South Texas Offers A Different Way of Living

Even though they live in Guelph, Ontario, Gary and Rowena Scott haven’t seen snow in 12 years; not since they started wintering at Fun-N-Sun, an RV park on the southern tip of Texas in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley. With temperatures in the low 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Gary doesn’t miss the snow or his Canadian lifestyle much. He and Rowena have easily adapted to life in Texas. And that’s what it’s like to live at Fun-N-Sun – it’s not a vacation, just a different way of living.

“We leave the snow and cold and live in the warmth for half the year,” Gary explains. “People back home think we’re on a permanent vacation, but I’ve just moved my place of living.” From the sounds of it Gary is too busy at Fun-N-Sun to call this lifestyle a vacation, but Texas offers him access to cruises unavailable in Canada without a costly plane ride to a port of call. “We still go on vacations – we take cruises out of nearby Galveston, Texas – in fact we’re cruising to Montego Bay and the Grand Cayman Islands with a group of our friends from the park later this year,” he says.

Test the Waters Before You Take the Plunge into RV Life

Finding Fun-N-Sun was no accident. Gary and Rowena took their time traveling across the United States before they settled down here in South Texas. They tried out a lot of different RV parks across Florida and Arizona, but when their friends Mike and Shirley back home in Guelph heard they were looking to try Texas they recommended Fun-N-Sun. “Mike said ‘travel around and see if you like anything better,’” Gary recalls. “We didn’t. We ended up staying here.”

Gary recommends testing the waters before taking the plunge into RV life. “Some people think when they retire they want to sell their house and get an RV, but then they do it for a year or two and they’ve had enough. They try to get back into the real estate market and find the market has gone up and their fifth wheel has depreciated,” Gary says. “I recommend you test the water before you jump in. Start by going down for just a month, then a season or two and see how you like it.”

Nothing Beats Texas Hospitality

For Gary and Rowena, the thing that set South Texas apart from Arizona and Florida was the lower cost of living and the reliable weather. But it is the people, combined with the active lifestyle that has kept them coming back to Fun-N-Sun for over a decade.

“We’ve met so many people here,” Gary says. “There’s about 200 people in the Canadian Club and we have a potluck on the third Friday of every month. The people here are one of the things that keeps you coming back – you miss them when you’re back home and look forward to seeing them when you come back.”

Staying Active is the Key to Longevity

“People who come down here and are active, I think they live longer.” Gary says. How does he stay busy during his winters in Texas? He’s the chief engineer and Rowena is the conductor for the train at Fun-N-Sun, which takes people around the park throughout the year, with extended rides at Christmas.

The train, which was originally used at Disneyland in 1953 found its home at Fun-N-Sun, and is now run and maintained by a group of volunteers. It’s become a fixture at the park. “Everyone loves it, even people from out of town come by to see it.” Gary says, “We have a sunset tour on Wednesday nights at 6pm and whenever the weather is really nice it’s packed.”

When he’s not hard at work volunteering in the resort, Gary’s hard at work on the course – the golf course that is. He’s a member of a Thursday morning golf league. “If you golf it’s beautiful down here,” he says. “The golf courses are beautiful and affordable. I can golf at one course on Sunday mornings for $7.”

Gary also loves playing bocce ball and pickle ball. He’s a judge for the old cars show, and the dog show, and looks forward to the Coffee Chat on Tuesday mornings where the weekly park info is shared (as well as free coffee and donuts). “You can’t get bored here,” Gary says. “It keeps you active and young, doing something all the time.” From shuffleboard, to miniature car racing, to cards, to rock hounding (there’s a lapidary shop at the park where you can grind and polish rocks and make your own jewellery), to art classes, the list of activities offered at the park is endless, but there’s lots to do outside of the park as well.

Location is Key

Fun-N-Sun is near San Antonio and not far from South Padre Island, which has an amazing beach that attracts tourists from across Texas and beyond. Other popular off-park activities include trips to the Gladys Porter Zoo, and historic battlegrounds for the Civil and Spanish-American wars (including the Alamo). There’s also a local movie theatre nearby that offers first run movies for $1.25 admission! With shopping and restaurants—Texas, Mexican and Italian are favourites for Gary—there’s lots to do and see in and around Fun-N-Sun.

Whether it’s the warmth, the sun, the people, or the endless activities that draws you here, for anyone who wants an affordable, active lifestyle Fun-N-Sun RV Resort in Rio Grande Valley is worth a visit.

Have you stayed at Fun-N-Sun RV Resort before? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below!

Top 16 Achievements in 2016 – Texas RV Resorts

In order to ensure an amazing customer experience for the region’s Winter Texans, Team Texas worked diligently to improve all aspects of its RV resorts in 2016.

To express our appreciation of such hard work, we’ve compiled a list of the top 16 Texas achievements that made us proud. These successes ranged from property upgrades to the annual Encore Inter Resort Games, while even witnessing the rise in popularity of RC cars! 

1/ Victoria Palms RV Resort (City: Donna, TX). Received the prestigious “Official Best of Texas” award as the Best Age-Qualified RV Resort in the state. The RV property recently replaced its 11,000 sq. ft. ballroom floor with new maple wood flooring, and will be ready to host activities and concerts throughout the winter season.

