48 Hours in Mesa, Arizona

With the beautiful desert terrain and an unexpected wealth of bodies of water making Mesa and the surrounding area a great destination for plenty of watersports, this part of the Sonoran Desert needs to be bumped up to the top of the list for your next guys getaway.

Where to stay
If there are are any baseball fans in your crew, you’re already well aware that Spring Training happens in Arizona. Book a couple of suites at the Sheraton Mesa Hotel at Wrigleyville West and you’ll be neighbouring Sloan Park, which is the stadium where the Chicago Cubs do their spring training. Mesa can be a bit quieter than bigger cities such as Scottsdale, so if you’re looking to crank it up a bit in terms of nightlife and kicking back with some beers at a pool during the day, switch things up and plan for half of your trip to be at The Phoenician. With a few luxe pools to choose from and the music going on the speakers, you and your buds can park yourselves on some loungers for the day as you work on your tan.

What to do
You’ll find plenty of street art in Phoenix, but more and more murals are starting to pop up in Mesa so be sure to include a stroll through town while staying at the Sheraton.As for taking advantage of the great outdoors, there are plenty of hiking trails in the area where you can get some epic sunrise or sunset views. With the sunshine beating down on you, though, you may be more inclined to lean toward watersports. Rent a paddleboard and hit up the calm Saguaro Lake or for more of a challenge–you’ll find the current can pick up significantly in certain areas–take on the Salt River. Better yet, combine your outing with helping keep the river clean by making your SUP outing a couple of hours of plogging with Desert Paddleboards. What’s plogging? PIcking up trash while jogging, and here in Mesa, you take it onto the river instead and paddle while plucking litter from the water. If you’re a bunch of thrillseekers, then definitely book a whitewater rafting day with Mild 2 Wild Rafting Adventure. Expect rapids rated class 2-3 and getting drenched in the process as you make your way through the 2000-foot deep canyon. Hold on tight if you don’t want to get tossed off the raft!

Where to eat
Even the heartiest of appetites might find themselves with leftovers on their plate at Jalapeno Bucks. Set alongside an orchard, this popular BBQ restaurant serves up enormous burritos and quesadillas, and they’re best known for their Brisket PB&J, which as its name suggests is a brisket sandwich with both peanut butter and jelly. Pro tip: Do not miss out on the housemade salsas to dress your meal of choice. Foodies will also want to book a dinner plenty in advance (they sell out early!) with Clothe & Flame. Their gourmet culinary experiences take place in stunning locales such as at Superstition Mountain and their community dinners are created with a view to helping conserve precious land resources.

Where to drink
Stop into the town of Gilbert for a walk along the cute main street where there’s plenty of fun neon signs and for a pitstop, grab a seat at the bustling Postino East Wine Cafe where you’re in a prime spot for people watching as you enjoy some vino (they have an extensive wine prgram that focuses on wines from Arizona, Colorado and Texas). If you’re in Mesa for the second Friday of the month, head downtown at night 2nd Friday where you enjoy live music and local art along the way during this street fest and enjoy a craft beer at one of the bars downtown, such as Oro Brewing Company.

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Flare, Elle Canada and ElleCanada.com, Glow, Metro, Huffington Post Canada, Travelife and Travel + Escape. She also runs her blog, HealthandSwellness.com, where she writes about health, beauty, fitness and lifestyle.

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