Affordable winter RV destinations. A quick Google search will leave you feeling hopeless, amirite?
But whether you’re a snowbird on a budget or an RV family with bills to pay, there are options for you. I promise. Here are some cheap places for you to live in the winter. I’ve also included where to stay and some local attractions.
This area is commonly referred to as the Rio Grande Valley. And man do a lot of RVers spend their winters here.
Seriously. Recently I asked a Facebook group where the most affordable winter RV destinations were. And about 80% told me about somewhere in this area. So you know you’ll be able to find something here.
I did a little digging and it seems like an awesome place! With beaches, lakes, and historical sites it really has a little something for everyone.
And with some RV parks in the area being around $300/month, why not take your little snowbird self down that way?
Where to Stay
Because I’ve never personally wintered here, I asked some members of The Virtual Campground for some personal experience. Here’s what Andy and Lezlie had to say:
“ We love this area as an RV winter destination. Presidio, TX has a Full Hook Up park for only $250/month. It’s called Loma Paloma and it is awesome! There is tons of space and it’s right outside Big Bend State Park. And only an hour drive from Terlingua and Big Bend National Park. And this hour drive? It’s a BEAUTIFUL mountain drive you don’t want to miss.”
Click here for their full review of the park.
They also recommend staying at I-35 RV Park in Waco. This gets you closer to the city for $350/month plus electric. The park has plenty of space, a swimming pool, and cheap breakfast. Their website also boasts RV repair.
Seriously? That’s awesome, y’all.
What to Do
Cameron Park Zoo
If you’re into animals and walking, this is for you. (Riveting journalism, I know.)
Seriously though, this zoo is great. With 14 exhibits and animals from all over the world, you’re bound to be impressed. There are also educational activities you can schedule to help you learn more about conservation, understand animals, and even get up close and personal with them.
South Padre Island
Channel your inner Floridian and hit the sand to surf, sky dive, or sample the local fare.
This place has just about everything you’d want in a beach town. And the events held on the island here are amazing. During Christmas, you can check out the annual Holiday Sand Castle Village and New Year’s Eve Celebration.
And if you’re feeling really adventurous, join in on the Polar Bear Dip on New Year’s Day!
There’s also a weekly farmer’s market and Kite Fest!
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
This is the crowning jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System. You.need.to.visit.
There are 400 bird species and over 450 plant types residing in this 2,088-acre refuge. And something super cool? About half of all North American butterfly species live here. (What? That’s so awesome!)
Enjoy 12 miles of nature trails to see something new here!
Now to stay in this area on the “real cheap,” you’ve got to be a Thousand Trails member. This means purchasing a membership. But honestly, a Thousand Trails membership can be bought really cheaply, so I still think this is a really affordable winter RV destination.
Most people call this the “Thousand Trails Shuffle.” This is where you go from park to park throughout the winter because the reservation system for this membership only allows a certain number of free days in one place.
This may sound annoying, but if you’re really looking to save some money it’s a great option. Used lifetime memberships can be as low as $2000 or you can pay year to year for about $600, sometimes less.
You can also add the Encore package to your Thousand Trails membership to add even more campgrounds to your list.
Where to Stay
To do the shuffle, you can stay at Palm Springs RV Resort in Palm Desert. Then head over to Wilderness Lakes RV Resort in Menifee. After you’ve had enough of being near Los Angeles, head even further south Pio Pico and Oakzanita outside of San Diego.
I know that’s a lot of names. So just click here for a map. #yourewelcome
Add the Encore option and you can also stay at Palm Springs Oasis RV Resort in Cathedral City and
These parks are great because (while possibly outdated) there are lots of amenities, lots of other full-time RVers, and weekly scheduled activities to keep everyone happy and occupied.
What to Do
Okay, so what can you not do in Southern California? Seriously. There are so many things to see and do here.
Let your inner tourist out and visit Tijuana, Mexico.
Seriously, enjoy strolling around Avenida Revolución, the city’s downtown strip.Then take a taco tour and visit a winery.
If you’re into a more authentic experience, stay a little longer and take in some live music at a local bar. Also be sure to go for a walk a view some of the city’s street art and architecture. It is really something spectacular!
