12 Attractions in Yuma, Arizona

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Yuma, Arizona is a vibrant city located along the Colorado River in the southwest corner of the state. With its sunny weather, natural beauty, and abundance of things to see and do, Yuma is a delightful place to visit year-round.

From historic sites and museums to golf courses and nature preserves, Yuma offers visitors a diverse selection of attractions to fill their itinerary. Read on to discover 12 of the top attractions that you won’t want to miss when visiting this southwestern destination.

Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park


The Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park allows visitors to step back in time and explore what life was like within the notorious Old West prison. Operating from 1876 to 1909, the prison once housed some of the Southwest’s most dangerous and notorious criminals.

Today, the site serves as an immersive museum where you can view the restored cells and solitary chamber, stroll through the grounds, and learn about the history through exhibits and guided tours. Don’t miss the gift shop filled with unique souvenirs.

Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park


Gain insight into Yuma’s military history at the Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park. Established in 1864, this depot served as an important supply and transportation hub for the U.S. Army during settlement of the Southwest.

The site today authentically recreates what the depot looked like during the 1870s, including the commanding officer’s quarters, barracks, warehouses, stables, and more. Enjoy living history demonstrations, explore the exhibits in the visitor center, and take a guided tour to make the most of your visit.

Yuma Territorial Prison Gate


Even if you don’t tour the entire prison grounds, be sure to see the infamous gate to the Yuma Territorial Prison. Located just beside the Colorado River, this imposing gate starkly contrasts with the natural beauty of its surroundings.

The gate’s thick wooden doors and ominous inscription above, “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here,” would have been the last taste of freedom for prisoners before they began their sentences. An ideal photo op for history buffs.

Yuma Art Center


Support local culture and talent at the Yuma Art Center. As the heart of Yuma’s art community, the center features three galleries of rotating exhibits showcasing regional artists’ work in a variety of media including painting, textiles, ceramics, photography, and more.

Don’t miss the on-site gift shop filled with unique handcrafted items. The center also hosts regular artist receptions and special events like classes, lectures, and family-friendly art workshops.

Yuma’s Old City Hall


History meets art at Yuma’s Old City Hall. This distinctive brick building with a clock tower no longer functions as the city’s administrative offices, but now operates as a free museum and art gallery.

Wander through the rooms to see exhibits on the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, the Colorado River, pioneer life, and more. You’ll also find an array of works by local artists. Finish your visit by ascending to the observation deck in the tower for panoramic views of Yuma.

Yuma History Highlights Mural


You can’t miss the colorful 230-foot long Yuma History Highlights Mural in downtown Yuma. This expansive mural captures key moments in the city’s history through a series of vivid scenes painted by local artists.

Trace Yuma’s story from when Native American tribes first inhabited the area, to early Spanish explorers and missionaries, to pioneer settlement and steamboat trade, and more. Pick up a descriptive brochure so you can decode the imagery and fully appreciate the unique history lesson.

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge


Breathtaking natural scenery and abundant birdlife await you at the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge just outside Yuma. Encompassing 30,000 acres of wetlands, marshes, and desert, this protected landscape serves as a vital habitat along the Pacific Flyway.

Hike one of the nature trails to spot native wildlife and over 400 species of birds. Don’t miss the visitor center featuring educational exhibits as well as the scenic 10-mile auto tour route allowing you to take in the refuge’s beauty from your vehicle.

West Wetlands Park


For a family-friendly outdoor experience right in Yuma, visit the West Wetlands Park. This urban oasis adjacent to the Colorado River incorporates almost 400 acres of wetlands, walking paths, fishing access points, and bird blinds used to spot avian residents.

Sign up for a ranger-led program to learn about the native flora and fauna while exploring the park. Or bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the covered ramadas after taking a peaceful stroll along the wetlands loop trail.

Bluff Trail at Prison Hill


Work up a sweat hiking the Bluff Trail in Prison Hill Recreation Area while soaking in panoramic vistas of Yuma and the surrounding landscape. Located appropriately behind the old Yuma Territorial Prison, this steep 0.75 mile out-and-back trail brings you to a secluded bluff overlooking the city.

