This post was most recently updated on November 11th, 2021
As someone who loves to explore a new place, I jumped on the invitation to stay in Mesa, AZ for a few nights. It didn’t hurt that the weather was warm and beautiful as well. Since I’d never been before, I was excited to see what Mesa has to offer. Even with only two days, I filled them with some incredible moments in Mesa, so now I’m sharing them with you.
Happy news! To make this article even more helpful to you, it has been converted to a GPS-embedded guide on GPSmyCity. Use it without internet or data to follow our footsteps! (I will receive a small commission if you purchase the guide — thank you!)
Where I stayed in Mesa
I’m starting with this because sometimes where you stay makes all the difference. My husband and I really wanted to stay somewhere that would feel like home. Life has been super crazy for us recently (won’t bore you with the details, but maybe your life has been the same) and we needed a break. My husband still had to work but is currently working remotely, so having a private and quiet home away from home was important. So this sweet little two-room cottage at Monte Vista RV Resort really fit the bill.
I wouldn’t have thought to look at an RV resort for lodging. (We don’t even own an RV!) I discovered that Petite Retreats places the cutest cottages (and tiny homes, yurts, cabins, and glamping tents) in the best locations throughout the US. To book the cottage where I stayed, just select “Sunny Getaways” and select Monte Vista. Or you can call Monte Vista directly at (480) 833-2223 to book. Monte Vista is an age 55+ community but we could have had family and even grandchildren visit with us.
A quick check on TripAdvisor reveals that Riverview Park is #8 of the best things to do in Mesa. But I beg to differ. If you have children or grandchildren to entertain, I think it would rate in the top three. It’s free, and there is so much to do here that is unique and fun. Riverview Park includes a 60-foot climbing tower, splashpad, shaded playground, and a twisting monkey bar contraption. But that’s not all. Restrooms, fishing ponds, lots of bird “patrons” to view, picnic areas, and large expanses of green grass and rows of palm trees make this one of the most enjoyable parks I’ve ever visited.
You don’t have to be a kid to love this park, but it might help to be young at heart. I loved the senery here, as well as the blue heron that flew down to join me on my walk around the fishing pond. It’s just another one of the incredible moments in Mesa waiting for you.
Mesa Arts Center
Even if you don’t have time to take in a show or gallery, the Mesa Arts Center is worth a visit to see its stunning architecture. Beautiful canopies, fountains, gardens, and art draw you in to explore the grounds. But if that’s not enough to get your attention, there are five art galleries, 14 art studios, and four theaters. The Mesa Arts Center is owned by the City of Mesa, and it is clear that offering art is an important focus.
West 2nd Street Historic District
West 2nd Street Historic District is not just a neighborhood of 50 historic homes. What it IS, is a community dedicated to preserving Mesa’s history, both of the homes’ original architecture and also the previous owners’ stories. It’s the oldest historic district in Mesa with a variety of historic styles. I personally loved the Craftsman style homes, but this is just a fun area to stroll or drive through if you appreciate any kind of historic architecture. It is bordered by North Robson Street on the west and North Center Street on the east and extends along West Second Street and portions of North Macdonald Street. (Click on any image to enlarge)
Mesa Community College Rose Garden
More than your typical backyard rose garden, the MCC Rose Garden is a sprawling garden with about 9000 rose bushes. It flanks both sides of the entrance to Mesa Community College on Southern Avenue. While I was there, I saw families picnicking on the green grass, young adults sitting under a trellis-covered arch, and a few children running along the path hiding behind trees. And then there was me — loving the deep shade and admiring the gorgeous roses in full bloom! This is a garden for all to enjoy and one that will also create incredible moments in Mesa. If nothing else, you will love the beauty and the aroma of the roses. Parking was free in non-permitted sites nearby.
Power Road Farmers Market
This is a unique site on my list of Mesa attractions. The Power Road Farmers Market is a small family-owned produce and specialty farmers market that’s been around over 50 years. They carry some products you might not find anywhere else, like Amish popcorn and cactus fruit candy. You’ll find lots of artisan honey and jellies, too. I enjoyed searching for novelties in this quaint country store. The staff is very friendly, and it’s just a little like stepping back in time. Check out their website for great recipes, too.