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2/ Sunshine RV Resort (City: Harlingen, TX). Added three new indoor pickleball courts to its portfolio of amenities, as well as a two petanque courts.

Sunshine Pickleball

3/ Lake Conroe RV & Camping Resort (City: Willis, TX).  Added 33 new homes – a mix of 2-3 bedrooms. Also, this beautiful property underwent several property improvements, including upgrading its swimming pool.

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4/ Encore Inter Resort Games. All ten Encore RV resorts in South Texas created and participated in an Olympic style competition amongst one another. 500+ residents competed in 15 games including pickleball, shuffleboard, darts, swimming, billiards, bridge, and bocce ball just to name a few. This annual competition has been going on for about eight years, with Fun-N-Sun RV Resort taking home the trophy last season.

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5/ RC Cars are Getting Very Popular. Added four more remote controlled car tracks in the region, growing from one track to five now. Tropic Winds, Fun-N-Sun, Victoria Palms, Country Sunshine, and Alamo Palms all have tracks for RC car enthusiasts to enjoy and compete.

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6/ Rallies, Festival and Trade Shows in the US & Canada. During 2016, our team attended over 50 events all over Canada and the US in order to promote South Texas and other Sunbelt destinations. If you attended a major RV show, you might have met our very friendly and resourceful colleagues.

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7/ More Canadian guests flocked to South Texas. Throughout 2016, we are extremely pleased to notice a growing number of Canadians who choose to spend their vacation in South Texas. 21% more Canadians stayed with us than the prior year, and we love it!

Canadians More flocking

8/ Medina Lake RV Campground (City: Lakehills, TX). Built 2 boat docks for guests to enjoy a variety of water activities such as fishing, boating and kayaking.

9/ Conferences & Seminars in Canada. During 2016, our very own Team Canada promoted our South Texas properties at 22 conferences and seminars across Canada such as Montreal, Quebec City, Hamilton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

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10/ Fun-N-Sun RV Resort (City: San Benito, TX). Added two great amenities, including four indoor pickleball courts and by popular demand, an RC track and RC airplane field.

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11/ Tropic Winds & Fun-N-Sun RV Resorts (Cities: Harlingen & San Benito, TX). Very proud to share that the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence has been Awarded for 2016 to these two amazing South Texas RV resorts.

12/ Lakewood RV Resort (City: Harlingen, TX). Replaced its 8,000 sq. ft. ballroom floor with new maple wood flooring, perfect for our square dancing and line dancing enthusiasts. The new ballroom floor also hosts two indoor pickleball courts.

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13/ Paradise Park & Tropic Winds RV Resorts (City: Harlingen, TX). Paradise Park added a new 800 sq. ft. craft shop as well as two bocce ball courts for all to enjoy. Tropic Winds also resurfaced its interior roadways so that guests are greeted by smooth streets when they pull in.

Paradise Park Bocce

14/ Southern Comfort RV Resort (City: Weslaco, TX). Re-plastered its pool, giving it a new, vibrant look.

15/ Paradise South RV Resort (City: Mercedes, TX). Replaced the popular bingo system at the resort with a new system, ensuring games for the whole season.

16/ Winter Concert Series (Rio Grande Valley, TX).  Guests were able to enjoy a concert series at five South Texas RV Resorts, including Victoria Palms, Fun-N-Sun, Sunshine RV, Southern Comfort, and Country Sunshine. Performers included Dec 63, Jersey Boys, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Rhinestone Country, The Three International Tenors, Motown Magic, and The Orbison Years.

Meet Terry from Victoria Palms RV Resort in Donna, TX

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Profile:
Name: Terry Goss
In position since: December 2014
Title: Resort Manager
Work Location: Victoria Palms RV Resort
Favorite Activities: Sitting around a campfire (yes it’s true)


1. How does a typical day at Victoria Palms look like?  What is your favorite moment of the day?

Believe it or not, we start the day by baking cookies. We have become known for having warm, fresh baked cookies waiting for our guests as they arrive. It’s a small token of our appreciation for our customers when they arrive, often after a long time behind the wheel. From there it’s off to tour the property to make sure everything is ship shape and everyone is ready for the day. That’s the fun part. After that I move into running the daily reports, reading and responding to emails, and digesting our online presence and reviews. All that being said, my favorite time of the day is when I get to socialize with guests, old and new, and hear about their travels, their family and what their “other” home is like. It’s really a pretty good gig.

2. You are working, while people at the resort are enjoying their vacation. How do you handle that?

Here at Victoria Palms I am both a manager and a cheer leader. Of course I can’t be everywhere, all the time, but I try my best to be a vibrant part of the community. Even when I can’t stay for an entire event, I am very likely to stop by and cheer on the contestants. I love being around fun loving, happy people, and this position gives me lots of opportunity. I am the first one on the dance floor, love anything where there is food, and was the runner up in last year’s belly flop contest. You just can’t be at a place like Victoria Palms and not have fun.


