Yuma is best known for being the hottest and driest city in the United States. Arizona’s 11th most populous city is in the southwest corner of the state and shares a border with California and Mexico. Due to its isolated location and overbearing heat, tourists often overlook Yuma in favour of some of Arizona’s smaller yet easier-to-reach destinations. This is a real shame, as its rich history and unique landscape make it an incredible place to visit.
With that in mind, here’s a guided tour of the best things to do in Yuma. With a wide variety of options to cater to all tastes and interests, this will hopefully not only convince you to make the trip but also give you plenty of great things to do and see when you arrive.
- Yuma, Arizona
- 20 Things To Do In Yuma AZ
- 1- Uncover The History Of Yuma Territorial Prison Park
- 2- Learn About Desert Plants At The Yuma Conservation Garden
- 3- Admire Art At The Museum Of History In Granite
- 4- Appreciate The Architecture Of Yuma’s Historic Districts
- 5- Be Amazed By Exhibits At Yuma History Museum
- 6- Explore The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area
- 7- Visit The Yuma Landing Historic Site Landmark
- 8- Examine The Artefacts In The Cloud Museum
- 9- Combine Education And Exercise At Colorado River State Historic Park
- 10- Embrace The Great Outdoors In Picacho State Recreation Area
- 11- Walk Along The Riverfront In Gateway Park
- 12- See The Valley Of The Names
- 13- Visit The Arizona Historical Society Sanguinetti House Museum
- 14- Experience Native American Culture On The Fort Yuma Indian Reservation
- 15- Spend A Day At Imperial Dam
- 16- Have Some Fun In West Wetlands Park
- 17- Discover History At The Cocopah Museum
- 18- Try Your Luck At The Paradise Casino
- 19- Take A Trip To The Yuma Proving Ground Heritage Center
- 20- Study The Exhibits At The Yuma Proving Ground Open Air Museum
- 20 Things To Do In Yuma AZ
20 Things To Do In Yuma AZ
1- Uncover The History Of Yuma Territorial Prison Park
Built in 1876, before Arizona became a state, Yuma Territorial Prison features a maze of stone corridors that were used to house more than 3,000 prisoners over 33 years.
After closing in 1909, it became a school for four years before being converted into a museum.
Renamed the Yuma Territorial Prison Park, it gives visitors the chance to see how inmates would have lived more than 100 years ago.
You can see artefacts and explore the cells, courtyard, towers, and even a graveyard housing the bodies of more than 100 inmates who died during their sentence.
Yuma Territorial Prison Park is at 220 Prison Hill Road, Yuma, Arizona, 85364.
2- Learn About Desert Plants At The Yuma Conservation Garden
The Yuma Conservation Garden is a fabulous destination for those wanting to learn more about the iconic desert environment that surrounds the city.
It has a wide range of desert plants, a beautiful pond, some walking trails, and even a small collection of local and migratory birds.
One of the only areas with greenery or water features in the city, it is equally ideal for a relaxing stroll or enjoying a picnic in scenic surroundings during their stay.
Yuma Conservation Garden is at 2520 East 32nd Street, Yuma, Arizona, 85365.
3- Admire Art At The Museum Of History In Granite
The Museum Of History In Granite is a unique outdoor museum that features 10 monuments made from granite, each 100 ft (30 m) long.
The idea was to create a lasting memorial covering all aspects of human history.
With monuments dedicated to Arizona, aviation, California, the French Foreign Legion, humanity, language, parachuting, the United States, and even a “Wall For The Ages”, where you can record your own name, it is a can’t miss destination for any fans of history.
Museum Of History In Granite is at Center Of The World Drive, Felicity, California, 92283.
4- Appreciate The Architecture Of Yuma’s Historic Districts
Yuma has three separate historic districts listed on the US National Register Of Historic Places: Brinley Avenue Historic District, Yuma Century Heights Conservancy Residential Historic District and Yuma Main Street Historic District.
