Four non-baseball things to do with kids in Mesa, Arizona

It’s another month until opening day of the official Major League Baseball season in Chicago, but in sunny Arizona, the Cactus League already is underway, with the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox opening their spring training seasons this weekend.

If you’re headed to Mesa for a spring training peak at America’s favorite pastime, here are four things in Mesa worth a look if you’re traveling with kids.

Joe’s Farm Grill

Come hungry, but not too hungry. Chances are you’ll wait at least 45 minutes just to put in your order. But it’s worth it, for the quality of this not-so-fast food and for the atmosphere in this development charmingly named Agritopia. This is the same Joe’s Farm Grill you’ve seen on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Channel.

The restaurant is housed in the family home where owner Joe Johnston spend his childhood. It’s in the middle of what was once the family farm. Although much of the land has been developed into the community now called Agritopis, there’s still a 12-acre “urban farm” that supplies the fruit, herbs and vegetables used in the restaurant.

The wait can be long, but there’s plenty of area for antsy kids to run and play while their adults stand in line.

Arizona Museum for Youth

This charming children’s museum is aimed at the under 10 set and uses an art foundation to keep kids engaged. The bright colors, calm atmosphere and endless array of things to do, draw, build and explore are a great way to entertain sun-burned kids on a long afternoon.

Arizona Museum of Natural History

When we first walk into this dinosaur-laden natural history museum, take a look at the schedule for the flash floods. It happens a couple times an hour and are worth a look. Dinosaur-loving kids will find plenty to like about this museum, which is crammed with huge, impressive dino skeletons.

Usery Mountain Regional Park

When you want to introduce your Midwestern city kids to Mother Nature at her desert finest, head to Usery Mountain Regional Park. For $6, an entire carload can explore the nature center, take one or more of the hikes (they range from .2 miles to 7 miles with varying degrees of difficulty) and sign up for the night hike in which you’ll use black light flashlights to find scorpions, which are covered in an exoskeleton that glows in the black light.

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