3. When people ask you what the best experiences are in the surrounding areas, what would you recommend?

The area around Victoria Palms has something for everyone. We are less than an hour away from the best beach in Texas with lots of entertainment and great eats. We are on the migratory path for both birds and butterflies and are one of the premier places to see them in the entire United States. We have some truly incredible shopping with an international flair. For even more fun, we can cross into Mexico for great shopping, food, drinks and services. Of course we have a zoo, museums, theaters, and every restaurant chain known to man. But my absolute favorite thing here in the valley, as we call it, are the little mom and pop restaurants. Not only is the food incredible (and very reasonably priced), but when was the last time the owner came to sit with you on your second visit, and actually remembered your name and what you like to eat. Just incredible!


4. What’s your favorite story to tell about your time at Victoria Palms?

I believe that all of the employees at Victoria Palm are a team and each has a significant role in delivering guest satisfaction. I expect that everyone will pick up whatever task is required, even if it is not considered in their job description. That goes for me as well. Last year we were getting ready to do some street repairs. We were using fresh, hot asphalt which has a very limited time on a truck before it cools off and is no longer usable. The day our asphalt arrived we had one of our maintenance team get hurt and another go home sick. So I jumped into some old jeans, slipped on a pair of work boots and some gloves, and jumped in the truck to help pick up the slack. What makes this special is not what I did, rather it was the looks I received from residents and guests as they saw me working in that truck. I have to say I had more pictures taken that day than any time in my life. It was almost like being a rock star followed by paparazzi. It was hard work but we got the job done and I gained a story to recount.


5. What’s your best accomplishment so far at the resort?

I would like to believe that I have had an impact at Victoria Palms in a lot of areas, but I think the most significant is in communications. Not everyone is comfortable being in front of people or starting conversations with strangers. That can leave some people feeling like they aren’t appreciated or respected. I have always made it a point to make the operation of the resort an open book. I don’t dodge questions and do my best to always provide an honest answer. Sometimes that answer is “no”, but when that’s the truth, anything less is misleading. As well I have expanded the modes of communication here at Victoria Palms. We had a great newsletter here when I arrived, but I thought we could do more. We now have a new website dedicated to events and activities (www.vpractivities.com), I do monthly “Town Hall” meetings which I record and post to YouTube. This enables our residents who are not here at the time of a meeting to still get all the information and not miss anything. I believe strongly in open and honest communications and think our residents and guests really appreciate that.


6. If had to describe your RV park to someone who thinks about coming to Victoria Palms, what would you say?

Picture a fine resort with every conceivable amenity, or a cruise ship where the activities seem to never stop. If you are an RV’er, picture wide, paved and lighted streets where maneuvering your rig is easy and the sites are all concrete with full hook-ups. If you are looking for a permanent winter or year around home picture well manicured yards, lush plantings, beautiful flowers and grass. Envision neat homes (each unique) which exude a feeling of community and safety. If you like to dance, dream about multiple live bands every week, where you can dance the night away on one of the largest and most beautiful dance floors in the valley. Or join in some of our dance lessons; line, ballroom, country, round. If you are a crafter then this must be paradise. Woodworking in our supersized woodshop, firing your pottery in one of our 5 kilns, stained glass, painting, sewing and quilting, wood carving, and the list goes on and on. If you are of the sports type we can keep you pretty busy there too. From racing remote control trucks to bocce ball, petanque, horseshoes, shuffleboard, pickle ball, tennis, cycling, swimming, water volleyball, etc. Are you starting to get the picture? Victoria Palms is incredible and you can do as much or as little as you desire.

7. What brought you to Victoria Palms?

Truthfully I came to Victoria Palms quite by accident. I had previously managed large resorts and honestly was looking for something with a little slower pace. I actually applied for a position at a smaller Thousand Trails park that was somewhat off the beaten path and very rustic. Remember one of my favorite pastimes is sitting by a campfire. As I was being interviewed the question I kept being asked was why I wanted that position, and was I really sure I could be happy there. In the end the interviewer convinced me to come see Victoria Palms. When I visited it completely knocked my socks off. I was instantly in love. As a resort manager I get to live in the resort, and I knew this was a place I could really feel at home. I was hired to manage it and have never looked back. It has been a complete labor of love.


8. Any last words for your current and future guests?

If this hasn’t given you a vision of what life is like at Victoria Palms, then you simply need to come see it for yourself. Come spend a week with us and I will personally make sure you see it all. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Come join me in paradise under the palms.

Meet John from Sunshine RV Resort in Harlingen, Texas

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Profile:

  • Name: John Van Wyk
  • In position since: 2011
  • Title: Resort Manager
  • Work Location: Sunshine RV Resort
  • Favorite Activities: Fishing and Bird Hunting

1. What does a typical day at Sunshine RV look like? What is your favorite moment?
I usually start out the morning with my “housekeeping” activities and then move on to items that pertain to our residents. I try to get their requests completed first before moving on to my other duties, such as managing our on-site restaurant, coordinating our schedule jpage-encorerv-rgv-sunshineinterior-67-1of special events and working with our internal team here at the RV resort.

My favorite moment of the day comes when I get to interact and visit with our residents just one-on-one. I’m usually focused on what I can do to make their experience even more enjoyable, so it is nice to take a second and catch up with guests.

2. You are working, while people at the park are enjoying their vacation. How do you handle that?
jpage-encorerv-rgv-sunshineinterior-61-1I enjoy seeing people have fun and come up with new ways to enjoy the community, so I never look at it as “working” while others vacation. The guest experience comes first and making sure that everyone is enjoying their stay keeps me busy, so the day goes by pretty fast.