Between them, they boast an incredible collection of bridges, buildings, educational institutions, houses, places of worship, and even the Yuma Pioneer Cemetery.
With their beautiful architecture, rich history, and cultural importance, these three districts are an essential part of the experience for anyone hoping to see how Yuma has grown and developed through the years.
5- Be Amazed By Exhibits At Yuma History Museum
The Yuma History Museum is a small establishment in the lobby of an old-fashioned motel.
Dedicated to the history of tourism in Yuma, it has a fascinating array of artefacts and exhibits that give you an idea of the experience visitors making the same trip as you would have had in the past.
Yuma History Museum is at 233 South 4th Street, Yuma, Arizona, 85364.
6- Explore The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area
The Yuma Crossing was created in the 18th century as the only official crossing on the lower Colorado River.
The Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area was added to the United States National Register Of Historic Places in 1966 to signify its importance to the region.
A beautiful plaque has been installed to detail the history of the crossing itself, while the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, the site of an important late 19th-century quartermaster depot, is also located here.
With everything backdropped by the river and a range of towering mountains, it is one of the best places to appreciate the history and landscape of Yuma and the surrounding region.
The Yuma Crossing is at 180 West 1st Street, Yuma, Arizona, 85364.
7- Visit The Yuma Landing Historic Site Landmark
The Yuma Landing Historic Site Landmark is a small yet beautiful attraction featuring a statue and plaques dedicated to Robert G. Fowler.
The first person to fly from the east to west coast of the United States, he made several stops during his flight, one of which was right here.
The statue depicts the man himself, while the plaques tell the story of his journey and life.
The landmarks are also located in the parking lot of the Yuma Landing restaurant, where you can go to see some more artefacts and exhibits on the event in question while picking up some great food.
The Yuma Landing Historic Site Landmark is at 195 South 4th Avenue, Yuma, Arizona, 85364.
8- Examine The Artefacts In The Cloud Museum
The Cloud Museum is an outdoor museum dedicated to historic vehicles.
With a collection of cars, trucks, and other vehicles, as well as several additional artefacts dedicated to the transport industry, it is an excellent stop for motor enthusiasts or anyone interested in historical transportation.
The Cloud Museum is at 1398 York Road, Winterhaven, California, 92283.
9- Combine Education And Exercise At Colorado River State Historic Park
On the Colorado River’s southern bank lies the Colorado River State Historic Park, which is based around a former army depot.
With a collection of beautifully restored buildings filled with historical artefacts and exhibits, it is a great place to learn about Yuma’s past in historic surroundings.
Colorado River State Historic Park is at 201 North 4th Avenue, Yuma, Arizona, 85364.
10- Embrace The Great Outdoors In Picacho State Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area is a 9-mile-long park and garden located on the former site of the historic Picacho gold mining town.
With various boat ramps, campsites, hiking trails, and a wide range of migratory birds, it is an excellent place for boating, camping, fishing, hiking, nature spotting, and stargazing.
The ruins of the town’s stamp mill also remain one of the most popular attractions in the area today.
Picacho State Recreation Area is on Picacho Road, Winterhaven, California, 92283.
11- Walk Along The Riverfront In Gateway Park
Gateway Park is a park located on the south shore of the Colorado River.
Its beautiful beach provides the perfect opportunity to lay back and relax as you take in the views of California across the river.
Meanwhile, features including a kid’s play area, fishing docks, picnic facilities, and restrooms ensure it is a destination the whole family can enjoy.
Gateway Park is on East 1st Street & South Gila Street, Yuma, Arizona, 85364.
12- See The Valley Of The Names
The Valley Of The Names is a unique attraction in which a five-mile stretch of desert has been filled by people spelling out their names in rocks.
Some even take the opportunity to leave a lasting memorial to a loved one they have lost.
Whether you want to come and see it for yourself or collect enough rocks to add your name to the valley, it is definitely something you are unlikely to find anywhere else.
