RVing makes it so easy to try on different lifestyles. When I feel like being a surf bum, I just head to cute small beach towns with RV resorts and campgrounds. Great destinations like Jacksonville, North Carolina, Rockport-Fulton, Texas and California’s seaside San Luis Obispo County make it easy to reap the rewards of oceanfront real estate—at a fraction of the cost! Playing in the sun and sand with my home on wheels in tow allows me to enjoy waterfront real estate on my terms.
First stop, Jacksonville, North Carolina
There are 23 U.S. cities named Jacksonville, but only Jacksonville, North Carolina, has plenty of sun and sand for RVers. Located in the state’s Crystal Coast region and nestled along the New River, this fun beach town is currently ranked as one of North Carolina’s fastest-growing small cities. It’s adjacent to Camp Lejeune, the East Coast’s largest Marine Corps base, giving it youthful energy that welcomes visitors into this vibrant community with so much to do.
Life begins on the Jacksonville Landing
Every day, you’ll find anglers, kayakers, boaters, and bird watchers gathering at fishing piers and boat launches to enjoy the day on calm, clear water. Back on land, Jacksonville’s 19 miles of multi-use paths and greenways meander through fun and interesting places like the old train depot at Riverwalk Crossing Park, or Lejeune Memorial Gardens, the second largest Vietnam Memorial in the United States.
For more of that classic coastal experience, it’s an easy jaunt to the Atlantic at popular beaches like Emerald Isle, Bear Island, or North Topsail Beach. And if you happen to know a Marine at Camp Lejeune, ask them to take you to Onslow Beach. This gorgeous, fun oceanfront destination has its own coastal RV park just for authorized military members with visiting friends and family.
A variety of great RV parks makes it above average
Online reviews by RVers show that Jacksonville is one of North Carolina’s best RV destinations. You’ll find it tough to choose just one. The area has four highly rated parks all within 30 minutes of downtown. Waterway RV Park in Cape Carteret, Lanier’s Campground in Surf City, White Oak Shores Camping & RV Resort in Stella, and Deep Creek RV Resort & Campground in Hubert. All of Jacksonville’s RV resorts give you that country getaway feel, without sacrificing any of the cute small beach town vibes you’re after.
Gulf Coasting at Rockport-Fulton, Texas
I once met a Texas snowbird RVer who wintered in the Rockport-Fulton area. When she told me about her resort, I pictured a tired enclave of canasta clubs, elevator music, and Bermuda short-wearing retirees. I was so wrong! Rockport and Fulton have so much to do for RVers of all ages, the area rivals any coastal destination in the country.
Rockport Beach is one of the cleanest in the country.
Both in the water and on the shore, beaches don’t get any nicer than Rockport’s. Experts test the water twice weekly for bacteria, and the results are posted on the TexasBeachWatch.com website. Local efforts to keep it clean have granted Rockport a “Blue Wave Beach” status as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program. Unlike some other small beach towns, you can feel really good about swimming, surfing and lounging at this beach.
One way that Rockport and Fulton do feel like other small beach towns for RVers is that life is lived on the water. You can’t truly experience this area without casting a fishing line into the Gulf. Don’t know how? Dozens of charter guides are ready to help! Bird watching is also big, especially between November and March when North American whooping cranes return to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Paddlesports are wildly popular, too, in places like the calm waters in the south end of Little Bay. The nearby dog park and the canine-friendly beach also make it fun for RVing dogs. And if the weather isn’t the greatest, which sometimes happens, a choice selection of art galleries and coffee shops lets you experience Rockport and Fulton’s funky, artsy side.
The hardest part is choosing where to camp in Rockport-Fulton
Few great beach towns cater to RVers the way this place does. Nine of the Gulf Coast’s best RV parks are in Rockport and Fulton. Most have monthly rates for winter snowbirds and an endless list of fun things to do that will keep you so busy, you might never want to leave.
Take it SLO in San Luis Obispo County, California
The Golden State’s central coast is a throwback to my Southern California childhood. That’s when camping and dune buggying on the beach was allowed almost everywhere, and farm stands dotted the countryside with fresh-picked produce. California has changed a lot since then, but not so much in the region dubbed “SLO CAL” – and rightfully so. Having fun doing what you love (preferably outside) is a way of life for locals and visitors alike, whether it’s putting pedal to the metal in an all-terrain vehicle or winery hopping on the weekends.
SloCal has California’s best beach fun
From the county’s northernmost town of San Simeon, where the glitzy Hearst Castle stands like a sentinel over the coastline, to cool the beach towns of Pismo and Oceano where off-roading is allowed and encouraged. Dune buggy and UTV enthusiasts are welcome to play at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, one of the last stretches of California coastline that allows motorized vehicles. If that’s your scene, you can park your RV on Pacific Coast Highway to camp, then take off for a day of adventure right from your front door.
SloCal isn’t just about beaches, however. Culinary fans can head inland to quaint communities like Paso Robles and Edna Valley. Both are agritourism meccas where farmers and ranchers enthusiastically share their love for local agriculture production with foodies and wine aficionados. With so many great food destinations, it’s tough to choose just one. Thankfully several food and wine tour operators are ready to help with guided trips to SloCal’s best food and drink producers. In the surrounding hills, bike trails give cyclists a chance to explore the stunning countryside.
Two Cute Small Beach Towns, Two Great RV Parks
Pismo and Oceano have the best choices for parking the RV and playing in the sand; Pismo Sands RV Park and Pacific Dunes Ranch RV Park. Both offer year-round beach camping with oceanfront fun just steps away. Fill your day with off-road adventure in the dunes, leisurely bike riding, and scenic coastal hikes right from your doorstep in the region’s best beach camping destinations.
With 95,471 miles of coastline in the United States, these three great coastal destinations for RVers barely scratch the surface of bucket list RV destinations. No matter which cute small beach town you decide to explore, the ever-shifting sands and surf is guaranteed to give you the adventure of a lifetime.