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The concept of Harvest Hosts sounds amazing for those who are looking for places to stay the night in an RV. When compared to a place such as an RV park or a crowded campground, a Harvest Hosts location makes the camping experience seem much more enjoyable.
In case you aren’t aware, Harvest Hosts is a service that is made up of over 994 (currently) wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms, museums and golf courses that allow RVers to park their camper on their property free for a night.
Although it is free, it is generally expected that you will purchase something from the local business in exchange for their hospitality.
This is a good way for you to support small, local businesses and also to enjoy the beauty of the location. Many of these locations are located in a setting that is idyllic and almost dreamy for the person staying in an RV.
It’s very welcoming to pull up to a vineyard and see nothing but grapevines across the land as you stay peacefully at night in your camper.
At times, you might be the only one on the property or there may be a minimal amount of other campers staying along with you but never crowding you.
This is in contrast to a campground that might be overcrowded and doesn’t make for a pleasant experience at times. A campground can often be loud and intrusive and not very visually appealing.
Oftentimes, RV parks are just off the interstate making them loud locations to stay at. In addition, the crowds of people that are often there make them much less appealing than a place like what a Harvest Hosts location has to offer.
Of course, all campgrounds are not like this and I have stayed in some awesome RV parks that offer a very nice view and a serene feeling.
If you are like me, when you go camping you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle and noise from everyday life.
It’s a pleasure to pull up to a place as quiet as a vineyard or farm might be out in the middle of nowhere and enjoy a peaceful night.
In this article, I’m going to talk about my experience of purchasing a membership at Harvest Hosts and then actually using it on my first night as well as a night in another location.
I would like to tell you about my experiences and let you know whether I think it is worth it or not.
This review will be completely unbiased as I will tell you things that I like as well as all the things that I dislike about the service.
Who Is Harvest Hosts For?
Harvest Hosts is for anyone who owns a self-contained RV and wants to have an additional option for places to camp. It’s great for people who like something a little different and don’t love the idea of staying in standard RV Parks all the time.
It’s for those who like to visit small businesses, taste great wines and meet great people who are driving our economy. It’s for retired RVers who like to golf and want to enjoy golfing and then staying at the location in their RV after they’ve birdied the 18th hole.
What if you do not drink alcohol?
You can still make great use of a Harvest Hosts membership even if you are not a wine drinker. There are many farms, museums and golf courses at your disposal that don’t offer alcohol so you won’t have to worry about it at these locations.
Even wineries often have other items that can be purchased instead of their wines.
Signing up for Harvest Hosts is an easy process. They offer a couple of different membership options. The first membership option is the classic membership that gives you access to all farms, vineyards, distilleries, breweries, museums and other available locations.
This is the most common option and offers a large network of currently over 994 locations across the United States. With a membership, you have access to all of these locations and you can call them, reserve a spot and stay the night for free if space is available.
The other option is the same as the first option but it also adds golf course locations. This is the membership that I chose because the golf course option gives you additional locations to choose from when you are traveling.
There are a lot of places that are limited with the classic locations so golf courses add a backup plan in case there is nowhere else to stay.
As an example, on the Pacific coast in Oregon, there are not currently a lot of vineyards and farms. However, there are quite a few golf courses along the way.
If you are traveling along this road, you might be able to stay at a golf course along the way.
When you sign up, the membership is for one year from your date of purchase. You will receive a tag that you will print out that hangs from your rearview mirror or stays on your dash while you are parked at a location.
This tag has your name and membership number to show anyone walking by that you have permission to be there. This way, you will not be asked to move in the middle of the night by someone who sees you parked.
Receive a 15% discount when you signup through the following link.
Sign up for Harvest Hosts (Affiliate Link)
Once you have signed up and are ready to use the service, you will just need to find locations where you can stay.
Harvest Hosts Locations
Harvest Hosts has a lot of locations. At the time of this writing, they have over 994 locations for the classic membership and 1350+ locations with the added on golf course membership.
Although there are a lot of areas that are thin on locations to stay, you can generally find something in the vicinity of almost anywhere you are traveling to. Some locations are quite popular so availability may be hard to come by depending on the time of year.
This is one of the bad parts of Harvest Hosts as the locations are not as plentiful as you would hope they would be.
Once you have a membership, you will see that options are sometimes limited depending on where you are going.
You can check the public Harvest Hosts map to get an idea of how many locations might be available in the area you will be in. Once you have purchased a membership, you will have access to a more detailed map that gives more information for each location.
