What the very best RV show is, I can’t say, because there are soooo many. The best RV shows for you are the one you can attend, and for that there are many opportunities in just about all the 48 contiguous states — for obvious reasons, Hawaii is not a great RV travel destination, although Alaska is, and traveling through Canada to get there won’t bother any of the anglers in your party. RVMiles is a nice website that keeps an updated RV show list by date and region.
The Biggest, If Not the Best
But why go to an RV show? If it’s to compare different makes and models, bigger is better. “America’s Largest RV Show,” albeit self-proclaimed, is in Hershey, Pennsylvania. You can catch it in September of next year, but until then, here’s their website: https://www.largestrvshow.com.
Longest-Running RV Show
Boasting over 1400 RVs to check out across almost one million square feet, which is over 33 football fields in size, as they note, the name isn’t all hyperbole. Tens of thousands attend each year, and have for nearly 50 years, making it one of, if not the longest-running RV show in America.
With vendors and manufacturers on site to demonstrate the latest models, it’s a great opportunity to comparison shop, and to buy. For the symposium-lovers there are seminars discussing the usual topics of interest about RV life and operation, given by experts in the industry. Of course, hobnobbing with other RVers is a great way to learn.
Why this RV show?
With nearby accommodations for you and your dogs (if you don’t want to stroller them around like a baby), and on-site amenities like mobility scooters, as well as conveniences such as concessions and restrooms in the huge indoor venue, there’s little reason not to go. But if you need one to convince the chocolate-lover in your group, let me repeat it’s in Hershey, PA.
With hundreds of RV parks in any given state—there’s nearly 15,000 in the U.S.—there’s an RV show near you, too. Some of the biggest RV shows are in states that are less “RV friendly,” like California and New York, where high fuel prices and roadways with low bridges or other restrictions make RVing less convenient, according to RVLife. So, let me highlight some others.
Top Picks of the Rest
Coming up soon is the old hometown favorite, the 2020 Tarrant County RV Show. Housed downtown (and thankfully indoors during January) at the Fort Worth Convention Center, which still is a jewel of a venue, it’s one of the largest and oldest RV shows in Texas. The event boasts hundreds of RV models to see, as well as local dealers and reps from the major brands.
The show itself may be a simpler affair than the one in Hershey, but Fort Worth is a nice little town to visit, with many shops and restaurants within walking distance of the FWCC. You should know that while Texas roadways are easy to navigate, Texas Blue Laws are not, so don’t wait until the very last minute to make your deal.
With hundreds of RV parks in the state, and average January temperatures around 50° F, Texas is a popular choice for snowbirds. Within a tank or two of gas from the Tarrant County RV Show are fun sites to RV to, like fossilized dinosaur footprints in Glen Rose, or hang around a couple weeks for the Yagas Chili Quest & Beer Fest all the way down south in Galveston. There’s even drive-thru tours of the LBJ Ranch (you should park the trailer somewhere first), home of the late U.S. President and his wife of the same initials, and with some advance notice, private tours are available at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, which will reopen by the time the RV show has closed.
Twice in the Midwest
The following month, maybe you can make your way northeast to St. Louis, Missouri, for their RV Vacation & Travel Show hosted by the Midwest Gateway RV Dealers Association. Missourians take their RV camping very seriously, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable crowd to associate with yourself. If you can’t make that one, they hold another in the fall.
Over 40 years and running, the St. Louis RV Vacation & Travel Show is one of the largest in the Midwest. With hundreds of models within a quarter-million square feet of the America’s Center, you’ll find the latest in RV floor plans as well parts and service—not to mention info on local campgrounds and resorts where you should take your RV camping trips.
Like so many businesses here, most of the dealers are family-owned and have decades-long histories. Family-owned businesses in Missouri have a reputation for great customer service, and the reps you meet on the show floor may be the very same ones who will greet you at the dealership’s door. I recommend Travers St. Louis RV. You can tell them I sent ya—and please do, because I owe them a favor (full disclosure: we bought our RV from them).
Put YOUR Camper to the Test
While we’re on the subject, let’s break out of the box for a bit and mention the Heartland Owners Club Rally. RV “shows” can be more than just trade shows at some civic venue, and some of the major brands enjoy customer loyalty rivaled by very few companies—if you’ve ever seen two Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders give that low salute to each other, then you know what I mean. And if you own a Heartland RV, this is the Rally for you, (actually, the rest of you aren’t excluded, though you’ll have to pay an extra fee).
With events all over the country, this members-only club gathers for fellowship, festivals, and potluck dinners. Their website is a great resource for RVers, with blogs and forums, and, of course, links to the manufacturer. Tour the length of the state between St. Louis and Danville between the February RV Show and the Rally in May, because Spring in Missouri is spectacular.
Sweet Mobile Home, Chicago
The Windy City has more nicknames than RV Parks, but The City of Big Shoulders has one of the best RV shows and maybe the slickest RV Show website, https://www.chicagorvshow.com. Besides the usual dealers and demo RVs, Second City’s RV show features an exhibitors list that has tons of camping accessories providers. You’ll find booths from the likes of Hillside Fabricating, maker of the essential Fire Buddy, or Barely Roughing It, who will smooth over your picnic table and other stuff, and services galore—everything from truck detailing to home food delivery.
So if you attend the RV show of The Hog-Butcher to the World, you may want to pick up some cutlery. Or maybe when you tire of the City by the Lake, you’ll grab a new set of wheels for your trip out to Sun City West, AZ, (https://beavercreekgolfcarts.net).
Speaking of the Grand Canyon State, you’d better hurry out to Glendale if you want to see the Arizona RV Super Show on October 17. And with the higher speed limits out there, you can really hurry, although that website covers the whole US of A, and is updated weekly. They’re boasting “top brands” and “massive discounts” to be had there at State Farm Stadium. Let’s face it, you’re not going out there to watch football. I mean, probably. Go, Chiefs! (I live in Missouri, in case you haven’t figured that out yet).
These days there are more RV choices available than there are alternate names for New York Done Right. And whether you live in the Home of the Blues (yep, that’s Chicago again), or the home of The Blues (Missouri!), there’s an RV show near you, or will be soon, and plenty of RV destinations nearby it. Unless you live in the aforementioned Hawaii. Mahalo!