Jack Frost Nipping at Your Nose?
If you and your RV are left out in the cold, pack up your home on wheels and head to a place where summer is still in full swing
You may be weathering the chill that’s frosting your area this month and hunkering down to enjoy the holiday month of December. While some RVers stick it out through seriously cold temperatures, come January many of us just can’t take the cold. That’s the time to leave those winter blues behind and chase the sun’s warmth. We’ve put together a list of 10 temperate hot spots where RVers will find plenty of sunny skies and outdoor activities so you can leave that winter parka behind!
With 350 days of sun a year, Tucson and much of Arizona, including cities like Phoenix and Yuma, make perfect spots to weather what may be a long, hard winter in your hometown. Tucson, in the Sonoran Desert, has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the United States. And it’s the most southern U.S. city where you can ski and snowboard in the mountains, while the rest of the city experiences a beautiful desert “winter.” Unique activities include a drive on the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, an enriching visit to the Pima Air and Space Museum and an appreciation for Spanish colonial architecture at Mission San Xavier del Bac, a recently restored adobe church from the 1700s.
If you’re looking to experience all that nature has to offer in the area, visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with 2 miles of walking paths on 21 acres. The Sonoran Desert is the only place on earth where the majestic saguaro cactus grows. The saguaro, and many other species of cactus, can be found on the museum grounds. A thrilling museum presentation sends native birds of prey aloft untethered in the open desert with visitors on their return flight path.
Many RV accommodations welcome winter RVers to the greater Tucson area; here are just a few:
Far Horizons Tucson Village RV Resort
800-480-3488 | www.tucsonvillage.com
Prince of Tucson RV Park
520-887-3501 | www.princeoftucsonrvpark.com
Rincon Country East RV Resort
888-401-8989 | www.rinconcountry.com
Many parts of California make ideal spots to weather the winter in a mild climate. One region in particular worth considering is the wide-encompassing central coast. Extending through the counties of Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura, the central coast has more than 300 days of sunshine every year. Winter is an ideal time to enjoy crisp, clear days and what locals describe as the most beautiful sunsets of the year.
Santa Barbara is a hot spot for shopping, wine and cuisine, but the city itself and surrounding region provide much for the outdoor lover who enjoys hiking in the mountains or spending the day at the beach. El Capitan State Beach, 17 miles west of Santa Barbara, and Los Padres National Forest, stretching from Ventura to Monterey, are both easily accessible from the city.
Public campgrounds at El Capitan and Refugio state beaches host RVs (www.parks.ca/gov), and commercial campgrounds offer a full-range of facilities in the area:
Ocean Mesa Campground at El Capitan
866-410-5783 | www.oceanmesa.com
Rancho Oso RV and Camping Resort
805-638-5686 | www.ranchooso.net
Santa Barbara Sunrise RV Park
805-966-9954 | www.santabarbararv.com
Florida, with its sunny beaches, warm temperatures, theme parks and endless options to laugh Old Man Winter in the face, is one statewide destination that’s pretty much perfect for RV travel between December and March. One hot spot that we found especially intriguing for RV travelers is Florida’s Historic Coast.
Midway between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, this stretch of northeastern Florida coast encompasses beachside gems such as St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra. This winter will be an amazing time to visit St. Augustine, as the nation’s oldest city celebrates its 450th anniversary in 2015.
With dozens of RV campgrounds and resorts, including the following three in St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach, the region is ideal for snowbirding RVers:
With average daytime highs between 54 and 65 degrees from December to March, northern Georgia’s metro Atlanta area offers a mild and enjoyable environment for weathering the winter months. The area is home to renowned historical landmarks and outdoorsy activities alike for recreation-minded travelers.
Thirty minutes from downtown Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park not only possesses the world’s largest piece of exposed granite rock but offers 3,200 acres of natural beauty and
a fun winter wonderland experience with activities like snow tubing. Closer to the city, Chattachochee Bend and Panola Mountain state parks provide hiking and cycling trails and places to fish and paddle. Travel north of the metro area to discover more of the state’s natural beauty, from the tumbling waters of Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville to the rolling vineyards of the Georgia Wine Highway to the rustic charm of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Atlanta metro area RV campgrounds include three popular destinations:
If you’re looking for a place where winters are mild and there’s plenty of nightlife and fun ways to spend your time affordably, consider the Mississippi Gulf Coast and its 62 miles of sandy shoreline. Golf tops the list of recreational activities in the region, ranked one of America’s top 10 golf destinations for value by a Golf Digest survey and nicknamed the Golf Coast. Twelve area casinos, with many restaurants and energetic nightlife, also attract an RVing audience, with special deals for seniors and frequent visitors.
