For the cultural scene, contact the Yuma Art Center (928/329-6607 art exhibits, 928/373-5206 theater, www.yumafinearts.com). Take in local color downtown at Lute's Casino (221 S. Main St., 928/782-2192), a popular spot to play dominoes, pinball, and pool. The snack bar serves up burgers and tacos. Catch movies at Main Street Cinemas (111 S. Main St., 928/819-0289), Plaza Theatres (1560 S. 4th Ave., 928/782-9292), or at Mandarin Cinemas (3142 S. Arizona Ave., 928/782-7409).
Both local tribes have smoky casinos. The Quechan offer Paradise Casino (across the river, 888/777-4946). The Cocopah run the Cocopah Casino (south of town at the junction of US 95 and 15th St., 800/237-5687).
January: Arizona Antique Show, All State Picnic (a big snowbird jamboree), YRMC Tractor Rodeo, and Americana Art & Gem Show.
February: Silver Spur Rodeo and Parade, Yuma Square Dance & Round Dance, Yuma River Daze Air Show at the Marine Corps Air Station (in March some years), and Quechan Pow Wow (in March some years).
March: Midnight at the Oasis Festival (classic car show, www.midnightattheoasis.net).
April: Yuma County Fair (in March some years)
May: Cinco de Mayo Parade & Celebration.
July: July Fourth Celebration.
September: Hispanic Heritage Fiesta Night.
October: Oktoberfest and YRMC Western Dance & Barbecue.
November: Children's Festival of the Arts, Quilt & Antique Fair, Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival (www.caballeros.org/balloon_main.htm), and Día de los Muertos.
December: Nutcracker Ballet, Christmas Open House on Main Street (parade and tree lighting), and Desert Holiday Arts & Crafts Bazaar.
You'll find public swimming pools (Yuma Parks and Recreation, 928/783-1284) at Carver on the corner of 5th St. and 13th Ave., at Kennedy on the corner of 24th St. and Kennedy Lane, and at Marcus on the corner of 5th St. and 5th Avenue. Play tennis at Desert Sun Courts (near the Convention Center, 35th St. and Ave. A, 928/344-3800). For a round of golf, try one of the 12 public courses in the area, such the 18-hole courses at Arroyo Dunes (1301 W. 32nd St. and Ave. A, 928/726-8350), Desert Hills Municipal (1245 Desert Hills Dr., 928/344-0644), and Mesa del Sol (12213 E. Calle del Cid, 928/342-1283). You'll find shooting and archery ranges at Adair Park (16 miles northeast of Yuma off US 95, 928/726-0022 Sprague's Sports).
Anglers on the Colorado River and nearby lakes catch largemouth black bass, striped bass, channel catfish, tilapia, bluegill, and crappie. Check fishing regulations with Arizona Game and Fish (928/342-0091) or Quechan Indian Fish and Game in California (760/572-0213). The Visitors Bureau offers fishing information.
Yuma, midway between Phoenix and San Diego, is a popular travelers' stop. You'll find most of the two dozen or so motels along Fourth Avenue, which is part of the Business Loop between I-8 Exits 1 and 9. Newer motels form another cluster just off I-8 16th Street Exit 2. Except for the historic hotel, all of places listed below offer pools, which you can appreciate much of the year. Rates start around $30 for the independents and $40 for the chains during the peak season Jan.-March, then drop in summer.
Historic Hotel: The 1917 Hotel Lee (390 S. Main St., 928/783-6336, $30 s, $35-90 d) takes you back in time with its antique decor while offering modern amenities such as mini fridges, microwaves, TV, and air-conditioning. Some rooms have private baths, but none include a telephone.
Under $50: Independents include RegaLodge Motel (344 S. 4th Ave., 928/782-4571, $45 s, $49 d), El Rancho Motel (2201 S. 4th Ave., 928/783-4481, $42 s, $47 d), and Royal Motor Inn (2941 S. 4th Ave., 928/344-0550 or 800/729-0550, $49 d).
$50-100: Some of these will drop below $50 off-season or if business is slow. Best Western Coronado Motor Hotel (233 4th Ave., 928/783-4453 or 877/234-5567, www.bwcoronado.com, $72 s, $79.50 d and up) has a handy location near the downtown sights, plus a restaurant and two pools; the Mission Revival Style building dates from 1938 and is one of the oldest Best Westerns. Farther south you can look for Hacienda Motel (2150 S. 4th Ave., 928/782-4316, $50 s, $58 d), Yuma Cabana (2151 S. 4th Ave., 928/783-8311 or 800/874-0811, $52 s, $56 d), Torch Lite Lodge (2501 S. 4th Ave., 928/344-1600, $45 d), Interstate 8 Inn (2730 S. 4th Ave., 928/726-6110 or 800/821-7465, $60 d), Desert Grove (3500 S. 4th Ave., 928/726-1400, $70 d), and Quality Inn (711 E. 32nd St., 928/726-4721 or 800/835-1132, $90 d).
