Main Street, Yuma, Arizona. (Richard Cummins/Robertharding/Corbis)
The current active church, the St. Thomas Church and Indian Mission, was completed in 1923 on the ruins of the first mission at Ft. Yuma, the Puerto de la Purísima Concepción. The original mission was destroyed in 1781 by the Quechan Indians and their allies who were angered by mistreatment by the colonists. (Richard Cummins/Corbis)
Ocotillo and Saguaro Cacti decorate the desert outside Yuma, Arizona. (Deputyrick/iStock)
Lettuce fields in the "winter vegetable capital of the world." (Lisay/iStock)
The Yuma Territorial Prison, opened in 1875, held more than 3,000 men and women for crimes ranging from murder to polygamy. The prison, much of which was constructed by the inmates, closed in 1909, and the building was briefly used as the town high school. Now the building houses a fascinating historical museum describing outlaw life on the frontier. (iStock)
The Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge, built in Yuma in 1915, was the first highway bridge to cross the Colorado River. (J Jakobson/Flickra)
View of the Lower Colorado, a tributary of the Colorado River, near Yuma, Arizona. (Constantgardener/iStock)
Onion field near Yuma, Arizona. (Deputyrick/iStock)
The Colorado River Siphon carries canal water from California underneath the Colorado River and into Arizona. The siphon, constructed in 1912 is still in use today, bringing water from the Laguna Dam to the Yuma Valley for irrigation. An exhibit describing the gigantic work project is on display at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park. (Richard Cummins/Corbis)

Looking for a Winter Getaway? Visit the Sunniest Place on Earth

A literal oasis in the desert, Yuma, Arizona, the “winter vegetable capital of the world,” offers a warm welcome

smithsonian.com

Situated at the confluence of the Colorado and Gila rivers, Yuma County boasts fertile soil and the temperate climate typical of the southwestern United States. Translation: Every season is the growing season here. The area’s agricultural industry supplies 90 percent of the lettuce consumed nationwide from November through February, and accounts for more than a third of the state’s annual agricultural earnings. “Odds are you’ll enjoy good weather,” says Dustin Moore Mylius, of the Yuma Visitors Bureau. “We hold the record for the sunniest place on earth.”

According to the World Meteorological Society, Yuma receives more than 4,000 sunlight hours per year, the most of any city in the world. This puts it just ahead of its neighbor Phoenix (3,872 sunlight hours a year) and Aswan, Egypt (3,863 hours a year). Chances of finding the sun shining when you get there? 90%.

What to Do

The annual Yuma Lettuce Days festival (February 27 and 28) celebrates the county’s signature crop with tasting stations, a farmers market, and the ultimate salad bar. Also worth a visit: the 28-acre Yuma Conservation Garden, home to numerous native plants and an impressive collection of antique farm machinery.

Celebrate the county’s star crop at the annual Yuma Lettuce Days festival. (Courtesy of University of Arizona)

Where to Eat

Participants in Field to Feast events harvest ingredients from the University of Arizona’s farm and hand them over to culinary students from Arizona Western College, who craft the multicourse meal. If you’d rather order off the menu, we recommend tortilla soup from The Garden Café & Spice Co., mustard-crusted halibut at River City Grill, and Prison Hill Brewing Company’s fried avocado wedges.

Where to Stay

Built in 1938, the Adobe House Bed & Breakfast deftly sidesteps every B&B stereotype, delivering privacy (each of the property’s four rooms has its own exterior entrance), luxury (swimming pool plus hot tub), and a gratis happy hour on top of the usual morning spread (from $195 per night).

Yuma, Arizona hotel
All of the rooms at Adobe House have private entrances. (Courtesy of Adobe House)

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