Outdoor activities in this equally serene and happening place range from guided river tours to kayaking and canoeing on pristine rivers and the calm waters of the Mississippi Sound, as well as hiking along nature trails at Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Mississippi Gulf Coast’s RV accommodations include the following campgrounds in Biloxi and Gulfport:
Baywood RV Park and Campground
888-747-4840 | www.southernrvparks.com/baywood
Cajun RV Park
877-225-8699 | www.cajunrvpark.com
Parker’s Landing RV Park
228-392-7717 | www.parkerslandingpark.com
Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico, is very much the wintering RV traveler’s paradise for its golf courses, abundance of nightlife and tourist attractions, outdoor beauty and cultural roots. Old Town is a destination in and of itself, giving visitors an authentic experience of what it means to be a local in Albuquerque. If you have a few days or more to spend in this Southwestern city, consider experiencing the scenic beauty of the Rio Grande Valley from the sky (hot-air balloon flights are a top choice among tourists) or the summit of Sandia Peak via the aerial tram.
These elements — plus the pop culture draw of Albuquerque’s role in the AMC series Breaking Bad — make for an entertaining stop on your escape from winter.
Plenty of places accommodate RVs in and around Albuquerque, including the following full-service campgrounds, the third of which is part of a casino complex:
Albuquerque Central KOA
505-296-2729 | www.koa.com/campgrounds/albuquerque-central
American RV Park
800-282-8885 | www.americanrvpark.com
Isleta Lakes and RV Park
877-475-3827 | www.isleta.com/camping
Beyond the temperate climate, there are many reasons why Myrtle Beach is such a popular RV spot for snowbirds. With winter temperatures in the low 60s, affordable activities and accommodations, and a coastal location less than a day’s drive from many Eastern areas, who wouldn’t want to cozy up by the waterside that Myrtle Beach offers all winter long?
If you’re in town during any weekend in December, visit Brookgreen Gardens as it comes to life with the glow of more than 5,500 hand-lit candles and countless sparkling lights during the annual Nights of a Thousand Candles celebration. For runners, the winter months offer February’s Myrtle Beach Marathon and March’s BFF (Breast Friends Forever) Pink Ribbon Run. At Broadway at the Beach, the state’s largest festival entertainment complex, you’ll find a 1.2-mile beach boardwalk and more than 23 restaurants and 100 specialty shops.
The Myrtle Beach area has no shortage of RV parks, including Ocean Lakes Family Campground, the largest RV campground on the East Coast, which hosts the popular Beach n’ Boogie Weekend, February 13 and 14, 2015.
At the heart of the music industry, Nashville is another Southern city we recommend on your RV winter tour. Nicknamed Music City, Nashville is the place to immerse yourself in the region’s musical heritage. Be sure to visit nationally known sites like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Music Row and historic RCA Studio B, where Elvis recorded more than 200 songs. Don’t miss Honky Tonk Highway, lined with such spots as Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Legends Corner, Second Fiddle, Bluegrass Inn and Robert’s Western World. Other worthwhile stops include Gaylord Opryland Resort, Belmont Mansion (the state’s largest house museum) and Andrew Jackson’s home and plantation, the Hermitage.
You don’t have to head far from the city for outdoor adventure. Nine miles from downtown, the Warner Parks span nearly 2,700 acres with hiking and equestrian trails, a dog park, scenic drives, golf courses and natural conservation areas. Enjoy water activities within 15 miles of Nashville on the Harpeth River and Percy Priest, home to the area’s largest lake and more than 265 miles of shoreline.
Nashville RV accommodations let you sample the Music City and experience the great outdoors:
Whether your time in Austin is for a short trip or a long stay, this central Texas gem will not disappoint. The capital city is full of legendary music, unique culture and a wide selection of up and coming restaurants. With 300 days of sunshine and an average temperature of 68 degrees, Austin attracts many outdoor enthusiasts.
Visitors and residents enjoy stand-up paddle boarding, water-biking, competitive rowing and leisurely canoeing and kayaking. If you’re into walking or running, try the 10-mile off-road Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail in the heart of the city. Another must-try spot is Barton Springs Pool, a spring-fed watering hole that’s 3 acres in size and a constant 68 degrees. Be sure to seek out the city’s unique foodie scene, which includes both traditional sit-down restaurants and the opportunity to try nearly 2,000 mobile food trucks and trailers.
A number of campgrounds host RVs here, including the following three resorts plus one dealer-owned property that’s part of Austin’s Crestview RV dealership:
Austin Lone Star RV Resort
800-284-0206 | www.austinlonestarrv.com
Crestview RV Campground
512-282-3516 | www.crestviewrv.com
La Hacienda RV Resort
888-378-7275 | www.lahaciendarvpark.com
Oak Forest RV Park
800-478-7275 | www.oakforest-rvpark.com
If you aren’t looking to stray too far south during the colder months, consider Virginia Beach, with mild temperatures and a flurry of festive celebrations that make it an ideal winter destination for RV travelers. Outdoor recreational activities are in full supply, from fishing, boating and hiking to anything else you can enjoy in a seaside setting.
Virginia Beach’s cultural and educational offerings include the Adam Thoroughgood House, one of the oldest brick homes in America; the Military Aviation Museum, born from a passion for World War II-era aircraft; and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, which frequently hosts new exhibitions by national and international artists.
RV parks in the area provide both a place to stay and a gateway to outdoor fun, including the most visited state park in Virginia: