Flocks of cold Canadian snowbirds migrate to Arizona each year seeking warmth, access to fascinating landmarks, a plethora of golf courses, cultural events, music festivals and incredible food.
Never has there been a more idyllic destination for heat-seeking Canadians wanting to embrace the warm air and leave behind the glacial winters of the north. Arizona bears witness each season to the intentional migration of thousands of RV and second-home owning Canadians as they drive or fly across numerous states to reach their winter destinations.
Most Canadian snowbirds gather around the west of the capital of Phoenix. They spend languid winters settled in glorious RV parks, condominiums or mobile home communities. Moderate daytime temperatures hover around 20 degrees Celcius.
Arizona is world-famous for its awe-inspiring nature, landmarks, endless skies and some of the best open roads. Monument Valley, Cathedral Rock and the Grand Canyon, pine-covered mountains, and cactus-filled parks are a few of the highlights of the state’s soul. Arizona was designed for road trips. Route 66 journeys Arizona snowbirds through captivating scenery and retro-feel villages. Retirees who want to stay closer to home can embrace the smorgasbord of other activities like golfing, tennis, bird watching, horseback riding, cultural events, shopping and dining.
The cultural hub of Arizona is undoubtedly Phoenix. The thriving desert megalopolis thrives under 300 days of unadulterated sunshine. Nicknamed the ‘Valley of the Sun’, it’s home to the Desert Botanical Garden and some peculiar-looking cacti, trees and flowers from Arizona and further afield.
Cultural Canadian snowbirds in Arizona can enjoy opera, symphony, world-class theatre, and some of the best Southwestern and Mexican food. The vibrant downtown arts community embraces cowboy heritage, old Western and Naïve art in a plethora of galleries and cooperative studios. Phoenix is an ideal hub for snowbirds who wish to explore bordering countries.
Scottsdale is a luxury destination ideal for visitors who appreciate fine dining, shopping, celebrated resorts, spas and nightlife. The towering skyscraper Carnegiea gigantea defines the Sonoran Desert with its 20-metre high saguaro cactus that interfuse the landscape. Scottsdale is for snowbird lovers of nature, the great outdoors and kaleidoscope sunsets.
Hot air balloons take to the skies as the sun rises over Deer Valley and the Sonoran Desert. Inner-cowboys are unleashed as horses gallop across the desert. Plenty of gentle walks trek across the foothills of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Urbanites should head to the Old Town that boasts wine-tasting rooms, cafés and award-winning craft breweries, as well as two of the city’s most famous museums.
If Mesa were to have a label, it would be the ‘culinary gateway’. Each year, the Fresh Foodie Trail celebrates the treasured heritage of farms, explores wineries and craft breweries, and meets masterful chefs who source their ingredients locally. Many farms and artisanal markets provide a continuous abundance of seasonal goods for visitors in the winter months.
Snowbirds can explore Tonto National Forest, the fifth largest forest in the United States. Tonto National Monument has two beautifully preserved Native American cliff dwellings that tell the story of ancient cultures, innovations and bygone ages. The park has three lakes and two rivers that allow for desert boating, paddleboarding, kayaking and water skiing.
Mesa has the largest arts centre in the Southwest. Wander through sculpture, art, theatres, galleries, exhibition rooms, and classrooms that line the town streets. The Geo Tagging experience has adventurers hooked as it tracks their route on the Mesa’s Sonoran Desert quest.
Gilbert is one of the hottest choices as a home-away-from-home destination for lots of migrating Canadian snowbirds. At the base of the jagged Superstition Mountain lies the Lost Dutchman State Park. The numerous wilderness trails happily show off carpets of desert wildflowers, native plants, mule deer, coyote, javelina, and jackrabbit in the spring. The Riparian Preserve is the premier bird-watching facility where lucky visitors have seen the rare oriole and the prairie warbler. The park also has an astronomy observatory for those frequent clear, cloudless nights.
Downtown Gilbert has been restored to its former glory. Again, the arts run in harmony with trendy eateries and wine tasting rooms. Snowbirds and other visitors can explore artisan farmer’s markets each weekend and discover plentiful local food and art.
Quartzsite is a unique destination and hosts millions of visitors and rockhounds over the flip-flop-cool winter months. The Pow Wow Gem and Mineral Show has been running for well over half a century and unites thousands of vendors who bring gems and mineral specimens from all over the world. The eerie ghost town of Castle Dome feels abandoned as weathered saloons, homes, and offices stand as modern-day lookouts across forgotten ancient lands. Scattered around Quartzsite are various Native American petroglyphs that are drawn into the rock and tell tales of their life in the desert. Keen-eyed snowbirds will also spot grinding holes in the rocks where indigenous people ground their corn and seed.
