Yuma, Arizona is the first place to boast that it holds the Guinness World Record as the “sunniest city on earth,” with the sun shining 91% of daylight hours. It is also, according to NOAA, the driest, least humid city with the least frequent days of precipitation. But since no family wants their whole vacation to be cloudy, we are pleased to say there are plenty of fun thing to do in Yuma regardless of the weather. And, even better, a lot of the activities in Yuma are incredibly affordable.
Outdoors in Yuma: Hiking, Fishing, Cruising are Fun & Free
At any time of year, the family can go swimming in the Colorado River on the beaches at Gateway Park. Spend a family fishing day at West Wetlands Park (don’t worry girls, they have a hummingbird garden there, too), or donate a rock to the Roxaboxen Park, designed after the children’s story by Alice McLerran. Best of all, all of these activities are free.
For families who really want to take advantage of the sunshine, there’s always tubing on the Colorado River with the Yuma River Tubing company. Charging as little as $11 per adult, families can choose from a range of river courses ranging from one mile to five miles. And if you’re looking to spend the whole day on the river, Yuma River Tubing can arrange that, too, and provide your family with a cooler.
If you were hoping to see the Colorado River without getting wet, Colorado King Cruises is the perfect adventure. Book a day ride or an evening soiree aboard the Colorado King Sternwheeler, take a ride on a jet-boat and see all of the Colorado River’s wildlife, or book a canoe trip and paddle lazily down the stream. All will be lots of fun, especially when it’s sunny — almost a guarantee when in Yuma.
The Desert Sands of Yuma
Other outdoor attractions near Yuma include the Imperial Sand Dunes, a favorite stop for off-road enthusiasts. Stretching from Yuma into California, this 40-mile expanse of sand is breathtaking and definitely worth a look for families who aren’t used to the desert scenery.
A tour of The Camel Farm is also very affordable ($3 for adults). Here, every Monday through Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., families can take a self-guided tour of the farm and see Arizona’s own herd of dromedary camels, as well as over 25 other animal species living on the farm. Be sure to bring some spare change to buy treats so you can feed the animals. At the farm, $1 will buy you a big cup of animal snacks with plenty to go around.
Affordable History: The Museums of Yuma
The Castle Domes Mine Museum is a fun stop for families looking for a little southwest history. Located 40 miles northwest of Yuma, this museum allows guests the chance to walk through a recreation of a ghost town. Here, each of the 12 buildings act as a mini-museum, allowing families some first-hand experience of what life was like in the South West. Even better, admission is only $5.
For a bit of authentic southwestern scenery, the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park is a must. Originally the last rail stop on the supply line to the Southwest, this historic park is now home to some of the oldest and best-preserved buildings in Yuma. Unlike the Castle Domes Mine Museum, these buildings are all original. Admission: $3 for anyone 14 and older; children ages 13 and younger enter for free.
Another museum worth checking out is the Sanguinetti House Museum (Admission $3), the once home of Yuma pioneer E. F. Sanguinetti. Expertly preserved, this historic building is now home to exhibits dedicated to the early days of Yuma. There’s also a beautiful desert rose garden on site.
For more Yuma history, check out the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, the most visited state historic park in all of Arizona. Why? Because this prison is where the infamous 3:10 to Yuma was due to deliver outlaw Ben Wade. And, while the chances of spotting Christian Bale are just about as likely as rain, on your visit you’ll learn all about the other desperadoes housed in the famous Yuma jail.
Want to see more? Check out this video of the Yuma Territorial Prison.
Other museums in the area include the Cocopah Museum and Cultural Center (Donation only) and the Quechan Tribal Museum. Both are dedicated to preserving the culture and history of the Native Americans who first inhabited Yuma, and both are worth a stop if your family has time.
For more information about the city and recommended lodging and dining suggestions, see the Visit Yuma website.
Photos Courtesy of Visit Yuma, Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, and Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park.
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