Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Yuma, AZ

  • Published 2022/11/30

The land standing on the confluence of the beautiful Gila and Colorado rivers, Yuma lies within a short distance from California and Mexico.

The city is an underrated yet mesmerizing travel destination worth adding to your bucket list.

There are many adventure opportunities to enjoy in and around Yuma, nicknamed the Sunniest City on Earth.

Whether surrounding yourself with breathtaking natural wonders, discovering old mining ruins, or joining a spooky paranormal tour, Yuma has something for everyone.

Start planning your visit and be guided by this list of the best things to do in Yuma, Arizona:

Check Out the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park

Corridor at Yuma’s Territorial Prison State Historic Park

Teeratas /

Breaking out of jail was very common in the old days.

No matter what kind of security was provided, prisoners would still manage to escape.

To prevent any more prisoners from getting away, Yuma built a prison on the banks of the mighty river Colorado.

Exterior of a building at Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park

dba duplessis /

The prison, which was eventually shut down in 1909, has a history of almost 33 years.

It saw many crimes and deaths and housed 3,069 prisoners.

You’ll surely get goosebumps when you walk through the old prison’s corridors and imagine what life used to be like here.

Cell room beds at Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park

Paul R. Jones /

Tour the Castle Dome Mine Museum

The two main buildings of Castle Dome Mines Museum

T-I /

Did you know that Yuma was one of the largest mining cities in America?

The former mining area is now reminiscent of a ghost town.

Situated in the Castle Dome Mountains, this place once saw thousands of men who moved here to earn a living.

When you enter the Castle Dome Mine Museum, you can see a lot of houses from a different era.

There are a lot of equipment pieces that are still preserved here.

Bask in the Beauty of Nature at the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

A trail at Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

XeresNelro, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is another one of the stunning spots you need to check out on your trip to Yuma.

You know you can see four different ecological systems here: mountains, deserts, wetlands, and rivers.

The wetlands have the maximum area in this preserve.

You can go on a hiking, fishing, or camping adventure here.

Snap Photos of the Lovely Flowers at the Sanguinetti House Museum

Exterior of Sanguinetti House Museum

Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are some bright and cheerful scenes in Yuma just for you to enjoy.

If you love the bright hues of nature, the Sanguinetti House Museum is the perfect place for you.

Eugene Francis Sanguinetti built the house of his dreams in Yuma.

He left no stone unturned to show people how proud he was of his fabulous legacy.

Also known as the “Merchant Prince of Yuma,” Eugene Francis Sanguinetti became the owner of a beautiful home that still attracts visitors to this very day.

At this museum, you’ll get to witness a beautiful house and gardens that the Arizona Historical Society has perfectly maintained.

Make a Day Trip to the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area

A steam engine at Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area

Marti Bug Catcher /

Situated on the outskirts of Yuma, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area plays a significant role in the city’s history.

There was no other way to cross the mighty Colorado River during the old days.

The Spanish explorers came to Yuma following this route only.

Anyone keen on exploring the Wild West followed Yuma Crossing to get into the city.

You can get to learn about all the stories of the old days here.

Spend a Morning at Gateway Park

Scenic view of the iconic Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge at Gateway Park

sherwood /

Are you looking for an excellent spot to visit in Yuma on a summer’s day?

Head to Gateway Park, for this is the perfect place to enjoy a day with your family.

You’ll even get to see the iconic Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge from this location.

Its beauty is immeasurable and is something you must experience for yourself in real life.

Sit down on the sand and play with your kids.

There are several picnic spots, too.

Treat Yourself to Some Dates

Grove of Date Palm Tree in Yuma, AZ

Berns Images /

Did you know Yuma grows some good dates?

Being the sunniest place in the world, Yuma boasts the perfect conditions for growing and harvesting dates.

It is a known fact that Yuma has some of the best dates in Arizona.

Rows of date palm trees

sherwood /

The city’s date industry contributes a lot to its economy.

One of the best places to try Yuma’s dates is at Martha’s Garden.

Not only will you get to taste the delicious fruits, but you’ll also be given a chance to explore and see how they’re grown.

Explore Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park

Water Reservoir in Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park

Cbl62, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park is one of the most unique places in the city.

It was originally one of the American military’s many warehouses.

The Southern Pacific Railroad Passenger Coach Car at Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park

Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It sits on the Colorado River, and you see some of the best views of the river sitting in this park.

When the soldiers were deployed to different areas throughout the region, this was the warehouse that stored all of their supplies.

Now, nothing of that sort happens anymore, but you are sure to hear all the stories here.

Enjoy the Yuma Conservation Garden

The Yuma Conservation Garden is a fantastic place to enjoy and learn about nature.

It is typically the botanical garden of Yuma, but you do get to see mainly desert plants here.

The plants are all native to the Sonoran Desert, and there are even some walking trails along with some water bodies.

You get to see a lot of ducks swimming around, too.