(I bought some goat cheese covered in cranberries and orange bits with pita chips for our movie-watching snack back at the cottage!)
Back at Monte Vista RV Resort
After exploring for most of the day, it was time to relax and enjoy some of the resort’s amenities. I opted not to play tennis, although it seemed very popular here. Instead, my husband and I went for a dip in one of the pristine pools. We nearly had it to ourselves, too!
Ready to explore downtown Mesa
Refreshed by our swim, we were ready to do some more exploring. Since we love street art and murals, we headed downtown to check out a Main Street art walk for the evening.
This art walk covers several blocks. But that’s not all that downtown Mesa has to offer. We also discovered a whole series of sculptures and several vintage boutique stores, including the very popular Old Brick House Vintage Market. Yay for shopping!
We were happy to see plenty of places to dine along Main Street. We chose Que Chevere (Venezuelan cuisine) and ate outdoors with a beautiful view of the setting sun. Just one more of our incredible moments in Mesa!
Remember the temperatures are warmer in Mesa from April through November, so evenings are the perfect time to stroll downtown. I hope you’ll enjoy browsing Mesa’s charming downtown Main Street as much as I did!
Mesa Side Trip options
Honestly there’s no need to leave Mesa, but if you’re staying awhile, you might enjoy checking out a few other attractions nearby. Miles are calculated from the Monte Vista RV Resort.
- Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction near the Superstition Mountains, 13 miles
- Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum in Apache Junction, 12 miles
- Discovery Park in Gilbert, 11 miles
- Gilbert Arizona Temple, 11 miles
- Papago Park: Hole in the Wall hike, Phoenix, 26 miles
I really appreciated the opportunity to discover Mesa and what it has to offer. It was a relaxing getaway, and yet I still had some incredible moments in Mesa visiting historic attractions, checking out the art scene, and photographing beautiful landscapes. Please comment below if I’ve missed any of your favorite Mesa attractions. I do hope you’ll make some special memories of your own…
As is common in the travel industry, I was invited by Petite Retreats to stay a few nights in a cottage and enjoy the resort amenities at Monte Vista RV Resort for the purpose of providing a review. I am grateful for the opportunity and have given an honest review based on my experiences.
It was fun working and then playing in Mesa!
What a wonderful post! I’ve been to Mesa a bunch to visit family but have never been to these places you mentioned–I’ll have to add them to my list the next time we travel there.
I would love to buy food at the farmer’s market and take it to the rose garden to eat. I am glad to hear that you had a nice weekend with your husband in these stressful times.
That would be a great combination!
Not going to lie, Mesa, Arizona doesnt top my list of bucket list type places to explore but I have to say it may work it’s way up the list cause it looks beautiful.
I love how this city is packed with art and culture while still maintaining it’s small local feel. For us, I know checking out the art scene at the Mesa Arts Center or just walking around the Main Street Art Walk in Downtown Mesa would be a highlight for us. We love street art.
Also, Darcee loves farmer’s Markets and I love exploring small local groceries as it helps me learn what people eat in certain areas. So we would love hitting up Power Road Farmer’s Market and maybe grabbing a picnic lunch to sit in the Community College Rose Garden!
Sounds like a wonderful weekend in Mesa! I would absolutely love exploring the West 2nd Street Historic District and the art galleries at Mesa Arts Center.
They were some of my favorites as well!
Great idea to search for cozy accommodation at an RV park!
It was much nicer and more fun than a hotel!
My sister lives in Gilbert, so I visit this part of AZ several times a year. I had no idea such a gorgeous rose garden existed. I’m excited to check that out the next time I’m there!
I moved to Mesa with my parents in 1950’s when
Mesa actually did have that “small town ” feel and the Phoenix Metro area had yet to be turned into the over crowded Megalopolis money hungry developers have made it today.
This article makes Mesa into a type of Disneyland and appears to sanction the destruction that has been visited upon the area under the guise of progress and development.
William, I’m sorry that you’ve experienced changes in Mesa you’re not pleased with. This was my first visit to Mesa, so I had no former Mesa to compare it with. I didn’t see Mesa as being “destroyed”, but as a very interesting city worth visiting for the many attractions it has. I imagine that just about any city has changed because of the demands of growing population and development, with not every change being positive.