Every fall, legions of RVing snowbirds take wing and fly south for roosts in the Sun Belt. Hailing from northern states, these visitors come to spend the winter season in places where frigid weather is just a rumor. Some make their nests as far south as the Florida Keys for tropical escapes. Others opt for the sprawling deserts of the American Southwest or Texas.
If you plan to join the southward migration before the first snowfall, make sure you’ve done your homework. Here are just a few tips:
- Reserve Your Spot. When you’ve decided which snowbird region to visit, consult GoodSam.com’s Find RV Parks & Campgrounds page, with more than 12,000 RV parks in North America. Enter the state and city you’re visiting, and the search results will give you the park’s name as well as Good Sam’s handy three-number rating. Make your reservation before it fills up!
- Secure your northern domicile. Look into alarm systems, security cameras and other gadgets that can safeguard your home from robbery. Arrange for a neighbor to check up on your home periodically.
- Take care of paperwork. Make sure your insurance, license and credit cards don’t expire. Confirm that your insurance policy provides full coverage in your destination’s state for the duration of your stay. And make sure any bills pertaining to your northern home will be taken care of.
- Mind the Mail. Don’t let important mail accumulate in your mailbox back home. Sign up for the Good Sam Mail Service (goodsammailservice.com) for reliable mail forwarding. Good Sam offers services like shredding and recycling unwanted mail, and users receive an automatic email that summarizes mail delivered each day.
- Use Good Sam Online Resources. Need help finding your way? Good Sam’s Exclusive Trip Planner maps out travel itineraries and displays locations of Good Sam Parks, Camping World RV & Outdoors locations and Pilot Flying J travel plazas, as well as hundreds of attractions. The planner customizes routes based on travel preferences and RV size.
Check out the following Good Sam Parks in the Sun Belt that accommodate snowbirds.
Alabama’s Gulf shores are renowned for their powder-sand beaches and unspoiled natural areas. This snowbird destination also draws visitors to play in the casinos along the coast as well as go fishing on the charters that depart from destinations like Orange Beach and Mobile. Find a spot in the sun at a park here and enjoy all the area has to offer. Enjoy some of the finest seafood in the nation, all cooked up with Southern flair.
Stay: Lake Osprey RV Resort, Elberta
Valley of the Sun
Encompassing Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona’s biggest metro area has all the perks of a major league city. Three sports franchises, a bustling college scene and a slew of amazing museums keep locals busy year-round. But you don’t have to go far to get away from it all. On the fringes of town lie vast wilderness areas, ranging from the Superstitious Mountains to the east and the Estrella Mountain Regional Park to the southwest. In the heart of town, Camelback Mountain challenges hikers to ascend to its 2,707-foot height. These ingredients, along with a laid-back atmosphere make the region such a hotspot or snowbirds, who come here to golf, relax and even gamble at several casinos in the area.
Stay: Desert Shadows RV Resort, Phoenix
Arizona’s second-largest city gets props for its cosmopolitan charm and its surrounding nature. The vast expanse of Saguaro National Park draws travelers eager to explore a virtual forest of giant cacti, with some of the plants towering as tall as 60 feet. The park also is a top biking, horseback riding and hiking destination, with 165 miles of trails winding through the park’s 91,716 acres. Southwest of town, Colossal Cave Mountain Park contains archaeological sites and incredible underground geological formations. In town, discover some of the best Mexican food in the nation, and learn about the origins of the chimichanga, which — according to local lore — was invented here when someone accidentally dropped a burrito in a deep fryer.
Stay: Far Horizons RV Resort, Tucson
Yuma has a special relationship with snowbirds. Several parks in the region accommodate the droves of winter visitors, and restaurants and stores around town have marketed themselves to entice this demographic. It’s not hard to see what draws RVers to this town in the southwest corner of the Grand Canyon State. Located on the banks of the Colorado River across the border from California, the town reaps the bounty of the waterway. Water lovers can go tubing on the gentle current or take a boat ride up the historical banks. Foodies can enjoy several farm-to-table dining experiences, thanks to the irrigation that the river provides. Go with the flow with a visit to Yuma.
Stay: Fortuna de Oro RV Resort, Yuma
Bakersfield sits at the southern tip of the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Even during the winter months, visitors can enjoy agritourism experiences that include farmers’ markets that sell their goods way into the cold season. For the rest of the year, travelers can enjoy the town’s quirky culture, with restaurants serving up Basque Food and wide entertainment options. Not far outside of town, Kern River entices anglers for an afternoon of reeling in trout.
Stay: A Country RV Park, Bakersfield
Hit the trails in the desert or the stores along Palm Canyon Drive on your trip to the Coachella Valley. Whatever your preference, this inland desert playground is a mainstay for snowbirds seeking just the right blend of big-city fun and natural solitude. Several golf courses in the area entice visitors to go on driving and putting sprees. The region’s high concentration of links accounts for 14 percent of all California golf courses.
