As winter snows begin sprinkling down on the coldest regions of North America, many snowbirds—i.e. seasonal senior residents living in a sunny locale during the winter months— head on over to Arizona, a location known to boast daytime winter temperatures averaging around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. With its consistently warm, not to mention incredibly predictable climate, the western half of this Sunbelt state has become a favorite hotspot among baby boomers of all kinds. It also doesn’t hurt that Arizona is the fifth tax-friendliest state for retirees, making it even more popular among individuals over the age of 65.
The beautiful home of the majestic Grand Canyon offers a retirement lifestyle like no other, and regularly sees flocks of temporary residents each year. Sun City, the first modern-day active adult community, actually began in Phoenix, AZ, but the state provides plenty of other areas beyond its capital city that mixes both city attractions with small town charm. There are hundreds of vibrantly thriving communities all around Arizona featuring high retirement populations and various types of affordable accommodations fit for any lifestyle. Here are ten of the state’s best places to stay among Snowbirds.
Arizona for Snowbirds: Discover Which of Arizona's Popular Cities is Best for Your Seasonal Stay!
With naturally beautiful surroundings, tons of of sunshine, a major university, its very own professional sports teams, as well as a hoard of other standout attractions to excite any active adult, Arizona’s hottest city—which averages 77.2 degrees and just eight inches of annual precipitation— sees more winter visitors than any other part of the state. It’s a statewide hub for tourism and provides Snowbirds various opportunities to do more than just sit in the sun: such as golfing, fishing, swimming, or baseball spring training. Simply put, it’s the perfect cold weather getaway for Baby Boomers hoping to beat the winter blues.
Phoenix’s closest airport: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Not only does this sunny city offer Snowbirds the convenience of urban living, but it also provides quick access to small-town charm, as well as many of Arizona's best outdoor recreation areas. Popular attractions such as the Kartchner Caverns, Saguaro National Park, and the Tucson Rodeo are located right alongside a remarkable array of fine art venues, all in the heart of the historic city.
What’s more is that because it is situated at a lower elevation than its northerly neighbors, winter weather here is slightly warmer, even more predictable, and a lot less humid, averaging about 72.2 degrees. It’s one of sunniest places in the U.S., with the sun shining down on the city 85 percent of the time, and no doubt offers Snowbirds many chances to bask in glorious sunshine, all while soaking up culture and tradition at the same time. Stay options range from RV parks offering long-term rentals to furnished condominiums and single family homes in more rural settings.
Tucson’s closest major airport: Tucson International Airport
A temporary residency in Arizona doesn't get much more affordable than Quartzsite. Based near the California border where the Bureau of Land Management oversees thousands of acres of low-cost and free public camping areas known as Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs), the town’s population swells from a few hundred full-time residents to several hundred thousand Snowbirds each year.
The city sits quietly in a Mohave Desert-like setting only 879 feet above sea level. Though nights do get a little chilly sometimes, daytime temperatures are almost always balmy—perfect for attending local attractions such as mineral and Swap Meet shows, as well as opportunities to participate in a variety of water sports ranging from fishing to speed boat racing. It’s also a rock hunter's paradise, with numerous places to dig for agates, limonite cubes, gold, quartz, and other good "finds.”
Quartzsite is 125 miles west of Phoenix at the junction of Interstate 10 and U.S. 95, near the Colorado River in La Paz County.
Quartzsite’s closest major airport: Yuma International Airport.
As an Arizona Main Street City that wholeheartedly welcomes winter visitors, Yuma is nationally recognized for its unsurpassed natural beauty, variety of recreational activities, cultural diversity, and affordable living options. It is another popular area for both RVers and those temporary residents who want to stay in larger park model homes, and is conveniently located along Interstate 8 near casinos, services and shopping.
Winter favorite activities include antique shows, arts and crafts bazaars, seminars, health fairs, home shows, and a diverse selection of dining and dance halls. The activity-filled town also provides easy access to low-cost Mexican doctors, dentists, and pharmacies in tourist-friendly border regions—as well as multiple opportunities for multi-cultural and international business and quick trips to some of Mexico's most beautiful beaches.
With an average temperature of 80 degrees during the fall and winter months, Yuma consistently boasts warm weather, and is no doubt the ultimate hub to the Southwestern United States. Visitors get to enjoy a nice mix of pleasant desert sunshine, rugged mountain air, and the sight of cool waters flowing through the Colorado River.