 

3. When people ask you what best experiences are in the surrounding areas, what would you recommend?

There are some excellent golf courses in the area where guests can test their skill. Birding is huge in the Harlingen area, as we are in the middle of the migratory pattern for birds jpage-encorerv-rgv-sunshineinterior-48-1heading south, as well as butterflies. However the must-see destination in the area is definitely South Padre Island, where you get a mix of southwestern culture and beach paradise.  Also, many Winter Texans take day trips to Progreso, Mexico which is about 30 minutes from our property. They go for shopping and the authentic dining experience. I’ve also heard they go for affordable dental care.

4. What’s your favorite Sunshine RV story to tell?
I don’t think I have one particular story that sticks out. I get a lot of pleasure out of helping people get plugged into something that brings them joy. Many times we are dealing with someone that may have recently lost a spouse and after the grieving process, they may need a little encouragement to get out and find fun. They often thank me for helping them through that and that is usually the most rewarding feeling.

jpage-encorerv-rgv-sunshineinterior-82-15. What’s your top accomplishment so far at Sunshine RV?
When I was hired as the Resort Manager two years ago, there were many areas of the operation that needed to be improved including staff morale and resident relations.  I am very proud to say that in the past two years, as a team, we’ve been able to create a positive environment for both the staff and residents.   As far as property improvements, most recently, we completely renovated our indoor pickleball courts which is something I am very proud of. We now have three, indoor, climate-controlled courts that are the envy of many.  

6. If you can describe (in a few words) your RV park to someone who thinks about coming to South Texas, what would they be?

Sunshine RV Resort has approximately 1000 sites.  For those who would prefer to stay in a smaller community, we do have a secluded section of the resort called Lakeside which has approximately 150 sites, with it’s own amenities and a lake!    Our RV site options jpage-encorerv-rgv-sunshineinterior-24-1include standard, premium, pull thru, and lakeside.  We have all the standard amenities you can think of including indoor/outdoor pickleball courts, a woodshop, a dog park, and a fitness center.  In addition, we have two large buildings that accommodate many of our entertainment events and activities.  

7. What brought you to Sunshine RV?
A friend told me about an ad in a newspaper that they were looking for a manager of Lakewood RV Resort, a 300 site community. I was hired and immediately made many improvements, to the point where I was promoted to run Paradise Park RV Resort, a 600 site RV resort. Eventually, I was promoted to manager of Sunshine RV Resort, which is over 1,000 sites and includes an on-site restaurant. You could say hard work brought me to Sunshine RV.

8. A last word for your guests?

While you may come to enjoy the warmth at Sunshine RV Resort, you’ll quickly find that the genuine staff and the kind people who stay at the resort make you want to keep coming back, year after year. At the end of the day, it’s all about the people, the customer experience and having fun!

Come For The Sun, Stay For The Fun At Fun-N-Sun RV Resort in Texas

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Its name, “Fun-N-Sun”, says it all. This resort in San Benito, Texas, shouts out loudly, “The sun is here. We provide the fun. Just arrive and enjoy.”

A good RV resort shouldn’t be just a place to park in the sun. It should have top notch facilities for the guest’s relaxation, amusement, and exercise. You’ll find all of this at Fun-N-Sun RV Resort. There is a large recreation hall where musicians put on concerts, as well as a large dance hall, one of the largest halls in Texas, where folks can spend the evening dancing and visiting. They also have a barber and beauty shop in case you want to fix up for the dance.

What hobbies or fun things are you interested in? If you want to hone up your computer skills, you can join the computer club. There is also a R/C car racing club, motorcycle club, Ham radio club, Genealogy club, writers club, and card games of all kinds. Don’t forget the R/C flying in the field across the road.

jpage-encorerv-rgv-funnsuninterior-15If you are looking for more activity, the four new, indoor, pickleball courts are sure to keep you busy at all times of the day. You can also check out the 10 billiard tables, take dance lessons, partake in indoor shuffleboard or table tennis. It’s a good place for kite flying, softball field, badminton, bocce ball, and checking your distance on the driving range. Their huge fitness centre is really loaded with top notch exercise equipment. The park is big enough that you can get a lot of bicycling done just riding on their inner roads.

Other activities that draw a large following are the art classes, music room, dance lessons, tennis lessons, sewing, well ventilated woodshop, stained glass, lapidary, and silversmith groups. Of course, after all of this, you won’t pass up the huge pool, or the hot tub. WiFi is also accessible at a few hot spots, or you can purchase full access.wood

Christmas is a special time with a catered meal at the park. This is a great time to see the lengths that people in the community go to in order to have their place look radiant with Christmas lights. The RV resort also has a small train, often used to give people rides through the park to see the bright sunsets, but at Christmas it winds around the park to give guests views of the coloured decorations and is a popular delight during the season.

These are just some of the activities you would expect a park of 1400 sites to have. If you don’t have an RV, you can stay in a Park Model, or rent a fully furnished cottage.

The Fun-N-Sun RV Resort is ideally located in the southeast corner of Texas, close jpage-encorerv-rgv-funnsuninterior-54enough to South Padre Island that you can easily drive over to enjoy the 34 miles of white sandy beaches, wade in the soft, warm waters of the ocean, and if you stay late enough in the day, view magnificent sunsets.

