For oenophiles - that's wine lovers to the rest of us - Yuma's historic North End has a couple of must-sees. Yuma's Main Squeeze (251 S. Main St., 247-9338), bills itself as a "custom winery," where wines will be made on site from grapes sourced from around the world. Besides a wine club and daily tastings, they also promise gift items, entertainment, lunch and snacks. Make a personal batch of wine with your own private label for a wedding, special anniversary or unique gifts.
If you'd rather focus on sampling rather than making, stop by the Old Town Wine Cellar (265 S. Main St., 373-0405), where an array of vintages from around the globe are on offer in a funky, warehouse-like space. Tastings every Thursday and Friday feature six different wines for a nominal charge (wines change weekly, but the same are poured both nights).
All that jazz
Thanks to some dedicated fans -- and players - Yuma has a surprisingly lively jazz scene.
Now in its tenth year, the Village Jazz Series offers free weekly concerts Thursday evenings from mid-January through the end of April. Held outdoors in the Village area of Yuma Palms Regional Center, this low-key series features outstanding local, regional, and occasionally world-class performers in a "bring your own seating" (lawn chair, blanket) venue surrounded by shops and eateries.
Catch the Yuma Jazz Company at venues as diverse as Julieanna's Patio Café (1951 W. 25th St., 317-1961), which has been ranked among the state's top restaurants by Arizona Highways, or Lutes Casino (221 S. Main St., 782-2192), where the Especial - a hot dog atop a hamburger - is what ranks as haute cuisine. Yuma native Pete Pancrazi, a nationally known guitarist now based in Phoenix, often returns home for solo gigs or to perform as part of a trio.
The best source for info on local jazz is the weekly radio program Jazz Straightahead with Doc Jazz. Airing Saturdays from noon-2 p.m. on KAWC-FM 88.9, the show includes both a Yuma jazz calendar and an update on the jazz scene across southern California and Arizona.
Who, what, where
Cocopah Casino and Resort
15318 S. Avenue B, Somerton
Take Avenue B (Highway 95) south; on right just past County 15th Street
450 Quechan Drive
Cross river (Ocean-to-Ocean or 4th Avenue bridges), follow signs
Quechan Casino and Resort ("The Q")
523 Algodones Road, Winterhaven
Take I-8 west to Andrade exit, follow signs
By the numbers
Number of Yuma area casinos
2 Arizona + 1 California = 3 total
507 - Cocopah
500+ - Paradise
1,000 - The Q
275 seats - Cocopah
300 seats - Paradise
8 blackjack - Cocopah
24 table games - The Q
One room, 10 tables - The Q
101 - Cocopah
166 - The Q
Player's clubs/loyalty programs
Three (each casino has one)
Eat & drink
Seahorse Restaurant, Sharky's Bar & Bites
Artisan Buffet, River's Edge Bar, Casino Sports Bar, Sunset Lounge
Ironwood Steakhouse, Ocotillo Buffet, Food Court & Gila Blend Cafe, Sidewinders Lounge, Ocotillo Lounge
Small town, big time
All three area casinos book live entertainment year round, from local talent to big-name traveling road shows - check websites or local listings for updated calendars.
At Cocopah, venues are the River Room and The Park, a family-friendly outdoor venue that hosts everything from music to fireworks. At The Q, there's live music every weekend at Sidewinders Lounge, while the 20,000 square foot Pipa Event Center is large enough to host legends like Willie Nelson, the Doobie Brothers, Trace Atkins, Foreigner, Dwight Yoakam and Blondie.
Wet and wild
Two "kinds" of river offer sure bets for family fun off the casino floor:
At The Q, hotel guests can enjoy a resort-style pool area that includes a huge heated pool with waterfalls, islands and cabanas -- plus the area's only lazy river ride, where kids of all ages can relax in a tube and be pushed along by the current. Cabana party packages also available - but check ahead, as adult-oriented pool parties with shot-wielding, bikini-clad "Q girls" may appeal to Dad, but the rest of the family, not so much.
At Cocopah, don't miss the Wild River Family Entertainment Center (15136 S. Avenue B, Somerton, 627.0980), which offers 24 lanes of bowling, along with laser tag and an action-filled video game arcade. With complete food and beverage service, a sports lounge featuring large-screen TVs and billiards tables and fully equipped meeting rooms, this 40,000 square-foot facility is perfect for family parties, corporate meetings and group events.
Arts and culture are an important component of any vibrant community - and Yuma is home to a variety of organizations that are dedicated to providing opportunities to enjoy the arts, whether as an audience member or an active participant.
Curtain up, light the lights - you've got nothing to hit but the heights!
Arts organizations, event sponsors
Arizona Mexico Commission
Arizona Western College Performing Arts Series
Heritage Festivals (now part of Yuma Visitors Bureau)
City of Yuma Arts & Culture Office
Yuma Fine Arts Association
St. Paul's Cultural Center
Dance companies, studios and venues
Dawn's Dance Studio
Jazz of Yuma (J.O.Y.)
Square Dance Hall & Boutique
Yuma Ballet Academy
Yuma Ballet Theatre and Performing Arts
AWC Chamber Singers
AWC Yuma Youth Choir
Cactus Keys Piano Studio
Cibola High School Performing Choir
Kofa High School Royalaires
Sunset Barbershop Chorus
Yuma High School Choralairs
Yuma Jazz Company
Yuma Orchestra Association
A Leap of Faith Performing Art Academy
5 Point Theatre Company
(928) 246-4318, or email pq1701@yahoo-com
Historic Yuma Theatre
AWC Student Art Gallery
Desert Artists of Yuma
Mountain Shadow Artists
Village Art Gallery
Yuma Art Center
Yuma Fine Arts Association
Yuma Art Symposium, Inc-