Mesa is a city in Maricopa County about 20 miles east of the metropolitan capital. Bordered by Tempe, Gilbert, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, this large suburban city is home to approximately 504,000 people. A 2021 population review named Mesa the largest suburban city by population in the US. With a downtown full of artisan shops and boutiques, a plethora of preserved history, and the natural beauty of the Tonto National Forest, Mesa is a vibrant city with a wide assortment of leisure activities and attractions for visitors and residents.
Preserving history has long been a part of Mesa’s mission. Of its many historical attractions, the Mesa Grande Cultural Park is one of the most notable. It contains a centuries-old burial mound known as the Mesa Grande platform mound, built in AD 1100 by the ancient Hohokam people. The Arizona Museum of Natural History also features Hohokam artifacts in current and rotating exhibitions, featuring replicas of Hohokam homes and prehistoric artifacts from the Paleoindian hunters that claimed the area 13,500 years ago. In fact, the Hohokam had such advanced irrigation systems that some are still used in Mesa today.
In addition to its myriad of historical preserves, Mesa offers modern recreation. The Mesa Arts Center puts on theatrical performances, musicals, and contemporary art exhibits. The Mesa Amphitheatre, just fifteen minutes from the capital, hosts community events, concerts, and day-long festivals. With a state-of-the-art public transportation system, ample shopping and dining options downtown, and the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, Mesa brings accessible entertainment and history to both residents and visitors alike.