Pinal County overall is sparse and diverse and thus offers attractions that should fit into anybody’s interest. Below are some of the most popular spots for people to visit and have a good time.
What to see: A 3.14-acre research facility in which scientists study the Earth, ecosystems and more. Guests can walk through the indoor trails that will take them through climate areas as diverse as rainforests and ocean overlooks. Tours are offered every half hour on a first-come, first-serve basis.
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except Christmas and Thanksgiving
Where: 32540 S. Biosphere Road, Oracle
Casa Grande Ruins
What to see: A well-preserved historic site that will take guests back in time to the ancient peoples who inhabited the area centuries ago. The main attraction is the “Big House,” a two-story adobe structure that would have served as the center of the village, but there are others to see such as a ball court and pottery shards.
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1 to April 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 1 to Sept. 30
Where: 1100 W. Ruins Drive, Coolidge
What to see: The vast vistas of Pinal County from one of its highest points. The more experienced hikers might want to try to climb to the top of the mountain 2,000 feet up, with portions that should be tackled with gloves, but there are plenty of trails for those seeking a less demanding journey while still taking in some natural beauty.
When: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Where: Just off Interstate 10, southeast of Eloy
Tom Mix Memorial
What to see: A solemn memorial to one of America’s great cowboys. Tom Mix was perhaps the most well-known actor from the silent movie era of western cinema. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 60 while driving a V8 convertible, probably too fast. He veered off the road south of Florence, and a suitcase flew from the back seat and hit him in the back of the head.
When: Any time
Where: Just off State Route 79 between mileposts 115 and 116, 16 miles south of Florence
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
What to see: Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical garden, showcasing the diverse plant and animal life that can be found in this region of the desert. Tours and special events are offered throughout the calendar, and experiences are bound to be different from season to season.
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October through April, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. May through September
Where: 37615 E. Arboretum Way, Superior
Goldfield Ghost Town
What to see: The full experience of an Old West community, right where a lot of the action used to take place. Goldfield is full of historic shops and buildings that offer guests an immersive experience into what it was like living in Arizona back in its “wild” days. There is also a reenactment of a gun fight for guests to enjoy.
When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily
Where: 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Road, Apache Junction
What to see: The world from a whole different point of view. Visit one of the world’s top destinations for skydiving, where many of the pros come to break records and compete. But fear not, the first-time jumper is welcome to cross this activity off their bucket list with the help of a trained employee strapped to their back.
When: Daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October through May, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June through September
Where: 4900 N. Taylor St., Eloy
Dwarf Car Museum
What to see: Your favorite cars, only smaller! Ernie Adams was a forefather of “dwarf car” racing, which became popular at tracks around the country. After building many of those cars, he decided to start building street-legal versions of vehicles such as a 1939 Chevy Sedan, 1942 Ford convertible or 1929 Ford Hillbilly, only slightly miniaturized. His museum includes these cars along with videos, tools and works in progress.
When: Daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: 52954 W. Halfmoon Road, Maricopa
Historic Downtown Florence
What to see: A neighborhood with pride in its past. Florence’s historic district includes dozens of buildings with roots tracing back as far as the 1800s, many of which are still in working condition to this day. These include saloons, shops, houses and of course the old Pinal County Courthouse. The annual Florence Home Tour will take place Feb. 8.
When: Any time
Where: Downtown Florence, walking tour map available at florenceaz.gov/historic-district
Neon Sign Park
What to see: Something old with a new light. Local businesses and organizations have contributed their old neon signs to form a fully-lit park where some of the old pieces of advertising can be shown off as they were when first used to attract customers in decades past.
When: From dusk until 11 p.m. daily
Where: 408 N. Sacaton St., Casa Grande
What to see: One of the most famous mountain skylines in the country. The Superstition Mountains can be seen from much of the Phoenix metropolitan area, not to mention in many of the old westerns that were filmed in the Apache Junction area during the golden age of the genre. Many famous trails and museums surround the mountains, as well as the folklore of the Lost Dutchman.
When: Any time
Where: Near Apache Junction
Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch
What to see: Critters of all shapes and sizes. The ranch offers the opportunity to get up close and personal to ostriches, goats, stingrays and more. They also provide off-road experiences, including monster truck rides that trek through the desert.
When: Daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. September through May, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June through August
Where: 17599 E. Peak Lane, near Picacho Peak
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino & UltraStar
What to see: An entertainment destination for people of all ages. For the older members of the family, there is a full-service casino with plenty of slots, tables and restaurants to keep someone busy throughout the night. For the rest of the family, there’s UltraStar, with bowling, arcade, laser tag and a movie theater.
When: Daily, casino open 24 hours; UltraStar hours vary
Where: 16000 N. Maricopa Road, Maricopa
Queen Creek Olive Mill
What to see: Delicious food, and how it’s brought to the table. The olive mill offers tours of the olive oil-making process, including the bountiful groves that line the property. That oil is then used to make the dishes that are served in the restaurant on-site.
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Where: 25062 S. Meridian Road, Queen Creek
What to see: Some of the area’s fastest cars on dirt. There are two open dirt tracks in Pinal County offering regular racing action. Arizona Speedway is located in San Tan Valley, and Central Arizona Speedway is in the Pinal Fairgrounds and Event Center near Casa Grande. Both have schedules available on their websites and Facebook pages.
When: Many weekends throughout the year
Where: Arizona Speedway, 47346 N. Ironwood Road, San Tan Valley; Central Arizona Speedway, 512 S. Eleven Mile Corner Road, Casa Grande