Riverside towns are always known for being beautiful locations for activities and scenic attractions.
With that in mind, there's a small town along the border of Arizona and California where you will find a hidden gem worthy of discovery.
Visit the offbeat riverside town of Parker, Arizona.
For those seeking an unforgettable day trip from California or Arizona, the town of Parker is a beautiful choice of destination.
Aside from being near several major cities from these two states, Parker has a lot of fantastic tourist attractions, both natural and man-made.
This town, which is about 22-square miles in size, has a population of 3,000 residents.
Since Parker sits beside the beautiful Colorado River, it slowly earns a reputation as an attractive tourist destination despite its size.
In addition, it's been known to have the most dedicated people to boating and water-related activities, given its geographic location.
Also, since the town has no airport nearby, you need to drive for about 2–3 hours from San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, making it the best day trip destination in the southwest.
To make your visit to Parker very memorable and fun-filled, here are the 20 best things to do there:
Swim Along the Colorado River
Swimming and other watersports activities are the main attractions in Parker because of the Colorado River.
That is why you shouldn't miss this experience when you're there.
Parker has numerous riverside resorts that mainly feature swimming and watersports activities, such as tubing, wakeboarding, boating, and swimming.
The Colorado River's main recreation area covers 18 miles from Parker Dam to Headgate Dam.
Most visitors in Parker always try their skills on several watersports while resorts and bars offer good food and drinks.
You can choose from different resorts, such as Branson's Resort, Sandbar Resort, Castle Rock Shores, Pirate's Den RV Resort and Marina, Fox RV Resort, etc.
Don't worry if you don't bring any equipment for water activities since Parker has a lot of shops that let you rent theirs.
Camp at the La Paz County Park
If you want to stay for the night in Parker, a vast campsite off Highway 95 adjacent to the Colorado River, the La Paz County Park.
If you're after a place for light activities to do near you in Parker, such as sightseeing or hiking, the La Paz County Park is the best place to stay.
It's complete with a riverside walkway beside the Colorado River, which makes a perfect spot for taking photos, while its walking trails are excellent for an afternoon hike.
Plus, the park has sports facilities, a playground, and of course a convenient camping site.
The La Paz County Park is open from 8 AM to 4 PM the entire week.
Explore the Natural Wonders of Buckskin Mountain State Park
The Buckskin Mountain State Park covers 18 miles of untamed wilderness teeming with wildlife and exotic species of plants.
The State Park's best attraction is the Colorado River itself, which is home to different fish, plants, and animals.
If you're seeking an outdoor activity with nature, it's probably the best place to go in Parker.
The State Park offers picnicking, hiking, boating, camping, and other outdoor activities.
Plus, it has nearby restaurants if you want to grab dinner rather than cook your own meal at the campsite.
Cross Your Fingers at the Bluewater Casino
The small casino located at the heart of Parker isn't just a gambler's haven in the middle of the Colorado desert.
It's also a wonderful place to get a picturesque view of the majestic Colorado river since it's built beside it.
At nighttime, the Bluewater Casino is easily distinguished in the distance for its vibrant blue light that paints the entire casino and resort structure.
The casino offers typical casino games and slot machines, but it is the fully-functional casino you can find in the middle of the Colorado desert.
Its resort has plush rooms and amenities that offer you comfort and a perfect view of the Colorado River.
To get to Bluewater Casino, head to 1130 Resort Drive in Parker, AZ. To book, visit its official website.
Learn Parker's Diverse History at the Colorado River Indian Tribes Museum
The Colorado River Indian Tribes Museum will educate you about the Native American's rich history.
Its charming museum is packed with artifacts belonging to the members of the Indian Tribes, which are perfectly preserved.
The museum offers educational tours through its friendly and knowledgeable staff who will gamely answer your questions.
To complete your experience, the museum has a souvenir shop where you can shop for Indian Tribes handicrafts.
Dine at the Desert Bar-Nellie E. Saloon
Who would have thought that a saloon/restaurant exists in the middle of the desert?
The Nellie E. Saloon defied everything possible for its unusual location as this popular food destination in Parker sits on a flat area surrounded by rocky hills near the Gibraltar Mountain Wilderness.
Despite being 10-miles off of Parker's town center, the Nellie E. Saloon is a must-visit attraction for its food, entertainment, and unique, out-of-nowhere vibes.
For picture-taking, the place has a lively vintage design, plus they have several nicely preserved vintage cars on display.
The Nellie E. Saloon is open every weekend from 12 noon to 6 PM.
It is specifically situated at the Cienega Springs Rd. in Parker, Arizona.
Hop on a Jetski at the Wet and Wyld Rentals
The Colorado River has a relatively calm stream going south, making it a perfect venue to do watersports.
Thus, the Wet and Wyld Rentals nearby Bluewater Casino is a go-to place to rent jet skis and other watersports vehicles.
The Wet and Wyld Rentals offer patrons a vast selection of watersports vehicles and equipment that you can rent affordably.
Lastly, the place offers tutorials for beginners in jetski and other watersports vehicles.
