off roading in the smart car

Casa Grande – Ancient Indian Ruins and Retirees

casa grande mountain

Casa Grande, Arizona is a small town centrally located between Phoenix and Tucson.  Did I mention it was small?  The population is around 50,000 but it feels much smaller, in a good way.  It’s a popular destination for winter visitors (aka snowbirds) looking to escape the northern chill, this town’s population explodes during the winter months.  With small town charm, National Monuments, moderate hiking, plenty of history, and winter temperatures in the 70’s, we can see why.

We spent the majority of our downtime exploring the hiking trails at the nearby Casa Grande Mountain…and off roading in the smart car.

off roading in the smart car

We were lucky enough to be in town for the annual Cowboy and Indian festival which brought a lively feel to the town complete with a quintessential small town parade, an authentic Rodeo, and a carnival with the good ol rides from our childhood. All of the rides looked miniature in scale compared to when we were little. It’s funny how much bigger everything seems when you’re a kid.

small town carnival

small town parade

Of course no trip to Casa Grande would be complete without a visit to the Casa Grande National Monument. The ruins are neat to walk through, and the ‘roof’ over the Big House makes for interesting photo ops. The small museum is interesting and a great way to familiarize yourself with the ways of the ancient Hohokam people before heading out to the ruins.

We were here to film 3 (age qualified, 55+) Encore resorts in the area and we felt like teenagers sneaking into a club without an ID. Walking around we would get second looks or the super curious would come and ask, “Who are your grandparents?” Explaining to everyone that we were here to capture the ‘experience’ of the park was interesting. Some we could tell were a little disappointed: As if this was their secret get-a-way and they might not want to share it with everyone else. Others reacted as if we were the new kid in school and they just had to show us where all the cool people hang out and which events were the best. What really surprised us is how different each of the 3 resorts felt. At first we thought “it’s all just a bunch of retirees, sitting around drinking coffee and watching the news”, right? We were so very wrong!

Casita Verde has a hometown feel where it seems everyone is family and the weekly jam sessions by the fire are a huge hit. It feels a little like summer camp.

Fiesta Grande is the largest of the 3 resorts packed with daily events and fun live entertainment. People were coming, going and playing games all day long. We always love to see walking and bicycles as the main mode of transportation, and here this is definitely the case.

Foothills is the party spot! This was probably our favorite out of the three. The people were what we like to call ‘reverse teenagers’. From playing jokes on each other to razzing the staff, these guys had us laughing so hard our cheeks hurt. From the outdoor BBQ dinners, to the outdoor ‘play’ area and the DJ dance offs, this resort definitely knows how to party.  Oh, and Jason was hit on by a self proclaimed cougar at the dance!  It was awesome.

If you have ever wondered what the attraction is to these types of resorts, it’s the sense of community and friendships that I think the video below sums up pretty well.

Written and Performed by Ivan Colpitts a resident at Casita Verde

Have you visted Casa Grande, AZ? How was your experience?

Disclaimer: While we were compensated to film the resorts (thanks Encore!)…all of our opinions are not purchased and are still our own.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (15)

  • Tim Perry

    It’s great to follow Your travels, as We have also been to many of the same spots and truly loved them and also the People we have met. My sister and brother-in-law have been full time Rv travelers ,that landed in Tucson for a month February-March 2016. We had the pleasure of joining Them from Maine. We loved Tucson so much We bought a park model home at RinCon West,as We will retire at 64 and 62. Why wait if People can do it? Keep up on Your great Ride as We really enjoy what Your doing…Thanks

  • Roger

    Lived in Casa Grande in the early seventies and have been back to visit occasionally. Always look forward to tacos from the Little Sombrero….have you tried?

  • Jim keyes

    Awesome job! Puts casa grande area on the map. Quality photography. Thanks for your personal touch.

    • our pleasure Jim, we love exploring the small towns many simply pass through.

  • Susanna

    Wow! very cool place! Arizona is one of my all time favorite states, so much variety! You guys rock! I still think you should have your own TV show! Happy Easter! 🙂

    • Susanna, if you know anyone in the TV biz you can be our agent 🙂

  • Nice sum up and I love the Casita Song. But I would like to remark that these folks are older than 55 which I will be turning this year. I think it is difficukt to draw an age line but I think it should be 65+ closer to retirment age since at 55 I still have to work another 12 years until I can officially retire and I
    believe these types of RV sites are more for retirees.
    Glad to see that I am at least considered to still be of an active age ;D

    • Karin,
      There are several types of 55+ RV resorts and some attract the more active, and others do not. We’ve visited 14 55+ resorts in the past few months and I must be honest: we’ve met people in their 80’s who can out-hike and out-play many 55 year olds we know. That’s the beauty of an RV resort, you can stay for a few days and if you decide it’s not your people than you can move on!
      Hope that retirement comes sooner than you’re expecting!

  • Loved the man singing!!!

    • crazy part is he wrote the song himself just because he loves his winter home…now that’s loyalty.

  • Lynn

    My brother live here! I haven’t been there yet so thanks for the list of things to see 🙂

    • For such a small town there’s plenty to do in the area, especially during the festival.

  • ray

    Devil’ Tower was the first National Monument


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