When the days shorten and the holidays approach, December is just around the corner. In northern regions, the last month of the year often means chilly temperatures and snowy skies. But for travel enthusiasts, December means one thing: it’s time to load up the RV and enjoy a winter adventure! We’ve gathered some of our favorite RV destinations for December. From sandy beaches to cultural centers, snowy ski hills to colorful festivals, here are some top picks for your December road trip.
Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
The Bosque del Apached National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place to visit any time of year. But in December, the 57,000-acre reserve is even more special: It’s the winter residence of thousands of migrating sandhill cranes and other migratory birds. In fact, more than 350 species of birds call the refuge home, including cranes, snow geese, bald eagles, and more. Bring your camera and time your visit for the first weekend in December, when the annual Festival of the Cranes is in full swing. Stay about 20 miles away in the town of Soccoro, where you’ll have your pick of eight RV parks.
Carolina Beach State Park, North Carolina
Just south of Wilmington, North Carolina, Carolina Beach State Park offers waterfront camping year-round. It’s a popular spot for anglers and boaters, thanks to easy access to the Intracoastal waterway and the Cape Fear River. After you’ve had your fill of water sports, head to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, where you can get up close with alligators. You’ll also want to explore Fort Fisher, a Civil War historical site on picturesque Kure Beach.
If you’re in the mood for some history but don’t like battling crowds, head to Getysburg, Pennsylvania. The Artillery Ridge Campground is open year-round and offers convenient access to historical battlefield sites around the region. Best of all, it’s within walking distance of Gettysburg. Once you get your fill of Revolutionary War history, you can attend holiday festivals throughout December, including the lights, entertainment, and decor of the Gettysburg Christmas Festival. With so many December activities going on around town, you can take in a show or concert at the Majestic Theater, listen to tubas play holiday music at the Gettysburg Hotel, and take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
For a glimpse of pristine nature at its best, spend a week or two driving the Oregon coast. This stunning stretch encompasses over 360 miles of rugged coastline, punctuated by charming towns and attractions. Don’t-miss spots along the way include the scenic rock formations of Cannon Beach, the town of Astoria (as made famous in the movie The Goonies), the Tillamook Creamery Cheese Factory tour, the adorable town of Florence, and the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center. Stop in Newport to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium and take time to check out the unparalled ocean views at Coquille Point.
In December, temperatures in Biloxi hover in the 60s. It’s a great time to year to explore the lovely Gulf of Mexico, without experiencing that infamous summer humidity. Stay at the Gulf Beach RV Resort, just steps from a sandy beach and perfectly situated for stunning sunsets. The Biloxi area is packed with holiday events this time of year, from the Christmas on the Water lighted boat parade to performances of the Nutcracker at the Beau Rivage Theater downtown.
Jersey City, New Jersey
There’s nowhere quite like New York City to spend the holidays. Imagine strolling through Central Park as the snow falls, or doing your holiday shopping on 5th Avenue… but did you know you can camp within view of the Statue of Liberty? The Liberty Harbor RV Park is within walking distance of the light rail, train, and ferry systems, so you can park your RV and head to Manhattan to explore the sights. The park offers 50 campsites with electricity and water, a restroom with hot showers, and a restaurant on-site. Be sure to set aside an afternoon to stroll through Herald Square and check out the holiday window displays.
South Padre Island, Texas
Dreaming of sand and sun? Set a course for South Padre Island off the Texas coast. Don’t miss the chance to explore the Laguna Madre, a hypersaline (i.e. saltier than the sea) lagoon that offers fishing, swimming, birding, sailing, windsurfing, and paddling. Get back to nature and camp in Padre Island National Seashore; while there are no RV hookups, there is a dump station and a water filling station available for campers. If you prefer a few more creature comforts, stay at the Port Isabel Park Center. This fully gated RV park boasts a heated pool, hot tub, billiards room, pool tables, and a pickleball court.
Tierra Verde, Florida
Spend the winter holidays on the sand at Fort de Soto Beach Park. This lovely state park in Tierra Verde offers waterfront campsites with electricity and water hookups. You can ride bikes, stroll along the fishing pier, and watch the sunset over Tampa Bay. The campground is just a short drive from all the urban amenities of St. Petersburg, like the Imagine Museum of Contemporary Glass Art and the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. During the entire month of December, St. Petersburg sparkles and shines, thanks to thousands of holiday lights and festive displays along the waterfront.
Wasatch Mountain State Park, Utah
If you love playing in the snow, head for Wasatch Mountain State Park. Here you’ll find snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and an Olympic facility. The park is also just an hour or so drive from many of Utah’s world-class ski resorts, including Park City, Deer Valley, Sundance, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude. In early December, don’t miss the Heber City Tree Lighting and Old Fashioned Christmas celebration, complete with entertainment, food trucks and caroling. Be sure to hop on the Heber Valley Railroad for a ride on the North Pole Express!
Death Valley, California
During the summer months, the temperatures in Death Valley regularly reach the 110s (and up), making camping a dicey prospect at best. But in December, the mercury drops to the 50s and 60s, making this desert destination doable. It’s a great place to hike or bike the desert trails, and find your way to the borax mine, the Badwater Basin salt flats, or the badlands. Death Valley is also a designated dark sky area, so bring your telescope and get ready to engage in some amazing stargazing. There are several campgrounds in the park; however, only Furnace Creek offers full hookups, while the other campgrounds offer dry RV camping. Furnace Creek is very popular during the winter, so be sure to make reservations well in advance.
Though the temperatures may be dropping and the days growing ever shorter, December is a fantastic time of year for a road trip. Whether you’re dreaming of snow, stars, sand, or Santa, these 10 destinations around the U.S. won’t disappoint. What’s your favorite December road trip route? Leave us a note in the comments!