Wet and Wyld is at 152 Riverside Dr., Parker, AZ.
Give Your Best Swing at the Emerald Canyon Golf Course
The Emerald Canyon Golf Course lives up to its moniker, the "Jewel of the Desert."
It has a wonderfully-designed golf course that also gives you a perfect view of the Colorado River.
You'll spend your entire day in this golf course, which features an 18-hole Par 72 championship course that will test your mettle in this sport.
However, your attention will indeed get divided to score a hole-in-one or just simply look at the pristine view of its surroundings.
To book a reservation at Emerald Canyon Golf Course, visit their website or Facebook page.
The golf course is at 7351 Riverside Drive, Parker, AZ.
Drive By the Scenic Byway of the Parker Dam Road
It's a must-visit place in Parker if you want to get a glimpse of the World's Deepest Dam.
The Parker Dam is a man-made marvel of concrete and steel that cuts the Colorado River and connects the California and Arizona states.
The place is perfect for picture-taking with the Parker Dam as your background.
It's considered the deepest dam in the world for having a depth of 80-feet.
You should definitely stop your car and park safely on the roadside to take pictures of the dam and the turquoise blue waters of Lake Havasu.
Enjoy Fishing and Canoeing at the Ahakhav Tribal Preserve
If you want to further enjoy the Colorado River and Parker's natural beauty, head to the Ahakhav Tribal Preserve.
The Preserve is a place where locals and visitors do outdoor recreational activities, such as canoeing, fishing, swimming, and a lot more.
The Preserve has a total of 4.6-miles of a nature trail with a welcoming and peaceful atmosphere filled with trees and wildlife.
For those planning to spend the night there, the Preserve has nearby campsites and hotels to stay.
The Ahakhav Tribal Preserve is at 25401 Rodeo Rd, Parker, AZ.
Grab a Drink and Relax at Roadrunner Floating Dock Bar
Speaking of bars, the Roadrunner Floating Dock Bar is specially mentioned on this list because of its popularity among Parker's locals and visitors.
Its floating bar provides you with a fun-filled experience of being out on the Colorado River while you chill out with drinks and enjoy mouthwatering food.
Its straightforward and relaxing ambiance gives you an unforgettable experience of both the natural wonders of the Colorado River and Parker's hospitality.
The Roadrunner Floating Dock Bar is at 7000 Riverside Dr, Parker, AZ.
They serve from 8 AM to 2 AM the entire week.
Join the Attractions at La Paz County Fair
Find an array of local goods and enjoy the events at the La Paz County Fair.
This annual event is usually held every March, or otherwise scheduled, at the Fairgrounds area just off State Route 95 in Parker South.
Your kids will have tons of fun with carnival rides at the City of Fun Amusements.
Watch the livestock competitions, horseshoe tournaments, and livestock auctions, or visit the exhibit areas from local businesses and different organizations.
Shop for quality goods and produce from fruits, nuts, and grains to vegetables, herbs, and oil crops.
Check out traditional Indian arts and crafts like Hopi, Chemehuevi, and Navajo baskets, detailed beadworks, and pottery; otherwise, find unique woven materials, silverworks, cultural items, paintings, and drawings that catch your interest.
You can also find lines of stalls selling horticulture, fine arts, hobbyist items, baked goods, and much more.
You’re sure to enjoy live performances by local artists and musicians along with shows to entertain the whole family at the La Paz County Fair.
Book Your Stay at Havasu Springs Resort
Aside from enjoying the wonderful attractions, you also need an enjoyable place to stay on your vacation.
Havasu Springs Resort offers relaxing accommodations just perfect for your family.
This full-service hotel located on Highway 95 features a scenic waterfront area with your choice of Lakeview Motel rooms or the Marina Apartment.
If you prefer the outdoors, you can go for an RV campout with available hookups.
Get sweeping views of the quiet outer harbor, majestic mountains, and stunning lake at the boardwalk or from your hotel room.
Your family can also enjoy a cool swim at the Poolside Motel with free access to the grass-front area, picnic tables, and barbecue pits.
The pool is also heated during the winter season so guests can still enjoy a relaxing swim.
Your little ones will also have lots of fun playtime at the poolside playground.
For your food options, you can try various fares all day at Havasu Springs Resort’s restaurant.
Camp Out for a Few Nights at Fox’s RV Park Resort
Enjoy great outdoor views and fun daytime activities while camping out in your RV at Fox’s RV Park Resort.
You’ll find the site on Riverside Drive surrounded by a beautiful desert area and nearby off-road access.
Go sunbathing or wade your feet on the waters at the swimming beach.
Likewise, kids can bring out all their energy and enjoy the grassy playground area.
Enjoy daily specials at the full restaurant with Monday’s Mexican Madness, Home-Style Cookin’ on Tuesdays, Southern Fried Cuisine on Wednesdays, and delectable Rib Eye Steak Special on Thursdays.
Weekends are just as special with All You Can Eat Fish and Chips for Friday, Saturday’s Appetizer Night, and Sunday’s Italian Tour.
