Connect with the true Deep South in Southwest Georgia.
We visit Southwest Georgia about every two months and have been for many years.
The big attraction for us is that this is where our son and his family live. But besides that, we have found lots to recommend here to RVers looking for a great place to get away from the RV travel routine and connect with the true deep south.
When to Visit Southwest Georgia
In the winter, the sun shines most of the time and daytime temps in the 60s are pretty normal. Sometimes even in the 70s. They have to start cutting the grass in March.
In the summer, well, it's a different story, with high heat, humidity, and gnats. My suggestion is to avoid the summer. Fall, winter, and spring are your best times to visit.
Wind-down with Southern Hospitality
Down here, it's y'all and sure nuff and the kids say yes sir and yes ma'am.
Southern hospitality is a character trait that is so regularly practiced that it becomes contagious to outsiders. People are polite, friendly and aren't afraid to smile at strangers.
Every time we leave here we find ourselves wondering why people are so much ruder and cruder up north. The south has a way of mellowing us out. And we now need regular fixes.
Two Main Attractions
There are two big attractions down here that also make this part of the country a great RV destination. Nature and history.
Southwest Georgia is heavily agricultural, with peanuts and cotton the top crops. But it also has some great fishing and hunting and is home to one of the nation's most impressive historical sites.
The towns of Albany and Leesburg would make great day trips or, better yet, a trip lasting a couple of days.
Albany is known as the Quail Capital of America and it is home to a wide variety of sprawling plantations specializing in quail hunts.
I've been on a couple of them now, including when we hunted the 2,000-acre Wynfield Plantation. If you are a wingshooter, the scrub pines and fields around Albany offer pristine quail country.
There is probably nowhere else in North America that offers better hunts in better conditions. The dogs and the guides and the gear these plantations offer are superb.
History in Southwest Georgia
In addition to nature, you will be able to take advantage of the history.
For that, a must-visit is to Andersonville and the National Historic Site that is made up by the Camp Sumter military prison.
Andersonville was one of the largest Confederate military prisons during the Civil War. During the 14 months the prison existed, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined here. Of these, almost 13,000 died.
Today, Andersonville National Historic Site is a memorial to all American prisoners of war throughout the nation's history.
Andersonville National Historic Site began as a stockade built about 18 months before the end of the U.S. Civil War to hold Union Army prisoners captured by Confederate soldiers. Located deep behind Confederate lines, the 26.5-acre Camp Sumter (named for the south Georgia county it occupied) was designed for a maximum of 10,000 prisoners.
At its most crowded, it held more than 32,000 men, many of them wounded and starving. The horrific conditions were rampant with disease, contaminated water, and only minimal shelter from the blazing sun and the chilling winter rain.
Those who died in the prison were buried in a cemetery created just outside the prison walls.
Andersonville National Historic Site comprises three distinct components:
- former site of Camp Sumter military prison
- Andersonville National Cemetery
- National Prisoner of War Museum, which opened in 1998 to honor all U.S. prisoners of war in all wars.
Andersonville is one of the most impressive places I have visited. The history is deep and rich and I would recommend a stop here to anyone. The park grounds are open daily from 8:00 am until 5:00 p.m. EST.
There are numerous special events held throughout the year at the park and in the nearby town of Andersonville, which has a Civil War Village.
Andersonville is about a 30-minute drive northeast of Albany.
Mike and Jennifer's RV Lifestyle hat collection
Who needs a hat? You do! Dad hats aren't just for dads. This comfy one's got a low profile with an adjustable strap and curved visor. Just the thing to wear on your next RV Lifestyle adventure.
Some More History and Nature…
Southwest Georgia also has another history connection. The quaint little town of Plains, just west of Andersonville, is the home of former President Jimmy Carter. There's a historic site there honoring him.
Nearing 100 years old, former President Jimmy Carter is the oldest living American president and the longest-living American president in history.
He still lives in the area and is often seen on the streets. Plus, he still teaches Sunday School several times a year at the Maranatha Baptist Church, which welcomes visitors.
If fishing is your thing, try the 20-mile long Lake Blackshear, a man-made lake on the Flint River, north of Leesburg. It's a great place for Large Mouth Bass.
As a side note, if you happen to be driving by Atlanta on your trip, there is a Must-Do RV Sidetrip: The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
RV Camping in Southwest Goergia
As to where to stay in Southwest, GA, there are several RV parks listed but the only one I can recommend is the campground at Chehaw Park. It's a 700 acre wild animal zoo and conservation area in Albany.
Chehaw has 44 RV sites with 30 and 50 amp hookups, 14 pull-through sites, a comfort station with laundry, a dump station, and a group shelter.
There are 18 tent sites with 15-amp electric hookups and water. Camper cabins are also available.
Southwest Georgia offers a lot to the RVer. It's only a 90-mile drive to the Florida panhandle and the beaches of the Emerald Coast. I'd suggest a long weekend to take in all that is offered.
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.
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.