Small town charm meets big city fun.

While Las Vegas and Reno offer white-glove hospitality and world-class entertainment, it’s our rural destinations that give visitors a glimpse into the heart and soul of our state.

The Old Spanish Trail was—by 1800s standards—a superhighway for traders, settlers, and explorers. Rather than being one route, the trail was a network of roads stringing together far-flung communities of the American Southwest from Santa Fe to Los Angeles. However, no matter which direction folks traveled, all paths converged in the verdant Virgin River Valley through what is now Mesquite.

Mesquite circa 1945 © Virgin Valley Heritage Museum


The Virgin River has seen settlement for millennia. The Virgin Puebloans—a culture closely connected to the Ancestral Puebloans of Mesa Verde—arrived in the valley in the first century. For more than 1,200 years, they built adobe towns and irrigated the land for farming. After the collapse of the Puebloan culture, the valley became home to the Southern Paiute. In fact, their agricultural villages were among the first sights for the Spanish and Europeans arriving in the region. 

Mesquite was founded by Mormon families under the direction of church leaders in Salt Lake City. The community—established in 1880 with the name Mesquite Flats—was one of several towns in the area created to bolster the Mormon cotton industry and limit reliance on East Coast imports. 

Farming the desert landscape proved a challenge. The town was repopulated several times, particularly after floods in 1882 devastated six miles of irrigation. After plenty of hard work, the town stabilized and began exporting cotton and raisins. In 1898, its name was shortened to Mesquite. 

Over the next few decades, the town grew and gradually swapped farms for ranchland and dairies. In the 1970s, Mesquite enjoyed a second life as a tourist destination after the completion of Interstate 15. Mesquite was again a transit point for travelers, though instead of wagon convoys on the Spanish Trail, it was road trippers lodging in motels and relaxing at the border town’s casinos.

Today, Mesquite is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, golfers, vacationers, and retirees. Whatever your interests, you’ll find plenty to do in this picturesque community located just one hour northeast of Las Vegas.


Whether passing through or staying the night, old downtown is a wonderful opportunity to stretch the legs and check out some small-town culture. Pick up a map of the walking tour (found in public buidings and shops) to enjoy an eight-block round trip journey into the community’s past. You’ll also find a few buildings from modernity worth visiting.

Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery and Center—Tour an ever-rotating gallery of stunning creations from local artisans. Consider picking up a souvenir; you’ll find excellent pieces for as low as $15. 

Virgin Valley Heritage Museum—This building has been a hospital, a clubhouse for teens, and now a fascinating archive of the valley’s history. You’ll explore historic relics from millennia-old basketry to Edison phonographs, but don’t miss the live thread spinning demonstrations using cotton grown on the property.

Hole Foods Bakery


Looking for a place to get your grub on? Although you’ll find a host of quality restaurants inside Mesquite’s casino-resorts and golf courses, consider these options during your travels.

Golden West Restaurant & Casino—This one might be in a casino, but it’s also one of the town’s oldest eateries. This 24-hour tiny diner punches well above its weight with some fantastic fare. If American-style comfort food is your thing, this is a strong recommendation.

Hole Foods Bakery—Grab your morning coffee here and throw in a hefty cinnamon roll and an éclair for good measure. This delicious bakery offers the best baked goods around, and if you’re visiting around lunch time, don’t miss their sandwiches.


We won’t bring any hard statistics into this, but with a whopping six public courses for its 19,000 residents, few places are likely to beat Mesquite’s courses per capita.

Casablanca Golf Club—Play through 18 holes while taking in the lush landscape of the Virgin River. Consider bundling a stay-and-play experience at Casablanca Hotel and Resort.

Conestoga Golf Club—This 18-hole, Gary Panks-designed course offers an excellent driving range and one of the best restaurants in town, the 1880 Grille.

Coyote Willows Golf Course—This 9-hole course is perfect for beginners but also offers one of the longest holes in town. Play here for a relaxing afternoon with the family. 

Oasis Golf Club—You’ll find two courses here. The Palmer Golf Course (care to guess the designer?) is 18 holes and is one of the highest rated in the state. The Canyons Golf Course ups the difficulty and serves as a challenge for veteran golfers. 

Palms Golf Course—One of the more photogenic courses around, this 18-hole course straddles the state border and offers a commanding view of the desert. 

Palms Golf Course © C2 Photography
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