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Snowbirds Are Planning: Top U.S. Destinations for Winter Migrators

Snowbirds Are Planning: Top U.S. Destinations for Winter Migrators

When the temperatures start dipping, many start moving toward a wintertime destination. Snowbirds have it down to a pattern. It’s just part of their natural life cycle to head toward warmer climates for several months of the year. If you live in the south or southwest, you might see them coming, and you may even recognize them from previous winters. 

Where exactly do they go when it starts to turn cold? Let’s find out!

What Does It Mean to Be a Snowbird?

Many of our feathered friends fly south to escape cold temperatures, and so do their counterparts on the ground. RVers from many parts of the northern U.S. seek warm climates just as deliberately as those birds overhead. 

rv winter migration snowbird comic
Every Sunday we publish a new comic, but you can get our entire collection of 30+ comics for free here!

While snowbirding is an ongoing annual routine for many, their destination may vary from year to year. There are plenty of traditionalists who return, like clockwork, to their same home away from home every winter. Others are constantly on the lookout for fresh settings to take in new experiences and meet new friends.

A Couple of Canadian Airstream RV "Snowbirds"

The Top 10 US Destinations for Snowbirds

Broaden your horizons from coast to coast with these top snowbird destinations while chasing that 70-degree weather. Many of these communities embrace the influx of visitors because it means business in what would otherwise be the off-season.

1. Santa Barbara, California

About Santa Barbara: On California’s golden Central Coast, Santa Barbara is a warm and welcoming beachfront city with graceful Spanish-style architecture.

Why You Should Visit: Santa Barbara stands out as friendlier than some of its neighboring communities in Southern California.

On one side is a breathtaking beachfront, and there are gorgeous mountains on the other. In between, you’ll find a vibrant community teeming with terrific restaurants that feature fresh, local flavors and wine tasting rooms.

Don’t Miss: To enjoy some swimming or paddle boarding, head to Leadbetter Beach, but Arroyo Burro Beach is the one that’s dog-friendliest. Ease down the Urban Wine Trail for a stronger taste of the famed Central Coast wines.

Beach in Santa Barbara
Trade in the snow for some sand in Santa Barbara.

2. Tucson, Arizona

About Tucson: Just 60 miles from the Mexican border, Tucson offers a full taste of southern Arizona at a busy but relaxed pace.  

Why You Should Visit: This inviting desert city is about a third the size of Phoenix, just a 90-minute drive away, and has much less sprawl and congestion.

Tucson boasts 350 days of sunshine a year, but snow-peaked mountains are a short drive away. There’s an Old West feel and an Old Mexico vibe in town, too.

Don’t Miss: Check out the towering cacti at Saguaro National Park and hike the trails in and out of Sabino Canyon. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is not too far out of town, and the flora and fauna on display there will leave a lasting impression.

→ Heading to Arizona? Check out our ebook, Snowbird Travel Guide to Arizona!

3. Sarasota, Florida

About Sarasota:  This seaside city of around 60,000 is on the Gulf of Mexico just south of Tampa, toward the southern end of that sparkling strand known as the Emerald Coast.

Why You Should Visit: Sarasota offers a whole lot more than the classic Florida beach experience. There’s fascinating history here, and it’s a great place to do some fishing, either saltwater or freshwater. (Just be sure to get the proper Florida fishing license.)

If you’d rather sample someone else’s fresh catch of the day, there’s an abundance of restaurants with seafood specialties. Sarasota is also known for its year-round golfing and its many retail shops.

Don’t Miss: The Ringling Brothers Circus used to winter here, too, and its three-ring legacy lives on inside a museum. Make time to stroll through the carefully tended Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on Sarasota Bay. With its elevated walkway, St. Johns Boardwalk and Village is a fabulous day trip.

Snowbird Tip: Florida is an awesome place to spend the entire winter, but not all RV parks are suited for long-term RV stays. Here’s a list of the best Florida RV parks for settling in for a while.

Caitlin Morton in Florida.
Soak up the sun in Sarasota.

4. Corpus Christi, Texas

About Corpus Christi: If the Texas coast had a capital, it would probably be Corpus Christi. With a population of around 325,000, it’s a sizable city, and it’s a great jumping-off point for visiting neighboring communities.

Why You Should Visit: Corpus Christi has lots of modern comforts and conveniences, and it’s surrounded by rustic coastal beauty. There are places in the area where you can set up camp directly on the beach.

Go fishing or windsurfing or venture out to explore several protected areas, including a national seashore. The city has a proud Navy background and a cultural bent.

Don’t Miss: Visit Mustang Island and Padre Island National Seashore. Just to the east, Port Aransas fits the bill for that sleepy fishing village experience you’ve been trying to catch. The USS Lexington, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, serves another duty as a naval museum. The Art Museum of Texas has put the visual arts on display since 1936.

Pro Tip: Looking for somewhere to stay close to Corpus Christi? Check out these 7 Best Port Aransas RV Parks on the Beach.

Corpus Christi, Texas, USA on the seawall at dawn.
Head for the heat this winter to stay warm!

5. Charleston, South Carolina

About Charleston: Founded in 1670, Charleston may just be the quintessential Old South city. This Atlantic seaport, where the Civil War began, is known for its historic districts with cobblestone streets and moss-covered oaks.  

Why You Should Visit: Charleston embraces its ties to the past but is also making a modern mark as a bold, progressive city.

The tour of historic areas includes a sobering visit to the old slave market that has become an eye-opening museum. Sample craft beers at modern brewpubs and enjoy cutting-edge cuisine along with lowcountry classics.

