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5 Best Snowbird Destinations in the Southwest

The Southwest offers countless destinations for snowbirds. From big cities to remote oases, there’s something for everyone in this corner of the country.

But where should you go if you’re looking to winter in this region?

You don’t have to go on a wild goose chase to find out. Today, we’re bringing you our top five spots to roost for warmer temperatures.

Let’s fly!

A roundabout and plaza in Yuma, Arizona, one of the best places in the Southwest for snowbirds.
Yuma is a favorite Southwest snowbird destination

Why Do Snowbirds Flock to Southwest Destinations?

Every year, when the leaves begin to turn shades of yellow, orange, and red, snowbirds begin their migration. They leave their cold northern habitats in search of more hospitable climates. 

In the past, the term “snowbird” referred to an older generation, mainly retirees, who traveled south when they felt a chill in the air. But today, the expanding population includes younger folks and nomadic families. As many as six million snowbirds may be on the move in a year!

Of course, plenty of reasons to relocate in the winter have nothing to do with the cold. Some people enjoy the snowbird community and use their trips to reconnect with old friends. This is especially true of those returning to the same location each year. 

Others may simply enjoy the change of pace. Snowy weather and icy roads can put a damper on day-to-day activities. It can be hard to drive to work, let alone head out for dinner or a concert.

Snowbirds choose destinations in the Southwest for various reasons. Many of these locations are cashing in on their status as a seasonal haven. 

Retirement communities, golf courses, and campgrounds gear their businesses toward the migrating demographic. However, regardless of your age, you’ll find much to love about this part of the country.

If you plan to fly the coop this winter, check out these five top-notch snowbird destinations in the Southwest. 

#1 Yuma, Arizona

Known as the Sunniest City on Earth, Yuma has this name for good reason. On average, you’ll see sunshine 308 days each year. In winter, temperatures range between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

While it isn’t huge, Yuma offers plenty of exciting places to explore. The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is dedicated to the conservation of bighorn sheep.

You may also encounter a Gila monster, a brightly colored, venomous lizard native to Arizona. 

Both the Colorado River State Historic Park and the Yuma Territorial Prison allow visitors to delve into the past. Here, you’ll see perfectly preserved buildings from the 1800s and learn about the turbulent early days of the area. 

However, Yuma also has lots of modern amenities. There’s no shortage of local restaurants serving up authentic Southwestern flavors. And throughout town, you’ll find shops, galleries, and museums to keep you busy. 

If you’re missing the snow but not the shoveling: Places to Find Snow in the Southwest.

#2 Tucson, Arizona

With an average winter daytime temperature of 66 degrees, it’s no wonder Tucson is a major Southwest destination for snowbirds.

While nearly one million people live in the area, the surrounding nature allows you to explore the great outdoors. Flanked by two sections of Saguaro National Park, towering cacti loom around you while walking the trails. Beyond the park are mountain ranges in every direction. If you enjoy hiking and wildlife spotting, you’ll be in your happy place. 

Tucson is also famous for its vibrant culinary scene. It was the first US location to receive the City of Gastronomy designation. You’ll find something to please your palate, whether you’re craving local fare or international cuisine. 

That said, we recommend trying as much authentic regional food as possible. After all, 4,000 years of history led to Tucson’s culinary melting pot, so that must say something!

Scenic drives are excellent ways to explore an area: RoadTrip America Arizona & New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips.

#3 Twentynine Palms, California

Twentynine Palms was built around the country’s most extensive Marine Corps training base. However, there’s more here than meets the eye. 

This little town packs an impressive punch in its small footprint. Art galleries, museums, and popular restaurants are around nearly every corner. 

But easy access to Joshua Tree National Park keeps snowbirds flocking to this Southwest destination. Bouldering, rock climbing, and exploring the picturesque ecosystem are popular activities.

If that doesn’t quench your thirst for the outdoors, the Mojave National Preserve is an hour north of town. You can also set your sights upwards at Sky’s the Limit Observatory. No matter how you prefer exploring the desert, you’ll want to take in all this area offers. 

A man admires a view of the desert. There's plenty of sunshine for hiking and cycling if you snowbird to southwest destinations.
There’s plenty of sunshine for hiking and cycling if you snowbird to southwest destinations

#4 Las Vegas, Nevada

Sin City is the entertainment capital of the world. It’s no wonder snowbirds go wild for this Southwest destination. We’re sure you already know about the casinos, nightlife, and live performances, so we’ll spare you those details. However, you might not realize it’s also central to many natural wonders.

Red Rock Canyon National Reserve features staggering geologic formations, unusual plants, and native wildlife. Lake Mead is only a 35-minute drive from the city.

In addition, several mountains are nearby for hiking and biking adventures.

Discover more about the city’s history and local ecology at Springs Preserve, the birthplace of Las Vegas. In addition to a botanical garden, museum, and butterfly habitat, they also have a sustainability gallery and nature exchange. 

In winter, daytime temperatures are around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. So, while it may get chilly, walking around won’t be too uncomfortable.

Plus, if you need modern comforts, you’ll be in the right place.

If you get there early enough, you can check out the autumn foliage: The Best Scenic Drives for Fall Colors in the Southwest.

#5 Las Cruces, New Mexico

With 300 days of annual sunshine and winter temperatures in the 60s, we’re not surprised this Southwest destination is popular with snowbirds. 

Outdoor recreation is ample here. Explore the otherworldly landscape of White Sands National Park or venture into the mountains of Lincoln National Forest. 

If spicy food gets you going, you won’t want to pass up a visit to Las Cruces. This city takes food seriously and incorporates all the local flavors into its cuisine, primarily regional chilis. In fact, Hatch, New Mexico, is just north of town. And despite the desert climate, a community of winemakers also calls Las Cruces home. 

Set Your Snowbird Migration to a Southwest Destination

The southwestern region of the US is a hotspot of snowbird destinations. The mild climate, outdoor opportunities, and bounty of cultural experiences will meet the needs of every bird in your flock. Whether you want to rock climb, hit the slots, or test your taste buds with spicy peppers, you can do it in one of these locations.

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