Daytona Beach: A Modern Fountain of Youth for Canadian Snowbirds

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When Spanish explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de León set out in 1513 for the fountain of youth, he reportedly discovered DeLeon Springs, located west of Daytona Beach, Florida. Although the story of Ponce de León and the fountain of youth is supported by very little historical evidence, it’s not hard to see why people link the Daytona Beach area to that idyllic, mythical location.

Daytona Beach is the perfect place for the young at heart with first-class shopping, dining and golf nestled along an area that’s been recognized since the 1920’s as the “world’s best beach.” At Daytona Beach visitors can choose speed, nature, exploration or relaxation – with something for every personality, it’s the perfect spot for Canadian snowbirds to spend the winter months.

The Daytona Beach area consists of several cities and towns including Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Ponce Inlet, Port Orange, South Daytona and Holly Hill. And while the beach is reason in and of itself to visit, it’s not the only reason to choose to winter in Daytona Beach.

The Daytona International Speedway

Stretching for miles, the hard packed sand makes it possible to drive on the beach. Before the Daytona International Speedway was built, professional drivers would race on the thinkstockphotos-594939260Daytona Beach Road Course – a course that was part beach, part highway. Today the Daytona 500 has moved to the Speedway, but cars are still allowed to go through the beach during the day (but not faster than 16 km/hour). For anyone looking for a faster pace, the Daytona 500 and Daytona International Speedway are attractions that draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

A Scenic Ocean Drive for History Buffs

In search of more than just a warm place to spend the winter? Snowbirds interested in history can visit the city of St. Augustine, home to the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. The scenic route from Daytona Beach to St. Augustine along state road A1A  is a drive of about 50 miles that hugs the coast, which means you’ll be able to see and hear the Atlantic Ocean the whole way. If you don’t have a convertible, consider renting one for the day – you’ll be glad you did.

An area steeped in deep maritime and American history, other Daytona historical attractions worth visiting include:

Nature Lover’s Paradise

thinkstockphotos-91057461-1If you love nature, then Daytona Beach won’t disappoint. Manatees are known to swim in the area’s rivers and canals, endangered sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches and migrating whales can be seen from the shores during the winter months.

 

Avid birders might catch a glimpse of a wood stork, bald eagle, or American oystercatcher on one of these popular nature trails:

Whether you want to go fishing, or are happy to watch the wildlife from the shore, you’ll find plenty of unique opportunities to get up close with nature at Daytona Beach.

Places to Stay in Daytona Beach

Although Daytona Beach has plenty of motels, hotels, cottages and B&B rentals, for Canadian Snowbirds looking to stay the entire winter, or even a few weeks, a RV resort is the most economical option. There are three beautiful Encore RV resorts in the area just waiting for you. 

Sunshine Holiday Daytona RV Resort is just minutes away from the famous Daytona sunshine-holiday-swimming-poolSpeedway. Known for it’s friendly community, this beautiful RV park is the perfect place to retreat from winter, relax, have fun and make lasting friendships. Central to the beach and close to historic St. Augustine this RV resort is a popular North Daytona choice.

Rose Bay RV Resort is known as a tropical camping paradise. This community is perfect for anyone who loves to fish. The ocean fishing here is fantastic and the resort is located next to Daytona’s famous white, sandy beaches. Whether you relax by the pool, explore, or visit local attractions, at Rose Bay you’ll love to come home at the end of a fun-filled day to the countless amenities that will make your stay comfortable and _mg_1798-1relaxing.

Friendly neighbors and an on-site shop, bar and activities centre makes Bulow RV Resort feel like a small-town community, which is why it’s a popular winter home for many Canadian snowbirds. Golfers will love Bulow RV Resort which provides incredible access to a number of outdoor recreational activities in Flagler Beach, Daytona Beach and St. Augustine – including six golf courses. If you’re looking to experience nature, then you’ll appreciate the opportunities to boat, fish, hike and cycle at this community._mg_3248-1

For the young at heart, Daytona Beach is the perfect place to spend the winter. No matter where you stay there’s something nearby that will suit your interests, mood and hobby. Whether you’re looking to play, relax, or explore you’ll make lasting memories at Daytona Beach.

Interested in visiting Daytona Beach? Let us know by leaving a comment!

South Padre Island: A Taste of the Tropics off the Texas Coast

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Take a Tropical Holiday

Take a holiday on a tropical island that is known for its captivating fireworks for six months of the year. It’s a place where you can walk 55 km (34 mi) of the widest and cleanest beaches anywhere. Try your hand at windsurfing or go dolphin watching. You don’t have to go that far to find this year-round paradise. It’s right off the coast of Texas in Cameron County and it’s called South Padre Island. Even in January you’ll find the temperatures here around 20C (68F).

