Youngtown Arizona is a tiny municipality tucked into greater Phoenix’s west valley, near the towns of El Mirage, Glendale and Peoria.
While many of Arizona’s towns are becoming overwhelmed with sprawling neighborhoods, chain stores and bland shopping centers, small towns like El Mirage, that have been around a while, are largely holding on to their tradition and charm, which is once again making them attractive and relatively inexpensive areas in which to raise a family.
Though most of the area’s attractions are outside the town limits, Youngtown is a great place to hang your hat while exploring all that Arizona has to offer.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Youngtown.
1. Dine at the Legend – Garcia’s
To call Garcia’s Las Avenidas an Arizona legend wouldn’t be inaccurate.
Located on North 35th Avenue in Phoenix, the original Garcia’s has lots of Johnny-come-lately imitators that go by the same name, but be warned, they’re not all the same.
For nearly 60 years this family-owned business has been serving up traditional Mexican favorites from the same location.
My personal favorite is the machaca chimichanga, which is essentially a deep-fried, shredded beef and bean burrito, smothered with cheese and your choice of red or green chili sauce, or both, called a Christmas tree.
The restaurant is on the west side of North 35th Avenue in a large, hacienda-style building.
2. Citadelle Plaza Farmer’s Market
Farmer’s markets are always more than just places to pick up milk, eggs and celery and head for home.
They’re community gathering places where local farmers, entrepreneurs and food lovers come to socialize and support one another. They are also great places to pick up unique products that you just won’t find anywhere else.
Just a few minutes from Youngtown, the Citadelle Plaza Farmer’s Market is a bit different from most, in that it’s open in the evening at certain times of the year, probably to beat the brutal Arizona sun.
It’s a great way to eat fresh and support local businesses.
3. Galleries Guadalajara
If you’re looking for the real-deal, authentic southwest stuff such as plants, pottery, tiles or ornaments for your home and garden, then Galleries Guadalajara in nearby Surprise should be your first stop.
It’s one of those off-the-beaten-path gems with merchandise galore, and the products and ambiance may just make you think that you’ve been teleported back to a time when this area of Arizona was actually part of Mexico.
Many of the products are imported from Mexico, and others are made locally.
It’s a family owned business, and with such a huge selection and reasonable prices, there’s no reason not to go.
4. Jumper’s Jungle Family Fun Center
Arizona is full of history, art and culture, but that may not be the most interesting things for the smaller members of your family.
On West Olive Avenue in Peoria, Jumper’s Jungle Family Fun Center is a great place to take them for a little reward of their own.
It’s full of trampolines, slides, obstacle courses and even slam-dunk-able basketball nets, all of which will keep them active and engaged.
The center is open 7 days a week, and is a great place for birthday parties. Yummy food, private rooms and dedicated staff members to help with all the little details are available too.
5. The Litchfield Park Historical Society and Museum
Located on West Camelback Road in Litchfield Park, The Litchfield Park Historical Society and Museum is a great place to get a no-nonsense crash course in the fascinating history of west valley towns like Youngtown, Avondale and Litchfield Park.
The society and museum have been open since 2012 and are in the historic home of the man for whom Litchfield Park was named.
The museum sports thousands of photos, records, films and relics all related to the area’s history, but perhaps the most interesting exhibits are the first-hand, oral accounts that have been recorded to give visitors an extra personal glimpse into the past.
6. Fightertown Paintball Park
Located on North 121st Avenue in El Mirage, Fightertown Paintball Park is the place to go to test your tactical skills, take your frustrations out on your opponents, and have a whole lot of fun in the process.
Fightertown’s outdoor arena is full of obstacles, barrels, boulders and ambush points from which you’ll be able to assault the other team before they know what hit them.
The park has a seasonal schedule due to the dreadfully hot Arizona summers, and is a favorite place for private parties and corporate team building events, which many executives and business owners claim builds team unity and cohesiveness.
7. Gateway Park
Located on North El Mirage Road in nearby El Mirage, Gateway Park is one of those wonderful and free places to stretch your legs, relax, or engage in some calorie-burning exercise.
With covered seating areas for picnics and barbecues, a skate park, basketball courts and a splash park, there’s a little something for everyone in your family.
The park also has bathrooms and water fountains, as well as playgrounds for younger and older children.
All that fun will make everyone hungry and thirsty, so there’s a small concession area with snacks, shaved ice and ice cream too.