When you’ve had enough of the campground life, head to the city.
Choose Los Angeles and enjoy incredible shopping, tour Hollywood, and even spend the day at Disney Land.
Go to San Diego and try your hand at surfing. Or just enjoy the waves from shore if you’re like me and don’t want to drown. Don’t miss La Jolla Beach! The seals and sea lions are a super fun treat to see sun bathing, eating, and playing in the water.
And if you’re looking for something more authentic, check out San Clemente. I recently visited this California beach town with fellow RVer Camille Attell. We had a ton of fun visiting the petting zoo, eating authentic Greek, and building sand castles on the beach with my daughter.
Take the train
I cannot recommend the Amtrak enough! You really shouldn’t visit California without taking a train ride up (or down) the coast. Tickets are pretty cheap and you’ll enjoy a relaxing day watching the coastline.
Even my four year old loved this.
River Region of Alabama
My family and I have spent two winters in this area. But I have to be honest. It’s a pretty average place to be. Here’s what I mean:
The area is not too big, not too small. The weather is not too hot in the winter, and not too cold. You get the idea…
There are a few reasons to love this as your affordable winter RV destination.
First, you are only a couple hours from the beach. But you don’t have to pay beach prices. Just this week, I drove down to the Gulf Coast on two separate occasions. No big deal.
Others love it because they are just far enough away from any big cities. Being in south central Alabama, the closest cities are Atlanta and Birmingham. And both are at least two hours away, depending on exact location.
Of course, you are really close to Dothan and Montgomery. These are small cities with a real hometown feel. You can take a day trip into town and enjoy shopping, local food, and incredible history.
And last, the River Region really is a super affordable winter RV destination. I haven’t heard of anyone paying more than $600/month to stay in this area, with the average being closer to $450.
Where to Stay
I highly recommend staying at Deer Run RV Park in Troy, Alabama.
It’s quaint, quiet, and well maintained. The owners live right on site and take great pride in their campground. And as a super awesome bonus, most of the sites are concrete pads. And all of them are level, baby.
They also accomodate big rigs.
During the winter, there are potlucks and get-togethers every other week and they always do holiday dinners.
While this campground caters to an older crowd, it is very family-friendly. The owners are a couple with young children at home, and my daughter has some wonderful memories spending the winter RVing here.
You can check out a full review and tour of the park here. Or listen to an interview review I did of the campground here.
What to Do
Sure. The River Region might not be full of luxurious RV resorts with all types of scheduled activities. But what makes it a great place to winter RV is Troy University.
Located less than an hour south of Montgomery, this University brings culture to the region. And some really awesome events!
Just as you’d expect, Troy U really has it all. Get there earlier enough in the winter and you can catch a football game. Or go for an evening of basketball.
There are also lots of art programs to enjoy. Recently, my daughter and I went to see a dance recital. Another time we participated in a local 5k put on by the University.
If you do nothing else, you must visit the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park and International Arts Center. This is located on campus and is where “east meets west.” To quote Mrs. Hawkins herself “ Students and guests will find an exceptional collection of international art…”
And she’s not kidding. When you walk throughout the park, you’ll see 200 replica terracotta warriors representing the famous Chinese excavations.
They really are a hidden gem of the region.
Civil Rights Sites
Montgomery and the surrounding areas are home to some major civil rights events. Do yourself a favor and brush up on your history before RVing here for the winter. Then visit these places:
Dexter Parsonage Museum- This is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived with his family during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
City of St. Jude- Check out the final campsite of the Selma-to-Montgomery March.
Rosa Parks Library and Museum- Come here to truly experience the emotion and depth of this time in our history. There is also a children’s wing.
Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church- See where Dr. King first preached his message of hope and brotherhood. A truly moving experience.
Honestly, all of these historic sites are plenty reason to make the River Region your RV winter destination.
The City of Prattville
Start by attending Mardi Gras in Prattville! The annual parade is a lot of fun with all the beads, candy, and moonpies an RVer could ask for. It’s a family-friendly event you’ll enjoy. Especially if you’ve never experience Mardi Gras.