Stay with Us, Visit the Island

There are about 10 Encore RV Resorts near South Padre Island. Many are under an hour’s drive away. South Padre Island is easily accessible from the Queen Isabella Causeway in Port Isabel. Take State Park Road 100 and head over for some island fun.

We’ve put together a few things together that you might enjoy for your day trips to South Padre Island.

Nature Lovers Rejoice

thinkstockphotos-177884449The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Centre is a bird watcher’s mecca. Bring your binoculars and hunker down in one of the five bird blinds. There are over 3,300 linear feet of boardwalk here and a five-story tower where you can take in the beautiful land and ocean views.

Head over to Sea Turtle, Inc., and learn about their mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release sea turtles. The turtles are housed here until they can return to their natural habitat.

For something more out in the open, how about a whale and/or dolphin watching tour. Head out on an ocean cruise designed with dolphin watching in mind. There are several dolphin pods that live in the waters here year round.

Life’s a Beach

The beaches of South Padre Island were made for relaxing. As the island is only .8 of a km wide (.5 mi) you’re always just steps away from the ocean. Mild temperatures, calm warm water and sunshine are the perfect mixture for your day away on the beach. You can even take lessons on how to build the best sandcastles!

Get your cowboy on and saddle up for a ride on the beach or try watersports like thinkstockphotos-147286721parasailing, kiteboarding, and jet skiing. Test your balance with Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) or fly boarding. This is a water babies’ playground with several service providers ready to rent and/or teach you.

When it comes to fishing, you can take your pick of onshore, offshore or even deep sea fishing. Bring your own boat, or rent one here. If you prefer, cast from the shoreline and see what’s biting. There are restaurants in the area that will be happy to cook up whatever you catch.

Above and Below the Waves

Put on your life jacket, grab a paddle and head out on an adventure in a kayak or canoe. Perhaps you’d prefer to strap on a helmet and head out on a jet ski! There are 1.5-hour jet ski water tours for those of you that want a fast ride through the waves while sightseeing. For something a bit slower, hop aboard a six-person inflatable banana boat! There are several providers in the area that will rent you whatever you need for your above the water fun.

Dive beneath the waves and explore a world seldom seen by others. Many vendors here will teach you how to do basic open water dives. For those of you with experience, try a dive down to the sunken Texas Clipper. Get up close and personal to the sea life as you explore their world. You can rent equipment here, or bring your own. Either way it’s an thinkstockphotos-479607710experience you won’t’ soon forget.

Not ready for diving? How about snorkeling! Explore the Laguna Madre Estuary where the water is only one to two meters (three to six feet) deep, making in perfect for all experience levels from beginner to advanced.

Pamper, Relax, Repeat

For a small island, South Padre has some great shopping. You’ll find some great gifts for yourself and for friends back home. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping it’s time to step into one of their many spas and pamper yourself. Feel your cares melt away with a massage from one of their relaxation specialists.

Once your outsides have been taken care of, it’s time to treat your insides to some delicious treats. There are over 50 restaurants, bars and nightclubs on South Padre Island. There’re burgers and beachside grills and lots of places for seafood. There are several ethnic eateries on the island too as well as well-known fast food joints.

Once you’ve taken care of your body, it’s time to go out dancing, sing some Karaoke, or settle back for some nighttime fireworks displays.

Whatever you choose to do, whatever time of day, or season, you’re sure to have warm memories of your time at South Padre Island.

Comment below and let us know if you’re interested in visiting South Padre Island!

Tips & Tricks: Backing Up Your 5th Wheel

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There are a few parts of RV ownership – specifically, 5th wheel ownership – that are a bit intimidating. For one thing, it is a significant financial investment to purchase a 5th wheel, so that is an early hurdle that you will need to clear. Also, driving such a big rig down the road can be intimidating to those with no experience, as driving a truck and 5th wheel is a big departure from piloting a sedan. However, the biggest challenge to 5th wheel ownership for most people is going to be the issue addressed in the title of this post – backing up the rig.

Backing up a 5th wheel is a challenge on multiple fronts. For one thing, the rig is rather large, so you may feel nervous moving in backward into an area that you can’t really see. Also, the rig is going to move in the opposite direction as your vehicle, so you will have to learn how to ‘dance’ with the 5th wheel in order to place it in exactly the right spot.

If you are struggling to back up your 5th wheel successfully, or if you would just like to have some tips in mind before trying for the first time, review the points below.

