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Snowbird destinations: Southern California

November 18, 2010 by · 3 Comments 


We’ve lived most of our life in the prairie province of Alberta. To say we’ve experienced long cold and snowy winters is an understatement. Fourteen years ago, we reached the point of “Enough Already”. So we packed up the RV, hit the road, and headed south—south to California to San Diego and Palm Springs.

Winter weather is close to perfect in the Coachella Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Frostbitten Northerners west of the Great Lakes have been attracted to Southern California for many decades. In recent years Easterners have also discovered the “Golden State” in record numbers.

California’s nickname derives from the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s—but is also earned, because RVing in California offers a golden opportunity for Snowbirds escaping the ravages of a Northern winter.

As the third largest state in the U.S., California has so many different and unique landscapes—deserts, mountains, valleys, canyons, large cities and small towns, and more than 1,000 miles of breathtaking coastline.

Palm Springs

The majority of Snowbirds who make Southern California their winter home, head for the Coachella Valley with its 10 desert resort cities—Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Thousand Palms, Indio, and Bermuda Dunes.

An estimated three million people visit the area each year, mostly during the winter months.

Majestic mountain vistas in a kaleidoscope of superb colors surround you. From the snowcapped peaks of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains to the native palms of the Indian Canyons, the Coachella Valley offers a wide variety of sights and experiences for the visitor.

This is desert country with an occasional oasis—some natural but mostly man-made.

Desert Hot Springs is a popular area for Snowbirds. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Known world-wide as “the golfer’s paradise,” golf courses abound here. You’ll find the most luxurious fairways, beautifully manicured greens, and superbly designed courses.

The fashionable desert resort city of Palm Springs lies at the foot of 10,804-foot San Jacinto Peak. Palm Springs is synonymous with the good life—a retreat of the rich and famous, the ultimate in resort living. Swimming pools and fairways almost overlap each other. People who can afford to winter anywhere in the U.S. often do it here where the winter weather is close to perfect.

Some become residents—and to be certain that you know this, the city leaders have named major streets and golf tournaments after them—Frank Sinatra, Gerald Ford, Gene Autry, Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, and Fred Waring.

Palm Desert, home to the fashionable Palm Desert Town Center shopping mall and the exclusive El Paseo shopping arcade, also boasts one of the desert’s unique tributes to nature. Visitors to the Living Desert may view hundreds of fascinating desert animals, walk through eight different deserts, hike over five miles of scenic trails, and enjoy a variety of special exhibits.

The city of Indian Wells, a desert oasis of lush, impeccable landscaping and towering date palm groves, is home to some of the wealthiest retirees who flock to world-class golf courses once played by Bing Crosby and Dwight D. Eisenhower. A destination of the privileged class, Indian Wells resorts are some of the world’s finest desert getaways.

Campgrounds for Snowbirds are plentiful in Southern California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Indio, Coachella Valley’s oldest and largest city, is considered the Date Capital of the U.S. Date farms and vendors dot this area heading southward toward the Salton Sea. Ninety five percent of the America’s date crop is produced in this area. Indio is a distribution point for the dates, grapefruit, grapes, and melons grown in the Coachella Valley.


The second largest concentration of snowbirds is found in the Hemet area. Located 35 miles southeast of Riverside, Hemet is in the San Jacinto Valley. Long known as a prime agricultural area, Hemet has developed into a major trading area for western Riverside County and is well established as a retirement center.

Numerous destination-type recreational vehicle parks include Golden Village Palms RV Resort, Mountain Valley RV Resort, and Casa Del Sol RV Resort & Community.

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Worth Pondering…

One of the things I had a hard time getting used to when I came to California in ’78 was Santa Claus in shorts.

—Dennis Franz

If you enjoyed this article, you might also wish to read

Snowbird destinations: Where to stay?

Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Springs, CA

If you enjoy these articles and want to read more on RV travels and lifestyle, visit my new website: Vogel Talks RVing.


3 Responses to “Snowbird destinations: Southern California”
  1. Alden says:

    Great article Rex!

    Its neat to see a reference to the Living Desert, probably my favorite zoo I’ve ever been to.

    Some of the snow-bird destinations you mention almost make me wish I lived in a colder climate so I could justify taking a trip to some of these places in the winter.

    Love that palm tree picture too.

  2. Tom says:

    Good article. I grew up in Ohio and know a thing or two about bad winters as well! As such, I also moved down to San Diego to escape. I’m actually getting ready right now to take off and go camping at Anza-Borrego State park in the Southern California desert. I’ve been there a few times and find it as a great get away spot from the city and a little less crowded then Palm Springs. I just wanted to share my enjoyment of this desert spot with some nice oasis’ as well!


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