Valley Of The Names is in Winterhaven, California, 92283.
13- Visit The Arizona Historical Society Sanguinetti House Museum
The Arizona Historical Society Sanguinetti House Museum And Gardens is an 1870s period adobe house that is the former home of esteemed local businessman E.F Sanguinetti.
The house has been converted into a museum dedicated to not only his life but also Yuma during his era.
The house is filled with historic furniture, décor, and artefacts, while the gardens boast the rose collection that he tended to during his life.
Throw in the historic architecture, and this is a perfect destination for both history buffs and architecture fans alike.
The Arizona Historical Society Sanguinetti House Museum is at 240 South Madison Avenue, Yuma, Arizona, 85364.
14- Experience Native American Culture On The Fort Yuma Indian Reservation
The Fort Yuma Indian Reservation is the traditional tribal lands of the local Quechan people.
With many businesses and establishments run but Native Americans, it is the perfect place to delve into their culture and history and even boasts an Indian Casino for you to enjoy.
Located on the grounds of the historic Fort Yuma, which was erected in 1851, and listed on the US National Register Of Historic Places, you can even take in the architecture of what is perhaps Yuma’s most historic building.
Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, East imperial, California, 92283.
15- Spend A Day At Imperial Dam
Built over two years, from 1936 to 1938, the Imperial Dam controls the waters of the Colorado River to create the All-American Canal, Gila River, Imperial Reservoir, and Yuma Project Aqueduct.
A magnificent sight on its own, the area surrounding it also boasts several boat launches, campgrounds, and parks.
This makes it equally ideal whether you want to study its engineering or enjoy some time on or by the water.
Imperial Dam, Yuma, Arizona, 85365.
16- Have Some Fun In West Wetlands Park
The West Wetlands Park is a wonderful 110-acre (45 ha) waterfront park ideally suited for family recreation.
Opened in 2002, it features a butterfly garden, pond, hiking trails, grassy areas, sports pitches, monuments, and a wide range of animals, birds, and plants.
There are even a number of exciting events and fairs held here throughout the year.
This is a destination sure to have plenty on offer to help you have fun in the sun.
West Wetlands Park is at 282 North 12th Avenue, Yuma, Arizona, 85364.
17- Discover History At The Cocopah Museum
The Cocopah Museum is a small historical site dedicated to the Cocopah people who historically inhabited the area.
With stunning artefacts and exhibits, and run by incredibly knowledgeable and friendly people, it is among the very best places to learn about one of Arizona’s historic tribes.
Cocopah Museum is at 14533 Veterans Place, Somerton, Arizona, 85350.
18- Try Your Luck At The Paradise Casino
The Paradise Casino is a small tribal casino that first opened in 1996.
Aimed mainly at locals, it forgoes much of the pomp and pageantry associated with regular casinos.
This not only allows you to experience a traditional Indian casino but also means you will likely have to spend less as well.
With more than 500 slot machines, as well as games like bingo, a range of dining options, and several evening events and entertainment, it is a great place to have fun and let off some steam without the massive crowds usually associated with this sort of establishment.
Paradise Casino is at 450 Quechan Drive, Yuma, Arizona, 85364.
19- Take A Trip To The Yuma Proving Ground Heritage Center
The Yuma Proving Ground is among the most significant military installations on Earth and is used to test the majority of new technology or weapons before they are put in use.
Its Heritage Center is a museum that houses various displays, artefacts, and exhibits on the history of the United States military that may be among the most comprehensive collections in the country.
Yuma Proving Ground is at 301 C, Yuma, Arizona, 85365.
20- Study The Exhibits At The Yuma Proving Ground Open Air Museum
Down the road from the main site, the Yuma Proving Ground Open Air Museum is dedicated to military vehicles.
With a range of tanks, some missiles, plaques, and free entry, it is a great little stop for any military enthusiasts.
Yuma Proving Ground Open Air Museum is on East Imperial Dam Road, Yuma, Arizona, 85365.