Route 66 has played a historic role in the USA. “Winding from Chicago to LA’’ – as the famous Bobby Troup song from 1946 goes – Kingman in North West Arizona is one of the cities you will pass through on the route. It is the closest city to the Grand Canyon and is a great place to visit, partly because of the temperate climate it enjoys due to its 3,300-foot elevation.
The capital of Mohave County, with a population of just under 30,000, Kingman developed in the late 1800’s when the railway arrived. In the following years, it became an important center for mining and ranching. The history you cannot see in its streets is certainly available in its museums.
There is plenty to keep you occupied during your time in Kingman and it is likely you will feel a little melancholy when it is time to leave.
Here are 15 things to do in Kingman.
1. Mohave Museum of History & Arts
The Daughters of the Pioneers founded the Mohave Museum of History & Arts in 1961 in a room within the Chamber of Commerce. Six years later, it moved to a new building within its parking lot.
The number of exhibits was gradually increased due to the efforts of a local artist, Roy Purcell – its first director – leading to the floor space being expanded a decade on. The Chamber moved in 2000, allowing the museum to be expanded once again.
The Hualapai Indian Room and the Mohave History Room are two highlights, while the library that was added in 2005 holds a mine of information. Local film star Andy Devine is featured, while a ranching exhibit and mining machinery are just some of the other things on offer.
2. Lake Mohave
Manmade Lake Mohave is 67 miles long, stretching between Hoover and Davis Dams. Its water quality is under threat because of the drop in rainfall, but it nevertheless offers plenty of recreational opportunities.
Fishing is a major activity on the lake, both native species, and sports fish. The shoreline extends for more than 200 miles, making it a popular place for camping.
The north end offers boat trips up the Colorado River to Lake Mead. Jet skiing, water skiing, and kayaking take advantage of the lovely water, while the overall setting makes hiking an enjoyable pastime.
3. Historic Route 66 Museum
The Arizona Route 66 Museum tells the story of this famous road and the forms of transport that have traveled it over the years. The Historic Powerhouse hosts it and it was a significant addition to Kingman’s attractions when it opened in 2001.
Exhibits include lovely photos and murals, while you can learn more about the routes used by Native Americans and expeditions by the US Army. Add to that the settler migration towards California, and, in later years, migrants looking for a better life, and you have a comprehensive history of the region.
4. Kingman Visitor Center
This center – also located in the Historic Powerhouse in Downtown Kingman – offers free information on the area, its attractions and travel advice.
If you intend to stay in the area for any time rather than passing through, you need to head to the center and take a look.
The gift shop is a great place for buying souvenirs of Route 66.
5. Kingman Railroad Museum
With so much of Kingman’s history associated with the railroad, a museum to remember those days was an obvious development. The museum is located in the Amtrak Depot, covering 14,500 square feet and is administered by the Whistle Stop Railroad Club.
Relics include two antique carts – one for ice and the other luggage.
This is a great place for adults and children alike, with the model trains a great attraction as well. There are three gauges in the models; Lionel, N gauge and HO gauge.
6. Bonelli House
One of Kingman’s most famous families is the Bonelli’s – the family of a Swiss Mormon immigrant, George, who married Effie, the daughter of the Kingman Santa Fe Railroad Station Master in the late 19th century. As well as four retail outlets, they ran a 250,000-acre ranch.
They had nine children and built their first house in 1895, which then burnt down in 1915. It was soon rebuilt and over the years the children gradually moved away. It remained in family ownership until 1973, when it was bought by the city to be opened as a museum in 1978.
The Mohave Pioneers Historical Society is delighted to be able to show visitors an example of local architecture and its contents that were typical of a wealthy family of the time.
7. Black Bridge Brewery
Tim Schritter, the owner of Black Bridge Brewery, has three passions – iron, brewing, and his community. Locally born, he began a career in welding and fabrication while a teenager. At 23 years old, he constructed his first brewing system. He decided to try brewing after savoring a couple of local brews and thinking that he would offer alternatives.
In his first year, he produced 130 batches of 45 gallons in his garage. Locals were soon talking about his brew as he was keen to offer private tastings. His ‘’garage’’ became ‘’party time’’ so he decided to expand his operation.