If you are interested in fishing you definitely should try out the Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier in Port Isabel, just before the bridge that takes you to Padre Island. They have tackle and bait, snacks, rest rooms, and good parking. This is the longest  fishing pier in Texas and even if you don’t want to fish it’s worth visiting for a walk. The pier is also a great place on Friday nights to observe the fireworks as you walk. Some of the best fish and chips you will ever eat are available in Port Isabel, and there are often ‘all you can eat’ fish specials.

This part of the valley is very flat and for centuries the Rio Grande has meandered all over the valley floor leaving behind old channels and oxbow lakes, now cut off from the river. Downtown San Benito has a twisting 400 foot wide oxbow lake, The Resaca. For your enjoyment there is a waterfront path used by bicycles, walkers and hikers. Along the way there are picnic tables and a place to grill a few sausages, or wieners as you watch the raceducks dive for food.

Nature walks and bird watching are still the valley’s most popular activities. The area is in the bird migration flyways. The birds tend to avoid the desert to the west, and the ocean to the east, to pass in the thousands right through the Lower Rio Grande Valley. With a 365 day growing season, the wide plant diversity supports the needs of the 500 plus varieties of birds, and don’t forget the 300 types of butterflies. The Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge now protects the area.

Carol, a snow bird from Canada, tells it this way. “Fun-N-Sun is a Winter Texan’s paradise. Each and every day I can choose from a hive of activities in which to participate. Evenings are spent on the dance floor or, on the patio with a glass of wine and good friends. My day is filled with as much or as little as I want to do. On the days I choose to kick back, I relax in the sunshine and warmth, gazing at the palm trees swaying gently in the breeze. But most of all, I enjoy the people here at Fun-N-Sun. We are a community of active and fun loving adults whose friendships continue when we head back north.”

Now is the time to make arrangements at a really active RV resort.

Winter Differently in Texas at Fun-N-Sun RV Resort

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The Skinners live close to the US border and like to escape to the warmth six months of the year. When a friend of theirs told them he had a park model for sale in South Texas, they flew down to see it. “We spent a week at Fun-N-Sun and talked to the people there,” said Carol Skinner. “We looked at some other parks and decided Fun-N-Sun was the kind of place we’d like to live.”

  Living in a Park Model

Living in a park model home is something more Winter Texans are doing. There’s no driving a big truck and hauling their winter home back and forth. They just pack their bags and go.

“I absolutely love it,” said Carol. “The park model has everything my husband and I need. It’s a single, so it is small and easy to take care of. That’s good because I’m way too busy when I’m down here! It gives us plenty of free time to do what we want. Fun-N-Sun cuts the grass and there’s no outside maintenance unless you want to have a little flower garden.

Activities Galore!

Carol likes the community because, as she mostly eloquently put it, “It’s not old.” Like many of her generation, keeping active and having fun is a must.

“I like that you’re not just sitting around and playing cards all the time. There are so many activities that the park offers. Most importantly, the activities here are always current. I think that’s the biggest draw.”imgp5234-1

There are many diverse activities at Fun-N-Sun Rv Resort. They range from sports to dancing to water focused activities and crafts. “I love dancing,” said Carol. I do a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit of the 60s, the 70s. They have live bands and that is absolutely fantastic!”

Carol’s other hobby is stained glass and she loves that she can continue doing it at Fun-N-Sun.

“There’s a whole group of us here that do it together. It creates friendships… a real bonding experience. We even have a Facebook group we put together so we can stay in touch while we’re not in the park.”

A Day at Fun-N-Sun

“We love getting up slowly,” said Carol. “We take our time as we get ready for our active day. One day I might be volunteering at the park’s activity office. Another day I could be doing one of my hobbies. If the weather is nice I may go to the pool and relax. At night, you’ll usually find me with my friends dancing the night away or at someone’s place enjoying a bottle of wine.”

Wintering Differently

For the Skinners, wintering differently mean getting out of the cold and getting full of warmth. “We have a few aches and pains and we don’t want to say in the weather that can contribute to those aches and pains,” said Carol “We are away from our children and grandchildren but there is Facetime and Skype so it’s easy to keep in touch.”

Internet service is provided at several areas in the park. “I like that because you can take your smart phone with you and talk to your family as you walk. You don’t have to worry about a dropped connection.

People Make the Place

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It’s the people that can make or break a place and that is true for Fun-N-Sun. “The manager, Tony S, is exceptional. In fact, all the staff are,” said Carol. “They appreciate you and you know that no question or comment is dumb. The staff here are physically out there and participating in a lot of the activities with us. They see where things can be improved or expanded upon. Both Tony S and regional manager Tony O are always looking at ways to provide options for the activities.”

For those who love to stay active, Fun-N-Sun RV Resort lives up to its name and scores high with its residents.

Set Your Winter Texan Roots in Harlingen, Texas

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In the southeast tip of Texas there lies a land overlooked by the snow king. It’s a land that offers Winter Texans a pleasant winter with a myriad of activities and one that attracts ardent bird watchers from across the continent.

