Parker, Arizona is a town of approximately 3,000 people located at the heart of the Parker Strip—a 16-mile stretch of Colorado River. I first heard about Parker from my friends in San Diego, as they make several trips here each summer. Their stories and photos over the years convinced me to take a trip last summer. After securing a rental home along the river for the Fourth of July holiday, my husband and I packed the car and took the 2.5-hour drive west from Scottsdale to Parker.

I found that Parker provides a nice small town atmosphere while offering a wide range of entertainment and activities for the entire family. Because it was a holiday weekend, the parties on the river were in full swing. 

Traveler's Tip #1:  

Avoid holiday weekends if you’re looking for a more family-friendly atmosphere. We spent most of the time wading in the water right inParker_2_Laura_FINAL.jpg front of our rental house, soaking up the sun and watching the numerous boats and jet skis cruise by. The relaxation at the house was definitely one of the reasons I wanted to take this vacation. However, I found myself yearning for the excitement and craziness that my friends mentioned from summers past. To fulfill that desire, we cruised down river towards Blue Water Casino and stopped at The Sandbar Resort across from the casino. For an hour I was transported back to my college days and what felt like a mini spring break. 

Travelers Tip #2: 

Don’t operate a water vehicle if consuming alcohol. We saw the local authorities doing a great job of monitoring people who had been drinking and boating.

We didn’t explore much of the town because our trip was fairly short. But our friends arrived a day prior to us and they went up river a few miles to Pirate's Den, a restaurant/bar right on the water. Fox’s Floating Bar and Roadrunner Floating Dock Bar & Restaurant (the outdoor bar is actually a floating dock) are two other popular spots on the water. Roadrunner is also one of the main nightlife spots in Parker with multiple rooms containing different types of music and plenty of space to sit down and have a drink or dance.

There are several accommodation options in town ranging from motels Parker_Laura_FINAL.jpgto RV parks to the casino to house rentals on the water. You’ll only be a few minutes from town and/or the water no matter where you stay, and being on the water is the main draw for visiting Parker.  

Pack your bags, head to Parker and dip into the Colorado River—where the water and cool breeze are a great escape from the sizzling heat of summer.

As a Midwest native, Laura Girard has embraced life as an Arizonan for the last 4 years - even getting engaged on top of Squaw Peak Mountain. Always on the hunt for a good spa deal or a great happy hour, Laura makes sure to capture it all on Instagram for her friends back home. Often playing host to cold-weather friends and family, she strives to show them all that the beautiful Arizona weather can provide all year round.