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The unofficial start to summer is here and, in Yuma, there is no shortage of activities for having fun under the sun. Here is our list of exciting things-to-do this Memorial Day weekend ...
Desert Oasis — Reopening for the first time since being purchased by Bandai Namco (the creators of Pac-Man), Waylon's Water World is one of the best water parks in The Grand Canyon State. With water slides, a meandering lazy river, Syd's kids zone, and toddler area, Waylon's has what everyone needs: heat relief! In between soaking up the fun, kick back in a private cabana, grab a snack, or, for the adults, sip your favorite beer or cocktail at the poolside Z Hide Away Bar. Then, when there's been enough fun in the water, head up up to the park's adjoining Z Fun Factory for mini-golf, go-karts, a state-of-the-art arcade, and much more! Waylon's Water World and Z Fun Factory reopen Saturday, May 27 at 10 a.m.
Tubular! — If you think the Arizona desert is all sagebrush and sand, think again. With cool waters streaming down from the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River snakes its way along the Arizona-California border and down into the desert southwest where it gently flows by Yuma's Historic Downtown. Along the route, various lakes and reservoirs provide boaters, skiers, anglers, and birders with beautiful waterways to relax, rest, and recreate. Don't have watercraft? Give Jet Rent a call. Prefer a casual cruise along Yuma's riverfront? Make a reservation with Yuma River Tubing, or bring your own float and enjoy the gentle flow from Yuma's Gateway Park to Centennial Beach at West Wetlands. For information about boating in Arizona, visit the Arizona Game & Fish Department's website.
Gettin' Gritty with It — For those who do prefer the sandy side of the desert landscape (and can withstand the heat), the slopes of Imperial Sand Dunes await. Found across the California border just west of Yuma, Imperial Sand Dunes offer thousands of acres of outdoor adventure for off highway vehicle owners. Once a filming location for the sarlacc scene in "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi", this National Recreation Area is like stepping onto an alien planet and ranks as one of the best places to take a selfie before you die. But, before trekking out onto the sand, be sure to lather on the sunscreen, pack plenty of water, and wear footwear to protect your feet from the scalding sand. Also, before unloading your off road vehicle, be sure to acquire the necessary permit.
Visit a State Park — Bits of Yuma's storied history is preserved and retold through two State Historic Parks which are as a unique as anything you'll find in Arizona. Get locked up at Yuma Territorial Prison — the Arizona Territory's first penitentiary made popular by the 1957 and 2007 films "3:10 to Yuma" and, most recently, by an episode of Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures. Then, head along the Colorado River to Yuma Quartermaster Depot for a look at how the U.S. Army used the river to ship (literally) supplies up to Yuma from the Gulf of California for distribution throughout the southwest. Both parks are open daily, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the month of May (abbreviated summer schedules begin June 1). At Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, you will also find Yuma's Visitor Information Center with more ideas of things to see and do in Yuma, and the Yuman Interest Gifts & Souvenirs Shop.
Music to Your Ears — On Friday, May 26, Yuma Jazz Company kicks off its wildly popular Lutes Summer Jazz Series at Lutes Casino on Main Street. For 76 years, Lutes Casino (which isn't actually a casino) has been serving locals and travelers with great food and drink in a fun, eclectic atmosphere you just have to see to believe. Arrive early, grab a seat, and put in an order for a Lutes Especial, the potato tacos, or a basket of hot wings and enjoy the smooth sounds of Jazz while you enjoy the company of family, friends, and the Yuma community. The band strikes up at 7 p.m.
Photo by N2PHOTOgraphics
Pedal to the Metal — If the sound of roaring V8 engines is more your style, live auto racing action at Cocopah Speedway is for you. On Saturday, May 27, the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series approaches the end of its season; be there as IMCA drivers take to the three-eighths mile dirt/clay oval to compete for trophies, cash prizes, and bragging right. Gates open at 5 p.m. with the green flag dropping at 7.
Hey, Bartender — Prison Hill Brewing Company is the place to go for a taste of Yuma's local brew. Located on Main Street in Historic Downtown, Prison Hill features an appropriately themed lineup of refreshing beers and delicious, hearty appetizers and entrées which redefine the standards of pub food. Pull up a chair and catch live sports on several television screens throughout, or grab a table on the front or rear patio for a relaxing experience in Downtown. Prison Hill Brewing Company gets it name after the retired Yuma Territorial Prison, located blocks away the craft brewery.
Splish Splash — City of Yuma opens the doors to the Valley Aquatic Center on Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28. The newest of the city's pool facilities includes slides, a water playground, competition and leisure pools, a one-meter diving board, and more. The Valley Aquatic Center is open to the public, starting at 1 p.m. and remains open until 7:45. Daily admission for youth 17 and younger is $2.50 (resident) or $3 (non-resident). Adults 18 and older pay $4 (resident) or $5.50 (non-resident).
Support a Cause — Amidst all the fun that a holiday weekend brings, it is important to remember what Memorial Day is about: remembering those who have died while serving their country. On Monday, May 29, the Yuma Jaycees will host their 9th Annual Support Our Troops Benefit. This event, starting at noon, includes guest speakers, kids activities, and food and drink; Yuma Jaycees members will also be there to accept donations (money or supplies) for care packages, to be delivered to U.S. service members. Head over to the Yuma Jaycees clubhouse at 2577 E County 14th Street to participate.
A Salute to Service — Honoring veterans of all branches, alive or deceased, Yuma Armed Forces Park reveres service members with a personalized plaque. Open year-round, the public is welcome to wander the walkways surrounded by the names and service dates of men and women who have or are currently protecting America and her freedoms. Wish to purchase a plaque for a service member? Fill out and submit the application form, or contact the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce at 928-782-2567.
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