Cross the McPhaul Swinging Bridge

Aerial view of McPhaul Swinging Bridge

Kenneth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You must have heard of Arizona’s iconic “Bridge to Nowhere.”

The Arizona state built this majestic bridge back in 1929.

It was meant to be used as a suspension bridge.

The body of McPhaul Swinging Bridge

XeresNelro, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But after several tests and reports, the bridge was declared unsuitable for modern vehicles to cross.

In 1990, a fire almost destroyed the bridge.

Many floods have also hit it.

Despite these calamities, you can still see it standing proudly, telling stories of its rich heritage.

Go Fishing at Martinez Lake

Sunny day at Lake Martinez

KDzPloch /

When you visit Yuma, you need to go fishing at Martinez Lake.

If you have yet to try your hand at fishing, this is an excellent place to get started.

Close to the Lower Colorado River basin, Martinez Lake has an area of almost 500 acres.

This lake draws a lot of tourist attractions throughout the year.

The sky reflecting on the calm Martinez Lake

Sara Danielle /

You’ll get to catch fishes like carp, smallmouth bass, tilapia, catfish, bluegill sunfish, redear sunfish, bullhead, largemouth bass, and many more.

The most interesting part about this lake is that it hosts many fishing tournaments.

You might even come across a bass tournament.

If you love birdwatching, you can make your way to this lake as it’s a haven for migratory birds.

Mountains near Martinez Lake

Nathaly B /

Take a Stroll around Historic Downtown Yuma

Aerial view of Downtown Yuma

Tim Roberts Photography /

If you are looking for some simple activities in the evening, then taking a walk around downtown shall serve all your purposes well enough.

The downtown area, which now happens to be the hub of activities in the city, used to get heavily flooded.

The gateway of Downtown Yuma

Matt Gush /

When you look around, you’ll find that it’s still reminiscent of the 1920s.

At the same time, you’ll be surrounded by some of Yuma’s best restaurants and shops.

This is where you can sample local delicacies, eat at local food chains, and join in on any ongoing city festivities.

A water fountain along Downtown Yuma

Ken Lund, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Great Outdoors at the Mittry Lake Wildlife Area

Two thousand four hundred and sixty acres of marsh border the Lower Colorado River in Mittry Lake Wildlife Refuge Area.

Lakes and wooded areas are only two examples of various ecosystems you’ll get to witness here.

Those who adore the outdoors will have a blast visiting this wildlife preserve.

You may explore its many rivers with a boat or a canoe.

Land-based activities are also a blast.

You’ll find picnic sites and campgrounds for optimal outdoor enjoyment if you need a break.

You may even see some wildlife on your way out if you’re lucky.

Go Birdwatching at the Yuma East Wetlands Environmental Restoration Area

Over 1,400 acres of animal habitat can be found along the Colorado River at the Yuma East Westlands Environmental Restoration Area.

The wetlands, formerly a garbage dump, were transformed into a wildlife habitat and are now open to the public for animal watching.

The yellow-billed cuckoo will be among the birds you observe.

Go for a bike ride along the river’s muddy dirt trails.

Keep an eye out for animals while you’re here.

See the Vintage Train at Pivot Point Interpretive Plaza

In 2010, this outdoor display space was established at the confluence of Madison Avenue and the river, the same place where the first railroad train reached Arizona in 1877.

It’s hard to overlook since an actual steam locomotive rests on the original track line.

Children climb over a 1907 Baldwin engine as an audio system from the present day recreates the sounds of a steamboat going by a swing-span rail bridge opening and a train arriving at the old Southern Pacific hotel.

You may spot the preserved concrete pivot supporting the rail bridge’s movement to enable boats to pass in the plaza.

The riverfront’s multi-use walkway system includes a connection to Pivot Point and pedestrian connectivity to Gateway Park.

Have a picnic with your family and take in the scenery.

Try Your Luck at Lutes Casino

View of Lutes Casino

Cheri Alguire /

Early eclectic—some could even say appealing junk—decorates Lutes Casino.

Posters, artwork, paintings, and decorations cover the 12-foot-high surfaces.

The environment of Lutes Casino is lively and diverse, and it features games and coloring pages for the younger crowd to enjoy.

View of Lutes Casino

Cheri Alguire /

Kids will like their delectable cuisine designed especially for little ones with big appetites.

Who wouldn’t cherish a Lutes Casino souvenir?

Visit Lutes Casino for branded goods, gifts, and keepsakes such as t-shirts and much more stuff.

The venue previously hosted birthday celebrations and family reunions, but today the sole gambling activity is selling state lottery tickets.

Experience Life Like a Local at Arizona Market Place

Along S Avenue, you’ll find Arizona Market Place, a well-known flea market in the community.

It’s one of Yuma’s most popular markets and features almost a thousand sellers offering everything from food to clothing.

A trip to the market is a must-do activity in Yuma if you want to experience life like a native.