Occupying 107 square miles on the far west side of Arizona, Yuma is nestled in the Yuma and Gila valleys within the southwest corner of Arizona, on the banks of the Colorado River near the Mexican border.
Yuma’s closest major airport: Yuma International Airport
Topping Apartment.com’s newest best list for snowbirds and retirees looking for rentals during the winter, Scottsdale boasts a healthy economy, an ever-growing older population, and many recreational opportunities all year round. It’s the almost perfect spot for any Baby Boomer, with an 85% average of annual sunshine days, as well as some of the state’s best leasing options.
6. Lake Havasu City
Well known by boat-lovers as the "Personal Watercraft Capital of the World,” this coastline city sees over two and a half million visitors each year, who all flock towards more than 425 miles of breathtaking scenery and a wide array of exceptional watersports, including house boating, fishing, skiing, and kayaking. It’s home to the world-famous London Bridge, and because of the lake’s deep water, the town also provides ideal fishing conditions for black and striped bass, lineside bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish and trout.
A true Snowbird’s paradise, Lake Havasu City is a haven for those who love outdoor living. Visitors have the option of enjoying top-rated RV resorts or luxurious condominiums with spectacular views. The refreshingly warm weather is also nearly perfect, with just about 300 days of sunshine per year.
Lake Havasu City’s closest major airport: McCarran International Airport in nearby Las Vegas, NV
Voted the most beautiful place in America by USA Weekend, this Arizonian favorite destination is blessed with four mild seasons marked by abundant sunshine and very clean air. Ideal annual average high and low temperatures are 74.7 and 45.7 degrees, respectively, making the city an even bigger favorite among Snowbirds.
The upscale retirement and tourism community is located in the high desert just under the towering southwestern rim of the vast Colorado Plateau and has become a center for traditional and contemporary arts, offering a variety of galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops. Because of its striking landscape, many of Hollywood's most classic western films were shot in and around the town, where breathtaking scenic routes are set amongst towering sandstone cliffs glowing with an energizing red hue. A number of shooting locations can even still be visited via off-road trails.
Sedona is located in northern Arizona only 130 miles from Phoenix, 50 miles from Prescott, 40 miles from Flagstaff, 24 miles from Jerome, 20 miles from Clarkdale, 19 miles from Camp Verde, and 16 miles from Cottonwood.
Sedona’s closest major airport: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
8. Bullhead City
Located in Arizona's west-central Mohave County, on the east bank of the Colorado River near the juncture of Arizona, California, and Nevada, this is the sister city to the popular gaming community of Laughlin, Nevada. The year-round sunshine makes it the perfect spot for families, retirees, and vacationers hoping to have some fun on the river.
Take an exciting spin on a personal watercraft, or a leisurely cruise aboard your choice of several tour boats. Go trophy fishing for bass and trout, or hang out at thousands of fully-hooked-up campsites sitting right at the water’s edge. It’s a true oasis, right in the heart of the desert.
Bullhead City’s closest major airport: Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport
Home to some of the most amazing natural beauty to be found in Arizona, the area offers the largest stand of ponderosa pines in the world, giving its smog-free air an extra fresh aroma. Prescott brings the peace and tranquility of a small town atmosphere to all the perks of a big city, such as superb medical care including the highly ranked Yavapai Regional Medical Center hospital. Other attractions include a bountiful year-round arts and entertainment scene, a recently expanded library, and a brand new adult center. There are also six golf courses, five lakes, and endless amounts of shopping and fine dining.
The city’s four mild seasons offer just enough variation to Snowbirds of all kinds. It was also recently chosen as one of CNNMoney’s top five places to retire in America. Along with an enjoyable climate, the old western town also contains over 600 buildings in the National Register of Historic Places. It is anybody’s perfect historic winter getaway.
Prescott is in Central Northern Arizona, 96 miles northwest of Phoenix, 95 miles from the Grand Canyon National Park, 90 miles southwest of Flagstaff, 40 miles from Sedona, 30 miles from Jerome, 20 miles from Camp Verde, and 5 miles from Cottonwood.
Prescott’s closest major airport: Prescott Municipal Airport, Ernest A. Love Field
This article was written by Pamela Chan.