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Sweet Southern Camping: Celebrating Dixie at Fun Winter Events

America’s Deep South never got the memo that winter meant huddling inside with a pile of blankets. In the Southeast snowbird region, the sun shines through much of the winter (although there may be a slight chill in the air) and locals welcome snowbird travelers with exciting festivals. Hoist a microbrew or feast on chili at fun-filled gatherings in the South.

Looking to catch some beads? You can find Mardi Gras celebrations throughout the region, not just in New Orleans. Looking for something less boisterous? Treat your snowbird sweetheart to Valentine’s Day treat with legendary Southern cuisine.

Alabama

You’ll find a range of environments in Alabama, from the 150 miles of untamed inland waterways to high-tech rockets in the city of Huntsville. Visit towns like Mobile, the original home of Mardi Gras, or Birmingham, where steel is king.

A mardi gras flag hangs in the wind

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Mardi Gras in Mobile, Jan. 21–Feb. 21, Mobile. For weeks, the streets of downtown mobile bustle with marching bands, colorful floats and costumed revelers in satin and sequins. This is home to “America’s Family Mardi Gras,” so you can bring the kids.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Mobile area:

Wales West RV Resort & Light Railway,Fairhope Wilderness RV Park, Robertsdale

Mardi Gras Festival and Parade, Feb. 18, Wetumpka. Catch some beads at the River Region’s largest Mardi Gras parade. The event culminates with an epic parade, complete with colorful floats and revelers spreading the fun. 

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Wetumpka area:

Capital City RV Park, Montgomery Kountry Air RV Park, Prattville
Montgomery South RV Park & Cabins, Montgomery
Frying shrimp over a grill.

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31st Annual Orange Beach Seafood Festival & Car Show, Feb. 25, Orange Beach. Held at the Wharf, this celebration of Gulf Coast living boasts ​​loads of tasty food, live music on two stages, and more than 125 arts and crafts vendors. Peruse antique and classic cars, as well as hot rods, in a fun and festive setting.

Annual Fort Morgan Oyster Fest, February 25, Fort Morgan. At the tip of the Fort Morgan Peninsula, this event takes place at the Beach Club Resort and Spa. Crack open a juicy seafood treasure and chase it with beer and cocktails served up with Southern flair.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Orange Beach and Fort Morgan area:

Alabama Coast Campground, Foley RV Hideaway Campground, Gulf Shores
Gulf Shores RV Resort, Gulf Shores Sugar Sands RV Resort, Gulf Shores
A rocket looms over a freeway.

Interstate 565 near the Space and Rocket Center. Getty Images

Downtown Mardi Gras Block Party, Feb. 26, Huntsville/Madison. Between Spragins St. and Jefferson St., revelers can enjoy music, food and drink specials from the local restaurants, free beads, and more. North Side Square will be closed between Washington St. and Jefferson St. 

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Huntsville/Madison area:

River Ridge Retreat, Guntersville Windemere Cove RV Resort, Langston
Quail Creek RV Resort, Hartselle

Florida

With warm winter temps and legendary white-sand beaches, Florida ranks as the most-visited state in the U.S. To wit, Walt Disney World in Orlando attracts a whopping 58 million visitors annually — more than twice Florida’s population. Fortunately, vacationers can find plenty of secluded places, including tranquil stretches of beach along its 1,350 miles of coastline. If you prefer to join the crowd, the Sunshine State rolls out a slew of winter festivals for fun-seekers. Check out the following boisterous events.

Cowboy on Bucking Bronco.

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Homestead Rodeo, Jan. 27—29, Homestead. Florida’s “cracker cowboys” showcase their skills in the southernmost rodeo in the continental U.S. Started in 1949, ths is one of the oldest annual professional sporting events in Florida.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Homestead area:

Boardwalk RV Resort, Homestead Miami Everglades Resort, Miami

2023 Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest, January 28, Tampa. Pirates invade Tampa Bay in menacing sailing ships festooned with the Jolly Rogers. Put on your best buccaneer duds for food, music and live entertainment.

Ferris wheel overlooking the water.

Florida State Fair. Getty Images

Florida State Fair, Feb. 9-20, Tampa. Explore a showcase of Florida’s best agriculture, cuisine, livestock and entertainment. You’ll also find plenty of rides and activities.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Tampa area:

Avalon RV Resort, Clearwater Rice Creek RV Resort, Riverview
Scottish Traveler RV Park, Largo Bay Bayou RV Resort, Tampa
Vacation Village RV Resort, Largo Southern Aire RV Resort, Thonotosassa
Yankee Traveler RV Park, Largo

Everglades Seafood Festival, Feb. 17-19, Everglades City. Feast on stone crab in a blockbuster event with country music, carnival rides and craft booths. 

