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Explore West Coast Arizona for Outdoors, Food and Nostalgia

My friends and I decided to explore a part of Arizona where we hadn't spent much time—the western edge. It was such a hit that we decided to make it a regular jaunt on our trips to Nevada and California.

We start in Yuma, in the southwestern-most corner, bordering California and Mexico. From the minute that we checked into our hotel to the last gas-up on our way out of town, everybody seemed happy to see us and recommend new places to explore.

Cruising 'the Colorado'

Though Yuma is a desert town, there are many things to do on the water, from fishing to water skiing and sailing.

People hanging out on the Colorado River

People hang out and relax on the Colorado River / Credit: Jill McCoomber

This year, we were coming off a long, stressful stretch at work. Floating down the Colorado River on an inner tube seemed the right antidote to shaking off the weekday blues. We rented float tubes at West Wetlands Park, which included a shuttle ride up the river, and tied our inner tubes together so we could make our way back to the park at our leisure. They had kayaks for rent, too, and we made a note of that for a future trip.

We got back into town just in time for lunch. Fortunately, Yuma's revitalized downtown gave us lots of options. Lute's Casino, Arizona's oldest pool hall, is a must-see place (but isn't really a casino). This trip, we popped into The Pint House Bar & Grill, which has more than 40 craft beers on tap and an inventive menu that appealed to the foodies in us.

Field and foodie feasting

Participants on Yuma

Yuma's Field to Feast farm tour

Yes, we're foodies, too. Last year, we took the Field to Feast farm tour, half-day tours led by local growers that end with the veggies you picked in a delicious meal prepared by local culinary students. This year, we were in the mood for a more urban experience, so we made reservations for Savor Yuma, a progressive dining tour. We climbed on board a bus that made stops at a number of different eateries along our route, from a taco truck to one of Yuma's oldest restaurants. Along the way, the tour guide shared interesting stories about how the Yuma culinary scene had evolved.

By the end of the evening, we were stuffed and ready to head back to the hotel. We enjoyed an after-dinner drink at the bar and went for a relaxing swim under the desert stars.

Unexpected encounters

The next morning, we woke early and ready to drive north to Kingman, about four hours away, and the Mohave Museum of History and Art. We weren't expecting to see at the museum a 31-portrait collection of U.S. presidents and their first ladies by famed artist Lawrence Williams. After Williams died in 2003, a local artist volunteered to fill in, adding portraits of contemporary presidents.

Another surprise was an exhibit of memorabilia from an old-time Western movie actor, Andy Devine. Devine, who was from Kingman, appeared in about 50 Westerns. Even though none of us were familiar with Andy Devine, we pored over the unexpectedly kitschy, entertaining collection.

The museum also contains a diorama that shows the development of the region and its mining history. We learned about the people who have come to this area, from the native people they call "The Forgotten Ones" to soldiers and schoolteachers.

Homage to The Mother Road

We next stopped at the Arizona Route 66 Museum. Since the museum opened in Kingman in May 2001, thousands of visitors from around the world have come to the second floor of the historic Powerhouse Building to gawk at vehicles, photos and other artifacts related to the famed Mother Road.

We watched a one-hour movie that gave us a great overview of Route 66 in Arizona. Then we explored the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum, which we were told was the first of its kind anywhere. Best of all, there were plenty of opportunities to get selfies with that iconic Route 66 highway sign, not to mention all of the cool cars and some terrific murals.

Back at the BEST WESTERN PLUS® King's Inn & Suites, we logged into the free high-speed internet to download and post our adventures on social media. Soaking in the hot tub later, we talked about what we could do on the next trip because we knew we hadn't yet experienced everything we could on Arizona's western edge.

Author: A.J. Flick

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