What more could you want?
8. The Heard Museum
If by some stroke of bad luck, you only had time to visit one place to learn about Arizona’s Native American art, history and culture, then the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix would be the logical choice.
An easy 20-minute drive from Youngtown, it’s considered to be the world’s preeminent location for all things related to the indigenous people of the American southwest.
The museum was founded by the wealthy Heard family in the late 1920s, and has been preserving and showcasing the area’s rich history ever since.
The museum hosts many art, musical and historical events too, and there are a gift shop and café as well.
9. See a Live Concert at Arts in the Park
In the wintertime in America, there are few better places to be than west valley towns like Youngtown and Litchfield Park.
When the rest of the country is sloshing through snow and ice and watching night fall before five o’clock, lots of Arizona natives and visitors are chilling out at free outdoor concerts.
If you’d rather be counted amongst the latter group, then plan your trip accordingly, because Arts in the Park is a free, outdoor concert series featuring live bands performing everything from country to oldies to bluegrass.
It’s a great way to spend an evening and rub elbows with the locals.
10. White Tank Mountain Regional Park
Located a few miles west of Youngtown in the White Tank Mountains, White Tank Mountain Regional Park is one of those places that are often overlooked by harried tourists because it’s a few miles outside of town.
The park is named after the large, sun-bleached rock formations that resemble water tanks, and is full of wildlife and lots of Native American petroglyphs too.
At more than 26,000 acres, the park spreads far and wide, so it’s a good idea to check the trail routes carefully before heading out.
It’s also home to the massive saguaro cactus, many of which tower 40 feet over the desert floor.
The park is open every day, and parking is free.
11. Arizona Scenic Tours
With all that Arizona has to offer, scheduling activities for your trip may seem a bit overwhelming.
Add to that Arizona’s sheer size, and it may seem like you need the help of a travel and tourism professional.
If that sounds like you, then consider one of the many options offered by Arizona Scenic Tours.
Whether you’re staying in Youngtown, Glendale or Phoenix, you can easily visit many of the sites Arizona is famous for, including the Grand Canyon, Colorado River and Sedona to name just a few.
Though not the cheapest way to see the state, you’ll get lots out of it, and you won’t have to bother with all those pesky details.
12. Estrella Mountain Regional Park
Due to its sheer size, unique flora and fauna, and amazing geology, Arizona is full of parks and reserves designed to protect the state’s gems, and all but a few of them are accessible to locals and visitors as well.
Just south of Youngtown in Litchfield Park, Estrella Mountain Regional Park consists of nearly 20,000 acres, much of which is open to campers, hikers, bikers and horseback riders.
The park also features a public golf course, and due to its riparian habitat, is home to an amazing array of wildlife that is drawn to the wetlands near the Gila and Agua Fria Rivers.
13. Surprise Aquatic Center
Whether you live in Youngtown or are just passing through, one of the best ways to beat the blazing desert heat is the Surprise Aquatic Center in nearby Surprise.
With slides, tunnels, flumes and even a whirlpool and vortex, the cool and constantly moving water will have everyone frolicking in no time flat.
The center even sports pools safe enough for toddlers, and if you’d rather go off by yourself and swim a few relaxing laps in a grown-up-only area, that’s OK too, because there’s a special area which is off limits to kids.
The center is run by the City of Surprise, so check out their website.
14. The Wigwam Resort
The Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park traces its history back to the early years of the 20th century, when it was known as an exclusive destination for west coast showbiz icons and wealthy businessmen from the midwest and east coast.
Located on East Wigwam Boulevard in Litchfield Park, it still has a reputation for pampering its guests and has grown quite a bit over the years.
With over 300 private casitas, a golf course, spa and world-class cuisine, you may not need to leave the resort’s grounds.
There’s also a towering new waterslide tower for the little ones as well.
15. Desert Diamond Casino
Whether you’re feeling lucky or are just in the mood for some great food and a little live entertainment, the Desert Diamond Casino is a place you should check out.
The casino is just about 15 minutes from Youngtown, and is open all day, every day, so no matter when you feel like going, rest assured it’ll be open.
If live music, comedy and performing arts are more your cup of tea, check out their website to see what events are being held while you’ll be in town.
Locals and regulars rave about the casino’s food, which is supposedly just as good as anything you’ll get in Las Vegas.