It’s All About Opposites

As mentioned above, you have to think ‘opposite’ when you want to back up a 5th wheel. At first, the fact that the 5th wheel moves opposite of your vehicle is likely to throw you for a loop, but you will get used to this factor relatively quickly. Try to find an open parking lot or another safe place to practice backing up and you will start to naturally respond to the way the trailer moves in reverse.

Go Slow

You don’t need to be in a rush to back up your 5th wheel properly. Take it slow, especially at first, and only keep moving back when you are confident in the direction that you are going. Don’t worry if other people are watching or even waiting – it isn’t worth pushing your 5th wheel into a bad spot just because you are trying to get out of the way.

Have a Spotter

This is perhaps the most important piece of advice that you can receive. If you are backing up your 5th wheel into any kind of a tight spot, have a trusted spotter and use them to direct your movements. If necessary, pick up some two-way radios to communicate between the cab and the spotter with ease. Or, if you prefer not to use radios, develop a few hand signals that you can use to make sure you are on the same page. Of course, you don’t want to back up into your spotter, so make sure you can see them at all times while the vehicle is in motion.

Stay on Driver’s Side

If at all possible, work on backing into spots that are on the same side of the vehicle as the driver. It is more difficult to go to the other side, as it will be harder to see as you back up. An experienced 5th wheel driver may be able to go the other way without too much effort, but stick to the driver’s side until you have confidence in your skills.

Spend Time Practicing

Just like any other skill in life, the only way to master backing up in your 5th wheel is to practice on a regular basis. If you are willing to put in some practice time in a nearby parking lot (or even in your own driveway, if it is big enough), you should be able to develop your 5th wheel backing skills in short order.

Have any tips of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments section!

Story courtesy of Snowbirds & RV Travelers Magazine

Meet Rosa from Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina in the Florida Keys

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• Name: Rosa Cimino
In position since: July 2015
Title: Resort Manager
Work Location: Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina
Favorite Activity: Enjoying time with my family

1. How does a typical day at Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina look like? What is your favorite moment of the day?

My favorite moment starts with my drive to work. The view of the island from the 7 mile bridge is spectacular. Seeing the park full of RV’s starts my day with a smile. I also enjoy the variety each day brings – interacting with guests, working with colleagues and relating dsc_9685-1with staff. These moments are all opportunities to expand the guest’s experience.

2. You are working, while people at the park are enjoying their vacation. How do you handle that?
It’s a joy to know that my work directly results in our guests enjoying their time on the island! To me, that joy hardly makes it feel like work.

3. When people ask you what the best experiences are in the surrounding areas, what would you recommend?
Surrounded by the ocean our guests enjoy fishing, swimming, and kayaking right from our shores. We are also just 2 miles from the award-winning beaches at Bahia Honda State

Park, where you can also roam the trails and see a real piece of the historic Flagler railroad bridge. Ten minutes in either direction you will find excellent dining, shopping and areas to explore.

4. What’s your favorite story to tell about your time at Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina?
We were lucky enough to have our property picked as a staging and filming site for a major movie production. Hosting Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren was an experience all our guests and staff will not soon forget!

5. What’s your best accomplishment so far at Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina?
We have a wonderful team that works hard to ensure our guests’ needs are met at every turn. The revamped play area and tennis/pickleball courts look amazing. I’m also proud of playarea-1the new branding and signage we’ve created. With a list of projects on the horizon, each trip will bring new discoveries.

6. If had to describe your RV park to someone who thinks about coming to Sunshine Key, what would you say?
I always say that Sunshine Key is a private island in the middle of paradise. Our resort is located on the 75-acre island of Ohio Key, near Big Pine Key in the lower Florida Keys. It provides the perfect gateway for ocean activities, or just relaxing at the water’s edge.. Our marina also offers the RV adventurer unprecedented access to a tropical island environment.

7. What brought you to Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina?
img_3009-1I had worked at Disney for 20 years and was ready for new challenges and a new environment. When the opportunity arose, the timing was perfect for a change of life and the chance to move my family to the paradise of the Florida Keys.

8. Any last words for your current and future guests?
We have an amazing resort, wonderful guests and a remarkable staff. Sunshine Key has everything from boating to kayaking to fishing to swimming all on our own private island.
Come make some new friends, meet old friends or just soak in the rhythm of island living.

Mesa Spirit – The Mega RV Resort with Down Home Hospitality in Arizona

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RVers know it’s a treat to find an RV resort that offers great amenities and activities and has the feel of a close-knit community. At Mesa Spirit RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona, they have it all: 1,667 spaces with full hookups and a seasoned, friendly staff. Thousands of returning visitors call this their home away from home.