Seafood like shrimp and crawdads on a grill.

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Good Sam Campgrounds in the Everglades City area:

Chokoloskee Island Resort, Chokoloskee Crystal Isles RV Park, Crystal River
Big Cypress RV Resort, Clewiston Northtide Naples RV Resort, Naples

Cortez Fishing Festival, Feb. 18-19, Cortez. This event celebrates a community that has been hauling in the big ones since the 1800s.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Cortez area:

Winter Quarters Manatee RV Resort, Bradenton The Surf RV Resort, Palmetto
Terra Ceia RV Resort, Palmetto Fisherman’s Cove Resort, Tavares

Georgia

As the largest state east of the Mississippi River, Georgia also boasts deep historic roots that encompass the Revolutionary War and Civil War. The Peach Tree State’s dynamic winter festivals show off some of the area’s most interesting facets. Walk a winter wonderland or hoist a beer in sweet Georgia.

Revolutionary war soldiers approach camera.

2023 Colonial Faire & Muster, Feb. 4-5, Savannah. Learn about military history and watch dramatic reenactments unfold right before your eyes at Wormsloe State Historic Site.

2023 Savannah Irish Festival, Feb. 11, Savannah. Why wait for St. Paddy’s Day? Honor the city’s rich Irish heritage at Savannah Station with traditional Irish music, dancing, libations and cuisine.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Savannah area:

Biltmore RV Park, Savannah Savannah Oaks RV Resort, Savannah
CreekFire RV Resort, Savannah River’s End Campground, Tybee Island
Red Gate Campground & RV Park, Savannah

Atlanta Winter Beer Fest, February 11, Atlanta. Held at Atlantic Station, this annual event celebrates every manner of suds, from IPAs to stouts. Food, music and wine are on tap as well.

Beers lined up in a row.

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Good Sam Campgrounds in the Atlanta area:

Sweetwater Creek RV Reserve, Austell Atlanta South RV Resort, McDonough
Allatoona Landing Marine Resort, Cartersville Stone Mountain Park Campground, Stone Mountain
Atlanta-Marietta RV Resort, Marietta

Party Gras on the Coast, Feb. 18, Darien. Sign up for a variety of rides along Georgia’s Atlantic coast, from short, 25-mile tours to a 3-mile Slow Roll. 

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Darien area:

Southern Retreat RV Park, Brunswick Lake Harmony RV Park and Campground, Townsend

Jekyll Island Plein Air +, Feb. 23-26, Jekyll Island. The Jekyll Island Historic District welcomes art lovers with exhibitions of paintings, pottery and crafts. Take a class to learn new techniques.

Camping in the Brunswick area:

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick

Louisiana

The Pelican State is ground zero for Mardi Gras festivities, but it’s also home to rich foods, vibrant Acadian culture and some of the most gorgeous landscapes in the world. Sample Louisiana’s best offerings at some of the fun gatherings held throughout the state. 

Revelers in Mardi Gras attire.

New Orleans Mardi Gras. Getty Images

Algiers Mardi Gras Festival, Feb. 4, New Orleans. You may have a hard time choosing a Mardi Gras event that suits your tastes, but this is a good starting point. The event features a community parade, succulent N’awlins food and rollicking zydeco, blues and jazz music. The parade starts at Lamarque Street and L.B. Landry Avenue.

Krewe of Cleopatra Parade, Feb. 10, New Orleans. Honoring the famous Queen of ancient Egypt, this parade starts at Jefferson Avenue and Magazine Street and features majestic women on opulent floats.

Mardi Gras revelers riding on a float.

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Mardi Gras Day, Feb. 21 New Orleans. Mardi Gras Day, also known as Fat Tuesday, marks the final day of the carnival season and ranks as the peak party of Mardi Gras. See the Skull and Bone Gang, who walk the streets wearing skeleton costumes and banging on drums, or watch the beloved Zulu Krewe.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the New Orleans area:

Land-O-Pines Family Campground, Covington Pine Crest RV Park of New Orleans, Slidell
Jude Travel Park of New Orleans, New Orleans

An Elvis impersonator emotes into a microphone.

The Louisiana Elvis Festival, Feb. 23, Alexandria. Elvis fans will descend on the Coughlin Saunders Performing Arts Center to see Elvis tribune artists shake their bodies and curl their lips. A series of production shows include the King Creole Extravaganze, the Elvis ’68 Comeback and, of course, Elvis in Louisiana.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Alexandria area:

Shady Lake RV Park, Leesville Paragon Casino RV Resort, Marksville
Nakatosh Campground, Natchitoches

225 Fest, Feb. 25, Baton Rouge. This inaugural event kicks off in the capital’s downtown area on N.  Fourth St. and the Capital Park Museum. The event celebrates the region’s rich history as well as the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. 