Harlingen, Texas and the surrounding area have all the necessary attributes to attract those looking for a great place to retire and who want an enjoyable location for the long winters. The city is built in the middle of prime agricultural land that provides fresh vegetables year round and is surrounded by several natural parks where hikers and birders alike can enjoy the outdoors. The sub-tropical climate is perfect. A multitude of RV parks are now established in the area, including four Encore Resort Parks: Sunshine RV Resort, Paradise Park RV Resort, Tropic Winds, and Lakewood RV Resort.

With its position nestled in the Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen is close to nine birding centre paradiseparkviewing areas. Migrating birds pass through this area avoiding the deserts to the west and making use of the verdant growth to find rest and food. Over five hundred species of birds come through here and there is a niche for each of them ranging from the salty wetlands along the coast, the freshwater marshes further inland and the dryer thickets to the west. Expect to see orioles, green jays and many hawks, and countless gaily coloured song birds. Since these centres are spread out, you can expect to find new experiences at each one, which include float trips, walks in the wilderness and great exhibits.

To the west, enclosed by several meanders of the Rio Grande River, you will find the Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge. Here a mixture of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Gulf Coast, and the great plains, are home to at least 300 species of butterflies and 400 species of birds. You also can see the bobcat, ocelot and the indigo snake as you take the seven mile drive, or enjoy some of the twelve miles of walking paths. A tram tour is also available.

lakewoodrvThere is a birding centre on South Padre Island, but you may be heading there to sample the long, undeveloped beach, perhaps the longest on this part of the east coast. It’s a great beach for peaceful long strolls as the restless waves caress the sand at your feet. Opportunities abound for horseback riding, sea kayaking and fishing. You might like to stop at Port Isabel on the way to the bridge to South Padre Island. There are several seafood restaurants that have great tasting food that is worth the trip in itself.

If the grandkids have dropped in for a visit, take them to the Schlitterbahn Waterpark on the island. Here a variety of rides, slides, and swims, as well as a massive 5-storey water fun house will provide a lot of entertainment for the little ones, and just maybe… the older ones too.

Are you a shopper? If so, not far from Harlingen at Mercedes is a 140 unit outlet mall with several brand stores you will know. In Harlingen, the Bass Pro Shop is a huge tourist attraction with a wide selection of clothes and equipment for hunting and fishing, even
boats. The store features big aquariums filled with native fish, log and stone works and many wildlife exhibits. These stores are well known as places of entertainment and quality tropicwinds1goods by tourists.

The Gladys Porter Zoo has many species of native and exotic animals, always a treat to see. To increase your sense of adventure the zoo is divided into several zones such as the Tropical America, Indo Australia, Asia and Africa. As well there is a herpetarium with examples of unique nature’s shapes and several species of lizards, snakes and other reptiles.

Later, kick back and relax with a tour downtown to see buildings with attractive large murals inside and outside of the buildings. Afterwards perhaps you could take in a show at the Harlingen Performing Arts Theatre which provides top notch live entertainment. If you are interested in the founding history of Harlingen, visit the Arts and Heritage Museum.

sunshinervFor the fisherman, Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier located near the bridge to Padre Island is perfect. Some of the fish caught from the pier wouldn’t embarrass anyone relating their fish stories back home. Even if you don’t have fishing equipment with you, you can rent it at the Pier. And, they have bait too! If you want to get out on the water, select from the several private charters whether you just want a boat tour, or a chance to try for some big fish out where it’s deep.

Golfers will be happy to know that the area has four public golf courses and one private and with the most play days of any area in the USA, you can look forward to a lot of playing.

When Canadian Winter Texans head South to dodge the winter blues, they usually look for warmth, a nice place to stay, and things to keep them entertained. The Harlingen area has an abundance of all of these.

Until October 31, 2016, book a 3 month seasonal stay at Fun-N-Sun RV Resort and pay just $519/ month! To book, call 904-257-8434 and mention promo code EBFNS16

Stay & Play Differently at Victoria Palms RV Resort in Donna, TX

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When the northern winds are hurling snowdrifts across the roads, it’s nice to be soaking in an outdoor spa at one of the south’s most luxurious RV resorts, Victoria Palms.

The Rio Grande Valley in South Texas has long been known for its moderate winter temperatures, abundant palms, and warm gulf breezes. The developers of the Victoria Palms RV Resort took advantage of these natural advantages and built one of South Texas’ premier RV resorts in Donna, TX.

Not only does it have ideal facilities for a long winter’s stay, but it is close to a large number  of amenities such as shopping, medical facilities and it’s within a hour’s drive to the ocean beaches. You can buy your fresh produce such as onions, lettuce, melons of many types, and strawberries on one of your drives into the country, where the mild climate permits several crops per year. There is also a weekly farmers market inside the resort offering all of the fresh produce you can eat.

vp_streetviewFirst appearances are usually lasting ones, and nowhere is this more true than when you, for the first time, drive into the resort. The entrance is separated into two roads with twin rows of tall, graceful palm trees, lining each one. Between these is a grassy lawn with a winding walkway. Neatly manicured RV sites line the road on one side, and wide lanes take you to your site with ease. Citrus trees grow throughout the park, providing exquisite aromas when in flower, and excellent fruit when ripe. It’s really nice to go over to a tree and come back with your hands full of grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines or even bananas. This resort definitely exudes the feeling of comfort and relaxation.

This is a gated community for the ages 55 and up and provides a wide variety of accommodations. They have over 1200 concrete pull-through, and back-in RV sites with full hook-ups and WiFi. Some visitors will opt for one of the 100 suites with kitchen and separate bedrooms, or perhaps one of the 20 hotel rooms. They can even book into one of the 14 cottages.

vp_poolOnce you are established in your winter home site, it’s time to amble over to the huge heated pool or sit back and relax in one of the three outdoor spas. If you are too relaxed maybe it’s time to move onto one of the tennis or pickleball courts, lighted for your pleasure if you would rather play at night. You might be also wish to visit the shuffleboard courts. Over at the billiard hall someone is likely waiting for a challenger.

Several winter visitors wish to continue with a hobby or sport they left back in the cold and chances are they can do so here. The wood shop is always popular, as is the wood carving area. The craft centre offers such diverse activities as painting, ceramics, stained glass making, and quilting. Imagine taking home a beautiful old fashioned multi-patterned quilt for your bed, or for a gift to one of your children. There are also organized bike rides on the trails. Bikes are loaded on a trailer and everyone heads for a trailhead where they can join bike trail networks.

jpage-encorerv-rgv-victoriapalmsinterior-61-1Musical entertainment is presented by a variety of bands and there is a large grand piano lounge and an oversized dance room.  Square, round, and ballroom dances are offered. To top it all off, there will be dinner theatre, potlucks for those who love to sample a variety of great dishes, and everyone seems ready for the ice cream socials. Looking for a more formal setting? The on site restaurant is sure to please even the most concerning palate.

The Rio Grande Valley abounds in opportunities to explore. South of the resort is the meandering Rio Grande which over the years has left behind many oxbow lakes (locally called Resacas) and marshes. The oxbow lakes form when a loop of the river is cut off and left behind. These quiet areas attract countless species of birds especially during fall and spring migrations. The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is positioned along two such routes. There are 12 miles of walking trails, a canopy walk on a rope bridge, and a tower climb which provides excellent views of the surrounding area. This is a great place to photograph amazingly beautiful coloured birds, and butterflies are a hit with many visitors.

The visitor may opt for a longer drive east to South Padre Island. As you vp_shufflepass through Port Isabel you may want to take advantage of the restaurants offering fresh seafood. Fishermen can use the long fishing pier at Port Isabel where they can even rent some fishing gear locally.

It’s the dunes and beaches that attract tourists to the island. The pristine white sand beaches are great for enjoying a day at the sea coast. It is the sand blowing inland that creates the huge dunes that help protect the mainland from storms. When plants grow in this sand it stabilizes the dune, but careless climbing up the dunes can destroy the protective plants, and damage the dune.

Long time snowbird resident Janet Bussier says it’s a terrific park.

“There are so many activities that there is no reason for anyone being bored,” Janet told me.

She loves the beauty of the park’s entrance, and the fabulous flowers and palm trees in the park. Janet credits the beauty of the park, its cleanliness, and it’s friendly feeling to the manager, Terry Goss, who listens to your problems and takes action on remediating them.

Victoria Palms RV Resort is a perfect snowbird resort. The destination provides rest, entertainment, and abundant areas for you to discover at your own speed.

 

“I can’t imagine being any place else. It’s just wonderful here!”

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Back in the early 2000s, Elizabeth Funke and her husband decided they’d like to try something a little different when it came to a winter getaway.

“We tried a few places and one day we drove through a park in Mercedes, TX.” said Elizabeth. “We were driving slowly around and people waved to us. We stopped to get a brochure and the people that had waved to us came up to us before we could even get in the building. They were welcoming us to park and wanted to know when we planned on coming to stay.”

Elizabeth was pleasantly surprised to find out the hospitable folk weren’t employees of the park, they were residents! “We were overwhelmed at being accepted so quickly,” she said. “They were very warm and welcoming. We decided to stay for a few weeks and see if that was really the way it was at Paradise South RV Resort.”

A week or two has since turned into over 13 years. The couple moved from a fifth wheel, to a park model home to a mobile home. Elizabeth’s husband passed away; however, she decided to stay because Paradise South was where her friends lived.jpage-encorerv-rgv-paradisesouthinterior-23

“I can hardly wait to get back every fall,” she said. “It’s a super area and the folks in the valley… well they are hard to describe. South Texas is different. The people are so thrilled that we are there. I can’t imagine being any place else. It’s just wonderful here.”

It’s not just the Paradise South residents, or the town folk that make the RV resort number one in Elizabeth’s eyes. The personnel play a big part in her staying in her winter home.

“I just love the outstanding staff at Paradise South. It’s typical of a lot of RV resorts to have transient workers that come and go. Many of the folks that work here have been here a long time and that’s important to seniors,” she said. “First of all, senior citizens are like children, but with life experiences. We know way too much and we still get into trouble. It takes special kinds of people to be able to deal with seniors.”

paradisesouth_swimmingpoolElizabeth speaks fondly of some of the office staff. “There are two ladies that we have in the office and they know what makes us tick. They are visible and accessible. They don’t just sit in the office. That’s one of the best things. They belong with us and that’s important. We never get the feeling that we are too much to deal with. They are friendly and not condescending at all.”