Glendale is fondly known as ‘Arizona’s Antiques Capital’. Wander through Old Towne’s historic redbrick sidewalks as gaslights lead the way to multi-award-winning dining rooms and specialty shops. Catlin Court is brimming with shops that provide cover for thousands of antiques and treasures, all prettily surrounded by picture-perfect picket fences and mature trees. Immersive programmes include tours of the Manistee Ranch, thought to be the last working cattle ranch in the Phoenix area.
Modern Glendale is the ideal destination for sports and entertainment-loving snowbirds. The National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals play at Super Bowl-famed State Farm Stadium. Just across the street, the Arizona Coyotes skate with furore at the Gila River Arena. Glendale hosts numerous events each year, including the eponymous jazz and blues festival and the chocolate festival. The stage has also seen big-name acts such as Prince, Rod Stewart, Toby Keith, Britney Spears, and Usher.
Tucson is a mere stone’s throw from the Mexican border. It’s a fun-loving college town set in the valley and swaddled by the jagged Santa Catalina Mountains and swathes of the Saguaro Desert. Whilst it doesn’t attract as many snowbirds as the Phoenix area, visitors instantly fall in love with its historic charm.
Arizona’s second-largest city is a melting pot of Native American, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo traditions. The city is divided into distinct neighbourhoods peppered with 19th-century buildings and the giant cacti and contemporary skyscrapers that form the iconic skyline. Eclectic shops selling vintage tat, endless cool cafés and slightly divey bars are juxtaposed with culturally rich choices like opera, ballet, theatre and fine-dining restaurants making the town all the more fun.
Sun City is a uniquely planned leisure-focused community ideal for active retirees. The golf-centric destination attracts droves of snowbirds each year. The temperate climate and verdant landscape offer almost endless choices of activities.
There are eight golf courses, each with varying handicaps jigsawed into a mere six square miles. Other activities include hiking, cycling, tennis and pickleball, a somewhat confusing game based on tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Sun City has been attracting quinquagenarians for over half a century. Their legacy is to provide a world-class community that embraces and honours leisure-focussed snowbirds and permanent residents alike.
According to Guinness World Records, Yuma is known as the sunniest city on earth. It promises warm weather and sunshine over 91% of the year. Although Yuma is a small town, it has the big city heart and vibes of Phoenix and San Diego. The Colorado River is glorious for boating, reading, wandering, jet skiing and swimming. Adventurous snowbirds can take an ATV over the Imperial Sand Dunes, the nation’s most enormous mass of inland sand dunes that stretch for 40 miles. The dunes have also seen the likes of Luke Sky Walker, Darth Vader and Princess Leia during the filming of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Foodie-inspired Canadian snowbirds will appreciate the authentic, multi-award-winning local cuisine. From dine-in Mexican cantinas to quaint patio cafes, the food scene in Yuma is diverse and deliciously satisfying. Snowbirds can explore the vibrant history and wander through the haunting Yuma Territorial Prison, which is terrifyingly well-preserved, the Sanguinetti House Museum and Colorado River State Historic Park. The Hull Mine at Castle Dome Museum has a mesmerizing fluorescent cavern. It is said to be the most spectacular mineral wall ever viewed.
Yuma is America’s winter lettuce capital and produces over 90% of the lettuce, citrus, and many cruciferous vegetables for the United States every winter. Yuma proudly boasts the Winter Vegetable Lettuce Capital of the World. Unique Yuman tours take visitors on Field to Feast and Date Night dining experiences.
Sedona is thought to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. 1.8 million acres of national forest surround the town with breathtaking soaring terracotta stone monolith giants. The vast lands are home to canyons, evergreen forests and tranquil oases. Sedona has extraordinary energy vortexes, natural geomagnetic points that create a swirling energy centre radiating from the earth’s surface. Scores of visitors have reported feeling inspired by these beneficial spiritual energy sources. Sedona is classed as sacred by Native Americans and thought to facilitate balance, spiritual renewal, healing, and intuitiveness. The town has a bustling arts community and a new-age spiritual vibe. There are jewellery stores, clothing and homeware boutiques, spas and lots of galleries.
Migrating snowbirds can don their walking boots and traverse one of the many spectacular trails through the red earth. They love nothing more than the dramatic scenery of Red Rock Park. The iconic Grand Canyon National Park is slightly north of Sedona.
Now that you’ve seen the appeal to heading south during the Canadian winter, you’ll need to get your ducks in a row at home. One headache that arises is property maintenance! Yardly’s here to help maintain your property with snow removal while you’re down south in Arizona. And, if you choose to stay longer we even offer yard care services including lawn mowing, weed control, and spring and fall clean ups. Request your free quote today!
We hope you found this post useful. For more snowbird tips, check out our home management tips for snowbirds, top picks for Canadian snowbird destinations, and snowbird destinations in Florida.