Discovering Arizona History at Yuma’s Coronado Motor Hotel
As someone drawn to the sea, it’s funny I’ve felt Arizona is “so far” from home. After spending a weekend in Yuma, just about five hours from Los Angeles, I was struck that I go just the same distance when I head up the California Coast. While there’s no doubt the desert offers an entirely different perspective than the sea, it’s slowly winning my heart.
With Arizona’s birthday today (yep-Arizona became a state on Valentine’s Day in 1912!), it seems like the ideal opportunity to celebrate one of the most historical cities in the 48th state. Just on the border from California and under a hundred miles to Palm Springs, Yuma has some of the richest histories you’ll find in all of Arizona. Visitors often flock to the more populated Tucson or Phoenix to dive deeper into how Arizona came to be when in reality, Yuma has more than the two cities combined.
The Coronado Motor Hotel of Yuma, Arizona
My weekend in Arizona began when I arrived at the historic Coronado Motor Hotel, owned by Yvonne Peach. The beautiful property with lodging on either side of Fourth Street (which also serves as Highway 8) that features two heated pools, laundry facilities, 24-hour gym, business station, gift shop, and complimentary wifi.
The Coronado got its start back in 1938. Yvonne’s husband, John, was born in Yuma and raised on-site at the hotel in a back house. Today, that family home is better known as the Casa de Coronado Museum operated by Yuma Historical Society of Aviation and Tourism. I was thrilled to have the chance to meet with Yvonne and learn more about her and John’s fascinating history in the tourism business.
Early Beginnings in Yuma
John’s parents came to Arizona from Czechoslovakia in 1914. Starting from scratch, the couple worked at a hotel on Main Street in exchange for free room and board. After a few years in the hospitality trade, they went onto purchase numerous hotels in Yuma under the Best Western franchise. At one time owning a total of 20 hotels in town. John’s sister ran the nearby Lee Hotel, and his mom went onto open the first lady’s shop in Yuma. In the museum, don’t miss the beautiful vintage hats from the shop. Some still even have the price tag!
For over 68 years, the Coronado Motor Hotel was the oldest Best Western in the USA. In 2014, the Peaches decided to part ways with the chain to keep their authenticity. They’ve preserved those decades wonderfully in the museum with postcards, brochures, pictures, hotel signs, and anything else you can imagine at a vintage hotel.
“We try hard,” says Yvonne. “You can be old, but you need to keep it up.” It’s clear to see the pride and love that Peach has for the hotel and carrying on her late husband’s legacy. Original fixtures, including a very pink-colored bathroom John had to share with his sisters, help preserve the home and allow visitors to enjoy a bit of yester-year in Yuma.
Check-in to the Coronado Motor Hotel
As I pulled up to the Coronado Motor Hotel, I was struck with how ample the property is. A large pool just adjacent to the lobby greeted me, and Nancy at the front desk couldn’t have been more welcoming. The hotel offers a variety of room options, including extended stay apartments with kitchens. My suite featured a Queen bed and living area with a sleeper couch, microwave and refrigerator. Extremely quiet and cozy, I loved that Downtown Yuma and access to shops, restaurants, and parks were all within walking distance.
Something you don’t see all too often with newer establishments is the option to park your car right by your room. How many times have you parked in a structure, only to be quite a ways from your room? Not at the Coronado Motor Hotel. I was able to park right outside my door, which made it super simple to transport my bags.
Before some shut-eye in my comfy bed, I enjoyed my big screen TV with some cable TV and munching on sweet treats I snagged from the Peanut Patch, a local specialty shop putting the “Yum” in Yuma since 1977!
Dine and Drink at the Yuma Landing Bar and Grill
As if Yvonne doesn’t keep busy enough managing the hotel and museum, she also operates the local’s favorite Yuma Landing Bar and Grill. Just next door to the Coronado, the Yuma Landing Bar and Grill is where you’ll want to go during your stay for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and watching the game.
Yuma Landing offers its guests, whether local, passing through or staying at the hotel, a marvelous selection of American favorites and comfort foods. Plates are generous and shareable, and the drinks crafted at Hangar Sports Bar are strong and tasty.
If an espresso drink and baked good before you start your day sounds enticing, skip your usual Starbucks run and enjoy the Captain’s Lounge, also within Yuma Landing. .A locals hangout, Yuma Landing offers weekly trivia nights every Tuesday, and live music from local bands on Fridays.
Plan your Yuma Visit
With year-round great weather, anytime is a good time to visit Yuma. I’d love to take further advantage of the outdoors on my next visit and canoe along the Colorado River. I cannot recommend a stay with Yvonne and her hospitable staff at Coronado Motor Hotel enough.
(*Disclosure: This article was made possible by Yvonne Peach and the Coronado Motor Hotel. All opinions are my own.)