Church members explored Arizona numerous times as a possible settlement site between 1858 and 1873. There were small colonies established at points and even a few successful settlements where members farmed with the Indians at Moencopi, but all were forced out due to hostilities in the area. In 1876 they tried again, this time with a large number of pioneers and managed to establish four settlements and were crucial to organizing the first stake in 1878. Mesa was the first temple to be built in Arizona and was completed in 1927. This was only the 7th LDS temple to be constructed. Another temple (Idaho Falls, ID) was not built until 1945. Before 1927, the closest temple was the St. George Utah Temple. The trail from Arizona to St. George was nicknamed the Honeymoon Trail because of the many people that traveled to the temple to get married. Mesa was the first temple to present the endowment in a language other than English, when in 1945, they presented in Spanish. Known as the "Lamanite Temple" because of the many Hispanic, Native Americans and Mexican Saints that made annual excursions to the temple. It's also one of only three temples (Laie Hawaii & Cardston Alberta) that have no spires or towers. Large reflecting pools and palm trees beautify the grounds.
Mesa has several great places to eat. Pho is the Vietnamese favorite at UnPhogettable. For something unique, try many different types of empanadas from savory to sweet at Republica Empanada. For an eclectic range of food with a Mexican twist, visit Blue Adobe Santa Fe Grille. Great breakfast is waiting at Crackers & Co. Try the Butterfinger Banana French Toast. Organ Stop Pizza provides decent pizza and a magnificent organ show.
Mesa is definitely not a small town, but it's not really considered a vacation destination either and the attractions are somewhat limited. The Arizona Museum of Natural History educates you on dinosaurs and ancient cultures. Explore war planes and World War II history at the Commemorative Air Force Museum. You may even get to see an old war bird take flight. For amusement type parks that will keep kids entertained, you can try Golfland SunSplash, Amazing Jake's Food and Fun or Makutu's Island in Scottsdale. For a re-created Old West, Ghost Town experience, head to Goldfield Ghost Town. Take a train ride or go underground for a mining tour. It's about a 30 minute drive outside the city.