Because it is located so close to Phoenix, the city of Mesa often gets overlooked by baby boomers who are exploring places to retire in Arizona. However, anyone who spends a couple of days in Mesa will quickly find out that the community has a vibe that is entirely its own.
If you are interested in learning more about the Mesa area, this 48-hour itinerary is the best way we have found to pack as much punch as possible into your visit.
Day One – Get To Know Mesa
Whether you’re flying in through Phoenix or coasting into town on fumes, the first stop for everyone spending 48 hours in Mesa should be a Tex-Mex restaurant. Jalapeño Bucks does a fantastic job of combining the best of Texas with a little bit of Mexican salsa. Everything on the menu here is outstanding, but if you are only going to visit once, you have to try one of their green chili burritos.
Now that you have recharged your batteries with a little bit of local cuisine, it’s time to explore the desert with Green Zebra Adventures. They will hook you up with a state-of-the-art off-road vehicle that they call a Tomcar, which will give you a ton of freedom to get out and cruise the desert.
For dinner on your first night in town, we’re going casual with a meal from Bobby-Q. With three locations in the state, Bobby-Q is a big name here in Arizona, and their barbecue is outstanding. But great barbecue isn’t the only thing on the menu here, make sure you check out the “Woodfired Steaks, Chicken & Fish” section of the menu too!
After dinner at Bobby-Q, we’re heading over to TQLA where you will find an impressive selection of tequila. We recommend ordering flights of tequila to share, but you can also treat yourself to one of their fantastic tequila cocktails.
Day Two – Expanding Your Arizona Horizons
With more than 40 first-class golf courses, we are pretty much obligated to kick off our second day in Mesa by breaking out the clubs and heading to a golf course with a view. And if you aren’t quite feeling like playing a course, you can also check out TopGolf, which is a three-level driving range with all kinds of fun targets and side games.
For lunch, we’re going to Backyard Taco for what will most likely be the best carne asada burrito you will ever put in your mouth. The chicken and “Al Pastor” options are also excellent, but the carne asada is a must-order here.
We explored the beautiful desert scenery in Tomcars on our first day in Arizona, so now it’s time to dig a bit deeper into the history of the area at one of the local wild west towns.
Rockin’ R Ranch and Rawhide Wild West Town both offer fun-filled wild west experiences where you will find yourself in gunfights, panning for gold, and souvenir shopping. Both towns will take up about two hours of your time, so adjust your plans to attend one or both depending on how late in the day it is.
For dinner, we are making a reservation at BBQ House. Have you noticed that every restaurant we have visited so far has been a slightly different twist on barbecue? Welcome to Arizona!
This version is a Korean BBQ restaurant where they will keep bringing you more than 40 different cuts of meat to cook on your own tabletop grill until you are full.
Following dinner, it’s off to the Fort McDowell Casino for a fun night of gaming. You can have your pick of slots and table games here, so kick back and enjoy your big night in Arizona.
Day Three – A Little Bit of History
On our last day in Mesa, we are going to sleep in a bit before going to Worth Takeaway for brunch. You can feel free to order the Breakfast Sandwich or Breakfast Burrito here, but we recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and trying the Pastrami Croque Madame or the Chicken Veggie Hash….or maybe both. 🙂
After brunch, it’s time to take in just a bit of the local history at the Arizona Museum of Natural History. Not only will you find dinosaurs here, but there are also tons of exhibits that will help give you a better perspective on what Arizona is all about.
Where to Stay in Mesa
For the most amazing experience possible in Mesa, you have to stay at the Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch. This rustic hotel is a historical experience complete with the absence of TVs or phones. You might not find the traditional amenities here, but you also won’t get the same view anywhere else.
If a great deal is what you are looking for, then the Courtyard by Marriot Phoenix Mesa is probably going to be your best bet. The room rates here will blow you away, and you won’t have to sacrifice any bit of service or cleanliness.
Anyone who really embraces the Arizona landscape could probably spend an entire 48-hour trip kicking back and looking at the mountains in the distance. While that experience would be fantastic in its own way, our itinerary will help first-time visitors get to know a more well-rounded Mesa, which will undoubtedly be helpful when deciding whether you want to start calling this area home.