15 Best Things to do in Yuma, Arizona – What Not to Miss!

15 Best Things to Do in Yuma, Arizona

Yuma, Arizona is a cute little city that has a lot of cool things to do. I have put together this list of fun things to do in Yuma, Arizona as it is a great place to visit.

The Guinness World Records has named it the sunniest city on the planet! Use those bright days to go on outdoor experiences in Yuma’s vast open spaces. Tubing, canoeing, and boating are all popular activities on the Colorado River and its lakes.

Then, have a look at the city’s thriving arts and entertainment scene or go shopping at one of the city’s unique stores.

There is plenty of entertainment and gaming to keep you occupied during the day and night. Take time to learn about how the native peoples came together at The Crossing, and don’t miss Yuma’s historical landmarks that are living stories.

15 Fun Things to do in Yuma, Arizona

Yuma Territorial Prison State Historical Park

In Yuma, it is customary to visit the famous Territorial Prison State Historic Park. It is known as one of the most famous attractions in Yuma and is operated as a historical museum by the Arizona State Parks.

The Park itself features historical anecdotes about the history of Yuma and it also highlights the different people that were once inhabitants of this infamous prison institution.

Historically speaking, the prison cell was once a place where people were dumped in order to further moral reform that was fueled by movements that address different social issues.

These issues and historical events are featured and explained in detail in the museum through interactive tours, educational programs, and different sights to see and experience. 

Historic Downtown

Enjoy the “Sunniest City on Earth ” and spend the day in the Historic Downtown Yuma. The sunshine and heat that Yuma experiences all throughout the year has propelled the city into the Guinness World Records and currently holds the title of “Sunniest City on Earth”. 

With its location in between Phoenix and San Diego, Yuma promises warm weather and big city vibes in this welcoming town.

Yuma, AZ, USA – December 22, 2019: A welcoming signboard at the entry point of the city

Spend the afternoon browsing through shops of all kinds and walk among Spanish-style foundations and historic buildings with traditional architecture.

For a deeper dive into Yuma’s history, the city has the Arizona Historical Society Sanguinetti House Museum and Gardens. The historic downtown also has different shops to see and restaurants that offer the best food around and have become part of the local’s traditions. 

Castle Dome Mines Museum & Ghost Town

Castle Dome was Arizona’s longest worked Mining district and is now one of Arizona’s ghost towns that gives an authentic look back in time.

Walking among the weather-beaten buildings that have stood the test of time, guests would definitely feel like they have traveled back in time.

Photo Courtesy of visityuma.com

The town has prioritized preserving its historical heritage and it is very beautiful and interesting to see how the old inhabitants of Yuma have lived. There are tours and guided hikes that take you on a journey through Yuma’s mines and abandoned small towns where miners used to occupy during their time. 

Gateway Park

To break the hot spells of Yuma’s eternal summer, they have the perfect solution to the warm weather: Gateway Park’s beach.

Its beautifully blue waters would definitely remind you of blue watered Caribbean beaches if not for the fact that the Park’s water flows from the Colorado River.

Located just below the Ocean to Ocean bridge, the Gateway Park is a perfect getaway destination that offers plenty of activities for everyone such as fishing, swimming, various water sports, a playground for children, and picnic areas under a large pavilion for family and friends.

Source: www.visityuma.com Gateway Park

Experience relaxation while spending time with family and friends in Gateway Parks’ sandy beach that is one of the beautiful attractions that Yuma has to offer. The beautiful blue waters on the shore would definitely want you to not just dip your feet in!

Sanguinetti House Museum and Gardens

A walk down memory lane in Yuma’s famous museum: the Sanguinetti House Museum and Gardens. The Sanguinetti House Museum was once home to E.F. Sanguinetti, a recognized Merchant Prince of Yuma.

Discover Yuma’s history and influence in every room of the Sanguinetti House and how Yuma has influenced the namesake of the Museum.

No matter what time of the day, the Garden of the Sanguinetti House is captivating and is filled to the brim with many types of flowers such as vintage roses and different colorful blooms that would surely liven up your day.