Stay: Indian Waters RV Resort & Cottages, Indio
With miles of coastline and great waves, San Diego is a paradise for water lovers. Popular spots include Mission Bay Aquatic Center, where you can rent a boat for a day of adventure on Mission Bay, or head to the ocean for surfing, swimming or even scuba diving. If you’re interested in marine life, note that around 20,000 migratory gray whales pass through this stretch of the Pacific from December to May, with plenty of whale-watching cruises to boot.
Stay: Mission Bay RV Resort, San Diego
Fort St. Lucie
This Atlantic Coast destination might fly under the radar, but it’s a worthy roost for snowbirds seeking coastal fun. Frolic and explore on the area’s 21 miles of uncrowded beaches, which include spots where sea turtles hatch and take their first steps to the ocean. Indian River Lagoon is a waterfront Eden with snorkeling, biking and even horseback riding. Golf lovers will find paradise in the PGA Village, a sprawling complex that encompasses three championship golf courses, golf instructional facilities and exhibits from the sport’s past, including trophies and memorabilia from some of golf’s biggest events. Stick around until March for the New York Mets Spring Training.
Stay: Road Runner Travel Resort, Fort Pierce
Just north of Miami, a string of beach towns on the Atlantic put snowbirds in unforgettable coastal settings. Along this iconic stretch, visitors can explore For Lauderdale, known as the “Venice of America” with 165 miles of canals to explore. Just up the coast, West Palm Beach lures shoppers to upscale boutiques, restaurants and boating along the Intracoastal Waterway. To pump up the excitement, head south to Miami for big-city fun. For Island adventure, hit the Overseas Highway and explore the Florida Keys, a tropical chain of islands that stretches for 106 miles into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
Stay: Aztec RV Resort, Margate
The Sunshine State spoils snowbirds with the most miles of coast in the Lower 48. White-sand beaches, festive ports and remote islands entice sun-seekers. Where to stay? It’s hard to go wrong in Tampa, a Gulf Coast City with plenty of world-class attractions as well as natural getaways just outside of the city. The impressive displays of marine life at the Florida Aquarium will keep you entertained, and you also can hop on a dolphin cruise for glimpses of the mammals in their natural environment. At Ybor City, fine Cuban restaurants and vibrant culture — including cigar masters rolling stogies — will keep you entertained. Outside of the city, visitors can escape to mangrove-fringed beaches and turquoise waters at Caladesi Island State Park.
Stay: Tampa South RV Resort, Ruskin
Lafayette is located in the heart of “Acadiana” and is the unofficial capital of Cajun Country. That means visitors can enjoy cajun food at its best, with fresh, authentic andouille gumbo, boudin and sausage and shrimp po’boys that will make your mouth water. Music fans will get their fill of zydeco rhythms, with several establishments offering rollicking musical entertainment. History buffs should explore the Vermilionville Historic District, which preserves Acadian, Creole, African and Native American traditions through historical interpretation.
Stay: Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson
The Magnolia State makes the most out of its relatively short coastline, with miles of uncrowded beach as well as popular casinos in coastal communities. Thousands of visitors come each year, earning the region a spot among the top 10 gaming destinations in the country. In addition to thrilling at the prospect of a big jackpot, visitors can enjoy star-studded entertainment and innumerable restaurant choices, serving everything from basic fare to fine dining. Order a drink, sit at a poker machine or belly up to a blackjack or craps table — the choice is yours. Embark on a Biloxi Shrimping Trip and watch the boat captain haul in nets of local favorites.
Stay: Majestic Oaks RV Resort, Biloxi
Sin City attracts legions of visitors each year to its casinos, but for many, the real spectacle is the surrounding countryside. Sample wine in Pahrump to the west; tour the Hoover to the southeast; or head west to explore Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, renowned for its vivid crimson geology. But if gaming is your passion, you’ll find plenty of machines and tables offering high-stakes action along the famous Vegas Strip. After a session on the casino floor, hit one of the mile-long buffets that offer everything from shrimp cocktails to Denver omelets.
Stay: Hitchin’ Post RV Park, Las Vegas
Las Cruces serves up all the big city amenities you’ll need while putting you close to the stark desert beauty of southern New Mexico. As the second-largest city in the state, Las Cruces is home to Mexico State University as well as several compelling museums devoted to science and natural history. Hikers will delight in the many trails that wind through the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, which loom over the town in the east. Intrepid hikers should hoof it up to the starkly beautiful Needles at 9,000 feet above sea level.
Stay: Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces
Austin, the capital of the Lone Star State, is a great place to spend winter, with music venues and restaurants that push the boundaries of convention. Outside of Austin, the little town of Bastrop features 125 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with great golf and hiking and biking trails. In nearby Wimberly, visitors can walk the “Bootiful Wimberly” Trail and see 48 boots decorated by local artists spread across town. It doesn’t get much more Texas than that.
Stay: Oak Forest RV Resort, Austin
Located on a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, this coastal town enjoys lots of days of sunshine through the winter months. It’s also graced by steady fishing, with redfish, black drum and speckled trout tugging on lines of charter fishing enthusiasts. Play on the water or explore the town, with seafood restaurants that will cook up the whopper you caught just hours earlier. Go kayaking on the inland channels that run through surrounding Mustang Island, or hit the shops that line the town’s streets.
Stay: Island RV Resort, Port Aransas