Off-the-radar locations you can still book to get away this winter

Broadry Outdoors

(Broadry) — So many of us are looking to escape the brutal cold this season. But with so many people having the same goal, sunny destinations are in their peak seasons. This often means paying peak prices for crowded hotels and waiting in long lines everywhere you go. Unless you know the right places to go where you can avoid the crowds while still soaking in the sun. Here are some top picks!

Skip South Beach and enjoy an escape to the Everglades.

What To Do: Experience the lush surroundings of Everglades National Park, throw caution to the wind on an airboat ride, tour the Everglades via tram with Shark Valley Tram Tours, take a tropical cornucopia tour at the Redland Tropical Gardens, experience the only tropical botanical gardens of its kind at the Fruit & Spice Park, walk the 0.8-mile, wildlife-filled Anhinga Trail, get in touch with your wild side at the Zoological Wildlife Foundation, the Miami Zoo or the Monkey Jungle Zoo, or enjoy a day trip to Biscayne National Park.

Where To Stay: Miami Everglades RV Resort (rentals or tent sites)

Miami Everglades RV Resort
Miami Everglades RV Resort. Credit: Jerome Braga

Enjoy the lush, tropical setting of this beautiful resort as you take advantage of an array of activities. Amenities include a swimming pool, whirlpool spa, mini-golf, pickleball, volleyball, basketball, and dog park. Bring your RV or choose from a variety of rental accommodations. Have a crowd? Rent the bunk house, which sleeps up to 16 guests! Lodge rentals sleep up to 8 guests, deluxe cabins accommodate 6 and standard cabins sleep 4.

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Phoenix is nice, but the real sun is in Yuma.

What To Do: With 308 days of sunshine a year, Yuma is considered the sunniest city in the U.S., and there’s much fun to be had in all that sunshine. While Yuma is not known for its beaches, you can still get your fill of sand at the Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area. Visitors of all ages will enjoy a trip to Yuma Territorial Prison State Park, which is now operated as a historical museum and is on the National Register of Historic Places. For a day on the water, try Waylon’s Water World, complete with slides, tube rides and a lazy river. The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is a more than 665,000 acre preserve that is ideal for hiking, sightseeing and photography.

Where To Stay: Cactus Gardens RV Resort

Situated just south of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, this resort offers access to nature trails as well as on-site amenities including a clubhouse, swimming pool, whirlpool spa, business center, game room, shuffleboard and library. Bring your RV or rent a vacation cottage that sleeps up to four guests.

Adios, Austin. Say hello to Harlingen.

What To Do: Located in the heart of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen offers an amazing array of destinations where visitors can be immersed in nature and experience the arts. The Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Hugh Ramsey Nature Park, Harlingen Thicket and Harlingen Thicket World Birding Center are a few of the popular destinations where visitors enjoy outdoor activities like bird watching, photography, hiking or biking. Additionally, Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum, Freddy Fender Museum, the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, and the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame & Museum in neighboring San Benito are wonderful places to enjoy music and cultural attractions.

Where To Stay: Sunshine RV Resort

Sunshine RV Resort
Credit: Sunshine RV Resort

This resort serves as a fantastic home base as you explore the Rio Grande Valley. Enjoy amenities including a swimming pool, whirlpool spa, fitness center, game room, business center and restaurant, along with an array of planned activities to keep you entertained. Bring your RV or get comfortable in a vacation cottage that sleeps up to four guests.

Orlando is out; enjoy a nature-filled visit to Eustis.

What To Do: Enjoy a stroll through Ferran Park and along the Eustis Lake Walk in downtown Eustis off the shores of Lake Eustis. Beginner hikers will enjoy exploring the 230-acre Trout Lake Nature Center, including hiking trails and picnic spots, while those looking for more of a workout on their hike should check out Hidden Waters Preserve. Looking for some time on the water? Take a guided kayak, birding or eco-tour with Central Florida Nature Adventures. Those who prefer the wind in your hair can rent an ATV for a day with World Adventures ATV Tours and ride through Ocala National Forest. After all that time outdoors, take in a live theater production at the State Theater of Eustis, home of the Bay Street Players. End your day with a visit to Wolf Branch Brewing featuring nine brews on tap. Enjoy a flight of beer or take a brewery tour.

