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About Yuma, Ariz.
A desert city positioned between the Colorado River and the U.S.-Mexico border, Yuma has a long history as a wild west and railroad town that's now known for agricultural products and recreational opportunities in nearby wildlife refuges and wetlands. Yuma is also known for its extreme climate, holding the designations of the driest, sunniest and least humid city in the continental U.S., which makes it a prime place for the unlikely combo of military pilot training, senior snowbirds and baseball games.
The Community of Yuma
Much of Yuma is residential or agricultural. The Old Town District encompasses all of historical Yuma with its shopping, dining and entertainment options, while the Foothills is the most high-end residential area.
What to Do in Yuma
The Arizona Historical Society's Sanguinetti House Museum & Garden is a regional museum focused on Yuma's place in the history of the American West. In addition to its regular exhibits, the museum also is the starting point for a variety of walking, trolley and even ghost tours of the city. The grounds around the historic home are well maintained and often host weddings and other events. A gift shop and next-door cafe offer visitors a chance to buy souvenirs and snacks.
What could be more reminiscent of the west than a ghost town? Visit Castle Dome, the closest ghost town to Yuma, to learn more about the nearby mines that sparked an onslaught of people trying to strike it rich and the community they built in the late 1800s. See the original buildings that housed saloons, a post office and shops, and check out artifacts from the people who lived there. Admission is $15 for adults and $7 for children; call ahead for hours.
Roughly 90 percent of the nation's iceberg lettuce is grown in and around Yuma, but the desert climate is also good for numerous agricultural products, including dates. Stop by Martha's Gardens Medjool Date Farm to see a working date farm and sample yummy date products. Once you try a date shake, you'll understand what all the fuss is about.
One Place You Shouldn't Miss in Yuma
You can't dig into Yuma's past without running into the shadow of the Territorial Prison that fell over the entire area. The first inmates were housed at the prison in 1876 and the facility closed just 33 years later, but not after creating a reputation as a "hellhole" due to the heat and punishments doled out. Today, the prison site is a museum where you can see the old jail cells and its grounds feature walking paths that skirt the river. Adult admission is $8.
Dining in Yuma
Yuma's River City Grill has been serving a unique blend of Asian, Mediterranean and Caribbean dishes for more than 18 years. Wild river salmon, osso buco and crab cakes are particularly popular, and the restaurant also offers Alaskan fish and Kobe beef on the menu. Sit on the outdoor patio and peruse the wine list for a nice glass to accompany your meal.
With a theme that draws on Yuma's history as a prison location, the Prison Hill Brewing Company is a fine pub with good beers on tap (although the names, like "Jailbait Blonde" and "Incrimination IPA," may be a little cutesy) and a nice take on traditional bar food. They make their own chips -- get them with a burger or try the tasting platter.