The residents of Paradise South don’t just stick to the resort. They are a very active bunch and are always up to something.

“We go to South Padre Island and we go to Rio Grande City,” explainedpicture-014 Elizabeth. “We go wherever there’s a good place to eat. There’s a lot of great activities in the valley too. The Rio Grande Valley has rodeos and horse shows and fiestas. There’s a live music and exhibits, bazaar days and so much more. We try to get out of the park enjoy the area just like the local folks.”

For those who wish to stay closer to home, Elizabeth has some words for you. “It’s your fault if you’re bored here! We have a board up in our hall that has 40 – 50 activities a week planned by our activity department.”

Paradise South RV Resort… it sounds a bit like one of those places where you come for a short time and stay for the long haul.

For a limited time, Paradise South is offering a 3 month seasonal stay for $1,314 USD. Book by 9/30/16 and valid until 5/1/17. Call 1-904-257-8434 to book today and mention promo code EBPS16

Here’s Why Everyone in Winnipeg is Flocking to South Texas to “Winter Differently” This Year!

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Waking up slow to the rising sun. Drinking a cup of coffee on your porch or in the recreation hall with friends. Swimming in the resort pool or a morning of fishing. An afternoon of bike riding or trail hiking to spot rare bird species. Playing a game of bocce ball or pickleball. Enjoying a show or dancing the night away with your friends. This isn’t just vacation. This is a lifestyle for many “Winter Texans” who head to South Texas from all over Canada and the U.S. to spend the winter months. South Texas is also known as the “Rio Grande Valley”. South Texas is an increasingly popular destination and is known for its weather, food & culture, citrus orchards, world class birding, top notch hospitals, and friendly people. South Texas is not only beautiful but it is a lively and affordable place to spend one’s golden years. South Texas has been consistently rated as one of the least expensive places to live in the U.S.

Down here, the folks that come to live in South Texas are called, Winter Texans, which is not to be confused with the Snowbirds of Florida, Arizona, and Southern California. Many of them come down for the warm climate because the warmth eases joint pain, there’s no snow to shovel, and the outdoor activities are abound.  There are many things to do and reasons to stay in SouparadiseParkth Texas to escape the cold.  Many Winter Texans, approx 10,000, choose to stay at a Encore Resort.  There are ten age-qualified Encore RV Resorts to choose from in South Texas.  All are gated communities and most offer amenities and activities like pools & spas, fitness centers, shuffleboard, pickle ball courts, woodworking clubs, and much more.

Winter Texans are also trailblazers who love living their life on the road with the freedom to go anywhere and see anything whenever they want behind the wheels of their RVs!  After retiring early, Kathy and her husband, who have been coming to an Encore Resort in South Texas since 2003, bought a new rig and headed out to see the country.  Kathy and her husband found that having the freedom to go wherever you wanted was the best way to spend their winters.  “The lifestyle of an RVer, you just cannot imagine the freedom that you experience to see things that are out there that other people don’t see when you stay in a hotel,” she says.

South Texas has lots of tourism to offer.  A favorite among residents and visitors is South Padre Island which has popular landmarks and destinations like the Port Isabel lighthouse and the Sea Turtle Rescue center.  The Sea Turtle Rescue is a non profit organization whose mission is to “rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea sunshineRVturtles, educate the public, and assist with conservation efforts for all marine turtle species.”  It is a great place to bring the grandkids who will surely love the live interaction with sea turtles.  Be sure to check seaturtleinc.org for more information on hatchlings, releases, and onsite activities.  Other landmarks in South Texas include the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.

Named one of the Top 10 sport fishing destinations in 2014 by Sport Fishing Magazine, Port Mansfield is a popular place for fishermen to visit.  Whether you head out on your own fishing boat or embark on a chartered fishing trip, fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is a treat for fishermen where there are multiple large fish species waiting to be caught!  Nearby at Port Isabel, there are hundreds of activities for visitors, but fishing is also a popular one.  Port Isabel is home to Pirate’s Landing the longest fishing pier in Texas.  Pirate’s Landing extends out into the Queen Isabella Causeway that leads to South Padre Island and fishing poles and tackle are always available to rent here.

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South Texas is a popular and world renowned location for birders.  The region has more than 500 species of birds & butterflies and is also home to the World Birding Center, which has 9 locations in South Texas, with each location offering unique birding trails and excursions throughout the area.

It is also the site of the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival which draws world class birders for speaking engagements, field trips, and special events every year.  The 23rd Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival will take place on November 2, 2016 and will feature speaking engagements by world class wildlife photographers and prominent birders, plus field trips to places like South Padre Island and the Upper Rio Grande.  Visit rgbvf.org for more information about field trips and tickets.

Winnipeggers – ready to join the ranks of the Winter Texans? Trek south to this laid back area with a low cost of living and big city amenities. Take advantage of some of our new customer specials offered by Encore.  Rates are $1,433 for a 3 month stay on a standard RV site at Sunshine RV and $1,338 for a 3 month stay on a standard RV site at Paradise Park. Valid until April 30, 2017. No RV, no problem, Park Model rentals are also available! Visit RVontheGO.com or RVSouthTexas.com to find out more information or call (877) 957-2778.