Don’t Miss: Between bites of shrimp and grits and she-crab soup, grab some downtime at Folly Beach. Plan a picnic in the shade of the gargantuan Angel Oak Tree and view the sea creatures at South Carolina Aquarium. Saunter through the French Quarter or Battery District on a leisurely horse-and-carriage ride.

6. Santa Fe, New Mexico

About Santa Fe: They call New Mexico the “Land of Enchantment,” and this high-desert city may be the enchanting place in the entire state. It’s been a continuous settlement for over 400 years.

Why You Should Visit: With its distinctive adobe architecture and laid-back lifestyle, Santa Fe offers stunning, rustic beauty at a comfortable pace.

There’s a vibrant art scene, with nearly as many places that showcase art as there are restaurants with unique cuisine. The question on the wait staffs’ lips is, “red or green?”–referring to the luscious native chile sauces that permeate many dishes.

Don’t Miss: First chance you get, walk the Plaza and Canyon Road to the many shops and galleries. Squeeze in a visit to the Inn at the Loretto to admire the spellbinding staircase. Have a luxuriant hot bath at Ten Thousand Waves, or make a day trip to Jemez Springs for a more natural version.

7. San Juan, Puerto Rico

About San Juan: This famous “walled city” history goes back to 1521, so it’s got nearly another century in Santa Fe. It was founded by the Spanish and is the capital of this U.S. territory.

Why You Should Visit: It takes a serious snowbird to head this far south, but you only live once, right? Puerto Rico has spectacular beaches and mountains and our national park system’s only tropical rainforest.

You could fly down to this Caribbean island or take one of the numerous cruise ships that dock there. Either way, you’ll experience sunny weather with temperatures that probably feel more like summer back home.

Don’t Miss: The rainforest area, El Yunque, covers 28,000 acres and has a magnificent landscape that includes a couple of dozen waterfalls. You can also view ancient petroglyphs and maybe catch the call of the coqui, a native tree frog. Back in San Juan, grab a golf cart to take in historic sites and buildings that span the five centuries.

Pro Tip: If you’re not heading somewhere warm for the winter Here’s How to Properly Store Your RV to Prevent Damage.

San Juan, Puerto Rico Caribbean coast along Paseo de la Princesa.
Enjoy the slow pace of island life in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

8. Palm Springs, California

About Palm Springs: Long a playground of the rich and famous, Palm Springs is a legendary getaway 100 miles east of Los Angeles. It’s a resort city of just under 50,000 people in the Coachella Valley and near the San Bernardino National Forest.

Why You Should Visit: With its cosmopolitan charms, Palm Springs is rightfully known as this desert region’s oasis. The striking mid-century modern architecture is an enduring symbol of its golden era. It remains an outstanding place for golf and other outdoor activities, even during the so-called dead of winter.

If you’re so inclined, treat yourself to a full-on spa treatment at one of the many stylish hotels. It’s an easy venture out to Joshua Tree National Park, just 40 minutes away.

Don’t Miss: The best view of the surrounding mountains is from the tram. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway has cars suspended by cables that reach nearly 6,000 feet in just a few minutes.

Back on the ground, go for a hike in Indian Canyons and see the thousands of prickly specimens at a “cactarium” called Moorten’s Botanical Garden.

9. The Mississippi Coast

About the Mississippi Coast: The southern part of Mississippi has a 26-mile white-sand beach and a scenic divided highway that runs its length. Neighboring cities include Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pass Christian, and Bay St. Louis.

Why You Should Visit: Mississippi has 36 casinos, and a third of them are here on what the locals called “the Coast.” Even if you don’t gamble, they have popular restaurants, including buffets, and they bring in world-class entertainment.

You can also enjoy some golf or saltwater fishing and take in a community Mardi Gras parade or two. (The carnival season usually starts in January or February.)

Don’t Miss: Ride a boat out to Ship Island offshore to learn the history of Fort Massachusetts. If you’re a Civil War buff, you’ll want to tour Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis. Make a trip to Ocean Springs, east of Biloxi, with its active arts scene and lively eateries.

Strip Sign of Las Vegas Closeup Photo. Famous Strip Entering Welcome Sign. Nevada, United States of America.
Viva Las Vegas and not seeing snow this winter!

10. Las Vegas, Nevada

About Las Vegas: Once a remote desert outpost, Las Vegas is a sprawling metropolitan area with more casinos than any other city.

Why You Should Visit: Casinos aren’t the only game in town in Vegas. In fact, one of the city’s justifiable nicknames is “the Entertainment Capital of the World.”

Spending time on the world-famous Strip is a must, but there’s plenty to do away from slot machines, roulette tables, and endless poker games. Check out the red rocks in the surrounding area or take a dip in the resort pools during the hot summers. 

Don’t Miss: Las Vegas has many free activities, including the massive choreographed water fountain display on the lake at the Bellagio. Indulge in flavors from around the world at the casino buffets.

Race dune buggies in the desert or do some zip-lining in Bootleg Canyon. To look at the darker side of the resort city’s heyday, pay a visit to The Mob Museum downtown.

The Best RV Winter Setup: How to RV in Winter and the Gear That Will Keep You Cozy Warm!

Enjoy the Weather, Snowbirds! 

Are you looking for a warm place to spend the winter? If you want to break out of your winter routine, these are 10 extraordinary options.

These destinations are about more than mild 70-degree temperatures; they’re also about having a variety of indoor and outdoor activities that aren’t too expensive. 

Are you a snowbird? What destinations do you like best? Drop a comment below!

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