Though we hope the Yuma Hamfest will be the highlight for out-of-town visitors to Yuma, the area provides a number of other attractions. Ranked by Money Magazine as one of the top places to live in the United States, it is no wonder that plenty of people who visit Yuma return one day to retire. This is the reason Yuma is one of America's fastest growing cities.
The Yuma Territorial Prison State Park is a must-see attraction if you have never been there. Located just off Giss Parkway on Prison Hill Road, this is one of the top attractions of its kind in the country. Between 1876 and 1909, this partially-restored penitentiary housed many of Arizona's most dangerous and notorious criminals. Made famous in movies, literature and television, the remains of the prison are now Arizona's most visited State Historic Park. There are multiple tours every day. Call (928) 783-4771 to check the times. Plan on spending several hours there if possible.
The Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park is another interesting historical attraction in Yuma. The Quartermaster Depot was authorized by Congress in 1865 and served the entire Southwest as a material transfer and distribution point for troops stationed at the outposts of the Arizona Territory. There is a museum at the site and a few structures from the depot's active period are still standing. There is also a 1907 Southern Pacific steam locomotive and coach car. Located at 210 North 4th Avenue.
The Sanguinetti House Museum is a museum of the Arizona Historical Society, and is one of Yuma's oldest and most historic buildings. Once the home of pioneer merchant E. F. Sanguinetti, the museum now exhibits artifacts, photographs and furnishings of Arizona's territorial period. Colorful gardens and aviaries with exotic and talking birds are maintained as they were at the turn of the century. The museum, library & gift shop are open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
The St. Thomas Mission is just across the Colorado River from downtown Yuma. Built on the grounds of the original Mission founded by Father Garces in 1780, the Mission is a reminder of the long history of the Quechan Indian Nation and Yuma. The present Catholic Mission Church was built in 1922 and is a replica of the original Mission that was destroyed during an Indian uprising in 1855. Open during services on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30, 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Call (760) 572-0283.
Yuma River Tours are available for those who enjoy the water. You can take a jetboat tour on the magnificent Colorado River, which combines beautiful scenery, the rich history of the lower Colorado river, and the wildlife found in and near the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge. The tour company also offers lunch and dinner cruises on a small sternwheeler. Call (928) 783-4400.
Los Algodones, Mexico is only a few miles from Yuma. Just take I-8 west 6.5 miles into California, then turn south two miles at the Algodones Road/Andrade exit. You can park on the American side of the border in the large lot on the right; then take a short stroll across the border for a shopping experience. The crafts come from all over Mexico, including clothing, belts, leather bags, blankets, pottery, carved onyx chess sets, glassware, and musical instruments. The residents and visitors of Yuma also find that the health care providers offer an affordable alternative to health care on the U.S. side of the border.
The Imperial Sand Dunes, also known as the Algodones Dunes, are the largest sand dunes in California. The dunes are 40 miles long and average 5 miles wide, and are popular with many off-road enthusiasts. With heights of over 300 feet from the desert floor, the dunes are an impressive site located just 20 miles west of Yuma. The large amount of off-road recreational seekers camped at the Dunes often causes travelers on the Interstate to mistake this area for a small town. Though not typical of the Sonoran Desert, the barren sand dunes have been the set for such movies as Beau Geste and Star Wars.
The Center of the World in Felicity, California offers an offbeat way to spend an afternoon. Located just eight miles west of Yuma, you can see items such as a portion of the original staircase from the Eiffel Tower. It was a dragon in a fairy tale that claimed that Felicity, California, was the center of the world, and of course, everyone knows that fairy tales are always true. Make a pilgrimage to this unusual attraction and you can stand inside a pyramid at the exact center of the world and even get a certificate to prove you were there. From I-8, take exit 164 (Sidewinder Road), then go to the right.
Historic Downtown Yuma is often overlooked by Yuma visitors. A morning or afternoon can be pleasurably spent exploring the many shops & dining options offered in the area. Don't miss the famous Lutes Casino, the state's oldest pool hall, which is no longer a casino but serves up its famous burgers at reasonable prices. The decor takes hours to admire.
The Castle Dome Mines Museum is an unusual museum displaying a replica old mining town. Located east of Highway 95 between Quartzite and Yuma at mile post 55, then east 10 miles. In the late 1870s Mexican miners prospected the Castle Dome district and established several mining claims. Several of these mines were re-opened in the early 1900s. One of the mines has been converted into a museum with an extensive collection of mining relics and rebuilt cabins, saloons, houses, etc.
If you prefer casinos, Yuma has three to offer. The Paradise Casino is just across the river from downtown Yuma, and actually straddles the California and Arizona border. Therefore there are actually two casinos at the one location. Over 800 slot machines, poker, blackjack, Keno and bingo are available. In addition to the casino, there is a restaurant and two bars available for meals and refreshments. The Atlantis Room is the venue of many top musical acts coming to Yuma. In nearby Somerton you will find the Cocopah Casino. Located at 15318 S. Ave. B, it offers over 450 slot machines, blackjack and bingo. With both a bar and a restaurant onsite, there is also often live entertainment. The beautiful Quechan Casino resort offers 1000 slot machines, table games and poker just 10 minutes west of Yuma in California. There are several restaurants and lounges, as well as top-level entertainment.
If you just prefer shopping, Yuma has the Yuma Palms mall located at the northwest corner of 16th Street and Pacific Avenue. Another shopping experience enjoyed by thousands is the Arizona Market Place, a huge covered swapmeet just two miles east of the Yuma County Fairgrounds at 32nd Street and Avenue 4E. Call 928-314-4014 for more information.
For the active types, there are many activities in and around Yuma. If you enjoy golfing, bring your clubs, because Golf Digest magazine has rated Yuma as the 7th best city in the United States for golf. The Yuma area has 13 diverse and challenging golf courses. The nearby Desert Hills Municipal Golf Course, rated by Golf Digest as Arizona's top municipal golf course, will test any handicapper's skills with its 18 hole, par 72 championship layout. If you enjoy tennis, the city maintains a number of courts at Caballero Park at Avenue A and 34th Drive, Carver Park at 5th Street and 13th Ave., and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park at 24th Street and Kennedy Lane. For the kids, Carver and Kennedy parks offer well-maintained swimming facilities, as does Marcus Pool at 500 5th Ave. Adjacent to Kennedy Park, a new youth-oriented sports complex has opened; and a 212 foot water slide provides entertainment for Yuma's youth. It includes an in-line hockey rink, a skateboard plaza, lighted sand volleyball courts, and a lighted open space lawn area for kite flying, football or other spontaneous games. If you're into fishing, Yuma also has much to offer. One does not often associate fishing or water with the desert, but this is what sets Yuma apart from other Southwest destinations. With a series of dams, the Colorado River has become a series of lakes that offer the avid fisherman cool waters which are home to world class bass fishing. If you enjoy boating, most of the area lakes and waterways offer recreational boating, with boat launching available at Senator Wash, Squaw Lake, Hidden Shores, Mittry Lake and Martinez Lake. Hidden Shores and Martinez Lake offer boat rentals.