Memories in Mesquite

A Summer Family Getaway Shakes Up a Family’s Routine

By Jennifer Casseday-Blair

After dropping my 14-year-old daughter, Gracie, off at school on a rainy morning in late May, I drove home on the soggy roadways dreaming of the fun in the sun I’d have with my family once school was out. As I passed by the house of our long-time friends and neighbors, the Morrisons, I was reminded of the recent visit they had made to nearby Mesquite, Texas. They relived their vacation over dinner last week, telling us about the historic sites they visited, shopping they did and abundance of family activities they had fun with. With summertime quickly approaching, I began orchestrating the ultimate “staycation” that would give Gracie, my husband, David, and me the change of pace we needed. 

Day 1: Wild Ride

We had already chosen our first daytime activity in Mesquite, but we had to make a decision for our evening entertainment. 

So on the quick 45-minute drive from our home in Fort Worth, our family debated back and forth about whether to spend the evening watching cars race at Devil’s Bowl Speedway or enjoy a Western experience at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. The Morrisons’ oldest son, Toby, raced cars competitively, and their primary reason for visiting Mesquite was to watch him whiz around the track at the Speedway. However, online reviews made the Mesquite Championship Rodeo sound so tempting. Unfortunately, both activities take place at the same time during the weekend. As we pulled into town, we decided on the horsepower found in the arena this time. 

But first, it was time for old-fashioned fun. And nothing screams fun like a one-stop destination offering bumper boats, arcade games, mini-golf, go-karts, laser tag, rock climbing, paint ball, pizza and bottomless soda. Celebration Station gave our family a run for the money. The Morrisons had taken Toby when he was younger, and they thought Gracie would love it. It ended up being a place with fun things to do for kids of all ages—including their parents!

Gracie and I battled it out over Ms. Pac Man, but I was still the champ. Proving that she wasn’t a poor sport, Gracie then challenged us to a go-kart race. After handily outpacing us on the track, her father and I joked that we hoped her performance wasn’t an indication of how she’d drive on the roadways in a few years. David accomplished a hole-in-one at the mini-golf course, making us all winners that day. I bought everyone ice cream to celebrate our victories, and then it was time for the rodeo. 

Growing up in the country, I have been to my fair share of rodeos, but I’d never experienced anything like the one in Mesquite. The faint smell of the horse barn, endless sea of cowboy hats and exaggerated drawl echoing in the arena from the rodeo announcer added to the charm of our Texas weekend. Gracie loved the high-definition video boards—they made it easy to see all the action and kept us on the edge of our seats, feeling like we were right on the arena floor with the skilled cowboys maneuvering their muscular horses. We eagerly watched classic rodeo events including bull riding, cattle roping and barrel racing, and were amazed at the speed and experience of the athletes.

We gorged ourselves on the smorgasbord of concession offerings. After hickory smoked brisket, sausage, fruit cobbler and lemonade, I was afraid it’d take a team of horses to get us back to our car. With heads full of visions of bucking broncos, we returned to our hotel, and sleep came easily after day one of our Mesquite adventure.

Day 2: Parking It

Saturday had been a full day, so we all enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday morning. Once we awoke, we agreed that we wanted to stay active but at a more leisurely pace. The Morrisons had mentioned a beautiful trail that sounded like a perfect way to start our day so we laced up our sneakers and headed out.

The Mesquite Heritage Trail turned out to be a great way to explore Mesquite. Part of the city’s hike and bike system, its 4.25 miles of easy concrete trails and sidewalk, three trailheads, exercise station and pedestrian bridge gave us plenty of opportunities to stroll through the city, admiring the lush green scenery as we walked.

A morning of walking on the trail in the sunshine warmed us up, so we decided to spend our afternoon of swimming at the Aquatic Center at City Lake Park, just a quick drive from the trail. I’m not sure there’s another scent that signifies summer quite like chlorine and sunscreen. The cool clear water provided relief from the Texas summer heat, and David and I smiled as little ones slid down the colorful waterslides and squealed with excitement as they summited the water playground.

Working up quite an appetite as dinnertime approached, we unloaded the cooler we brought and walked a short distance to the lush green grass in the park just outside the Aquatic Center. I laid out the tattered quilt we always used for our family picnics, and we devoured sandwiches, chips and lemonade. We stretched out across the quilt as our food settled and reminisced about our day. Fireflies made an appearance after the sun had set.

Our drive home the next morning was bittersweet. Gracie chattered away about the cowboy she’d seen lasso a calf in record time, and David whistled along with a tune on the radio. When we pulled in to refuel, I texted the Morrisons again to thank them for all the suggestions. I’d always cherish the memories we’d made on this perfect family weekend just a hop, skip and a jump from home.

Plan your family’s next getaway in Mesquite, Texas. 

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