Our Experience with Thousand Trails So Far! Win Some, Lose Some!
Near the end of September, as Brian and I began our travels South, we made the decision to purchase our first Thousand Trails membership. Knowing we would traverse the SouthEast, we decided to purchase the SE Zone as well as the Trails Collection since many of our upcoming locations were Thousand Trails parks. In addition, we purchased the SW Zone (covering AZ, CA & NV) where we'll winter this year. While the cost of membership is pricey, we figured after 25 nights (at an average of $25.00 per) and we'd break even. At this time in the year, the daytime temps were still warm, and while we like to boondock, keeping our AC running for the dogs was a priority for us. Electric hookups would be necessary and Thousand Trails fit the bill! We received suggestions from others to buy a membership from a camping outlet; however, we ended up using a discount code from a fellow YouTuber and purchased our membership directly from Thousand Trails. It was a super easy process and done completely over the phone. We were able to make our first reservations the same day! Pretty convenient!
Our first experience in a TT RV park was Virginia Landing RV Resort in Quinby, Virginia (Encore). Before we arrived, we researched the location by reading the reviews. Most were not flattering. You can tell that this resort was probably prime back in the 80's, but the amenities have since deteriorated and little had been done to upgrade. We knew this before our arrival, but the location was really appealing to us. Virginia Landing is close to one of our favorite beaches - Assateague National Seashore - and is located right on the Chesapeake. While the facility and amenities are outdated and in dire need of upgrades, we found the park to be one of our favorites. When you arrive, you can choose a site close to the water or one in the pine trees. We chose to be close to the water and were rewarded with the sounds of water lapping the beach and smell of saltwater outside our rig. Additionally we met a couple (on their honeymoon) who showed us how to clam dig and catch blue crab, right out our front door. Imagine having all you can eat, blue crab for dinner every night! The sunsets from the onsite pier were to die for! Each evening we rode our bike to the pier and celebrated the end of day with a glass of wine. The park is in a remote location so it was very quiet.
Park review on a scale from 1-5, we'd give this a 3.5.
Virginia Landing RV Site Overlooking Water
Waterfront for clam & mussel digging as well as crabbing
Sunset from the Virginia Landing Pier
Whispering Pines RV Resort in Newport, North Carolina was our second TT RV resort. The facility was a nice upgrade from Virginia Landing but the short term RV parking reminded us of a grassy parking lot type situation. Amenities in this park were great! Nice pool, laundry facility and private baths/showers. We also selected this park due to location, close to the Emerald Isles. We met some nice people at this park who later became friends we met up with in another TT park down the road.
Park review on a scale from 1-5, we'd give this a 4.
Whispering Pines Short Term RV Parking
Whispering Pines Private Pier
Our first Thousand Trails park in Florida was in Port Orange, Florida - Rose Bay Travel Park (Encore). Having read the reviews on this park, we knew it wasn't going to be one of the premier parks we'd heard about, but the location was going to be top notch for visits to Daytona Beach. The RV sites are situated in between seasonal and full time RV's and mobile homes. Our pad was cracked, terribly uneven and full of weeds, but it was surrounded by grass. Unfortunately, we were also located on the main drag which was VERY busy. Speed limits posted in the park are basically ignored and residents travelled at high speeds up and down the streets. We had some difficulty walking our dogs in the neighborhood. If not for the location close to Daytona (bike riding distance) we would not have stayed long here.
We would not stay here again and left such comments in our survey. A quick note about Daytona Beach - it was an awesome location to ride our eBikes on the beach. We had an absolute ball doing this several times during our stay. if you get a chance to go, make sure you check out the Ponce De Leon Inlet Light House and beach! Truly awesome!
Park review on a scale from 1-5, we'd give this a 2.5.
Rose Bay Travel Park RV Site
Riding the eBikes on Daytona Beach
View from Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
While we weren't able to use our Thousand Trails membership during this stay, we did stay a few nights at Fort Lauderdale's Sunshine Holiday Park (Encore). Once again, this park was chosen due to its close proximity to the beach. The amenities were nice (2 swimming pools) and a decent laundry facility, but the entire park had only ONE shower. ONE! How do you have one shower??
Like Rose Bay Travel Park, this park had quite a few full timers on site. The RV pads were weird. They're called dual pads and you share the same space with rigs entering from opposite sides so your patios face away from each other. Luckily, we had our own site for the time we were there but others had to share. The only reason we'd return to this park would be for convenience and location to Fort Lauderdale beach, which by the way, was beautiful! White sand beach with calm, clear, blue green water!
Park Review on a scale from 1 - 5, we'd give this a 3.
Our site at the Sunshine Holiday RV Park
Ft. Lauderdale Beach - Gorgeous!
Lauderdale by the Sea
The coup de gras for us, so far has been Sunshine Key RV Resort and Marina on the Florida Keys (Encore). This was one of the most amazing places we've stayed at. Our stay required a $22.50 premium per night but well worth it! Because we stayed in October, the park was only about a 1/3 full so that gave us practically a waterfront site for the two weeks we were there.
The amenities are awesome at this park! The beach and turquoise water were exceptional. Here's a video link to this park: https://youtu.be/R8LMrxOXhUo.
Sunshine Key is located on Ohio Key (in the lower keys) and close to Key West. If you go, don't forget to visit Bahia Honda State Park which is only about 2 miles down the road. Exceptional beach and turquoise water. Fantastic!
Park review on a scale from 1-5, we'd give this a 5!
Our site at Sunshine Key RV Resort
Bahia Honda State Park
The last Thousand Trails park we stayed at so far was Orlando RV resort in Clermont, Florida. Once again, we chose this park for its close proximity to DisneyWorld and the Magic Kingdom. The park is well known for its amenities and it didn't disappoint. One of the nicest and largest parks we've ever been to! A first for us, we pulled into the park and told to find our own site. While the opportunity was cool, it was a little nerve-wracking as others were trying to do the same thing at the same time. We felt we had to react quickly, but chose a site that we loved. The park is very large and having our eBikes helped out tremendously. You won't be disappointed staying here!
Park review on a scale from 1-5, we'd give this a 4, for a couple of reasons. #1, Wifi and Cellular were terrible! #2, getting out of the park was a bit cumbersome. We had to make a U-turn and deal with quite a bit of traffic. #3, we reached out to the park managers when a neighbor parked their tow dolly in our front yard. It was never addressed. Proximity to DisneyWorld was great - only about 12 miles in total.
We seem to have stayed in many more Encore parks than regular Thousand Trails. It's well known for some plans you can hop back and forth between TT and Encore, but we haven't had the opportunity to do this yet. Check-in for these parks has been a breeze and in most cases, we've been assigned a site. We were told by other TT pros that if you don't like the site they assign you, just ask and they'll let you move. As far as reservations go, we use the Thousand Trails site and book out up to 60 days in advance. The site will let you know if you're outside the boundaries of your membership.
So far, our experience with Thousand Trails has been positive and we've definitely found the value in having the membership. While some of the parks could be improved, all were in great locations giving us the opportunity to explore our surroundings. The parks can be a mixed bag, so we recommend doing your research so you know what to expect. If you're interested in a Thousand Trails membership, we'd love to have you use our name as a referral! [ID# 290844874] www.thousandtrails.com.
Our travels through Florida have been awesome, but it's time for us to begin our return to Arizona for the holidays. Last stop - Destin, FL!
We'll see you there!