Downtown Wining and Dining
Many downtown restaurants and shops showcase the bounty of the nearby fields. The patio at the Garden Café next to the Sanguinetti House Museum & Gardens, shaded by lemon trees, is a lovely place to linger over lunch. Stop into Desert Olive Farms to sample oils and vinegars including Mexican lime, chipotle, and jalapeño.
The state's oldest pool hall is inside Lute's Casino, a favorite with both locals and visitors. Gawk at memorabilia festooning the walls and ceiling while you wait for Lute’s Special, a combo cheeseburger/hot dog slathered in hot sauce. The newer Prison Hill Brewing Company, Yuma's only microbrewery, offers beer flights with fancifully named pours like Jailbait Blonde and Disorderly Conduct IPA. For a more refined, but casual, experience, head to River City Grill. The owners, who hail from Portland, offer a menu with Asian influences and gluten-free options.
Exploration Off the Beaten Path
From Yuma, take a trek back in time out into the wildlands. Make sure your car is in shape for the drive and that you have plenty of water. First up, as you head north on Highway 95 past the "big guns" of Yuma Proving Ground, take a left on Martinez Lake Road. You'll see signs for the Imperial Wildlife Refuge. These will guide you down an unpaved road to a riparian oasis on the Colorado River with more than 25,000 acres of desert and shoreline. The easy Painted Desert Trail affords walkers a chance to see egrets, muskrats, and mule deer at dawn or dusk.
Head back out the way you came and go north on Highway 95 to Castle Dome Mine Road. The road starts out paved and then turns to gravel, leading you to the Castle Dome City ghost town and Hull Mine Museum, smack in the center of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. A passion project of Allen and Stephanie Armstrong, it's well worth the ride, with 50 restored buildings containing artifacts that re-create life in a mining town in the late 1800s. Kofa is home to one of the largest bighorn sheep populations in the Southwest, but wildlife watchers are more likely to glimpse desert tortoise, kit fox, or pronghorns. The refuge also is home to the state's only native palms, easily accessed on a trail fittingly named Palm Canyon.