After the parade, stick around and enjoy Prattvile. As one of Alabama’s first “planned communities” there is plently to see. Enjoy the town’s artesian wells and incredible downtown area. Seriously. There historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
There’s also golf in town, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The mecca of winter RV destinations. Every year, tens of thousands of RVers make the trek here.
Because it is an affordable place to RV in the winter. And it’s warm. And there are parties.
Where to Stay
I wrote this article because I wanted there to be a resource for affordable winter RV destinations that didn’t include boondocking.
And when you read about Quartzsite, you normally read about all the BLM land there and how easy it is to camp for free there. Which is great but…not everyone wants to dry camp.
So if you’re like me and want electricity and all that convenience, you can still count on Quartzsite to deliver.
In fact, there are over a dozen RV parks in this town. And from what I hear and see online, you can get a monthly stay for about $500/month. (Not bad to be in one of the most popular winter RV destinations!)
I recommend The Scenic Road RV Park. It’s located downtown, has wifi, and is very big-rig friendly. They also run planned activities in the winter time at the clubhouse. Their most expensive monthly rate is only $485 but the price goes all the way below $300.
What to Do
This is a small town and normally there isn’t much to do here. But in the winter? There’s plenty!
Attend a rally
If Quartzite is the Mecca of RVing, then attending an RV rally or convergrance there is a rite of passage.
Every winter, Xscapers hosts their Annual New Year’s Bash there. I know hundreds of people that have gone and had the time of their lives!
All these meetups and rallies make it easy to meet new friends, find a community of supportive people, and spend time bonding with your fellow nomads. I highly recommend attending.
Quartzsite Sports, Vacation, and RV Show
If you’re into RV shows, definitely attend this. It’s so fun to see all the new makes and models. It’s also great to check out the vendors and all the RV gadgets in person, too!
But be careful! It can be tempting to buy a new RV!
Quartzsite Yacht Club
Like their website says, you probably wouldn’t think of the desert as the perfect place for a yacht club…but there you have it! And there it is!
Do not miss out on this novelty. And be sure to become a member. Over 10,000 people are members of this “yacht club” so why not?
And on par with our affordable winter RV destinations, this restaurant is cheap! Less than $8 for the traditional fish and chips, baby!
Any other affordable winter RV destinations?
Have you stayed in any of these places? Or know of somewhere else that was really affordable and awesome? Let me know in the comments.
Enjoyable writing! Ever go to baja? San Felipe?
Very nice read….thanks!
Flamingo Moon Campers says
Well I can’t not like something that I have not done, (double negative = ) just have not been to much of the east of the Mississippi, we tend to go west because family is in that direction but we are determined to see that part of the country soon.
I was reading it on my IPad but today on my iPhone it seemed to be just fine.
Have a good one!
Thanks for getting back to me!
I can recommend go to Big Bend National Park. I’ve never been there in an RV (well I guess a motorcycle is kind of an RV, but I digress) but it is beautiful. The gate to the park is about 10 or 20 miles it seemed from where I was camping by the main lodge. When you pass the gate you are looking out over a valley. If you have ever thought about camping in a dry wash this should cure you. There is a wash that is quite wide and it is abundantly apparent that it is in the middle of a desert. It is also readily apparent that the water gets to be 10 or 20 feet deep on occasion. I didn’t see any water but the banks are there. Beautiful and scary at the same time. The whole area is awesome and a loooong way from anywhere. I believe the crossover to Mexico is open now so you should be able to go over and get dinner. It was closed when I was there due to 9/11 but this was several years ago and I believe it is open now. I got within about 200 feet of the river but didn’t dare cross it. It’s one of those “don’t miss” places if you’re in the area.
Marneen Zahavi says
Very helpful, and as always super entertaining blog. Thanks Liz!
Thanks Marneen. Awesome to see a friend reading the blog. You rock!
You need to take a geography class. Presidio and Terlinqua Tx are in west Texas. Terlinqua is almost 700 miles from South Padre Island and Cameron County. Waco Tx is in central Texas.
Yikes! You are so right Shari. I just realized I published the wrong version of this post. So perhaps instead of a Geography course, I should just learn to proofread my posts before I hit publish. Thanks for pointing out this misinformation so I can get it fixed right away!