Just 15 minutes east of the hustle and high rises of Dallas, Mesquite is a place that offers an altogether different kind of Texas city experience. Draped with an Old West charm and a progressive arts and entertainment scene, Mesquite is a city that seamlessly blends the old with the new — the energy of urban life with a down-to-earth hospitality. (And, of course, there’s some pretty world-class BBQ, too!)
Whether you’re traveling to Dallas for work or searching for a weekend getaway that’s full of fun surprises, here’s why Mesquite should be on your Texas travel radar.
1. Authentic Texas & Old West Vibe
Mesquite is about as Texas as it gets. Before settlers arrived, it was open prairie land and a key trading ground for Native Americans. In the late 19th century, when the Texas & Pacific Railroad was laid from Dallas to Shreveport, a community began to form along the fertile banks between North and South Mesquite Creek. The city was officially incorporated in December 1887, and since then, it has played host to a classically Western mix of homesteaders and cowboys. Today, the city’s heritage is alive and well, possessing an Old West vibe — with plenty of historic sites sprinkled among its high concentration of trees and parks — and it’s also become the “Rodeo Capital of Texas” (but we’ll get into that more in a little bit!).
2. The Arts & Culture is Its Best-Kept Secret
One thing visitors to Mesquite are sometimes surprised by is how impressive and thriving the arts scene is. Aptly described as the “heART of Mesquite,” the Mesquite Arts Center has been bringing high culture to the city in the form of visual arts, theatrical performances and world-class concerts since 1981. Don’t miss the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra, a community-created ensemble that is volunteer-based and has been around for more than 30 years.
Whether you’re driving around town and appreciating the public art displays sprinkled around the city or attending a community theater performance, there’s always a way to get culturally elevated in Mesquite.
3. Great (and a Great Many) Green Spaces
To understand how great the green spaces are, let’s take a brief little look at some of the accolades Mesquite has racked up in recent years. First, it’s home to a whopping number of public parks — over 70! — ranging from athletic fields to fishing parks to linear bike paths. With access as easy as this, it’s no surprise Mesquite has been recognized as a Playful City USA for the last four years, an award given to cities that foster great environments for kids to get the active play they need to thrive. On top of this, Mesquite has achieved Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation for over 25 years — an award that celebrates cities with really great urban forestry programs. Oh, and for all you frisbee fans out there, Mesquite is also home to the largest disc golf course in all of Texas!
4. Mouthwatering Eats
Whatever you’re in the mood for, Mesquite’s got it, from authentic global eats to seafood shacks to taquerias, but you can’t miss the chance to dig into some of the state’s culinary staples, Tex-Mex and barbeque. Everyone has their personal preferences, but one can’t-miss spot is Mesquite BBQ. This time-tested, no-frills spot has been doling out ribs, brisket and pulled pork for close to 60 years! Another one of Mesquite’s most beloved local spots is the Zagat-rated Yia Yia’s House of Gyros, whose speciality is (guess what?) gyros. With a 5-star rating on Yelp and pretty darn close to 5 stars everywhere else, many call it the best restaurant in Dallas—and we have to agree!
The city’s newest restaurant, Porch Swing, is breathing new life into the old Spaghetti Warehouse building and will be a “comfortable place for a good meal, a nice drink and live entertainment.” It will feature a small menu with a few proteins and traditional Southern sides, like mashed potatoes, collard greens, and fluffy biscuits.
5. The Devil’s Bowl Speedway
It’s a fitting name for what’s hailed as the most famous dirt racetrack in the Southwest, designed in a D shape with the straight part some 15 feet higher than the front. This gives grandstand spectators a devilishly good view of the action on the track. Racing enthusiasts won’t want to miss the chance to see the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, which features powerful, customized cars that zoom around the track in a spectacular show of speed and skill.
6. The “Rodeo Capital of Texas”
There’s no better place to kick up your heels for the original Texas extreme sport than Mesquite, declared by the Governor the “Rodeo Capital” of the Lone Star State. The action happens at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo Arena, and one of its signature events, the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, offers a summer series that’s chock-full of fun for the whole family. There are special rodeos throughout the year. In addition to the competitive events, attendees are invited to meet the cowboys and cowgirls before the show, as well as enjoy roping demos, free pony rides and bull riding lessons, among other festivities. PRCA-sanctioned events, meanwhile, include bull riding, saddle bronc, and bareback riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, cowgirl barrel racing and team roping.
Written by Blane Bachelor for RootsRated in partnership with Mesquite CVB.