Catch your breath while gazing out at views of the valley below, the Gila Mountains across the horizon, and if you visit near sunset, an unforgettable sky ablaze in brilliant hues.

Yuma Golf & Country Club


Avid golfers will love teeing off at the Yuma Golf & Country Club. As the oldest golf course in Yuma, this 18-hole championship course features narrow tree-lined fairways, challenging greens, and beautiful mountain vistas. The classic layout has played host to multiple USGA events over the years.

Yet with five sets of tees, the course still remains enjoyable for amateur golfers as well. Swing by the pro shop or join fellow players for a drink at Mulligan’s Bar & Grill after your round.

Desert Hills Golf Course


Boasting 36 championship holes, Desert Hills Golf Course is one of Yuma’s premier golf destinations. The dual 18-hole courses, the Lakes and the Dunes, each offer distinct challenges with water hazards, sand traps, and rolling terrain. The Dunes is reminiscent of Scottish links-style courses thanks to its windswept landscape. Book a tee-time for either course or play an entire day rounding all 36 holes if your stamina allows. The clubhouse’s lounge and patio also make an ideal 19th hole to recap your game.

Yuma Lettuce Days


Each winter, Yuma celebrates its agricultural roots with the annual Yuma Lettuce Days. Taking place over four days each February, this free community festival offers live music, entertaining contests, tasty food vendors, an arts and crafts fair with over 200 vendors, carnival rides, agricultural exhibits, and even lettuce hockey on ice. One highlight is the world’s largest salad prepared with Yuma’s famously fresh lettuce. Don’t miss the Lettuce Light Parade featuring colorful floats often adorned with produce.

Yuma Territorial Days


Step back into the Wild West at the annual Yuma Territorial Days held every February. For over 60 years, this 10-day long festivities have recreated life in 1864 with nonstop activities including gunfight reenactments, rodeo events, carnival rides, concerts, dances, parades, historic demonstrations, and more. Festival goers can watch miners pan for gold, see cavalry drills, hear blacksmith hammering, and meet Snake Oil Doc. With free admission for many events, it’s an affordable and lively cultural celebration.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Aviation Museum


Aviation buffs of all ages will appreciate the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Aviation Museum. Located on the active MCAS Yuma base, this museum houses over 35 restored military aircraft used throughout history along with models, artifacts, photographs, and educational exhibits. See planes ranging from WWII fighters like the F4U Corsair to modern helicopters and the famed Harrier jets. Chat with veteran pilots and mechanics while gaining fascinating insight into Marine aviation programs.

Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park Junior Ranger Program


Kids and teens can dive deeper into Yuma’s history through the Junior Ranger program offered at Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park from October through April. Participants explore the park’s living history exhibits and earn badges through various activities teaching them about topics like the U.S. Camel Corps, Morse code communication, and desert wildlife. They’ll also get hands-on with historic tasks like churning butter, writing with ink pens, or doing laundry the old-fashioned way.

University of Arizona Agricultural Center


The University of Arizona Agricultural Center serves as an invaluable educational resource for researching and improving agricultural production in Yuma’s desert climate. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits on water conservation, integrated pest management, vegetable breeding methods, and more. Sign up for a free guided walking tour to see research fields growing produce like lettuce, wheat, and citrus. Seasonal workshops are also offered on various gardening topics relevant to the region.

Conclusion

From fascinating history to diverse museums and abundance of outdoor recreation, Yuma entices visitors with an array of unique attractions. Learn about frontier life at sites like the Yuma Territorial Prison and Quartermaster Depot, while embracing local culture at artistic hubs such as the Yuma Art Center. Gorgeous parks and wildlife refuges like Imperial National Wildlife Refuge showcase Yuma’s natural assets, while championship golf courses offer recreation for duffers.

And annual festivals like Yuma Lettuce Days and Yuma Territorial Days immerse you in lively local traditions. With mild winters and over 300 sunny days a year, any time is ideal to visit this southwestern city and experience the top attractions showcasing Yuma’s rich heritage and natural bounty.

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