Want to thaw out in your RV? Now's the time to book! Here's our list of the Best Snowbird Destinations for RVers during winter.
Are you looking for a great location to park your RV for the winter months? We've put together a list for you that will help with your planning.
What is a Snowbird?
You’ve heard the term Snowbird, but what exactly does that mean?
A snowbird refers to a person or group of people. Usually, they are retirees that travel seasonally to places that offer warmer climates during the winter months.
Usually, snowbirds travel from northern locations, such as the Northeastern United States, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
When Is Snowbird Season?
The typical snowbirding season is from October to April. When deciding where to land, you want to consider accommodations (both cost and amenities), scenic preferences, hobbies, travel interests, and family or friends' locations.
While “snowbird” is a common reference, the politically correct term is “winter visitor.”
The term “snowbird” can sometimes have a negative connotation, so you might find places that refer to you as a “winter visitor” instead.
The Best Snowbird Destinations for RVers
Jennifer and I have had the pleasure of traveling in our beautiful country for many years. We have embraced cold winter camping as well as snowbirding to thaw out.
If you are more interested in the sunshine and warm temperatures, here are some of the most popular RV Snowbird locations in America:
Florida is perhaps #1 on the list of Best Snowbird Destinations
Known for its warm summer weather and beautiful beaches, it's no wonder Florida is the most popular destination for Snowbirds. Florida provides an affordable lifestyle, drawing over 810,000 RV winter visitors most years.
Many cities also boast great golf courses and other recreational activities.
Florida is usually mid-range for its cost but has a wide range of affordability depending on which locale you choose to stay in.
Southern California makes one of the best snowbird destinations
Southern California offers mild winters and a beautiful coastline.
Snowbirds often flock to this area to be near large family attractions, such as Disneyland and Universal Studios. Or, for the exciting urban lifestyle in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Palm Springs.
Southern California can be quite costly, so be sure to factor this into your budget.
Texas is a very popular snowbird destination
Once again, warm winter weather is the major draw for snowbirds coming to Texas.
Most snowbirds head toward the beach towns in the Gulf of Mexico.
While sandy beaches are a major draw, many people like the variety of activities, including local festivals, birdwatching, flea markets, golfing, and water sports.
You can also usually expect a nice, warm welcome from the locals.
Texas is one of the most cost-effective snowbird locations.
Nevada is very attractive to snowbirds
With minimal rainfall and a desirable arid desert climate, Nevada attracts many people during the winter months.
There are lots of outdoor and recreational activities to participate in. Plus, larger cities like Laughlin and Las Vegas offer gambling, shows, and other entertainment, unlike any other location.
Nevada is also a budget-friendly state for winter visitors.
Arizona and the desert make for one of the best snowbird destinations for RVers
Arizona is one of the most popular snowbird destinations because of its year-round sun and affordable prices.
Larger cities offer top golf courses, spas, botanical gardens, and other popular recreational activities. Baseball fans can even catch spring training if they so choose! It's the perfect place for those seeking an active lifestyle on a budget.
Arizona is mid-range when it comes to the cost of living. It offers a wide variety of prices depending on which location you choose.
We have a great 7-Day RV Guide to Arizona, too!
Less-Known RV Snowbird Destinations for RVers
While the locations I’ve already mentioned are the most popular destinations, there are also some noteworthy and unexpected locations to check out.
They offer sights you might not see elsewhere and some overseas spots you may have never considered visiting.
Unexpected RV Snowbird locations include:
- St. George, Utah
- Jekyll Island, Georgia
- North Carolina
- New Mexico
- New Zealand
- Costa Rica
Cost is a factor in choosing the best snowbird destination for you
While some people seek locations that have the most to offer, others are more concerned about the price of their destination. But snowbirding does not have to cost an arm and leg. The key is to find budget-friendly places to stay and carefully manage your spending.
Some of the most budget-friendly locations are:
- Clearwater, FL
- Haines City, FL
- Pahoa, HI
- Charleston, SC
- Bella Vista, AR
- Sedona, AZ
- Tucson, AZ
- Anaheim, CA (at least compared to other Southern California locations)
Your RV space will likely be your largest expense, so shop around for the best place for your budget.
While each city and state can offer a range of affordability,
Texas is relatively cheap and usually the most budget-friendly for snowbirds. Both Arizona and Florida offer a wide range of prices depending on their location. While California is generally the most expensive.
The next significant expense for snowbirds is activities or recreational costs.
To keep costs down, you might consider taking up inexpensive hobbies, like hiking or paddleboarding. Or, if golf is the only activity that you want to partake in, you will want to include its associated costs in your budget.
Sense of Community for RV Snowbirds
Once you find a great place to return to year after year, you can start to build a sense of community. If you stay at the same campground, you can reunite with friends from across the country you met the previous year.
Many times these “seasonal friends” are like-minded and have similar interests to your own.
Even if you decide to travel to different locales every year, there are often snowbird clubs for winter visitors from different states. There, you can meet others that enjoy the same activities you do and perhaps make a lifelong, long-distance friend.
Adventure is Out There
I hope, like Jennifer and me, you find enjoyment and adventure in traveling. There are many beautiful places to see, stories to hear, and people to meet out there. I hope you found this guide for the best RV snowbird destinations helpful!
Please comment below to share your favorite RV snowbird destinations.
While You're Up North
Before you head south for the winter, there's still plenty to do up north. Some of our favorite destinations are where most Snowbirds come from, and we have a great bundle of guides covering it!
Mike and Jennifer's Ultimate Michigan and Great Lakes Bundle – THREE ebooks
This bundle contains our ever-popular Michigan Upper Peninsula 7-Stop Adventure Guide PLUS the NEW LOWER Michigan Adventure Guide PLUS the US Side Tour of the Great Lakes! This ULTIMATE Bundle will help you keep enjoying Michigan and the Great Lakes for years!
Mike and Jennifer's Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That's why we've created three guides, covering Florida's Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content!
FAQ's about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
What is the weather like along Florida's Gulf Coast?
The weather along Florida's Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.
The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.
You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.
By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.
Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities.
The service works – but it is not free.
Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.
The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.
Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you'll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.
But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.
There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.
Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.
Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.