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RV Podcast #359: Tips for Florida Snowbirds

In this Episode 359 of the RV Podcast, we offer some tips for Florida Snowbirds that tell it like it is, from the real weather you can expect, to why you may already be too late for a reservation for this upcoming snowbird season.

But there's much more this week, too, including RV News, Travel Tips, Product Reviews, and much, much more.

As always, we have video and audio versions of the podcast available.

To watch the video version on our RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, click the player below:

And to hear the audio version, click the player below:

Find our Tips for Florida Snowbirds and other topics

If you want to jump right to the specific sections and topics covered in this episode, here's our table of contents:

  • :56 Update on Mike and Jen's whereabouts
  • 2:00 The picture of the week
  • 3:13 The “Covered Wagons” at the Horse Cave, KY KOA
  • 8:25 Bo's near disaster on our live remote broadcast
  • 10:45 Audience experience on how willing RV dealers are to sell off MSRP
  • 18:30 News: Storms and weather info for RVers this week
  • 20:25 News: Utah family pelted with “tangerine-sized” hail
  • 21:30 News: Free admission Aug. 25 at National Parks
  • 22:22 News: Man stops runaway jeep being towed by RV
  • 24:22 News: US border closed to non-essential Canadian travelers until at least Sept. 21
  • 27:40 RV Question: The perfect RV vacuum that Mike and Jen use
  • 32:20 RV Question: Managing RV air conditioner demands with SoftstartRV
  • 37:45 RV Interview: Tips for Florida Snowbirds in the Florida panhandle from Mati Alexander of Hideaway Camping Retreat in Navarre, FL
  • 44:15 Mike and Jens Snowbird tips for the rest of Florida
  • 48:21 Hidden Campground Gems: Eden Springs in Benton Harbor, MI
  • 51:07 The Burketts are taking a break
  • 52:15 RV Product of the Week: Luci Lights solar charged blow-up lantern

Tips for Florida Snowbirds

RV Podcast #359: Tips for Florida Snowbirds 1
Snowbird destination

Florida is a huge destination for RVers, especially those from cold climates hoping to escape the snow and nasty winter weather.

For those who like to flee for the whole season – called snowbirds because of their annual migration patterns, it is a particularly attractive place to go.

They don't call Florida “The Sunshine State” for no reason!

When is snowbird season in Florida?

In general, snowbird season is from November 1 to March 1.

There are two waves.

The early wave heads south right after Halloween.

The second wave leaves right after Christmas.

It's a toss-up to which one is the most popular though RVers hoping to snag a seasonal site get the best placement if they book through the entire four-month period.

When do you need reservations for a seasonal snowbird site in Florida?

RV Podcast #359: Tips for Florida Snowbirds 2
Jennifer on the beach

The earlier the better. Most bookings by RV resorts and campgrounds start taking reservations for the next snowbird season right after the current one ends. In other words, early March.

By June, many campgrounds are mostly filled with snowbird reservations starting Nov. 1.

By the end of August, seasonal reservations will be hard to come by.

Where is the weather the best for Florida Snowbirds?

RV Podcast #359: Tips for Florida Snowbirds 3
Weather in Florida

Hurricane season ends with the start of snowbird season, Nov. 1.

Florida, despite its popular image, definitely has three climates in the winter.

November is a glorious month in the Panhandle and Northern Florida.

Temperatures are in the '70s almost every day, and in the '80s during the early part of the month.

December is when it starts to cool off.

From mid-December through the end of February, you can generally expect lots of sunshine and above freezing weather.

The northern part and the Panhandle generally have winter daytime temperatures in the upper 40's to near 60.

Some days in mid-February, it can approach 70.

Nights can drop into the mid to upper 30's. The '40s are more typical.

Think of it this way: Even in Northern Florida and the Panhandle, you can get a suntan most days. And you usually can play golf every day, unless a storm goes through..

Mid-Florida, centered around the Ocala area, generally has daytime temperatures in the 50's to near 70.

To experience daytime temperatures in the '70s all winter, you usually need to be south of Sarasota.

Where can we find a place to stay during snowbrd season in Florida?

mike and jen in florida
Mike and Jen in Florida

Without reservations, whether for the whole season or just a few days, it will be a challenge.

That said, Florida's many state parks generally have openings for one or two nights during the week.

And across the state, there is a growing network of private campgrounds and RV resorts catering to snowbirds.

The further inland from the beach you go, the better chances you will have without reservations made long in advance. But remember, Florida is a peninsula and you are seldom more than a 45-minute drive from a beach, either on the Atlantic or Gulf.

Resources for finding Florida campgrounds

We have several articles here on the blog that will help. Check out:

Those are just a few of our Florida articles here on the blog. As should be clear, we like Florida a lot and spend several months there each year, exploring every part of the state during all four seasons.

In fact, we like it so much that we wrote a book on it. THREE books, in fact, covering the three main regions of the state!

The absolute BEST collection of Tips for Florida Snowbirds!

Mike and Jennifer's Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!

RV Podcast #359: Tips for Florida Snowbirds 4

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.

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.

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.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-08-25

Mike Wendland is an Emmy award-winning journalist, traveler, and producer of RV Podcast, the RV Lifestyle travel blog, and the RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube. Mike, traveling with his wife Jennifer and their Norwegian Elkhound, Bo, has vast experience and a great passion for exploring North America, previously working as a long-time NBC-TV News Channel Technology Correspondent and now sharing his love for the RV lifestyle with millions. Mike is not only an adept RV life enthusiast but also a skillful storyteller, bringing to his channels stories from the road that perfectly capture the magic and hardships of this lifestyle.

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