By Emily Sampl//Correspondent
Beginning April 11, the Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa, Ariz. will play host to many of the top U.S. and international swimmers during the Arena Grand Prix at Mesa presented by VisitMesa.com. The event is the second of two new stops on USA Swimming’s Arena Grand Prix Series.
For a state with so little water in its desert landscape, Arizona sure has produced a lot of great swimmers, with a handful of notable Olympic swimmers coming out of the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and some of the many great club teams in the area like Tucson Ford and Phoenix Swim Club. It seems fitting, then, that the Arena Grand Prix will finally be making its way to the Grand Canyon state.
Here are a few interesting facts about the state of Arizona and some restaurants and attractions you may want to check out between sessions.
Interesting Facts About Mesa and the State of Arizona
1. On February 14, 1912, Arizona became the 48th state admitted to the union. “Gadsonia,” “Pimeria,” “Montezuma” and “Arizuma” were all considered as names for the original territory, but in the final bill it was officially named Arizona. Much of the state is desert, and Arizona is home to more than half a dozen national parks, including the breathtaking Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Several Indian tribes still reside in the state, including the Navajo, Hopi, Apache tribes and others.
2. Along with Hawaii, Arizona is the only other state in the U.S. that does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Half the year, Arizona is in the Pacific time zone, while the other half they reside in the Mountain time zone. The Navajo Nation, located in the northeast corner of the state, does observe Daylight Savings, however.
3. During World War II, several German prisoner of war and Japanese-American internment camps were located in Arizona. Japanese-Americans living in western Arizona were required to live in the camps during the war. After the war, the camps were outlawed.
4. Mesa is the third-largest city in Arizona, behind Phoenix and Tucson. The city has an elevation of just over 1,200 feet and sees about 320 days of sunshine each year.
5. Mesa is home to the largest arts complex in Arizona, the Mesa Arts Center, which opened in 2005 in downtown Mesa. The complex includes four theatres, five galleries and 14 art studios.
Restaurants and Attractions in Mesa
1. If you have an afternoon to go exploring, the Apache Trail/Superstition trip is definitely one worth making. The trip is 65 miles roundtrip and showcases the gorgeous Arizona desert wilderness and scenery as it winds through the Superstition Mountain range. The Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum features some of the interesting history of the Lost Dutchman Mine and Superstition Mountains. For more information and directions, check out http://www.visitmesa.com/things-to-do/excursions/apache-trail-superstition.
2. If you’re hungry for some great pizza and great food in general, head to BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery. Famous for their signature deep-dish pizzas and array of pastas, sandwiches and tasty appetizers, you’re sure to find something on BJ’s menu that satisfies your cravings. Looking for a tasty reward after the meet? Try one of BJ’s Pizookie’s for dessert, a large, warm cookie topped with a generous scoop of ice cream. Yum.
3. Like baseball? The Major League Baseball regular season will be in full swing by the time the Arena Grand Prix rolls into town, and the Arizona Diamondbacks will be in town on Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13 playing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field in Phoenix, just a short drive from Mesa. The games start at 6:40pm and 5:10pm, respectively. Check out http://arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com for more information and tickets.
4. Arizona is famous for its tasty Southwest/Mexican food, and you’ll find an array of restaurants in town serving authentic Southwest dishes. Baja Joe’s Mexican Cantina is a mix of Mexican and seafood and is sure to satisfy your hunger. It’s a great restaurant for small and large groups, and with plenty of flat screen TVs and live entertainment it will certainly be an exciting meal. Check them out at http://www.bajajoescantina.com.
5. If a little retail therapy sounds appealing between sessions, there are plenty of options in Mesa. Check out the Dana Park Village Square, Power Square Mall, Superstition Springs Center, Fiesta Mall or Mesa Riverview for a great shopping, walking, and dining experience in the sun. Visit http://www.visitmesa.com/things-to-do/shopping to check out each of these locations.