Everyone Welcome!

Travel 30 minutes SW of Phoenix, just west of the stunning Superstition Mountains and you’ll find Mesa Spirit RV Resort. This age-qualified community is pet friendly, so you don’t have to worry about leaving your fur kids behind. You’ll see all shapes and sizes of RVs here from camper vans to big rigs. For those who don’t want to make the drive down, Mesa Spirit has homes for rent and for sale. And, it’s only 25 minutes from the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway International airport. Being a snowbird has never been easier!

Sense of Community

Bernice Gruchalla is a snowbird who has come to Mesa Spirit every year for the past 43 years. “The people here are fantastic,” she said. “I’m 103 and the weather is great and the activities keep me very busy. I enjoy taking the bus tours to the casinos.” Bernice loves the sense of belonging she has at Mesa Spirit. “People know me. It’s like living in a small
town It’s great to see the same people every year. I know most of the staff and residents. It’s the best park in valley.”mesaspirit_5-1

Lyse Dorrington is a Canadian from Victoria, BC who comes to Mesa Spirit for five to six months of the year and has for the past 16 years. “I don’t have a car,” she said. “I fly in and take the light rail system and buses everywhere. The park takes us out twice a week
to get groceries. I bought my place in 2001 and I love the weather, it’s almost always sunny.” Lyse is also one of the volunteers at Mesa Spirit. “I run the Mahjongg and Euchre games every week. I’m also the librarian. We lend books on a trust system. You know your neighbors here. You feel part of the community and you can be as social or as private as you want. There’s always free coffee and really nice people in the main office.”

The Great Outdoors

One of the great things about Arizona in the winter, is being in the great outdoors. The Grand Canyon is a four-hour drive away and makes for a great road trip. For something closer to home, take a hike at Usery Mountain Regional Park, a short 25-minute drive from the resort. The lower trails here are great for hikers of all ages and abilities.

Riverview Park is 15 minutes from the resort and has a Community Fishing Program, which means you can fish to your hearts content or four trout and four catfish a day, whichever comes first. Riverview is also the spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs.

Golf Anyone?

For some, Mesa, AZ is a golf mecca. Beginners and pros alike flock here for the courses and the breathtaking views. A backdrop of blue skies and mountains makes your day on the course even more memorable. Golf once a week or once a day, there are enough courses here to keep you busy. If you don’t want to drive, the resort has a golf simulator.img_2381-1

Some of the courses within 30-minute drive of Mesa Spirit Resort include the famous Las Sendas Golf Club, as well as Longbow, Dobson Ranch, Kokopelli, Toka Sticks, Superstition Mountain, Apache Creek and Painted Mountain. You can also visit ViewPoint RV & Golf Resort, a sister Encore property that boasts an 18-hole championship and a 9-hole executive course that will satisfy players of all abilities.

Get Out and About

Mesa was made for getting out and about and having fun. Go soaring high in the Sonoran skies in a hot air balloon, or skydive from 10,000 feet! There’s even indoor skydiving. Hop on a bike, or the back of a trusty steed, or jump in a Jeep or Hummer and tour the area.

For something more laid back, head out wine tasting, take a boat cruise, visit the Phoenix Zoo or tour the Desert Botanical Garden. There’s an olive mill for great olive oils and plenty of area farms where you can buy everything from peaches to pumpkins direct from the farmers. Ask about the Fresh Foodie Trail.

Shop until you drop and then head to the spa! There are several great places to shop here. There are malls and downtown Mesa has several unique boutiques and shops as well as salons and spas. As for casinos, there are at least 10 within an hour of Mesa Spirit

Resort Activities

Choose from over 30 activities at the park. Join a sports league, take yoga, join a pickleball or bocce league. Try your hand at silversmithing, singing, water aerobics, tai chi slider_aquabelles-2-1. . . the list is almost endless.

Cathy Quintero, Activities Director, makes sure there’s something for almost everyone here. “We have dances every couple of weeks,” she said. “Happy hour is every Tuesday and we make homemade pizza and sit out by the pool. Everyone comes to the country store too. It’s like a flea market with handmade crafts and food. Everyone loves to buy trinkets, and sit around and eat while they hobnob with friends.”

As for events, tribute artists, comedians and entertainers are brought in on a regular basis.

Amenities

Amenities can make or break your RV experience. At Mesa Spirit, you’ll find a fitness
center, swimming pools, whirlpools/spas/hot tubs, laundry facilities, horseshoe pits, a mesaspirit52-1ballroom and banquet hall, a library, tennis and pickleball courts, mini-golf, and much more.

It’s all you really need to make your RV stay feel like home.