Strike gold in the heart of Arizona
A world of riches awaits you in Mesa and Apache Junction. Located just east of Phoenix, Mesa dazzles culture-seekers with ample arts and museums, excites baseball fans with Major League Baseball spring training and delights foodies with a thriving agritourism scene. For an unforgettable day trip, set off for Apache Junction to take in miles of dramatic desert wilderness and uncover the town’s intriguing history and lore of hidden gold.
Tap into Your Creative Side
While not as big as neighboring Phoenix, Mesa stands as one of the major cities of the Southwest. The town boasts a population of close to 500,000 and hosts a slew of fun festivals year-round. Like any big city, culture is a top priority. With more than 200 public art sculptures peppered throughout the downtown core, it’s hard not to notice Mesa’s dedication to the arts. From gigantic murals to immersive installations, Mesa encourages visitors to interact with the beauty that’s all around them.
The city is also home to the award-winning Mesa Arts Center. Boasting multiple theaters, galleries, exhibition rooms and classrooms, this beautifully designed, seven-acre campus is the largest arts and entertainment park in the desert Southwest. Enjoy complimentary outdoor concerts throughout the year at the Shadow Walk, or stroll through the five galleries of Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum to appreciate contemporary art from local and international artists. You can even participate in art workshops or attend lectures by art professionals here.
Take Me out to the Ball Game
If you’re a baseball fan, you’re in luck. Mesa is the spring training ground for the Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s. Every March, hundreds of thousands of fans flock to Mesa to watch more than 200 MLB baseball games in just 30 days. Catch the Chicago Cubs play at Sloan Park and the Oakland A’s at the recently renovated Hohokam Stadium. Just be sure to secure tickets early on as they sell out fast. Mesa also hosts a variety of sporting events such as NCAA and NJCAA National Championships, WAC Baseball and USA Swimming competition.
If you’d rather be a player than a spectator, consider teeing off at one of over 40 golf courses. All located within a 30-minute drive of downtown, Mesa courses leave golfers in awe as phenomenal views of sweeping vistas, clear blue skies and craggy mountains envelop perfectly manicured greens. Thanks to year-round sunshine, courses are always open and vary from traditional links play to difficult desert golf.
Feast along the Fresh Foodie Trail
Experience agritourism at its finest in Mesa. Featuring 10 farm-to-table destinations, the Fresh Foodie Trail takes you on a culinary journey through Arizona’s agricultural epicenter.
Learn about Mesa’s role in the citrus industry and sample the sweetest oranges in town at the Orange Patch. See how olives are made into extra virgin olive oil while tasting a variety of oils, olives and vinegar at Queen Creek Olive Mill. Experience farm life firsthand and pet pigs, cows and chickens at Superstition Farm, or find out how to grow your own organic produce and eat healthier at True Garden. The possibilities are endless on the Fresh Foodie Trail.
When it’s time to stretch your legs and explore the great outdoors, Mesa features an abundance of choices. The surrounding Sonoran Desert landscape and nearby Tonto National Forest present a world of scenic mountain trails, panoramic byways, freshwater lakes and gentle winding river environments hike, bike, paddle or swim. Given the incredible geology of the area, backcountry horseback tours, hot air balloon rides and guided kayak expeditions are among the most popular outdoor activities.
Closer to town, the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College is a perfect place to wander and stroll. Home to more than 9,000 variously colored rose bushes, the Garden is the largest of its kind in the entire Southwest. Self-guided tours are available with the use of a mobile phone, but the best way to enjoy this blooming desert oasis is by tagging along on a professionally guided tour, which takes about an hour to complete.
Venture into the Old West
Trade urban luxury for wilderness adventure by heading to Apache Junction, 20 miles to the east of Mesa. Nearby, you’ll find the Superstition Mountains, the largest mountain range in the region. Topping out at 3,000 feet, this rugged landscape boasts stark volcanic peaks punctuated by boulder-strewn canyons. From hiking trails and wildlife viewing to horseback riding and camping, the Superstition Mountains and Lost Dutchman State Park are the perfect destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. Once the home of Native Americans, Spanish explorers and gold miners, this region is shrouded in legend.
The most famous story of all is of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. The Dutchman was actually a German miner named Jacob Waltz, who spent much of his life scouring the Superstition Mountains for gold. According to legend, he found a mine with riches beyond his wildest dreams and later showed off the gold ore he’d unearthed during visits to Phoenix. When he passed away, he left cryptic clues about the mine’s location. This has attracted treasure hunters from far and wide, but the mine’s location remains elusive.
To learn more history and folklore, visit the Superstition Mountain Museum for interesting artifacts and Native American handicrafts, or go back in time by taking a stroll through Goldfield Ghost Town. Just off Mammoth Mine Road, this reconstructed 1890s community features a general store, blacksmith shop, boarding house, saloons and more. Enjoy a train ride around town, pan for gold or take a mine tour in reconstructed tunnels modeled after an 18th-century dig.
For More Information
Arizona Office of Tourism