Black Bridge is the railroad bridge on Kingman outskirts where youngsters used to hold parties as far back as the 60’s. The Brewery is in the heart of Kingman and welcomes visitors to drink the brews, coffee, or ginger beer and listen to music.
8. Cella Winery
Carlos Cella arrived from California in 2006 with the idea of starting a winery, having retired from his business. An Argentinian, he had helped with the family winery before leaving for the USA.
He began to plant vines two years later, with the first wines produced in 2010.
He planted four different grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Syrah, and opened his winery to the public in 2014.
Cella Winery won three awards in competition with the best wineries in the state within just a few years of opening. Why not visit and sample them for yourself?
9. Stetson Winery
Eric Glomski’s Stetson Winery offers visitors a chance to sample the grapes and hospitality of North West Arizona. His skills have been developed over a number of years, ever since he started making hard cider from apples.
He liked what he produced but did not start his winery until the quality of the soil had been thoroughly tested.
The subsequent success resulted in his wine being selected as the Official Wine that Arizona chose for the 2012 State Centennial Celebrations.
The setting is lovely and suitable for everything from a couple’s day trip to a major celebration with fine wines.
10. Desert Diamond Distillery
This family-owned and operated distillery is situated just off Highway 66 near the Kingman Airport. Few distilleries in Arizona are open to the public, so this is a chance for you to see the operation.
Naturally, there is a sampling bar and the chance to purchase the product. The bar was brought there from an old restaurant on the Strip in Las Vegas. Word is that the ‘’Rat Pack’’ drank there on many occasions.
The four rums and a single vodka have all been certified by the American Distilling Institute (ADI). Each is 100% distilled in Kingman and if you want to sample cocktails, this is the place in Kingman to do it. Fancy a Mohito? You just need to ask.
11. A Game of Golf
If you want a game of golf while you are in Kingman, you can expect good playing conditions on the two courses that are the most convenient. You can check online for availability and fees.
Cerbat Hills opened in 1973, designed by Milton Coggins, and measures a friendly 6,500 yards, Par 72 off the back tees. It is a municipal course with excellent facilities, including a restaurant, bar, and grill.
The best alternative is the Valle Vista Country Club, which is semi-private but you can get a game. It was designed by Fred Bolton and opened two years after Cerbat Hills. There is a choice of three tees, with the longest course measuring 6,266 yards.
12. Arizona’s Ghost Town Getaways
The mining boom in the 19th century resulted in a number of towns developing very quickly. Many are now ghost towns as the metals dried up and people moved on.
It is fun to take a day trip to see an example or two, with Tombstone probably the most famous.
Some are completely deserted and abandoned, but others have attracted people keen to show tourists around while having their own interests such as painting or writing.
13. Hualapai Mountain Park
If you want to escape from the heat of summer or enjoy the snows of winter, Hualapai Mountain Park is the place to do it. Elevations range from around 5,000 feet to 8,400 feet, where juniper and pine flourish – a real contrast to the environment in the Mohave Desert.
Hualapai is a Native American word meaning ‘’People of the Tall Pines.’’
There is a chance you will see elk, which certainly could not live in the heat of the desert. Mountain lions and mule deer also occupy the higher regions.
There are numerous trails for hikers and bikers, as well as camping facilities and cabins for rent. It is a great place for a picnic and you will find volleyball and softball courts as well.
14. Cerbat Foothills Recreational Area
There are 35 miles of hiking trails in the Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area (CFRA), which covers over 11,300 acres of the Mohave Desert. Hikers, cyclists, joggers and horse riders can all use the trails.
The flora includes yucca, beavertail, prickly pear, creosote, and mesquite, while it is home to mule deer, foxes and coyotes – as well as the Sonoran Desert Tortoise. Reptiles are there but remain elusive, while several raptors can be seen in search of small prey.
Some inclines will take you to vantage points to look over the region, with the fantastic views over Sacramento Valley among the highlights.
15. Lewis Kingman Park
The City of Kingman was named after a Massachusetts civil engineer and surveyor who was responsible for thousands of miles of railroad tracks across the USA.
This city park covers nine acres and is located on Andy Devine Avenue. It is a lovely place to relax without leaving the city. As an added bonus, it is the only pet-friendly park in the area.
Picnic facilities are good, with grills and restrooms available.