Are you the type of traveler who likes to have every stop planned out? Or do you prefer to have some flexibility on your journey? My husband and I tend toward each of these opposites and Harvest Hosts provide a perfect compromise! We can have most of our journey planned out but have unique and interesting options for the occasional single nights between destinations.
Last year, as we were planning an epic road trip across the USA, I happened to hear about Harvest Hosts and signed us right up. (Obviously, I’m the one who is more comfortable with not having everything planned out!) It sounded like a potentially very useful and unique addition to our camping repertoire and it has certainly been a very positive experience for us. We’ve been able to be more flexible on our journey and add a meaningful element to our travels that we might not otherwise have had: meeting and talking with local people about their area and supporting their businesses.
Harvest Hosts is basically a network of more than 1000 farms, wineries, breweries, golf courses, museums and other interesting places across the nation that will allow you to park your rig for free for one night! Do not expect electricity, water, restrooms or anything more than a welcome place to park as the hosts are not required to offer any of that. You must be self-contained (bathroom and kitchen) and you must call ahead to check availability before you plan to arrive.
Here are just four of the Harvest Host experiences we were fortunate to have in 2019:
An Organic Farm in Pennsylvania
We made our way through the hills of Pennsylvania to this wonderful organic farm. They greeted us warmly, led us to a good place to park and were super friendly. They encouraged us to roam the fields, kindly granted us use of a nearby bathroom in a shed, and even offered us water hookup, which we declined. They had items available for purchase and showed us the outdoor fridge and where to leave cash on the honor system if we chose to buy anything during our stay. And we did! We stocked up on yummy local cheeses, ice cream and more for our journey. They also kindly let my son fly his drone (you can spot our travel trailer on the photo above).
A Wildlife Park in New Mexico
We arrived a little later than anticipated due to some crazy Albuquerque traffic we’d encountered earlier (it even rivaled our crazy Florida traffic!) but the gentleman we met was very nice and accommodating. We had the whole parking area to ourselves – close to the freeway, convenient and surprisingly quiet. Unfortunately we did not have time to check out the park the next day as we had many miles ahead of us but we really appreciated this spot and at least bought some water and snacks.
A Rural Homestead in Iowa
OK, I’m going to take full credit for this one since this was not actually a Harvest Host when we arrived but it was when we left! We stayed with dear friends on their family homestead on 5 acres in rural Iowa. They are not far off I-80, and they have a beautiful big red barn and lots of animals – dogs, chickens, geese, sheep, turkeys, even a peacock and an apiary… plus ample space for our travel trailer. We all love it here and between us and our 8 kids, we always have a great time together whether we’re here in Florida or in Iowa. This was the first time we stayed here with our trailer as a stop on a road trip after having just stayed at another Harvest Host (the organic farm mentioned above). Let’s just say we had a really excellent Fourth of July visit and some adult beverages may have been involved. Next thing we know, our friends are Harvest Hosts!! So, you’re welcome, because now you can stay here too if you sign up to join Harvest Hosts! Check out Michelle’s blog post on being a Harvest Host here.
A Space Museum in Oklahoma
OK, so the kids initially thought I was nuts. So did my husband. We pulled up to this museum which is directly adjacent to a small airport and found the spot that had been recommended to us when we called earlier: in the parking lot right next to some massive construction vehicle. Bear in mind, it was 99 degrees and there are obviously no hook-ups to electricity in the parking lot and we have no generator. But we ultimately decided to go for it. How often do you get to camp with a variety of aircraft surrounding your parking space? We found a good (air-conditioned!) restaurant nearby and then settled in for the night with this unique view from our camper windows. The next morning we decided to go have a look around this place. It was AMAZING! We spent hours there and every kid (and the hubby) loved it. It had some really interesting displays and we learned a lot. It struck us that we would likely have driven right past this place if it weren’t for Harvest Hosts and we are so happy we had a chance to see it.
Needless to say, we renewed our Harvest Hosts membership (just $79 for the whole year) and look forward to more interesting experiences this year. Want to join? Use my referral link below to sign up and get 15% off and then get started planning some stops along your next trip!
Some of the places still on my Harvest Hosts bucket list include a llama farm, wineries, caverns and a zip line attraction in a state we hope to visit next summer! The Harvest Hosts app is well designed and easy to use: you can search for hosts in any area, leave reviews and view and upload photos. You can easily identify the type of host too, as the variety of hosts is amazing: from golf courses to breweries to farms and museums and other attractions and points of interest along the way, with more joining all the time. Of course, I shouldn’t name the specific places we visited because you need to be a member to gain access to the thousand plus generous hosts who offer their space (exception made for my friend who already shared her Harvest Host experience).
So if you’re looking for unique places for a night on your way to your final destination, give Harvest Hosts a try! I think you’ll be very happy you did.