It’s the third largest city in Arizona (after Phoenix and Tucson), but take a stroll down Mesa’s Main Street and you couldn’t tell. It’s the kind of old-timey downtown where local restaurateurs and shop owners call each other by their first names and help fix each other’s AC during the summer months.
HOHOKAM HISTORY: The original canals in the area were built by the Hohokam people around 2,000 years ago, transforming the Sonoran Desert into a fertile and livable place. Mesa was registered as a 1-square-mile town site on July 17, 1878.
LIGHT RAIL LOCOMOTION: The Valley Metro Light Rail extension in Mesa was completed on August 22, 2015, with four new stops along Main Street – at Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street and Mesa Drive.
MULTI-MECCA: Home to ASU’s Polytechnic campus and Hohokam Stadium – the Oakland A’s (formerly Chicago Cubs’) spring training facility – Mesa is a mecca for students, sports fans, art enthusiasts and shoppers.
Shelley and Petar Nikolich, with their son Gannon and daughter-in-law Emilie, bought Queen’s Pizzeria more than five years ago, but it was this past July when they moved a few doors down and completely transformed the previous store into a cozy sit-down pizza joint. The foursome put considerable time and effort into creating a welcoming, homey restaurant where locals and visitors alike enter as strangers and leave as friends. Try their mouth-watering bruschetta and juicy fried garlic knots – they’re totally worth the garlic breath.
127 W. Main St.
Mesa Arts Center
As Arizona’s largest arts center, it’s no surprise Mesa Arts Center makes the list of must-dos on Main Street. Performance art lovers can drop in to see everything from stand-up comedy to smooth jazz – or get dolled up for a Broadway show, like Riverdance or Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. You might be inspired to take one of MAC’s painting or ceramics classes after attending one of their many art exhibitions. The facility is a work of art in itself, with an entry garden and architecturally alluring buildings.
1 E. Main St. 480-644-6500, mesaartscenter.com
Smith-O-Lator Cookie Shop
In just four short years, Heather Smith has grown from hobbyist cookie decorator to full-time baker and manager of Smith-O-Lator Cookie Shop, which she co-owns and operates with husband Travis. You don’t have to be a master chef to stock up on neat vintage sodas, locally produced flavored milks, and cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes. Cookies, made daily in the theater-style kitchen, can either be bought ready to go or custom-ordered ahead of time.
124 W. Main St. 480-969-5816, smitholator.com
“Plaza” is an accurate term for this gigantic antique paradise. Enter through the main store or the annex of Antique Plaza and you’ll lose yourself in the trinkets and treasures of times past. There’s a reason the store’s been in business for almost 21 years: It’s easily accessible and stylishly organized into specific nooks. You’ll discover everything from vintage magazines and mid-century modern furniture to pearl necklaces and war mementos curated from estate sales, auctions, thrift stores and their 80-plus dealers.
114 & 120 W. Main St.
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