Family vacations in Mesa can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters — it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Mesa family vacations.
Saguaro LakeA freshwater lake located just outside the city limits of Mesa, Saguaro Lake is a great way to escape the intense heat of the desert. Visitors can fish, swim, boat, water ski, hike or picnic. Paddleboats are also available for rental. Dining and refreshments are available at nearby concession stands and restaurants, like Lakeshore Restaurant on the Saguaro Lake Marina. The lake is open to the public year-round, offering anglers a variety of fish species including largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, catfish, rainbow trout and crappie.
Address: 14011 Bush Highway, Mesa, AZ 85215
Hours: 24 hours a day year-round
Broadway Palm Dinner TheatreThe Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre is the Greater Phoenix area’s premier entertainment spot. Visitors will enjoy a show paired with an all-you-can-eat buffet — all for one price. Shows range from the Legally Blonde musical to A Christmas Carol, and the Children's Theatre plays School House Rock Live! and The Nutcracker. Advance ticketing is encouraged, as the shows in this Mesa venue sell out quickly.
Address: 5247 E. Brown Road, Mesa, AZ 85205
Hours: Matinees are Tuesday through Saturday at 11:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.; evening performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 5:30 p.m and 7:30 p.m.
Price: Matinees, $46; evening performances, $49; children ages 12 and under, $22; show only, $28
Arizona Museum for YouthThe Arizona Museum for Youth is a hands-on museum for children of all ages. This Mesa museum encourages visitors to discover, create and explore the world around them through art projects and other displays in ArtZone. Visitors can let their imaginations run wild with crayons that are larger than life, glitter glue and continuing canvases which can be found at every corner. Exhibits encourage visitors to interact and learn about conservation for various elements on the globe.
Address: 35 N. Robson St., Mesa, AZ 85201
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays, call ahead for details.
Price: $7; infants under 2, free
Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium
The Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium is the only public zoo and aquarium between San Diego and Albuquerque, located about 30 minutes outside of Mesa. The zoo features more than 100 species from various parts of the globe. Visitors can view mammals, fish, amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles. The 180,000-gallon aquarium holds a multitude of species from around the world and is home to Nile crocodiles, barracudas, jellyfish, sharks and other marine life. The park also has a sky ride, a safari train, an Australian boat ride, a tide pool and a new log flume ride that goes through the aquarium's South Pacific reef tunnel tank.
Address: 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, AZ 85340
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: Adults, $27.50; children ages 3 to 12, $14.25; under 3, free. Certain attractions incur an extra cost.
Arizona Science Center
Arizona Science Center encourages visitors to have a hands-on approach to science with 300+ displays in its five themed galleries. The four-level science center will have visitors explore exhibits about hair-raising kinetic energy and music and the science of sound. The center has a five-story IMAX theater and a two-story planetarium. Food and refreshments are available as well.
Address: 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
Price: Adults, $12; seniors (62+) and children ages 3 to17, $10; children under 3, free. IMAX and planetarium incur an additional cost.
Arizona Museum of Natural HistoryThe Arizona Museum of Natural History will teach families about dinosaurs, art and ecological changes in the Southwest through interactive, hands-on exhibits. Visitors can view hundreds of species and fossils, pan for gold, or be part of a jail team pursuing a villain. Southwestern culture and history are the focus of the 60,000 items on display in the 80,000-square-foot Mesa museum.
Address: 53 N. MacDonald St., Mesa, AZ 85201
Hours: Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.; closed Monday and all major holidays
Price: Adults, $10; seniors ages 65 and older, $9; students, $8; children ages 3 to 12, $6; children under 3, free
Golfland Sunsplash is one of Arizona’s most fun amusement parks. Visitors can ride the fast, slippery slopes of the Master Blaster Water Coaster, play a round of golf on the interactive miniature golf course, race bumper cars on the Fastcar Raceway, shoot opponents in a game of laser tag at Lazer Knights or spend hours in the arcade playing any one of the 200 games available. There are food and refreshment stands throughout the park. The fun in the sun is endless, with different activities at every turn.
Address: 155 W. Hampton Ave., Mesa, AZ 85210
Hours: Open 365 days a year, hours vary between Sunsplash, Golfland, and Golfland Raceway. The park is generally open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Check website for specific times.
Price: Super Sun Splash Fun Pass, $35.95, different packages available. Check website for details.
Have you been to Mesa? What are your favorite attractions?
CHECK OUT MORE FAMILY TRAVEL GUIDES.