If you’re travelling with dinosaur lovers or are interested in learning more about the unique history of the deserts and mountains of southern Arizona, visiting the Arizona Museum of Natural History is a must. Explore Dinosaur Mountain to see dinosaurs from all ages and witness a live flash flood down the side of the mountain. The museum also has a dig pit to uncover fossils and a real dinosaur bone (an apatosaurus thighbone to be exact) that you can touch with your own two hands! You can also experience the history of Arizona by standing in a real territorial jail, panning for gold in the History Courtyard, and exploring the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.
Despite being surrounded by desert, Mesa is bursting with farms and fresh produce. You can check out the farms and restaurants that are part of the trail here and plan your own DIY tour, or you can book a guided tour and hit all the highlights in one day. Taste juicy oranges at The Orange Patch, enjoy some olive oil at Queen Creek Olive Mill and get your tastebuds watering at Jalapeno Bucks with salsa and BBQ sauce tastings. You can also find a list of all the local farmer’s markets, where you can shop year-round for fresh produce to create your own delicious meals!
Get your blood pumping by tackling the rapids on Salt River. With Arizona Rafting, you can choose between a variety of trip lengths, between half a day and five full days. If you choose an overnight trip, you can take advantage of some of the most beautiful, secluded campsites that are only accessible by raft. That being said, even on a day trip you will still get the chance to take in the unique scenery – oak and juniper woodlands, giant saguaro cacti and a diversity of other vegetation.
There might not be a better way to explore the scenery around Mesa than by horseback, like a true cowboy! Book a ride with Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch and ride through the Sonoran Desert in the majestic Goldfield mountain range – the trails take you across and along the Lower Salt River, on cactus-studded ridges and into the dry arroyos and the creosote-covered hills overlooking the Saguaro Lake. The ranch has trails and horses for every age and skill level, so don’t worry if you’ve never been on a horse before – just make sure to wear long pants and closed-toed shoes and you’re ready to go!
If you’re looking for a family-friendly outing to beat the heat for a day, the i.d.e.a. museum is perfect for kids of all ages and parents as well. Kids 5 and under can explore ArtVille, which includes a mini library, café, art studio and a bunch of soft blocks to build whatever their heart desires. They also have a rotating exhibit that include art, games and interactive activities centered around one theme, as well as HUB which is an interactive art gallery meant to inspire creativity.
Written by Andrea Zakaib