Try some of the local delicacies, too.

There are burgers, ice cream, hotdogs, and date shakes offered at the market.

Grab Souvenirs at the Yuma Visitor Information Center

Located in the center of Yuma, the Yuma Visitor Information Center is specifically located on Main Street.

If you want to discover more about the area’s intriguing attractions, this is the place to go.

To make the most of your stay in Yuma, visit the visitor center and speak with the employees about fun things to do in the city.

Local specialists can help you narrow down your options based on your interests and time constraints.

The information center is an excellent location to spend time during inclement weather.

Peruse the souvenirs available and bring some home to remember your trip.

Bring Your Kids to Play at Stewart Vincent Wolfe Creative Playground

The Stewart Vincent Wolfe Creative Playground, commonly called Castle Park, is a special playground in West Wetlands Park, a section of Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area.

It is regarded as one of the biggest spaces for artistic expression.

It is listed among the greatest 20 playgrounds in the nation; the Playground is praised for being “amazing, available, and inclusive.”

Unfortunately, an arson fire in late 2015 severely damaged the Playground.

A zipline, a massive TriNet climbing tower, and a comforting swing were among the great new additions to the Stewart Vincent Wolfe Creative Playground when it relaunched in May 2018.

Book a Room at Shilo Inn Yuma

All tourists needing a place to call home are invited to the accessible and furnished Shilo Inn.

Yuma, Arizona, is the perfect holiday and work trip destination due to its mixture of hot desert warmth and the tranquility of the nearby mountain ranges.

When your travels bring you to Yuma’s stunning desert, the welcoming staff of Shilo Inns Yuma will extend their courteous Shilo hospitality to you.

The 134 expansive rooms and suites are all nicely furnished in southwestern style.

Thanks to its adaptable meeting and conference space, Shilo Inns should be your top choice for a corporate meeting, conference, or group function.

An ideal approach to unwind at the end of the afternoon is to swim in their spacious, immaculate outdoor pool.

Order Exquisite Wine at the Old Town Wine Cellar

In Yuma’s Old Town, there is a distinct wine shop and wine bar called Old Town Wine Cellar.

They have happily delighted Yuma’s wine enthusiasts since they opened for business in 2003.

They have hundreds of high-quality wines from around the globe on their shelves, providing an unrivaled combination of choice and quality in southern Arizona.

Select from over 300 wines from different countries.

Daily at the Cellar, wines by the glass and wine sampling are also available.

Around 30 American Craft Brews and Imported Beers & Ales are offered at Old Town Wine Cellar, including stouts, saisons, and IPAs.

They are accessible from Tuesday through Saturday, so swing by, look through the wines and savor a weekly wine list that is constantly updating.

Purchase Skin Care Products at Bare Naked Soap Co.

The desire to create high-quality, all-natural skin care products led to Bare Naked Soap Co.

They set an aim to make soaps clear of the chemicals present in the majority of commercial skin care items on the marketplace, which feed a cruel cycle of skin damage and dryness.

Bare Naked Soap Co. sells various merchandise, including natural lip balms, lotions, exfoliating products, facial cleansers, oils, bath wash, and muscular soreness ointments, in addition to their handmade, organic soaps.

They carefully get all of the raw ingredients from organic suppliers.

All oils and botanicals are of the highest quality.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Center of the World

A pyramid at Center of the world

User:Kirs10, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To get to the center of the world, you have to get away a little further from Yuma.

The proclaimed Center of the World is located in Imperial County.

While it sounds as though it’s merely a tale among localit’sven the governments of California, as well as France, have claimed that this spot is truly the world’s center.

Church at the Center of the World

StompingGirl /

Jacques-Andre world’suilt this site in the 1980s.

There are a lot of unique monuments in the location, including a spiral staircase that was supposed to be a part of the legendary Eiffel Tower.

There are a lot of granite pyramids here, too.

Have Fun Driving in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area

Are you looking for some challenging roads to test your driving skills?

Well, then you should come to Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area.

These lands will remind you of Arabian deserts, and there are tall dunes that beckon you.

The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area is 20 miles away from Yuma.

It will take you under an hour and a half to get to this point.

If you’d like to make it an overnight trip, you’re welcome to set up camp here.

Pay a Visit to the Cocopah Museum

Situated in the West Cocopah Reservation, the Cocopah Museum’s main priority is to portray the Cocopah Indian tribe’s history and culture.

The museum is situated amid lush green forests filled with various plant species native to Sonora.

When you enter the museum, you’ll be able to see how the native Cocopah people lived and earned their living.

Learn everything about the fascinating Cocopah culture at this museum.

Final Thoughts

This southwest Arizona region has a lot to offer besides sunshine and pleasant weather.

You won’t run out of places to expwon’there, from abandoned villages and jails to city parks and wildlife refuges.

Plan your trip today and experience what Yuma, Arizona has in store for you.

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