Imagine a small, but thriving community, set against a beautiful background of picturesque mountains. Imagine clear, blue skies, warm weather, and the most beautiful; awe inspiring sunrises and sunsets, and clean, fresh air. Imagine a moon so large you can reach out and touch it, and stars so bright that you can spend all night viewing the many constellations. Imagine this same town within a short driving distance to natural parks, ghost towns, many famous historical places and even another country. A place ready-made for all people who shy away from cold weather, a place filled with all different species of birds and animals year-round, where ‘snowbirds’ of all species migrate to. This is my town, the lovely little town of Sierra Vista, Arizona, the town without a past.
Sierra Vista is a town of about 40,000 people, small enough to retain a small town atmosphere, yet big enough for anything that is needed. It is a rapidly growing community because of its ideal, central location and spreading popularity. With sunny winters, and constant blue skies, it’s enough by itself to draw people in numbers, even without all its added benefits of the surrounding area. Founded in the 1950’s, it was built around the famous Ft. Huachuca, an old military fort used in the 1800’s to fight Indian Wars. The fort is still thriving today, as is Sierra Vista. Because of its new origin, Sierra Vista has no downtown, unlike most older towns. Instead, it has several main streets, with the main street, Fry Blvd., leading into the fort, and many little growth spurts around all the shopping centers.
Despite its newness, Sierra Vista still managed to elbow its way into the records book as having been first in something that has become a worldwide craze. The McDonald’s on Fry Blvd. was the very first fast food restaurant in the country to come up with the idea of a drive-through! A very important and popular addition to our modern, rushed style of living, and one that many people can’t seem to live without!
Sierra Vista makes an ideal place to live, no matter what you’re interested in. It’s big enough for whatever you need, yet small enough to make it easy to get around in, and to make you feel at home. Despite being a new town, it’s surrounded on all sides by a historical past. Not only is Ft. Huachuca is nearby, but also the very famous town of Tombstone, where after just a 20-minute drive, you feel as though you’ve entered a time warp, where the streets are made of dirt, and stagecoaches and horses roam the streets, along with citizens dressed in the costumes of the 1800’s, and gunfights in the streets. After about a 45-minute drive, you can wander the scenic streets and attractive little shops of the artistic old mining town of Bisbee, take a tour of the copper mine, or view all the art from the artist community that now lives there. If you really have a spirit of adventure, you can make the 45-minute drive to the border, and cross over into a completely different country! The small town of Naco, Sonora, Mexico is perfect for getting an authentic feel for what Mexico is really like. It’s also a perfect chance to brush up on that Spanish you’ve been putting off learning!
Though there are plenty of activities for the ‘hobby’ minded, such as golf, craft shops and ballooning, there is also even more for people that don’t have the money to spend on their hobbies, or just want to ‘save a buck’. There are two movie theatres with competitive prices, which also show free afternoon movies from time to time. There are constantly art shows, flea markets and children’s fairs that have no entry fee. At the children’s fairs, you can often find a small petting zoo, where you can let your children loose among the animals and snap pictures to your heart’s content, all for no charge. There are restaurants galore, from high to low prices; there is something for every one of all tastes. Go for Chinese one night, Mexican the other, and Vietnamese the next, or just settle for some home-style cooking, a quick fast-food trip, or a quiet night at home with your choice of pizza.
For a day out with the kids, take them to one of the many green parks that Sierra Vista sports, containing several playgrounds each, and let your kids run wild while you catch a snooze or read a long forgotten book. It’s a great place for an inexpensive date as well. Pack a picnic lunch and take a walk around the park or swing on the swings, a nice opportunity to talk in peaceful surroundings.
Sierra Vista recently acquired a large water park for those hot days where you just can’t take the heat. For a small entry fee, you can swim and splash to your heart’s content in one of the large pools, the water slides or the heated pool. The park is always holding numerous activities to include everyone. You can have a water party, where they provide ‘all you can eat’ pizza, or take your baby and go to a fun ‘Mommy and me’ splash time, where the water is shallow and the water toys are abundant.
For the more adventurous minded, there are nature parks in plenty, with hiking trails and signposts to describe where you are. The San Pedro River, the only free-flowing river in the southwest, has a nature center set up, where you can get some quick info on the area, or browse their unique gift shop. A hummingbird refuge, birdwatchers come from all over the world to view all the different species of birds that live here. Located within hiking distance of the San Pedro are several ghost towns, where you can view the old ruins of the towns and mines that were located there. Just be sure to watch out for the mine pits and rattlesnakes! On your hikes, keep an eye out for all the indigenous cactus, mesquite trees and wild herbs that are growing nearby. Some trails even have signs posted to describe the different vegetation.
My personal favorite is the Coronado National Park and Forest. With rolling mountains, beautiful trees, dry riverbeds, and cactus and wildlife in plenty, it’s a beautiful place to go and get a ‘real feel’ of the desert life, yet have trees surrounding you with their shade at the same time! There is a cave you can hike to and explore, and at one spot in the forest there is a place where after a five-mile hike, you can reach the fence bordering Mexico, and see the spot where Coronado first crossed over into America. Along the hike, you can stop at special viewing spots and look out over the world, spotting towns miles away, or just enjoy the surrounding mountains.
There are many other virtues to this small, lovely town in the desert, far too many to list. These are the main reasons, though, why Sierra Vista is my home, and why no matter where I end up in the future, I will always think of it as my hometown. Arizona is a beautiful state, and certainly a must for anyone to visit, but also a wonderful place to live. It’s a state like no other, and my town of Sierra Vista far surpasses the imagination.