb 2009, what they had was an artwork exhibit inspired by TATTOOS and then there was also an exhibit on cars - LOWRIDERS.
Definitely a nice place to spend time around in when in Mesa!
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday - Wednesday: 10am-5pm
Thursday - Saturday: 10am-8pm
Free for children ages 7 and under
Admission is free on Thursdays, sponsored by SRP.
The Mesa Museum of Natural History is a wonderful place to visit right in the heart of Downtown Mesa! The twins enjoyed going around the Dinosaur exhibit, showcasing skeletons and roaring creatures (my son was scared for a few minutes but eventually was running around the entire complex). The facility has several levels and the dinosaurs are laid out so nicely beside an artificial waterfall…
They also give you a little plastic bag just in case you do pan out gold in the outside panning area. The Old West is represented in a nice exhibit, right beside a place with the huts and implements used by the Native Indians.
The entrance was only $10 for adults and $6 for our 5 year old twins (as of 2009), and there is also a family membership for $70.
The interactive exhibits on the Mars Expedition were also very entertaining with the geyser formation and a little crater where kids can brush out some objects hidden under the red Martian stones.
This is really a wonderful find in the heart of Mesa and a must for first-time visitors…
Walking along downtown Mesa is fun since the city has put in several large bronze statues ranging from "folks sitting on a bench" to polar bears and horses...this is a picture with a bear feeding her baby and my babies, hehehe....it sort of reminds me of the famous bronze bear in Madrid.
There is also this US$27,000 bronze statue called “Bearly Fishin’’ made by Brady Fairbanks (Draper, UT) for the Downtown Mesa Association at 58 West Main Street which is a favourite of my son.
On top of this artful delights, there's also a lot of gustatory delights -- little cafes and restaurants to satisfy your palate. When we visited on a Saturday, there were stalls selling different kinds of crafts.
The City of Mesa has to be congratulated for making this area very clean - parking was likewise easy with 30, 1 hour and 3 hour limits...
Just grab a copy of the Mesa Tribune and you will find a host of activities, usually something happening at the major Mesa Park (Red Mountain).
On that Saturday afternoon in Mesa downtown, I read while eating at a deli that there was a Kite Festival going on at that very same day with kites for US$6 imported from Pakistan...so I told my twins to finish up their cookies and I helped my wife with her tuna sandwich, and off we went...
The Park was easy to find (with GPS of course, hehehe) and there were already so many kites in the sky. There was also nice Asian dancing music (Pakistani) coming out of the large speakers, lots of ethnic food, and everybody was just having a grand time....unfortunately, all the kites were sold out!
But my son just managed to bother the other kids and play with their kites too, hehehe (I guess he is a socializer just like me).
What I like about the Phoenix Metropolitan Area is that there a several affordable theatre seats available. The cities, Mesa included, have devoted time and money into attracting the artists to live, stay and perform for the citizenry.
To show our support, we buy tickets or donate directly. The Mesa Arts Center has state-of-the-art facilities and as my family was walking past today, they had Celtic songs and ballads coming up...and there's several plays in line which include a lot of dancing and even symphony concerts!
Truly a great box office addition to this wonderful city of Mesa!
Call their TOURS hotline 480-644-6626 for FREE Public campus tours! They do need a 24-hour adavance notice though, and the tour included going to all the theatres, arts studio, Mesa Contemporary Arts and the Shadow Walk --- about 60 minutes of free tour so wear nice comfortable walking shoes...
Remember this, the FIRST SUNDAY of every month, there are free admissions to three downtown Mesa Museums! Offers good from 12-5 PM
Mesa Contemporary Arts
1 E Main St
480 644 6501
AZ Museum for Youth
35 N Robson
480 644 2468
AZ Museum of Natural History
53 N Macdonald
480 644 2230
Enjoy these freebies!
The best thing about this area is being in the outdoors and taking in the beauty, fragile as it is. You have to get outside of the growing, sprawling town to do that, however. Last count is about 500,000 people and expanding. It is 1200 feet above sea level, and the air is still clean and clear out a ways away from the city boundary.
The attraction must be to see the sunsets and the mountains on a daily basis.
There is a zoo called Out of Africa that has Lions, tigers and bears.
It is located just outside of Mesa and you should not miss going here.
There is information shows every hour or so around the park and the owners do a show around noon.
We were able to spend 4 hours there and we could have spent the whole day there if we had the time.
We were at the Tonto National Forest in Mesa and it was awesome we found this wonderfully unqique lake where you coukld rent a boat! It was already late afternoon and so we could only rent the boat for an hour since I think they closed at 6PM (August 2009), and so we got a 24 foot pontoon boat for just about $90 per hour + gas/tax....It was fun! You can rent boats up to 30 minutes before closing.
