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.
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.
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?