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6 Tips for Making the Most of the Winter Months in the South
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Winter in the southern United States doesn’t conjure up images of snow-covered landscapes and freezing temperatures, but that’s why so many people choose to head south for the winter.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the wonderful ways you can make the most of the winter months in the South. From discovering outdoor adventures, savoring seasonal cuisine, and partaking in local traditions, there’s a wealth of experiences waiting for you during this off-peak season.
So, whether you’re a resident or a traveler looking for a different kind of winter magic, read on for our top tips on how to relish and celebrate winter in the southern states.
1. Outdoor activities for Southern Winters
Saying farewell to northern winters to enjoy a milder climate down south doesn’t mean there’ll be nothing for you to do if you’re a lover of the great outdoors. The climate in many southern destinations remains mild enough to enjoy many favorite outdoor recreation activities throughout the winter season.
Opportunities for some outdoor adventures include:
- Volunteer work
- Entertainment activities such as the theater, jazz concerts, festivals, parades, art/cultural exhibits, and more.
2. Winter festivals and events
There are plenty of winter festivals and events that you might like to enjoy during the winter months. You don’t have to worry about the weather if you take part in one of the following events.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of Lights
Enjoy the sight of brightly decorated boats, kayaks, canoes, and yachts floating along the harbor. On the first and last days of the boat parade, there are dazzling fireworks displays visible from around the harbor.
New Year’s Eve on the Plaza
Do something different this New Year and ring it in with a visit to Sante Fe, New Mexico. There’s a free, fun celebration on the Plaza that gets underway at 8 pm with live music. When the clock chimes midnight, sparkling fireworks light up the night sky.
Restaurant Week South Carolina
If you find yourself in South Carolina in January, there are 11 days of culinary pleasures waiting for you. Restaurants across the state offer multi-course menus for all tastes and budgets.
30A Songwriters Festival
This event takes place along the beaches of Walton County, Florida. You can catch performances from more than one hundred artists at 30 venues.
Florida Keys Seafood Festival
The perfect complement to the beauty of the Florida Keys is the fresh seafood dishes you can enjoy on the islands during this January festival. The festival lasts for only two days, but you’ll be spoilt for choice if you love seafood. On the menu, you’ll find fried fish, lobster platters, fried clams, Bahamian-style conch chowder, Key West pink shrimp, and much more.
Gasparilla Pirate Fest
Towards the end of January, pirates take over Tampa, Florida for this fun festival. There are pirate-themed events for everyone, from the young to the old.
Taste of Mardi Gras Food Festival
Mardi Gras festivities can be a little overwhelming, but you can avoid the hustle and bustle but still enjoy the Mardi Gras experience. Head to Bossier City for the Shreveport Bossier Taste of Mardi Gras food festival. Get your fill from some of Louisiana’s best chefs and restaurants serving up classic Creole and Cajun cuisine.
Death Valley Dark Sky Festival
Death Valley is one of the largest national parks in the country with almost 1,000 miles of paved and dirt roads overlooked by rugged mountains. Every year, visitors flock to the desert for some breathtaking star gazing during the Death Valley Dark Sky Festival. The event is ranger-led and includes astrophotography workshops, astronomy lectures, and the opportunity to view thousands of stars, constellations, and planets visible to the naked eye.
Orange Beach Seafood Festival and Car Show
In February, in Alabama, local seafood and hot rod cars meet on the Wharf. The festival features crawfish, seafood gumbo, crab cakes, and more as well as more than 100 Southern artists, live music, and a kid’s zone. The second part of the event is a massive car show featuring antique and classic cars.
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
If you find yourself in Texas, complete your visit with a trip to the rodeo arena. You’ll find bull riding, barrel racing, roping competitions, and more at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
3. Seasonal Southern cuisine to savor
If you’re looking for a food-loving reason to head south for the winter, here are some ideas:
- Florida: Known for its seafood, especially stone crab claws. You’ll also find key lime pie, Cuban sandwiches, and conch fritters in Florida.
- New Orleans: Famous for its gumbo, jambalaya, and po’boys.
- Texas: Known for its barbecue, especially brisket. You’ll also find tacos, chili, and pecan pie in Texas.
- Arizona: Has lots of Mexican food, including tamales, enchiladas, and chimichangas. You can also try Navajo tacos.
4. Travel destinations for your winter escape
If you’re looking to find some fun in the sun for the winter, there are plenty of places you can do just that in the southern states of the United States.
Santa Barbara, California
For lovers of beach strolls and canyon hikes, the perfect getaway destination is just under two hours northwest of Los Angeles. Celebrity sightings are commonplace, however, the real attraction is the location’s upscale yet relaxed beach town energy.
Key West, Florida
This is the furthest end of the Florida Keys, and it has its own edgy and eclectic culture. The 7-mile oasis is famous for its fresh seafood, hopping bars, and literary history.
Palm Springs, California
The average temperature rarely dips below 70°F, which is why it’s such a popular winter destination. If you’re looking for some activity, the Joshua Tree National Park is a short drive away.
Phoenix gets 299 days of sunshine every year on average. The clear blue mid-70s days of late winter are perfect for outdoor fun. Take the time to hit the trail and explore the sandstone formations of Papago Park, or South Mountain Park.
The Everglades, Florida
The warmest national park outside of Hawaii is frequently the Everglades. Winter is also the dry season, making it one of the most popular times of year for visitors. It’s also one of the best times for spotting wildlife.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans might not boast the high winter temperatures of some other southern locations, but it’s still a welcome change from anywhere snowbound. Whatever time of the year, there’s always a party going on, even in winter.
Kihei gets 276 days of sun a year, on average, however, if you want to maximize your chances of sunny days, stick to the south and west coasts of the Hawaiian Islands.
6. A winter packing list
If you’re planning to spend the winter somewhere warm, you might be wondering what to pack. You can’t take everything with you, but you want to take enough to feel at home. To give you a starting point, we’ve compiled a packing list.
- Important documents: First and foremost, bring your ID, such as a passport, driver’s license, or equivalent. Also bring your health, vehicle, and home insurance policies. Bring your medical information and pack contacts for your rental, your point person or caretaker, and each of your utility companies.
- A few warm layers: Even the warmest climate might have some cool nights. You won’t need your winter coat and thick socks, but you might need a light jacket, a couple of sweaters, and possibly a rain jacket.
- What’s in your rental? Amenities in a winter rental can vary considerably. Whether you’ve booked a timeshare, Airbnb, or something else, read the descriptions carefully and ask questions if you’re not sure about anything.
- Culture: Assess the culture of the area and pack appropriately. Is the area predominantly casual? Do people dress up just to go to the grocery store?
- Personal touches and favorite items: You can quickly transform your winter home with a few photos and personal decorations.
- Medication, supplements, and first aid: Bring enough with you to get settled, but before you leave your home in the north, talk with your doctor about how to get your prescriptions filled. You might be able to get them shipped, but you might also need to find a local pharmacy that can help.
- Chargers, adapters, and tech: You can probably pick up most of these items near your winter location, but do you want to risk a dead battery? Before you leave home, make sure you’ve got all the necessary chargers and adapters.
- Research local options: Are there items that you purchase regularly that might be a bit out of the ordinary? Do some research to see what shops are near your winter location.
One thing you’re going to need if you want to make the most of your time away is a vehicle. You don’t have to worry about buying or renting one if you let us ship your car. We can ship your car to any location in the United States, quickly and safely, and at a price that won’t break the bank.
If you’d like to know more about our auto transport services, speak with our shipping advisors at (864) 546-5038 or use our option.