Just south off I-8 Exit 2, you'll find the least expensive chains, Motel 6 Yuma East (1445 E. 16th St., 928/782-9521 or 800/466-8356, $54 s, $60 d) and nearby Motel 6 Downtown (1640 S. Arizona Ave., 928/782-6561 or 800/466-8356, $52 s, $58 d).
$100-150: These and several other top-end motels lie just north of I-8 Exit 2: Rooms of La Fuente Inn (1513 E. 16th St., 928/329-1814 or 800/841-1814, www.lafuenteinn.com, $98-109 d) overlook a courtyard with a pool and barbecue grills. The large Shilo Inn (1550 S. Castle Dome Ave., 928/782-9511 or 800/222-2244, www.shiloinns.com, $93-103) offers a restaurant, full breakfast buffet, pool, spa, sauna, and fitness center. Also check out Best Western Plus InnSuites (1450 S. Castle Dome Ave., 928/783-8341 or 800/922-2034) for its large studios and suites, a breakfast buffet, and many amenities.
The 175 or so RV parks in and around Yuma cater mostly to retired people. Only a few parks welcome families with children. Similarly, very few places will consider renting tent spaces and then only off-season. Ask the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce for their listing of RV parks. Some of the best camping—and the places to go for tenting—lie upstream on the Colorado River; see North of Yuma below.
On the west side of town, Lucky Park del Sur (5790 W. Eighth St., 928/783-7201, $18 RV w/hookups) has family spaces. Blue Sky RV (10247 E. Frontage Rd., 928/342-1444, $25 tent or RV w/hookups) also accepts families and offers showers, pool and a hot tub; take I-8 Fortuna Exit 12, then head west a half mile on the south frontage road.
Dateland (65 miles east at I-8 Exit 67, 928/454-2772) offers tent ($13) and RV sites ($16 with hookups) with showers. The Mexican-American cafe here is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; try the tasty date milkshake. Nearby Oasis RV Park (928/454-2229) has a more secluded setting with tent ($14) and RV ($20 w/hookups) sites, plus a few rooms for rent. Amenities include showers, a pool, and hiking in the Aztec Hills; continue past Dateland to road's end, turn left two miles, then right at the sign to the entrance.
A drive along Fourth Avenue will turn up lots of restaurants offering American, Mexican, or Asian food, plus some supermarkets—you can't go hungry here! The following highlights are worth searching out.
Julieanna's Patio Cafe (1951 W. 25th St., 928/317-1961, Mon.-Fri. for lunch and Mon.-Sat. for dinner, $7-10 for lunch and $16-25 for dinner) has a romantic garden setting, especially at dinner with flickering candlelight. You can choose patio or indoor seating. The lunch menu lists tempting sandwiches, soups, salads, pizza, meat and seafood entrees, and even a few breakfast items for people who like their eggs in the afternoon. Dinner brings out choices of steaks, prime rib, rack of lamb, chicken, seafood, and pasta; there's a good wine list too. From 24th Street, turn south one block on 19th Avenue and you'll see the sign.
Birds will serenade you at the Garden Cafe (250 S. Madison Ave., 928/783-1491). Varied choices include sandwiches, quiches, soups, salads, and grilled meats. Open daily except Monday for breakfast and lunch from early October to the end of May. It's downtown next door to the aviary and gardens of the Sanguinetti House Museum.
Yuma Landing Restaurant (near downtown at 195 S. 4th Ave., 928/782-7427, daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, $6-13) has a great choice of sandwiches, steaks, chicken, pork ribs, and seafood, plus some Mexican and pasta items. The restaurant's name commemorates the landing on this site in 1911 of a Wright Model B airplane piloted by Bob Fowler. He continued on his journey from Santa Monica to Miami and became the first person to complete a Pacific to Atlantic flight. Step inside to see photos of the pilot and plane along with many other scenes of early Yuma.
Villa on the Main (265 Main St., 928/782-2702, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and Tues.-Sat. for dinner, $13-20) is a simple Italian restaurant downtown offering up steak, prime rib, veal, seafood, and pasta dishes. Artwork decorates the walls.
