Family Approved Fun Along The Apache Trail | Visit Mesa

August 15, 2023

Family Approved Fun Along The Apache Trail

Whether panning for gold or feeling your way through an underground mine, the Apache Trail offers an enriching experience for every member of the family. One of the most popular day trips for anyone visiting Mesa, the historic Highway 88 carves through the mysterious Superstition Mountains and into the foothills of the Tonto National Forest. On this scenic drive guests will encounter an authentic Old West stagecoach stop, a ghost town, the famous Elvis Presley Chapel, and the majesty of a mountain lake, all nestled in the beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape that captures the true essence of Arizona.


Cowboys and cowgirls are sure to rustle up a good meal and a fun time at Goldfield Ghost Town. Head out on horseback at the O.K. Corral Stables or take a ride on Arizona’s only operating narrow gauge railroad. Time your visit to their gunfights in the public square and soar above the town on the Superstition Zipline. Stop into Mother Lode Mercantile for their famous prickly pear fudge and gold nugget fudge (among others) and browse one of the sweetest old-time candy collections in town.


Ghostly, volcanic Superstition cliffs rise 2,000 feet, hiding the Lost Dutchman Mine, one of the most storied mines of the West. The Superstition Mountain Museum displays the artifacts, history and folklore of the Lost Dutchman and Superstition Mountains and surrounding region.

desert chapel with mountains behind

Hungry kids and more importantly, hungry moms and dads, will want to schedule time for hearty nibbles at Tortilla Flat Saloon & Settlement, an original stagecoach just beyond Canyon Lake. As well as being home for six adventurous people, Tortilla Flat has a charm that has surpassed time. Real saddles serve as bar stools where you can enjoy a cold brew or sarsaparilla. The unique wallpaper is festooned out of dollar bills from visitors worldwide. Killer chili on top of everything is a favorite here, along with their big burgers and Southwest-inspired dishes. Don't forget to save room for dessert and stop in the Old-Fashioned Ice Cream-Candy store and try the Prickly Pear ice cream.

Tortilla Flat

Head out on Canyon Lake for a “Mark Twain” voyage aboard the Dolly Steamboat, a replica of a sternwheeler paddleboat. Cruise the lakes’ secluded inner waterways and photograph desert bighorn sheep and other wildlife.

Dolly Steamboat

Experience the lush beauty of the Arizona Upland Sonoran Desert at the state's oldest and largest botanical garden. With spectacular views of Picketpost Mountain, Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located in scenic Queen Creek Canyon, just 30 minutes from Mesa, Arizona. Featuring plant collections from the world’s deserts, historic buildings and hidden gardens along miles of trails, the Arboretum is on the National Register of Historic Places. A haven for wildlife, the Arboretum has been called "the most enchanting" Audubon Important Birding Area in Arizona.

3 Miles of trails may not sound like a lot, but along the main trail are many specialty trails that branch off with unique offerings, including a small children's area to let the little ones explore the desert safely. The entire property covers 392 acres and inhabits over 3,900 individual species of plants.


In the spring, for 8 festive weekends, plan to stop in at the Arizona Renaissance Festival faire ground.
- Fourteen Stages of Continuous Live Entertainment
- An Outdoor Circus
- A Medieval Arts & Crafts Fair, Mermaids
- A Jousting Tournament with Three Performances Each Day
- A Day Long Feast, so much food and fun
Held weekends in February and March, see calendar of events for current dates

AZ Renaissance Festival jousting 2

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