You are enjoying the beauty of Colorado when you realize you need to be in Asheville, North Carolina by the following weekend. With no stops, it is a solid 24 hour drive so you will likely take five days to get there. Do you plot a course and book campgrounds each night? Or do you cross your fingers that there are Cracker Barrels and Walmarts along the way? Nothing against the latter idea (we certainly have been known to enjoy a good night sleep in a Cracker Barrel parking lot), but if you want to enjoy yourself, the unique stops of Harvest Hosts offer much more than great biscuits with your eggs.
Our very first night as full-time RVers was at a Harvest Hosts in West Texas. We stopped at the Pheasant Ridge Winery in Amarillo and enjoyed a beautiful night alongside the vines with no one else near us. When we arrived, we were delighted to do a tasting and sample the product of those vines. The winery owner stopped by and everyone working there were so nice. We enjoyed talking with our pourer who was pursuing a graduate degree in Psychology and working in a developing area between AI and human behavior. This really perked our ears since our youngest son had just declared himself a Psych major and didn’t want to be a psychologist. (Maybe he would find work after college!)
Wineries, Breweries, Golf Course, Oh My!
After that initial stay, we have enjoyed several Harvest Hosts locations as we travel between our camping spots. We have stayed in a family run winery within miles of the heart of Denver, at a fantastic brewery near Acadia National Park, and a few golf courses with lovely views of the greens. At the Spero Winery, the wife happily gave me a tour of the winery, which is located below her house, and shared the history of this family-run business started by an Italian immigrant. And at the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, we were allowed to use the amazing pool and hot tubs!
Last year, as we crossed Oklahoma on our way to the Ozarks, we stopped at our first museum. The Stafford Air and Space Museum is dedicated to Oklahoman, test pilot and astronaut, Lt. General Thomas Stafford. While his name is not familiar to me, I soon learned he played an important role in our space race. It was fascinating to hear his story of growing up in Oklahoma and becoming an aviator, then an astronaut. The museum also housed replicas and originals showcasing the amazing history of aviation and space. For the entry of $7, not only did I learn a great deal and support the museum, but I doubt I could have paid less in the area for a campsite.
How It Works
Once you are a member, supporting the business is your only payment for a campsite. The Hosts generally accommodate one to several rigs (without hookups generally) for free. You are encouraged to support them by purchasing a product and in our experience, we have happily done it. Sometimes, we have gotten a great souvenir, or more often, an experience that we would not have had otherwise. At a brewery in New Hampshire, we were able to enjoy a great dinner with our beer and watch an important football game that would have been missed otherwise. I was happy to support them, especially since it meant I didn’t have to make dinner while traveling! At our last Harvest Host, the Horizon Golf Course near El Paso, TX, Barry went in to the grille to enjoy a night cap and was surprised to hear live music. It was one of the first times since COVID that we saw a live band, so it was a marvelous added benefit!
While you will spend money with the Hosts, you are in control of that spend. For me, it is well worth it, especially since we usually enjoy an unique experience within walking distance of our rig. It offers a great alternative to spending the night in a Walmart or a campground along the way. When we have those quick overnights along a route, we rarely leave the rig. We are usually too tired to explore the area or enjoy a local attraction. Harvest Hosts enables us to combine a great night sleep with the opportunity to enjoy something local along the way!
Do You Need More Reasons?
With more than 1400 locations, we haven’t made a dent in the offerings and are looking forward to trying more. Some sound particularly special and worth being their own destination. For instance, the alpaca farm run by nuns in Kansas looks fun and I would love to stay at a lavender farm. And for those with kids, Licon Dairy in Texas with its petting zoo is a popular stop. Joel Holland, the owner of Harvest Host, shared some of the more unique and popular Hosts in our interview. Even he admits that he hasn’t seen them all! (By the way, Joel is a RVer and one of the nicest people so your membership also supports a great RVer!)
Another plus for members of Harvest Hosts is the website. It is very easy to use and the routing features are a great companion to planning your trip. Not only can you see the Hosts along the way but you can also choose a region to see if there is a Host you want to visit. Each Hosts has an entry that fully describes its business and details the number of spots and any restrictions on size. In addition to giving contact information and photos of the area, you can also read reviews from other RVers on their experience. I haven’t read one yet that didn’t have glowing things to say about the spot and the owners.
Opportunities for You
To be a courteous Harvest Hosts member, you are asked to follow a few simple rules:
- Call ahead to check availability and make sure to call to cancel if your plans change.
- Make a purchase to support the Host.
- Check on any restrictions once you arrive and be courteous.
- Enjoy yourself!
This is one of the few memberships that we use regularly and have even routed our trip so that we can visit Hosts. When in Cottonwood, AZ, we met a couple of RVers who were actually Harvest Hosts in Minnesota. We had so much fun talking to Craig and Kathy that we will be making a special trip to Fransen Farms next year to visit them. And that is another perk of Harvest Hosts – the people. We have met such wonderful Hosts who are so willing to share intel on the area or their passion for their business. It has added so much to the journey to meet them!
Sadly, there are not Hosts everywhere…. yet! They continue to add new locations all the time. In fact, you can earn back the cost of your membership through Harvest Host. If you refer a site and they sign up, Harvest Hosts will extend your membership! And if you sign them up for Harvest Hosts, you can earn a commission. That gives you a new focus in your travels. Now those visits to local brewery are income opportunities!
Sign up Now!
We are big fans, obviously, of Harvest Hosts and encourage you to try them yourselves. They offer great alternatives for expensive overnights along your route, and might even give you an option when the campgrounds are full. Harvest Host is raising their prices in April 2021 so use our link to save 15% off. And if you buy before prices increase, you can lock in that rate for the life of your membership, no increase at the end of the first year or after.
Update: Prices will go up April 15, 2021 so hurry to lock in your best price.
Note: We are an affiliate of Harvest Hosts and do earn a small commission off your membership at no additional cost to you. Consider it a nice way to support The Virtual Campground and the content we offer you.