Camping in the Baton Rouge area:

Poche Plantation RV Resort, Convent

Mississippi

The birthplace of Elvis Presley boasts a cultural heritage that encompasses the development of the blues, a strong literary tradition (William Faulkner hailed from here) and compelling history. Travelers can immerse themselves in Magnolia State tradition at a bevy of fairs and festivals.

Shotgun Entertainment Fighting Championships, February 4, Southaven. See some of the world’s finest Mixed Martial Arts combatants compete in the octagon in the Landers Center. 

Competing MMA fighters throw fists.

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Southern Flea Market, Feb. 18-19, Southhaven, Mississippi. Browse amazing treasures from antiques to classic albums.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Southaven area:

Memphis-South RV Park & Campground, Coldwater Hollywood Casino Hotel & RV Park, Tunica
EZ Daze RV Park, Southaven

Dixie National Livestock Show & Rodeo, February 18, Jackson. One of the premier events in the rodeo world features roping, bronco bucking and barrel racing at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. 

Silhouette of young female guitarist isolated on gradient background in neon.

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Mississippi Blues Marathon, Feb. 25, Jackson. Need a cure for the blues? Participate in a marathon, half-marathon, 10k or 5k run, or watch blues musicians performing live in Jackson. Savor refreshments and great Magnolia State foods.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Jackson area:

Movietown RV Park, Canton Wendy Oaks RV Resort, Florence
Springridge RV Park/Mobile Home Estates, Clinton Green Tree RV Park & Campground, Morton

Mardi Gras Parade, February 21, Biloxi. This Mardi Gras celebration is touted with the “greatest free show on the Coast,” with colorful floats and lots of beads flying through the air. Making an appearance are King d’Iberville and Queen Ixolib, both considered official royalty of this event.

Good Sam Campgrounds in Biloxi:

Boomtown Casino RV Park, Biloxi Majestic Oaks RV Resort, Biloxi
Cajun RV Park, Biloxi

Texas

Texas has more land area than any other state in the Lower 48, giving snowbirds plenty of options for fun in the sun. Visitors are bound to find sun-soaked river banks or ocean shores for relaxation. Discover nature, festivity and wild urban adventures in the Lone Star State. 

A pair of birdwatchers in a natural setting

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The 11th Laredo Birding Festival, Feb. 1–4, Laredo. This event involves several trips to bird-rich environments along the Rio Grande. participants met at the La Posada Hotel before departure for their trip. Field guides lead birders to see a rich variety of species, from cinnamon teals to white-tailed kites.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Laredo area:

Stinson RV Park, Campbell Amigo Inn & RV Park, Zapata
Cotulla/Nueces River KOA, Cotulla

Jo’s Annual Chili Cook-Off, Feb. 5, Austin. Savor some of the finest chili on the face of the earth, as amateur and professional cooks showcase their concoctions at Jo’s Coffee at 1300 South Congress Ave. Music by Jeff Hughes and Chaparral rounds out the event.

Preparing large batches of chili for a chili cook-off competition.

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Good Sam Campgrounds in the Austin area:

Oak Forest RV Resort, Austin East View RV Ranch, Georgetown
Buda Place RV Resort, Buda Pecan Park Riverside RV Park, San Marcos
Berry Springs RV Park, Georgetown

San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, Feb. 9–26, San Antonio. Approximately 15 million visitors descend on the San Antonio Fairgrounds to watch rode action in the Freehan Coliseum Complex. A barbecue cookoff, Western Heritage Parade and Let’s Rodeo Ball highlight the event.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the San Antonio area:

Alamo River Ranch RV Park, San Antonio Mission City RV Park, San Antonio
Braunig Lake RV Resort, San Antonio Tejas Valley RV Park, San Antonio

Mardi Gras Galveston, Feb. 10–21, Galveston. More than 3 million beads will be thrown by the riders of floats in the Lone Star State’s biggest Mardi Gras event. Watch parades, enjoy entertainment and attend the Airstream Rally.

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Galveston area:

Camp Margaritaville RV Resort Crystal Beach, Crystal Beach Sandpiper RV Resort, Galveston
Jamaica Beach RV Resort, Galveston Safari Mobile Home & RV Community, League City
Whooping Crane in Flight

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Whooping Crane Festival, February 23–26, Port Aransas. Join fellow bird lovers to witness the annual return of the cranes in their winter habitat at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Located on the Texas Coastal Bend, Port Aransas is the only place to see this awesome spectacle. 

Good Sam Campgrounds in the Port Aransas area:

Southern Oaks RV Resort, Aransas Pass Reel Chill RV Resort, Rockport
Pioneer Beach Resort, Port Aransas Rockport RV Ranch, Rockport
Quilly’s Big Fish RV Park, Rockport

 

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