The Gardens are famous as one of the most charming outdoor gathering sites for birthdays, weddings, and celebrations. 

Colorado River State Historic Park

The Colorado River State Historic Park is the gateway to the past, present and future of the Colorado River. The park itself preserves all that the river is and how it brought life into Yuma and into the larger Southwest.

Historically, the Colorado River State Historic Park was the location where cargo-laden steamboats would unload, store, and distribute supplies. Currently, it is one of Yuma’s treasures that hold most of their history and culture.

An old fashioned scenic railroad car

The Museum, particularly the Visitor Center, offers brochures and maps of the area so that guests may explore the site.

There are many attractions in the Colorado River State Historic Park to see such as its Storehouse, where there are exhibits that include an Army escort wagon with model mules, the Steamboat Room, a room that features the history of steamboats on the Colorado River, and antique wagons and farm vehicles, and the Office of the Depot Quartermaster. 

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

In the middle of the Sonoran Desert lies the lush river ecosystem of the Imperial National Wildlife Reserve. In the hottest and driest part of the United States, it would come as a mystery as to why an oasis is in the middle of this land filled with cacti and specially adapted plants and animals.

It turns out that the lower Colorado River has many backwater lakes varying in size which ultimately led to the establishment of the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge: a home to preserve all forms of life found especially in the Colorado River region.

On site, guests may go on guided tours that promote wildlife watching and go on various hiking trails that feature the beauty that the Refuge has to offer. The Refuge also promotes hiking and other leisure activities such as fishing, birdwatching, and sightseeing. 

Yuma Proving Ground Heritage Center 

When crossing the Arizona Desert, it’s a must to visit Yuma’s Proving Ground Heritage Center. Why the Yuma Proving Ground Heritage Center?

They house famous historical landmarks such as Fort Huma, the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, and more. The Heritage Center itself celebrates Yuma’s traditions, culture, and history and they aim to enhance the region through several urban and environmental revitalization projects.

The Museum takes you on a guided tour that tells Yuma’s chronological history. As you walk through the halls, you’ll see Yuma’s history as it takes you through different points in time for the State such as the Liberation of the Concentration Camps.

Other than guided tours, the Heritage Center also offers specialty tours and lunch/dinner each year. Their meals feature the freshest vegetables sourced from Yuma. 

Waylon’s Water Park

To beat the Arizona Heat, a trip to Waylon’s Water Park would be one of the best decisions you’ll make. The park contains a lot of attractions for everyone!

There are lots of things to do at Waylon’s Water Park such as water slides, lazy river drifts, a water playground fit for kids of all ages, a water racing tube, and lots of unique slides that would surely be a blast for all guests.

Aside from fun water activities, Waylon’s also has lots of on ground attractions in the Z Fun Factory such as a mini golf course, go-karts, various batting cages, arcades, and bumper boats! A trip to Waylon’s Water Park would surely make a splash on your vacation!

East Wetlands Environmental Restoration Area

The East Wetlands Environmental Restoration Area was established in an effort to restore the historic wetlands within the main stem of the Colorado River.

Source: www.visityuma.com East Wetlands Environmental Restoration Area

With its location near downtown Yuma, the Restoration Area is overrun with wildlife and various plant species both native and non-native, exotic plant species, and today, it is a mosaic of marsh, mesquite, and cottonwood-willow with acres and acres of native forests in the entire lower river. 

West Wetlands Park & Centennial Beach

Prized by the people of Yuma as one of its hidden jewels, the West Wetlands Park and Centennial Beach is one of Yuma’s favorite beaches.

This 110-acre wetland is restored to be what it is today: filled with native trees, grasses, and a landscaped picnic area suitable for guests for any occasion. Guests may stroll, jog, gather with friends for a lovely picnic together, or just wade in the blue waters of Centennial Beach.

Yuma GC, Arbor Day, Yuma, Arizona
Source: National Garden Clubs / Flickr West Wetlands Park

What’s best about this beach is its accessibility in Yuma. Other than swimming, guests may enjoy various water recreational activities such as tubing, canoeing, and kayaking on the waters. Besides water activities, the area allows recreational activities such as sunbathing, beach sports, and get-togethers. 

Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area

Known as the largest mass of sand dunes in the area, the Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area is a cut above the rest. Despite the heat, tourists still frequent the dunes as it has become part of Yuma’s attractions.

Tourists flock to the Imperial Sand Dunes for their off-road vehicle showcase involving races, uphill ATV racing, and many more.

Ridges and textures at the Imperial Sand Dunes

The Imperial Sand Dunes have become part of pop culture as this location is popularly known as the filming location of various block-buster iconic movies such as Star Wars, The Scorpion King, and Jumanji 3.

There are three most visited areas in the Imperial Sand Dunes and they are Mammoth Wash, located in the northern area of the dunes, the Glamis or the Gecko, dunes just south of State Highway 78, and Buttercup Valley, found in the south of Interstate Highway near the Mexican Border. 

The “Official” Center of the World

One of the most interesting things to discover in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, in the middle of Yuma, is the so-called “Official” Center of the World. Founded by its long-time mayor, and one of the only two citizens in the area, Jacques-André Istel, he had the vision to make his town the official center of the world.

Despite it not having any scientific backup, the French Government and California’s Imperial County have already established it as such.

Source: Kirs10 (talk) / Wikimedia Center Of The World Pyramid

In this self-established town, he has erected many attractions such as a beautiful traditional-style church on a man-made hill, a field of beautiful flowers, a 15-foot bronze sundial, and the Museum of History in Granite which TIME Magazine has hailed as a “design that is worth the trip”.

This huge World Heritage Site Candidate consists of granite monuments that Intel intended to engrave in granite the highlights of the collective memory of humanity. Aside from tidbits of history that make up the entire human experience, the carvings also tell interesting facts and amusing anecdotes for guests to remember. 

Yuma Conservation Garden

With the blooming and evergreen Yuma Conservation Garden, its easy to forget that it’s located right in the middle of a desert. Inside Yuma’s Conservation Garden, you’ll find exotic and native plants that are especially found in Yuma. in the garden, guests are welcome to lounge around and feed the ducks and tortoises near the ponds.

The Yuma Conservation Garden also provides information on how to be more responsible for our natural resources. They aim to preserve Yuma’s natural botanical wonders and show off how beautiful Yuma’s ecosystem is.

Today, there are several activities that can be done on the grounds of Yuma’s Conservation Garden such as hiking, sightseeing, and photography. 

Yuma River Tubing

For a lazy water cruise adventure, Yuma has its own Yuma River Tubing. Enjoy a scenic trip while floating through the Colorado River and soak up some sun while you’re at it! Yuma’s locals and tourists visit the River Tubing event as a tradition for fun times and for adventure.

Here, guests are allowed to float through Arizona’s Colorado River in different floats depending on how far you’ll be willing to trek the river itself.

The river tubing experience will take you on an exciting river ride with your friends and family all while seeing Yuma’s bountiful landmarks on the way. Aside from tubing, the premises also welcome kayaking and canoeing for guests who prefer them. 

Martha’s Gardens Date Farm

To end the trip, visit Martha’s Gardens Date Farm where you’ll learn about dates and how to grow them. Martha’s Garden is known as one of Arizona’s finest family-grown dates and they have been around for quite some time.

The Gardens pride themselves in growing organic dates that have not used pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides on the Palm Trees and on the fruits during the cultivation period.

Martha’s Gardens Date Farm assures their guests that their dates have been propagated in the old traditional Moroccan way. You’ll learn that Date propagation and cultivation take up to a decade before harvest and how prized each harvest is. The Gardens allow tours and guests may browse through the specialized shops that feature Martha’s best.

American Southwest Obsessed

Nicole is a travel expert who has been traveling to the American Southwest since 1992. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California. I spend part of the year in Phoenix and travel around the area visiting all the best places and going on the best hikes. Check out my detailed destination guides, the best hiking in each state guides, and the travel gear you need for your next trip.

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