Where To Stay: Southern Palms RV Resort

Southern Palms RV Resort
Credit: Southern Palms RV Resort

Activities abound at Southern Palms, where you can be as busy as you wish. Choose from water aerobics, yoga classes, dances, bowling, billiards, bocce ball, crafts, painting classes, group trips and more. Resort amenities include a swimming pool, whirlpool spa, fitness center, game room, library, bocce and dog park. Bring your RV or rent a park model cottage that sleeps four guests.

History buff? Opt out of Orlando for a visit to Clermont.

What To Do: Explore Clermont’s Historic Village, on the shores of beautiful Lake Minneola. The Historic Village features several original structures from the early days of Clermont in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Get an up-close look at this historic architecture, including the renovated Depot building, which are open to the public as museums. The town also boasts the President’s Hall of Fame, complete with miniature White House replica, wax figures of the presidents, and a robotic version of Abraham Lincoln. Visit one of Florida’s very first attractions, the Citrus Tower, built in 1956. The enclosed observation deck showcases a panoramic view of the 8 counties surrounding Clermont. When you’re ready for some fresh air, try canoeing at Palatlakaha River Park, a beautiful area between Lake Louisa and Lake Susan offering a convenient launch point to the tranquil river. There’s no shortage of boating opportunities with the Clermont Chain of Lakes, offering over 9,000 acres of lake surface to enjoy. The chain is comprised of 13 lakes connected by channels that are perfect for a day’s adventure. Those who prefer to stay landside will enjoy hiking or biking at Crooked River Preserve, a nearly 2-mile loop that features a wide variety of natural habitats on Lake Wales Ridge.

Where To Stay: Clerbrook Golf & RV Resort

Clerbrook Golf & RV Resort
Credit: Clerbrook Golf & RV Resort

Nestled among 18 challenging holes of golf, interconnecting ponds and canals is Clerbrook Golf & RV Resort. The property features planned activities and amenities such as a swimming pool, a whirlpool spa, fitness center, playground, business center, game room and a dog park. Bring your RV or rent one of the vacation cabins, cottages and villas that sleep up to four guests.

Swap the city of San Diego for the natural beauty of Jamul.

Lower Otay Lake is an outstanding destination for fishing, where you can reel in bass, catfish, crappie and bluegill. At the southern end you’ll find Otay Lakes County Park, spanning nearly 80 acres and offering beautiful views of the lake, with hiking trails from easy to challenging. McGinty Mountain provides another great option for hiking enthusiasts, standing at more than 2,100 feet. Those looking for a true escape can explore the Otay Mountain Wilderness Area, which offers more than 16,000 acres of challenging recreational activities and opportunities to enjoy nature and solitude. Hiking, biking and even horseback riding are all available at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge in Jamul. This destination is a must for any birding or photography enthusiast. After a day of adventure, enjoy an evening of gaming at Jamul Casino where you can enjoy several diverse restaurants, live entertainment and over 1,600 games to play. 

Where To Stay: Pio Pico RV Resort

Thousand Trails
Credit: Thousand Trails

Nestled in a picturesque valley, mountain views surround this resort. The property features resort-style amenities, including multiple swimming pools, a whirlpool spa, mini-golf, pickleball, volleyball, basketball, softball, game room and more. And don’t leave your four-legged friend behind, as this destination is pet friendly, complete with on-site dog park. Bring your RV or rent a cottage or cabin that sleeps up to six.

Advertiser’s disclosure: If you click a link in this article, we may earn a commission. This article contains references to products or services from our advertisers.

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