Spend a day in Yuma where you'll find good eats and gorgeous gardens in this revamped river town
One Perfect Day in Yuma, AZ
Andrea Gomez Romero
Visitors can hike a 3-mile loop from the sandy beach at Gateway Park in Yuma.

What it was: A Colorado River town living off railroad-era glory days.

What it is: Stepping things up with a $60 million riverfront reboot and wetlands restoration.

Where it is: So far southwest, it’s practically in California–and Mexico.

Bask in it: Yuma claims the Guinness World Record for most hours of yearly sun. In March, days hover above 80 degrees.

Zoom through history: 500 years of it, on a 90-minute Segway tour ($60; segwayumatours.com).

Can’t-miss local dish: Yuma sits in the center of Medjool country. Try the frothy date shakes at Basket Creations and More (245 S. Main St.; 928/341-9966).

Eggs alfresco: We love the oatmeal Swedish pancakes and eggs with spicy sausage at the Garden Cafe ($; 250 S. Madison Ave.; 928/783-1491).

Curry, chipotle, wasabi: River City Grill ($$; 600 W. Third St.; 928/782-7988) goes eclectic with the spices. Nab a patio seat beneath twinkling lights.

Hollywood claim to fame: Yuma Territorial Prison is mentioned in 3:10 to Yuma, and the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area shows up in Star Wars and Return of the Jedi.

Explore the riverfront: Yuma’s waterfront is taking on a new sparkle. Hundreds of acres of wetlands have been restored. From the beach at Gateway Park, you can hike or bike a 3-mile loop through East Wetlands marshland and cotton woods. 259 S. Gila St.; 928/373-5243. 

Andrea Gomez Romero

West Wetlands Park is home to a castle-themed playground and the Hummingbird Garden, which houses five kinds of birds.

Wander a garden: The old town dump is now West Wetlands Park, home to a castle-themed playground and Hummingbird Garden, where you can spot five kinds of hummers. Make for the ramada to take in the blooming penstemon, desert marigold, and desert willow. 2200 W. Water St.; 928/373-5243.

Andrea Gomez Romero

The Especial sandwich at Lutes Casino is equal parts cheeseburger and hot dog.

Bet on a sure thing: At locals’ fave Lutes Casino, go for the Especial sandwich. It’s equal parts cheeseburger, hot dog, and awesomeness. $; 221 S. Main St.; 928/782-2192.

Top of the Kress restaurant in downtown Yuma features an ice-coated bar and sexy rooftop lounge.

Top of the Kress restaurant in downtown Yuma features an ice-coated bar and sexy rooftop lounge.

Drinks with a killer view: What’s cooler than the ice-coated bar at Top of the Kress, Yuma’s sexiest downtown haunt? How about live R&B acts, DJs, stand-up comedy, and a rooftop lounge with views of the city. $5 cover Fri-Sat; 284 S.Main St.; topofthekress.com

Make it a weekend: The Spanish-style Best Western Coronado Motor Hotel is draped with bougainvillea and shaded by palm trees. From $80; bwcoronado.com

Discover Yuma’s artsy side: Find you new pie plate at Colorado River Pottery. Jan Bentley draws inspiration for her durable stoneware from the area’s centuries-old Hohokam petroglyphs. Closed Sun; 67 W. Second St.; 928/343-0413.

Tomkins Pottery deals in everything from dillweed-patterned trays and honey pots to raku ground squirrels. Don’t leave without checking out the vast tabletop selections. Closed Sun; 78 W. Second St.; 928/782-1934. 

Peek in the window of the North End Artists Co-op, and you might spy a local ceramicist molding a water pitcher or Day of the Dead figurine. Open Sat only; 254 St. Main St.; 928/373-5202.


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