You’ll also enjoy a wide selection of drinks and beers on draft at the floating full bar.
Relax and have a fun family time at Fox’s RV Park Resort.
Have a Thrilling Experience with Aquaflyboarding USA
If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, try flyboarding with Aquaflyboarding USA.
Go for flight training at their locations in Resort Drive on the Colorado River and Lake Havasu.
Now, what exactly is a flyboard? It’s simply a board similar to a wakeboard but built with a watercraft jet ski device.
The pressure from the hose pushes and lifts you through and above the waters.
It’s a totally different adventure experience as you surf the skies and dive with ease like a dolphin.
Once you get the hang of it, you can do some cool maneuvers and even fly up to 45 feet up the air, surf back on the waters or do some sky flips and 360-degree turns in the sky.
They have a team of professional instructors to help you start and navigate on the boards, and of course, enjoy the ride.
Bring out the adrenaline junkie in you with Aquaflyboarding USA.
Enjoy Home-Style Dishes at Crossroads Cafe
There’s plenty on the menu to satisfy any level of craving you have at Crossroads Cafe.
Owners Lawny and Bob Caracci have been running this restaurant on South California Avenue since 2003.
Locals and visitors enjoy the home-style vibe and hospitality of this food stop with delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes served daily all week.
You can order Nightly Specials like Spaghetti Lasagna or Chicken Parmesan, Meatloaf Taco Salad, and others; likewise, they also have kids’ and seniors’ meals on the menu.
Try an array of tasty appetizers to bite and munch.
Have an early breakfast and start the day with assorted egg dishes, biscuits and gravy, cereals, cinnamon rolls, and muffins.
They also offer a Build-Your-Own-Omelet on the menu, burrito varieties, along with Breakfast Sandwiches, Combo Breakfast meals, pancakes, French Toast, and waffles.
Grab juicy burgers, filling sandwiches, and some chicken, pork, and fish dishes; likewise, have salads, soups and chili, and desserts.
Enjoy tasty grubs at Crossroads Cafe.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Enjoy a Boat Ride at the Cattail Cove State Park
If you're looking for other attractions near Parker, AZ, you shouldn't miss visiting the Cattail Cove, State Park.
There, you will spend your day with dozens of outdoor activities along the Colorado River.
However, to best experience your visit there, you should take a boat ride.
It lets you explore the entire State Park in a scenic and very relaxing manner.
If you want to roam the State Park yourself, hop on a kayak or a paddleboard for a more action-packed exploration.
Plus, you can stay for the night since State Park has a designated camping and RV site.
Cattail Cove State Park is a 27-minute drive north of Parker, AZ, along Arizona State Route 95.
Discover the Mystery Behind the Swansea Ghost Town
An hour's drive east of Parker's town center lies the creepy but fascinating Swansea Ghost Town.
The ghost town situated south of Swansea Wilderness is a popular tourist destination that wants to uncover why the city was abandoned by its inhabitants in the 1900s.
The old mining town is a popular destination in Arizona, where you'll find dozens of old homes, structures, mines that are already devoured by nature.
Uncovering its mystery is not that difficult since the ghost town has several plaques engraving the story of life back then in the ghost town.
However, getting to the ghost town is quite a bumpy ride since the last few miles heading there has semi-paved gravel road.
So, when you're planning to visit this eerie place, you should drive a high-clearance vehicle for the uneven-surfaced road.
Conquer the Scenic SARA Park
A 33-minute drive north of Parker takes you to the scenic SARA Park, where you'll get yourself a handful of outdoor activities and exploration.
The SARA Park is one of Lake Havasu City's best attractions which many locals from Parker also love to visit.
It has a majestic mountain view which you can climb overlooking the beautiful Lake Havasu.
You can either hike or bike to get to SARA Park's mountainous area.
Also, the SARA Park is host to the Havasu 95.
It's a one-of-a-kind race wherein participants drag their boats behind their car, intending to damage their fellow racer's boats.
The SARA Park is at 7260 Sara Pkwy, Lake Havasu City, AZ.
Walk Around the Giant Desert Figures of Blythe Intaglios
A 37-minute drive south of Parker takes you to a series of enormous human and animal figures drawn on the dry desert field called the "Blythe Intaglios" in Blythe, California.
It's a must-visit place near Parker since these figures were drawn 2,000 years ago by the Quechan and Mohave Indians who once roamed the vast Colorado desert.
The giant human figure, which is 171 feet or 52-meters long, symbolizes the natives' 'creator of life,' which is known by them as "Mastamho."
For those who picture out Parker, AZ, as a dustbowl in the middle of the Colorado Desert, you might think again after reading our list.
Thanks to the rich Colorado River, this oasis continues to thrive, making it a perfect destination to enjoy activities on its clear turquoise blue waters.
The best way to enjoy Parker is to float along the Colorado River on a raft with a cold drink on your side.
So, which of these attractions in Parker, AZ you're going to visit first?
Be sure to bring your best swimwear, sunscreen, a nice pair of glasses, and your adventurous spirit to Parker, AZ!