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Top places to vacation this winter for sun seekers and snow lovers

Whale Tail

Closed for the season. Possibly four of the saddest words to encounter when you’re planning a trip. This could apply to a summer fun location that shuts down once the days get shorter (and colder) or a winter destination that closes when snow and ice cease to be the major weather stories. When this occurs, do you find yourself putting away the beach toys or the snow gear and pondering where to go next to get your fun on? 

Of course, there are those states in the U.S. that rarely put up those seasonal CLOSED signs. In some cases, these are states that experience plenty of sunshine and warm weather all year, so beach time and water fun is always on the agenda. Or, there are those states that despite a true change in the weather welcome visitors year-round, thanks to the mix of seasonal fun whenever you plan to visit. 

Younger Roosevelt Elk in beautiful majestic lighting
Bald Eagle perched in a tree

The Pacific Northwest falls into the category of cooler weather come winter but the temperature drops here rarely have you hibernating indoors. Daytime temperatures in Oregon typically run in the 40s, with coastal temperatures hovering in the 50s. Of course, there may be rain instead of snow, but it’s still a great time to plan a trip here. 

A good reason for a trip to Oregon is for the whale watching come winter. Gray whales migrate every year from mid-December to mid-January as they travel south to Mexico, and the return journey begins in February and stretches through March. Ecola State Park, near Cannon Beach, is a great spot to watch for whales. Plan a stay at Seaside RV Campground to be near Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park. Other non-human visitors that can be found in the area come winter include Roosevelt Elk and the mighty Bald Eagle. Or, book a stay at Pacific City RV & Camping Resort in Cloverdale and try your luck at crabbing which is best in the winter months. Are you into rocks? Winter in Oregon is a good time to hunt for agate along the beaches as the water levels are lower and the colorful rocks are easier to spot. Another thing to spot come winter are ghost forests, which are actually dead trees in areas that were once forested but rising sea levels changed the height of the landmass. The best places to see a ghost forest would be Neskowin Beach, near Pacific City or Moolack Beach, near Whalers Rest RV & Camping Resort. Another great reason to book a stay at Whalers Rest is the Annual Newport Seafood and Wine Festival, scheduled for February 23-26, 2023. 

Leavenworth Tiny House Village – Leavenworth, WA

Further north in Washington, a little bit of winter weather means a whole lot of winter fun. Leavenworth, Washington, is a great winter destination that offers skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking amidst all the white, fluffy stuff (average winter snowfall is roughly 90 inches and temperatures range in the mid-30s in December and January, and February daytime highs hit 43 degrees). Plus, if you’re a bit cold, you can warm up visiting the shops, wine-tasting rooms, and the Nutcracker Museum in charming downtown Leavenworth. Check out camping and tiny house accommodations at Leavenworth RV Resort. Staying near Seattle, perhaps at a cottage or yurt at Tall Chief RV & Camping Resort? Don’t miss all the winter fun to be had at Snoqualmie Pass. The tubing park, Summit Tubing Park, promises fun for everyone with groomed lanes for snowtubing. Skiers of all levels will enjoy the 1,994 skiable acres here and Nordic skiing and snowshoeing are also available. 

Sun-seekers looking to dip into the sand instead of the snow will never find a “closed for the season” sign when visiting the beaches of California, Florida, and South Texas. California has 420 public beaches along its 800-plus miles of coastline while more than 90% of Florida’s beaches in the Sunshine State are open to the public. And, Texas has that big sandy playground known as South Padre Island, or SPI to the locals. Plenty of sandy spots to choose from whichever state you visit. Some standouts include:

South Ponto Beach (Carlsbad, California): Come winter, this beach boasts free parking along the highway (if you’ve ever looked for beach parking in California, you know this is a highlight). Ease of parking aside, this beach is wide and wonderful with sand dunes and great sunsets. The nearest camping location would be Pio Pico RV Resort & Campground in Jamul. 

The setting sun as seen through the arch at Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach (Big Sur, California): Purple-streaked sand (thanks to mineral deposits), plus beautiful views make this a must-see beach when staying at nearby Marina Dunes RV Park. Keyhole Rock provides the opportunity for great photo ops and if you time your visit right (mid-January), you can experience the golden color phenomenon of the Keyhole Rock Light Show. 

Cocoa Beach (Cocoa Beach, Florida): A great surfing beach for both seasoned and newbies alike, thanks to the calm, consistent waves found here. The 800-foot Cocoa Beach Boardwalk is another reason to visit this east coast beach. Space Coast RV Resort is a great camp location when visiting here. 

Venice Beach (Venice, Florida): A great place to find fossilized shark teeth, if that’s your thing. Yep, Venice is considered the Shark Tooth Capital of the World, but it is also home to six beautiful beaches. Visit them all when you plan a stay Rambler’s Rest RV Resort. Swim, stroll the boardwalk, and soak up the Florida sunshine at the fabulous beaches of Venice. Looking for dog-friendly? Head to South Brohard Beach and Paw Paw Park. Looking to fish? Check out Brohard Beach and Fishing Pier (no fishing license needed). Most popular is the Venice Municipal Beach, which has scuba-diving options. 

Sunrise on South Padre Island Texas

South Padre Island (Texas): This Texas winter getaway destination is practically one giant beach boasting 34 miles of beaches featuring dunes, shells, and plenty of sand to relax on. There are 25 public access points and plenty of water sports to enjoy. Isla Blanca Beach is great for biking and kite flying. Thrive Beach offers spectacular scenic dunes as well as great shelling opportunities. Andy Bowie County Beach Park is great for fishing and swimming and offers beach rentals and food concessions nearby. Other South Padre offerings include the SPI Kite Fest, scheduled for February 2-4, 2023, and the South Padre Sand Sculpture Trail, which features 40 semi-permanent sculptures. If you want to try your hand at sand sculpting, consider taking lessons! Check out for some options.

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