David Abolafia

More Than Just the Marvels of Mesa

David Abolafia


In Mesa, it’s easy to be blinded by the sweeping desert vistas and scenic landscapes that surround you. And when you plan a trip to Arizona’s third-largest city, you want to be sure to take your camera to capture this abundance of natural beauty. At the same time, there are many other attractions in the city that likewise shouldn’t be missed.

For example, the Commemorative Air Force Museum is a showcase of the aircraft and other operational aspects of the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. See exhibits devoted to: the B-17 Flying Fortress “Chow Hound” that was lost in action during World War II; aircraft from Soviet-era manufacturing, along with a collection of German and Japanese artifacts from World War II; “Honoring the Fallen,” commemorating the nearly 125,000 war dead who rest in 24 overseas military cemeteries, and more than 94,000 others who are memorialized on tablets of the missing, memorial monuments and markers throughout the world; the black pioneers of aviation, including the Tuskegee Airmen – who were important factors in the initiation of social change to achieve racial equality in America; and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) – the 1,074 women who passed the rigorous training of military flying school and became a part of the United States Air Force during World War II.

The Arizona Museum of Natural History is the premier natural history museum in Arizona. It is dedicated to inspire wonder, respect and understanding for the natural and cultural history of the Southwest. Explore Arizona and the Southwest from the creation of the earth 4.5 billion years ago to the present. See the origins of life on earth, meteorites and minerals. In Dinosaur Hall, discover some of the biggest dinosaurs that ever lived, and on Dinosaur Mountain see how some appeared and sounded in a natural context. In a Walk through Time, explore ancient Arizona’s Paleozoic Seas, Triassic Petrified Forest, monsters of the Cretaceous Seas, and the first animals to fly.

In a kind of counterpoint, the Mesa Historical Museum’s mission is to celebrate the spirit of Mesa and the surrounding community. The organization accomplishes its mission by preserving and exploring community resources that inspire individuals to connect their lives with the social history of the community. It restricts its collecting to objects and images of cultural, historical or technical significance that can contribute to the documentation and interpretation of the history of Mesa; as well as be used to support the exhibition, research and education programs of the museum.

The i.d.e.a. Museum (formerly the Arizona Museum for Youth) is the place to explore your imagination through design in art, science and technology! The museum supports “your child and the child within you” by providing interactive opportunities that engage your senses and encourage creativity. There are three main exhibit areas – ArtVille, the HUB and Blacklight Room, plus the Whiteman Family Exhibition Gallery – and an outdoor atrium to explore during your visit.

Depending on the time of year, sports fans will get a kick out of the Mesa scene. For instance, half of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams hold spring training in the Arizona Cactus League. Two of those teams – the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics – play their “home” games in Mesa, at Sloan Park and Hohokam Stadium, respectively. Meanwhile, if you simply want to stretch out and relax, check out Salt River Tubing, with refreshing “float trips” downstream… where the mountain-stream waters are a cool respite to beat the heat. Or, if you prefer horsing around, you can get your equestrian fix via Saguaro Lake Ranch Stables. These riding stables provide guided horse trail rides through the Sonoran desert in the majestic Goldfield mountain range; trails take you on saguaro cactus studded ridges, across and along the Salt River, into dry arroyos, and up the creosote covered hills that overlook Saguaro Lake.

And for a family outing, be sure to leave yourself a day at Golfland Sunsplash. Golfland is the ultimate family fun center, where you can play over 200 video games, challenge your friends to a game of laser tag or hit the greens on one of three 18-hole miniature golf courses. Race for the finish line on the Fastcar Racetrack, make a splash in the Bumper Boat Lagoon, or let the little ones have fun in the Splash Pad or Putt’s Play Land. Sunsplash is an awesome collection of water rides, slides and pools… an incredible place to soak up good times!

To plan your trip to Mesa, or any of our other fantastic destinations, give us a call at (888) 269-0182, Mon – Fri 9am to 5pm.

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