For great Mexican food at bargain prices, follow the locals to Chretin's (485 S. 15th Ave., 928/782-1291, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, $6.55-11). It started as a dance hall in the 1930s with the wife selling tacos at events. Now diners fill the adobe hall and enjoy the many entrees, such as the machaca (shredded beef or chicken), steaks, and Mexican pizza. The enchilada sauce, available with many dishes, is a hit, as are the margaritas. Expect some noise as families will be out enjoying themselves. Posters, nacho-eating contest results, and Mexican kitsch cover the walls. From 4th Avenue, turn south on 5th Street and look for the sign near 15th Street.
A pair of stone lions at the entrance set the mood for Mandarin Palace (350 E. 32nd St., 928/344-2805, $9-14). Chefs prepare Mandarin and Szechwan cuisine for the a la carte menu and the buffet, both available daily for lunch and dinner. The Friday and Saturday dinner buffets feature steak and seafood as well as the usual large choice of Chinese items.
The Yuma Visitors Bureau (201 N. 4th Ave., Yuma, AZ 85364, 928/783-0071 or 800/293-0071, www.visityuma.com, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (extended for special events) daily Sept.-May 31, but closes Sun. in summer) is at Quartermaster Depot State Park. Yuma Visitors Bureau publishes a very informative visitors guide with descriptions of sights and listings of practicalities.
The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge (downtown at 356 W. First St., Yuma, AZ 85364, 928/783-7861, www.fws.gov/southwest, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) has information about the Kofa backcountry.
Staff at the Bureau of Land Management Yuma Field Office (2555 E. Gila Ridge Rd., Yuma, AZ 85365, 928/317-3200, www.blm.gov/az/st/en.html, 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) can advise on camping and hiking in much of the region; take I-8 Exit 3, turn south, make a right at the first light, and the office will be on your left.
Arizona Game and Fish (9140 E. County 10½ St., Yuma, AZ 85365, 928/342-0091, www.azgfd.gov/, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) offers information, licenses, and watercraft registration.
The large and attractive Yuma Library (350 S. Third Ave., 928/782-1871, www.yumalibrary.org) is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; call for the six branch locations and their hours. Books of regional interest can be purchased at Barnes & Noble (819 W. 32nd St., 928/317-1466) and across the street at Hastings (501 W. Catalina Dr., 928/344-4614).
The main post office (2222 S. 4th Ave., 928/783-2124) is in the south part of town, as is the Yuma Regional Medical Center (2400 S. Ave. A, 928/344-2000). Schuman Insurance Agency (670 E. 32nd St. #11, 928/726-0300) offers auto insurance and information for drives into Mexico. Wal-Mart (2900 S. Pacific Ave., 928/344-0992) and Big Five Sporting Goods (505 W. Catalina Dr. near the junction of 4th Ave. and 32nd St., 928/726-2884) sell hiking and camping gear.
Yuma International Airport (2191 E. 32nd St., 928/726-5882, http://yumainternationalairport.com) is conveniently located on the south side of town; the terminal has a restaurant and car rentals. US Airways (800/428-4322, www.usairways.com/awa) offers daily service to Phoenix with many onward connections.
Greyhound (170 E. 17th Place, 928/783-4403 or 800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com) has bus service several times daily east to Phoenix and Tucson and west to Los Angeles and San Diego. The bus station is off 16th Street behind Staples, two blocks east of Fourth Avenue.
Amtrak (281 Gila St., 800/872-7245, www.amtrak.com) runs the Sunset Limited three times a week west to Los Angeles and east to Tucson and beyond.
TourWest Travel (downtown at 333 S. Main St., 928/343-4848) sells both air and Amtrak tickets.
The downtown sights can be covered on foot, but you'll need a car or taxi to go farther afield. Skim across the Colorado River by jetboat with Yuma River Tours (1920 Arizona Ave., between 19th and 20th Sts., 928/783-4400, www.yumarivertours.com). The popular five-hour tour in the Imperial Wildlife Refuge takes in the region's beauty and rich mining history; $56 including lunch, $46 children 4-12. Trips go year-round (10-person minimum); shorter and longer trips can also be arranged. Boats leave from Fisher Landing on Martinez Lake, 36 miles north of Yuma.
The paddlewheel Colorado King I (1636 S. 4th Ave., 928/782-2412, www.coloradoking.com) will take you out on the river for a narrated three-hour tour. Cruises cost $30 ($20 ages 12 and under). Those with lunch run $37 ($25 ages 12 and under). Trips leave October to May from Fisher's Landing on Martinez Lake.
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