Coolidge in Pinal County, Arizona, is named after the US President Calvin Coolidge who took office in 1923 after the death of Warren Harding, served for the remainder of his term and then was re-elected for a further four years.
The population of around 12,000 enjoy a small city with several parks and a region where the natural environment is rugged desert landscape. It almost invites them to get out and enjoy outdoor life, with a range of activities for those who have the inclination.
Historically, this was the home of the Hohokam Native American tribe, and the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument was the first to get protected status from the US Government, way back in 1892.
Visitors will certainly enjoy the Mexican cuisine for which the city is famous and with these 15 things to do in Coolidge, they are certain to enjoy their time here.
1. Casa Grande Ruins (Sivan Vahkih)
These 700-year old Ruins, translated from Spanish as ‘’Great House’’ stand in a prominent position in Coolidge. While you are not allowed inside this 4-storey structure (Sivan Vahkih), you can get up close to ruins built from natural concrete called caliche.
There is a metal canopy above to afford them some protection from the elements.
The smaller ruins are those of a Hohokam farming village and the visitor center on the site provides plenty of information on everything you will see, the history of the region in general, and the Hohokam people.
2. Arizona Railway Museum
This Museum is around 45 minutes away but with the railroad being so important in the State history, you really should see it. A guided tour will teach you all you want to know about Arizona railways.
The exhibits include old trains as well as all the different cars; sleeper, dining; cargo and ordinary seating.
As a special treat for kids, you should then go up to Roy’s World where you can buy models of the trains you have seen in the Museum.
Opening times are limited and you should check the details before heading out of Coolidge.
3. McFarland State Historic Park
McFarland succeeds in preserving the history of the area. You should start by heading for the Museum which was the Courthouse in the late 19th Century. Later it became a hospital, health and welfare center, and then the Museum of Pinal County’s Historical Society.
Artifacts include things from the earliest days of human settlement in the area and with free admission, you must spend some time there. Donations are welcome and after seeing an impressive museum, you will certainly be motivated to give something.
4. Pinal Geology & Mineral Museum
The Pinal Geology & Mineral Museum is a fairly new addition to the attractions of Coolidge. It chronicles the mineral and mining heritage of Arizona, which has been important to the State’s culture for many years.
The collection of minerals found locally is impressive and some exhibits on loan simply add to the quality of the Museum. Locals have been happy to give from their own collections so that visitors can enjoy their personal ‘’treasures.’’
Youngsters visiting the Museum may be motivated to learn more about science after seeing exhibits that create a story of the earth’s development.
5. The Artisan Village
There is more to the Artisan Village than the Museum that has recently been added. The talent of local artists is on display and visitors can talk to them about their talent and even get tips on developing their own art.
There are workshops and classes with the Coolidge Chamber of Commerce, who are keen that everyone should have the opportunity to develop their talents.
The village has an art gallery displaying glass work, as well as painting and jewelry.
The Artisan Village is an ongoing project and any sales that are made to visitors provide funds for the benefit of the village as a whole.
6. Coolidge Performing Arts Center
Another project that helps the community develop its talents is the Performing Arts Center, also within the Artisan Village.
Visitors are welcome to see performances that take place throughout the year. A great deal of effort takes place behind the scenes. Although Coolidge has often been labelled conservative, the community takes a progressive stance on such things as promoting the talent of its citizens and those from the immediate region.
7. Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch
You may have seen the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch featured on USA TV in shows like “Extreme Roadside Attractions” and “Arizona Highways.” See it for yourself.
Ostriches are not the only residents; there are miniature donkeys and goats, boer goats, deer, stingrays, rainbow lorikeets and ducks. Many of them can be fed by visitors and some of the birds will drink from a cup held steadily in the hand.
The Monster Truck Tour is something else that appeals particularly to the kids.
8. Picacho Reservoir
Water is a precious commodity in Arizona and the Picacho Reservoir, just south of Coolidge, was created as a section of the San Carlos Irrigation Project in the 1920s. The intention was to store water and regulate the flow for the Casa Grande canals and Florence-Casa Grande canals.
The reservoir offers excellent bass fishing but temperatures can soar for those sitting on its banks. Since its construction, the size has been reduced by vegetation and silt and in fact, it has been known to almost dry up at times. Certainly, some of it is now marsh.
9. Rolbeto’s Mexican Restaurant
Arizona became part of the USA in the middle of the 19th Century. Before that, it was part of the State of Sonora, Mexico. Even today, it is known for its Mexican cuisine.
Rolbeto’s has become a local favorite and attracts tourists who have heard about its traditional Mexican dishes. There is nothing special about the premises but the food is great. It is a drive-in, but its picnic tables are a great place to sit and eat.
The steak and shrimp plate or the steak and shrimp quesadilla are the highlights. You can also buy typical Mexican favorites; tacos, nachos, burritos, and tortillas.
10. Copper State Heritage Museum
When you have visited this museum, you are certain to wonder why it is not found in a much bigger city. There are more than 5,000 artworks made from copper that date from the 16th Century up to the present day.
It only opened in 2013 and covers 9,000 square feet. Telling the story of Arizona and copper, you will find out what happened to the huge amount of copper produced by Arizona, all 125 billion pounds. Six separate sections each have their own story to tell.
11. Bird Watching in Catalina State Park
Catalina State Park is a genuine desert experience that may be completely new to you. It’s full of saguaro cacti which grow to a height of more than 40 feet. Wildlife is often elusive in deserts, but it is easier to spot here.
There is a trail that has been specifically created for birdwatchers; it is just a mile long, but visitors can expect to see many of the 150 different species that are found in Catalina State Park.
There are a number of raptors with better eyesight than you; hawks see the small mammals, reptiles and snakes that may elude you when you visit.
12. Hiking and Riding the Sonoqui Wash Trail
This trail of just under 6 miles through Queen Creek passes through pristine desert and has become popular with walkers and riders. There is an equestrian center where you can arrange your ride.
You should make sure you have plenty of water when you set out, whatever your form of transport.
You need to keep fairly quiet if you hope to see any wildlife although if you are not able to see what is under your feet, you may prefer to make some noise; you don’t want to surprise a rattlesnake.
13. Anamax Park
The Recreation Center in Anamax Park has plenty to attract youngsters wanting to play a sport. A number of fields are marked out for use; little league baseball, football & soccer fields, basketball courts, and a sand volleyball court.
You can take your dog in a separate section of the park but it must always be on a lead. While the kids are playing elsewhere, you can even go skating.
Facilities include a covered play area, several picnic areas and grills, as well as restrooms.
14. San Tan Mountain Regional Park
The Region is one of mountain and desert. The landscape alone makes it worth a visit to Coolidge and while there, take a closer look at the mountains. A nice park for you to see is the San Tan Mountain Regional Park, an easy day trip from Coolidge.
If you don’t mind a late dinner, a sunset in such places makes great photographs with vivid color changes, silhouettes, and the effects created by shadows.
If you are going to walk any great distances, you should remember to take plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes, as well as taking your camera.
15. A Day’s Golf in Phoenix
Phoenix Arizona is the headquarters of one of top world golf brands, Ping. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of golf courses in the region and you are less than an hour away in Coolidge so why not have a game?
The choice is yours. You may want to play a course where there are lush fairways and greens, but huge waste areas from which you will have to play your ball.
Here is a suggestion for you; try Southern Dunes Golf Club in Maricopa, under an hour away which offers a great challenge in a stunning mountain and desert environment.