Mesa, Arizona, and the surrounding area are home to some very unforgettable museums. Whether you imagine soaring through the skies or digging deep below the Earth’s surface, fun and educational opportunities abound.
Arizona Museum of Natural History
The goal of the Arizona Museum of Natural History is to inspire wonder, understanding, and respect for the Southwest’s cultural and natural history. The museum features 60,000 objects on display and 10,000 historic photographs. Permanent exhibits include Dinosaur Hall, Ancient Cultures of Mexico, Native Peoples of the Past, the Paleo Dig, and more. Rotating exhibits are also featured throughout the year. Children will get a kick of the Exploration Station, where they can take part in interactive exhibits.
Adults and kids alike will enjoy wandering the halls to see a flash flood pouring over a three-story mountain, meet a soft-shelled turtle named Tom and a Gila monster, and pan for gold in the Historic Courtyard. Test your skills as you navigate through the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.
Various programs are hosted by the museum throughout the year, providing further opportunities to learn with hands-on activities. For those who are interested in archeology, the museum provides opportunities for visitors to join scientific expeditions and paleontological digs.
The Arizona Museum of Natural is located at 53 N. Macdonald and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $7 for children 3 to 12 years of age, $10 for seniors 65 and over, and $8 for students 13 and older with a ID.
Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum
Learn about the history of the Air Force and aviation at the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum. Tour the hangar to see rare combat planes that date from 1912 through the Vietnam War. Inside, you’ll find a Spartan 7W Executive, Boeing Stearman A75Ni PT-17 Kaydet, North American P-51D Mustang, Grumman AF-2S Guardian, Sikorsky H19/S55 Chickasaw helicopter, and more. Docents are available to educate visitors on the history and planes and help you gain a better understanding.
Not only can you look at the planes, but you can also book a flight on one of seven flying warbirds, such as the Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor, Douglas C-47 Skytrain Dakota “Old Number 30,” and the North American SNJ Texan. Aside from the many aircraft, the museum is also home to exhibits featuring aviation memorabilia. Special events are hosted throughout the year, as well as additional educational opportunities.
The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum is on North Greenfield Road and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $15 for those 13 and older, $5 for kids ages 5 to 12, and $12 for seniors 62 and older and veterans. Active military and disabled veterans receive free admission.
People of all ages will enjoy exploring the wonderful museums Mesa has to offer. Learn more about the natural history of the area, as well as the history of aviation, and have fun doing so.