Snowbird Living—Getting the most out of your winter destination
A snowbird trip is more than a vacation. It’s an opportunity to get immersed in another region of the country and explore different customs, cultures, culinary styles and a whole new climate. You can join a snowbird flock and take part in fun-filled social gatherings, where you’ll make friends for life. Or you can go solo and travel from roost to roost, all the time staying one stop ahead of Jack Frost.
Your snowbird trip can be laid-back or filled with activity. Consider the following options once you’ve made the trip south.
Get to know Your Roost
Wherever you go, take the time to enjoy the area’s history, attractions and recreation opportunities.
Natural beauty abounds in most locations. Check out national, state, county, and regional parks, national wildlife refuges, national and state forests, scenic byways, fisheries and fish hatcheries, nature parks and centers, aquariums, wildlife and zoological parks, and game reserves. Many offer guided tours and hikes, educational seminars and talks, and opportunities to observe and photograph birds and other wildlife. Take up bird watching. Many of the colorful birds found in Sunbelt regions are tropical species, reaching their northern range limits. Explore botanical and other public gardens.
Other activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding, golfing, geocaching, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and ATV activities.
Do you favor casinos? Theme parks? Dancing? Are you a rock hound or into antiques?
Check out the area’s visitor information center and local papers for current happenings, flea markets, arts and crafts classes and workshops, organized hikes, sports events, RV shows, farmers markets, fairs and festivals, parades, and other annual events and happenings.
Join the Flock
Seek out birds of a feather and get to know folks who share your wanderlust. It’s a chance to make friends and learn new things.
Many snowbird parks provide resort amenities designed for long-term guests, including a Welcome Center, a well-appointed clubhouse and activity building, free cable or satellite TV and high-speed Internet at site, large swimming pools and heated spas, and fully-appointed fitness center. Many of the larger RV resorts have multiple halls with breakout rooms for activities, classes, and special events. Computer rooms, game rooms with pool tables, tennis and shuffleboard courts, a pickle ball facility, and an arts and craft room frequented by quilters and sewing enthusiasts are also available for winter residents.
Other amenities may include a nine- or 18-hole golf course, a fenced-in dog park, stocked lake, onsite hiking and biking trails, croquet courts, movie theatre, large ballrooms, dining options, and a variety of activities. Some seniors-oriented RV parks have literally hundreds of organized activities to keeps seasoned snowbirds involved and active.
Many 55-plus RV parks also have a variety of arts and crafts classes, from painting to woodworking and lapidary where you’ll learn the art of jewelry making by cutting, grinding, and setting stones. Others may teach silver-smithing and wire wrapping. Some parks offer gourd painting, Swedish blanket making, watercolor painting, woodcarving, pottery, and ceramics.
January through early April is prime RV Show Season. There is no better way to shop for a new RV or upgrade your current one than by attending an RV show, where numerous dealers and suppliers come together to show off their wares. You’ll have an opportunity to check out a wide-range of recreational vehicles in one location, often at special “show prices”.
The two granddaddies of the RV Show circuit are the Florida RV SuperShow at Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa, from January 15-19; and the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show, in Quartzsite, Arizona, January 18-26.
RV shows are also scheduled with snowbirds in mind at a variety of other throughout the Sunbelt.
Good Sam Club chapters embrace RV fellowship and make lasting friendships through a shared sense of community and a love for RVing. Chapters hold campouts, plan social events, and organize community volunteer opportunities. There are nearly 1,500 Good Sam Chapters across North America.
Festivals, Fun and Photos
February and March is prime season for local festivals, parades, and annual events celebrating history and culture. The major celebrations, festivals, and fairs include the Florida State Fair, Tampa, February 6-17; Arizona Renaissance Festival & Artisan Marketplace, Apache Junction, weekends February 8-March 30; and the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, Tucson, Arizona, February 13-16.
Obviously, by the time February rolls around, your camera will be crammed with photos. But have you sorted and organized them? Look into photo management programs to organize, categorize and keyword your photos so that you can store and locate your digital files without losing track of them.
When spring rolls around, it’s time to think about heading back home. From late February to early March ,many snowbirds begin planning for their pilgrimage back to their northern residences. Others delay their departure until the snowy mess up North is nothing but a distant memory.
Still others break up their journey into segments, taking several weeks to a month or more to reach their northern home. Consider taking a different route back home so that you can see new and interesting attractions. Remember, just because snowbird season is over, your RV adventures don’t have to end.