I got an e-mail yesterday evening from some new fulltimers who are hitting the road the day after Christmas, asking me for suggestions on snowbird roosts. They have been following the blog for some time now and were surprised that it can get down into the 30s here in Florida during the wintertime. They wrote that they thought Florida was always warm.
No, not always. We have spent several winters in Florida and parts of it can be darned cold! We’ve had to unhook our water hoses as far south as the Orlando Thousand Trails on more than one occasion to prevent them from freezing.
They asked how far south one had to get to be assured of 70° weather. I think Belize might do it, I’m just not sure how to get my Winnebago down there! Just a couple weeks ago in the Florida Keys we had a couple of days where people were wearing sweaters and light jackets to ward off the chill.
So where do snowbirds go to roost when the white stuff flies up north? Generally, if you’re south of Interstate 10 from Florida to Arizona you will be out of the worst of the winter weather, but there is no guarantee. Last spring we saw a dusting of snow in Tucson in March, even if it only lasted a few hours.
Here in Florida, folks tell us that you have to be south of Tampa to be assured the best weather during snowbird season, but again, that’s no guarantee. We have paddled our kayaks in January in the lakes around Orlando, and we had frost on our windows the same time other winters. Sometimes in the same winter! If you like Florida, prices drop steeply the further you go inland from either coast. Around Bushnell, Davenport, and Winter Haven, for example, you can find nice RV parks for less than half of what you will pay around Sarasota or Fort Lauderdale, and things are not nearly as hectic.
We like the area around Mobile Bay in Alabama, and we haven’t gotten too cold during our stays there in the winter. But, we have certainly gotten a lot of rain almost every time we visit. It’s a nice, laid-back area with a lot to see and do, and you can’t beat all the fresh seafood!
Moving west along the Mississippi Gulf coast, we have stopped many times at Magic River, the home campground of Passport America in Long Beach. There are a lot of casinos, some excellent restaurants, and a slow pace that we enjoy there.
We have not spent much time in Louisiana, except for a couple of brief trips into New Orleans, so I won’t comment on that area. We spent our first two Christmas holidays at the Escapees Rainbow’s End park in Livingston, Texas and it was darned chilly both times. Every year our friends Greg and Jan White go home to Galveston Bay RV Park in Kemah, a little south of Houston. We spent a few days there last winter and enjoyed good weather.
One of our favorite places in Texas is in the Rockport/Aransas Pass area, on the Gulf coast. We spent six weeks there over the holidays a few years ago, and while we had some rain and fog a few days, we also did a lot of kayaking in short sleeve shirts. This is another laid back place where they appreciate snowbirds and make them feel welcome. The combination of affordable RV parks, lots to see and do, and close proximity to Corpus Christi if you need services only big city can provide make it popular with lots of RVers.
The Rio Grande Valley in Texas draws thousands of snowbirds with low priced RV parks, lots of activities, and generally good weather. It can get windy at times, but it’s one of your best bets if being warm is a priority. People tend to either love the Valley or hate it, and we are not fans ourselves. But check it out, it may be a good fit for you.
Following Interstate 10 west into New Mexico, you don’t have a lot of choices. A lot of RVers stop in Deming, and some stay there all winter. It’s inexpensive, but there is not a lot to see and do, and more than once we’ve had to unhook our water hoses overnight to keep them from freezing.
A lot of snowbirds flock to Arizona, and favorite roosts are in the Benson area, Tucson, Mesa, and Yuma. Benson is good if you like smaller towns, and it’s a short drive to Tucson if you need a city fix. Tucson usually has decent weather, but again, I’ve seen it snow there more than once. Mesa, Apache Junction, and the entire East Valley are hotspots for RVers, but prices and the crowds seem to climb every year.
Yuma is home to a lot of RV snowbirds, and it’s another place where you can usually expect good winter weather. There is a lot to see and do and many choices, from small mom and pop RV parks to upscale resorts.
If you venture into California (and why would you?), there are a number of popular snowbird enclaves in the Indio/Palm Springs area. You’ll find this to be one of the more expensive options for RVers, but you can almost always expect decent weather.
So there you have it, our opinion on many of the popular snowbird roosts, though I’m sure I missed a couple. But keep in mind, the things we look for may not appeal to you at all. We like a slower pace, being around the water, and decent restaurants. We’re not into playing golf, planned activities, or potluck dinners. But whatever you like to do, and whatever your budget is, don’t worry, there are plenty of places to park your rig and hang your hat during the winter.
Thought For The Day – Learn from the mistakes of others, because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.