This is neat!

Three museums in Mesa free on the first Sunday of every month for next year.

I love the Arizona Museum of Natural (read: Dinosaur) History. I think I liked the dinosaur stuff as much as my boys. You gotta take the kids (and dads) to this museum.

The dream of budget-strapped parents, arts-and-culture buffs, and anyone with a lot of company in town is now a reality. Starting today, three Mesa museums will offer free admission the first Sunday of every month.

” The different museums had offered free admission days before, but it was never on a regular basis,” says Mesa Arts Center spokeswoman Sarah Moran. ” Now, you’ll know that on the first Sunday of every month, they offer free admission, and you can plan on it.”

Two of the museums are longtime Mesa institutions “” Arizona Museum of Natural History and Arizona Museum for Youth. The third is the award-winning, five-gallery Mesa Contemporary Arts, housed in the modern and striking Mesa Arts Center.

” They’re amazing,” says Moran. ” The natural history museum is three stories, with dinosaurs and waterfalls. The youth museum has a lot of hands-on elements, so kids can see the art and then emulate it or interact with it in their own way. The contemporary arts museum is more of an adult venue, but kids of the right age will enjoy it, too.”

Adding to the appeal of a free outing is the parking situation: You can park once and walk from one facility to the next because they’re within blocks of each other.

Downtown also offers restaurants and shops along its wide, paloverde-and-colonnade-shaded Main Street sidewalks.

The museum initiative, called 3 for Free, is sponsored by Target. The retail corporation has provided the funds for the museums to offer free Sundays for 12 months.

Arizona Museum of Natural History

Arizona Museum for Youth

Mesa Contemporary Arts