The lake is so nice because of the wonderful hills around it which are dotted by Saguaro cati...and it is a long strecth of lake - we were not even able to go around all of it because it is so long and curvy. We parked the boat in about three areas where we dipped into the warm waters ---(personally though I am scared of dark green lakes but I had fun though)
For those who do not want to get their own boats, there is a cruise I think which is called Desert Bell but it had just 2 cruises on that day at 1030 and 1230 - you can call Dsert Bell excursions at 480-984-2425 for proper times.
There were lots of people jetskiing and people can also fish for bluegill, walleye, bass, catfish and crappie.
And after all the activity, they do have a restaurant available with lots of misters to counteract the Arizona heat!
May through labor Day 8AM to 6PM
Labor Day through November 8 AM to 5PM
December through Feb 9AM to 4 PM
March through April 8AM - 5PM
This is a favourite among the college students who want to have some fun tubing down the Salt River -- the salt river tubing headquarters in Mesa is very organized and they have buses that bring the people to the river. Of course, you could also drive up to the river yourself. But just note of the time when you go, because they stop renting tubes at a certain time (like us, we missed it).
But you will see a lot of merrymakers (alcohol-loving), and a lot of families. And it is sad that trash is sometimes just left everywhere around the riverside. But the scenery along the river is just awesome, and a great reprieve during the summer heat ---- Tubing only open from May thru Sept, 7 days a week.
The tubing can last from 2 to 5 hours, so make sure you a strong SPF sun protector, sunglasses, hat. It is only $15 per dar per person per tube. And if you lose your tube, you pay $30. I can't imagine how you lose it when it is so big though...hehehe....
There are also group rates for 30 persons or more but needs 14 day advance reservation (480) 258-0078.
The Salt River is known for having a great time doing a "floating picnic" while you see along the way wild horses, herons and majestic mountains.
Be far one of the better visits we had in Mesa. The group used to be called as its better know name-Confederate Airforce Museum, but due to "political correctness", it must now be called Commemorative Air. This museum features 37 different vintage and restored aircraft; mostly from the WWII era, even though they have a few bi-wing from WWI time frame also. The main attraction is the B17 that is in working order after years of restoring painstakingly. All aircraft are operational, and a volunteer staff of 400 do the work, and are as dedicated as any in our country to the cause.
The trip is well worth about 3-4 hours for the more interested in seeing and hearing great history from volunteer guides describing the planes and how they got to the hangers.
It is open year round, but 9-3 on Wednesday through Sunday in summer and 10-4 winter of October-May and open every day. Prices are $10 for adult in winter times, and $7 in summer openings. Rides can be obtained during certain times in the year. Tours of the B17 bomber are available, and it demonstrates the cramped conditions the 12 man crew had to endure. It is a great adventure to see and feel. Cost is around $450 for standard ride in B17 with good view, and $600 for better view. Other plane rides may range $300-500.
I usually take all of my out of town visitors here. I tell them to shop all of the tourist areas and then save your t-shirt money for this place. Mesa Market place features 1600 booths, one of Arizona’s Largest Covered Swap Meets! They are located off Highway 60 at the Signal Butte exit 193 on Baseline Road. This market really takes off in the fall and winter months when the weather gets cooler. It is covered so the sun will not bother you too much. You can find just about anything here and also get a cheap breakfast and free entertainment to boot. They usually have someone playing music ala' one man band style in one of the food courts.
This is definitely a Swap Meet vs a Flea Market. Most of the items for sale here are new. If you are looking for antiques or used items, this is not the place for you. But, if you are looking for take home souvenirs at great prices this is a wonderful place. It is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only.
Mesa downtown "revival" has only half way succeeded. There are some places to eat, and also art galleries that make up most of the shops. Basically there is not much to do, but stroll along Main Street and if you area shopping, there are some places that may meet your needs, but most seem not too appealing, in our opinion. The "anchor" is the Contemporary Art Center at corner of Main and Center Streets, or midtown center.
The main feature here is the theater that holds events and shows for the public throughout the year. That is the large building in the middle of the complex. The art center is actually in the basement of another building, and has 5 galleries that feature mostly local art talent. We thought the $3.50 was barely worth the short tour. Unless you like some certain artist works, you can breeze right through the small galleries in quick fashion.
Cost is $3.50, and open generally 10-5 Tuesday through Sunday. There is a small gift shop on ground level that maybe you can find a "treasure"
This is a museum with some artifacts of the history of Mesa. It was closed when we were there, though. Adjacent to the museum is an auditorium-which the picture depicts. The museum looks to be rather small.
Open times are 10-4 Thursday through Sunday and cost is $5