Exploring is a fantastic way learn more about their surroundings. You can take day hikes or visit museums with your family. There are many beautiful locations to visit within a couple of hours’ drive from Mesa, Arizona. If you are looking for a day trip for you and your family that is both fun and educational, look no further than this list of five day trips from Mesa you need to try. There is something for everyone, even if you want to drive an hour or two, which will be ideal for a trip with your little ones.
1. Grand Canyon
“The Grand canyon Arizona.” Used with permission via Public Domain Mark 1.0 by Bernard Spragg. NZ
The Grand Canyon is number one on many people’s lists of places to visit. It is a beautiful testament to what nature is capable of and is one of the world’s seven natural wonders. While a day trip out to this magnificent beauty may have you spending long hours in the car, it will be more than worth it when you arrive.
From Mesa, the Grand Canyon is a 496-mile roundtrip. The trip is just under four hours from Mesa but still doable in one day, especially if you leave early in the morning. It may be a long day for those in the 2 to 4-year-old range, but your infants will likely catch a couple of great naps along the way while your kindergartner can find plenty of exciting sights out their window. Snacks and car activities will also be your friend for this drive.
When you reach the park, you can easily spend hours exploring lookouts and sites throughout Grand Canyon National Park and along the Canyon Rim. Guided tours are available, as are helicopter flyovers of the canyon.
However, if you and your family prefer a self-guided experience, you can pick up a map at the entrance and start exploring. Some of the more popular attractions depending on which rim you go to, are places like the following:
- Kolb Studio
- Lookout Studio
- Hopi House
- Mather Point Overlook
- Rim Trail
- Geological Museum
- Hermit Road Drive
- Grand Canyon Railway Depot
- Bright Angel Trail
- Desert View Drive
This is just a selection of the trails and sites you can experience while spending a day at the Grand Canyon. If you decide to hit up multiple spots and turn your day trip into a weekend trip, there are many hotels in the area to stay in that are kid-friendly.
2. Apache Trail and Superstition
The Apache Trail is much closer to Mesa — only 65 miles, roundtrip. This historic trail allows you to immerse your little ones in Native American culture. You can walk in the footsteps of prospectors and Native Americans from 100 years ago and see the volcanic Superstition cliffs — which scale 2,000 feet —and the hidden Lost Dutchman Mine.
The Lost Dutchman Mine is one of the most talked-about mines in the West. Take your children to The Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum to see artifacts, history, and folklore from the area.
Goldfield is also in the area. In the 1890s, it was a prosperous community. Now it’s a desolate ghost town. Add a little intrigue to your day trip by taking the Goldfield Ghost Town’s guided tour of the Mammoth Mine. While there, enjoy the shops, saloon, and a vintage general store.
Venture a little further past the ghost town, and you will reach Canyon Lake Marina in the Tonto National Forest. Take a ride on Dolly Steamboat for the nature cruise. You and your family will get the experience of an old-fashioned riverboat cruise. As you float, your captain will share historical facts about the trail and the lake.
3. Wickenburg and Lake Pleasant
Head an hour north of Phoenix to visit a town steeped in the Old West. Here you can explore places like:
- Antique shops
- Art Galleries
- Outdoor trails
- Beautiful nature spots
- Historic buildings
- Vulture Mine
If you are more interested in water features, drive about 35 miles southeast to Lake Pleasant. It is one of the largest in the state, plus it has rentals for boats, fishing boats, deck boats, and even houseboats, which will surely be fun for your kids.
Hassayampa River Preserve is a protected wildlife environment with 4 miles of trails to hike that allows you to see birds, mammals, and reptiles, allowing you to teach your kids more about animals’ natural habitats.
4. Mogollon Rim
Take a 206-mile round trip trek to Mogollon Rim. Here you and your family will find the world’s largest natural bridge, Tonto Natural Bridge. The travertine bridge is 400-feet long and sits 183-feet high. Stand on top of the bridge and take in the secenry or follow the trail underneath the bridge so you and your family can marvel at its sheer size.
In the area lies Pine, a community settled by Mormon pioneers in 1879. The town is full of historical buildings, and they even have a Pioneer Days Celebration they hold yearly in July. It is one of the oldest of its kind.
Also, check out the nearby town of Strawberry, which gets its name from the wild berries growing in its hills. It is home to the state’s oldest schoolhouse made by pioneers in 1885. The schoolhouse still stands and is a state historical site.
5. Globe, Miami and Tonto
Globe and Miami are two historical mining communities filed with enough history to satisfy the most curious minds. You can visit the Besh-Ba-Gowah Indian Ruins, some of the most well-preserved sites in the Southwest region. On the San Carlos Reservation, you can visit the San Carlos Apache Cultural Center just 10 miles south of Globe.
Head toward Roosevelt Lake, and you will hit the Tonto National Monument. Adjacent to the monument, there is a hiking trail leading to the Salado Indian ruins. Here you can see the cliff homes from 500 years ago, giving you an idea of how the natives lived.
Of course, the final attraction is the Roosevelt Dam, one of the world’s largest masonry dams. Named after Theodore Roosevelt, the dam keeps the Valley of the Sun supplied with water.
We hope you enjoyed our list of places to take day trips with your children. Are there any that we here at Crème de la Crème of Mesa, AZ. did not put on the list you love? Please send us a note and let us know! We love day trips out to beautiful locations in our area.