As an example of areas that don’t have a lot of locations, one of our favorite places to travel to has been Jekyll Island Georgia on the East Coast. There aren’t any locations in this area and there are only golf courses.
However, with golf courses, I have found a problem. Although Harvest Hosts claims that you do not have to play golf, we have found a different story.
Some of the golf courses that we have called and inquired about have required that we play golf in order to stay for the night. This makes some of the golf courses unusable because, although I’m a golfer, I don’t care to play golf when I’m on a journey in my camper van.
I’m sure this isn’t always the case but unfortunately, the golf courses that have stood out to us as potential places to stay have disappointed in this regard.
So just know that if you are purchasing the golf course membership, you should be a golfer and expect to have to play golf during your visit. It might not be enough to spend money at the pro shop or restaurant.
The same can be said for the classic membership. Be sure that you know before you purchase that you will probably need to purchase wine or produce from the location you are staying in.
This may not be required but it is expected and it’s a common courtesy for the host who is allowing you to stay on their property.
Staying in one of these locations is a privilege, not a right.
First Night Review
My first night review begins in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I took a journey to the town of Townsend Tennessee in which I did some touring in the Cades Cove area which is a beautiful area and great for the nature seeker. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it.
It’s a great place to get away and see nature in its purest form. Even though it has become a popular area and there is a lot of traffic that goes through, it is still a great place to visit.
I found a winery in the area that I stayed at for the first time. The place was Pleasant Hill Vineyards in Maryville Tennessee.
I called to inquire about staying for the night which was on a Friday. The gentleman who answered the phone and coordinated my visit was very nice and he said there was availability on that night.
He told me that the wine tasting would be at 5:00 PM so I planned to be there around 4:00 so that I would be early.
Upon arrival at 4:00 PM, there was only one other RV on the property. It was a fifth wheel and I parked a good distance away from it so that we would each have our privacy.
The Vineyard was out of town on a small country road located in a serene area. There was no noise from traffic or any other loud noises that would be an issue.
After I parked in an excellent spot, I prepared for the wine tasting and my night of camping. At 5 PM, I made my way to the wine tasting room along with the other two ladies that were camping in the fifth wheel and were on an RV adventure of their own.
The wine tasting was very generous and I ended up buying a couple of bottles since it was so delicious. The company was pleasant and the evening was a very fun experience.
The wine tasting cost $15 but it was so worth it.
The rest of the evening daylight hours was spent meandering around the property with wine glasses in our hands. The owner showed us around the property and gave us a lesson on how the wine was grown and what was involved in the process to create the wine that was in our glass.
After chatting for a while, I went back to my van, settled in, watched a movie and enjoyed the rest of my night. It was super quiet and I couldn’t have asked for a better night of camping.
It was everything I had hoped it would be when I signed up for my membership.
The owner even gave us access to bathroom facilities on the property which was a great bonus. They were clean and it was a much-appreciated gesture.
I slept like a baby with the cool breeze coming in my opened windows and only the sounds of wildlife in the distance.
My first night was a success and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. After this visit, I knew that Harvest Hosts was a great decision. I love solitude and being away from the crowds so this was just the place for me to be.
Another Harvest Hosts Location Experience
The next Harvest Hosts experience I will discuss came when I was traveling through Asheville, NC with my wife and dog. We found one of the only farms in the area and chose to give them a call and see if we could stay the night.
The location was called Justus Orchard which was an apple orchard located just outside of Asheville North Carolina.
I read through the reviews on Harvest Hosts website and it seemed like a good place to stay. It had a lot of good reviews and it seemed like a place that has a lot of activity level.
I was surprised that we were able to get a parking spot at the location for the night. As we arrived, we parked in an overflow parking lot right next to the apple orchard. I made my way to the store to find the owner.
The owner was super nice and told me that I could either stay parked where I was or I could wait for the customers to leave and then park in a different location of my choosing.
I chose to stay where I was for the night since it was a good spot even though the overflow parking lot was not super level.
I was able to shimmy my van into a spot that was fairly level and made for a great parking spot. I didn’t have any leveling blocks with me so I made do the best I could which ended up being good enough.
The evening was very pleasant and we were treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets that I have seen in a while. This made the experience even better and more pleasant as the visual appeal of the sunset over the apple orchard made for a beautiful evening.
We enjoyed our time there and we took our dog walking around the apple orchard in the evening. We had a very pleasant walk with her and enjoyed eating dinner in our van. With only the sounds and sights of the apple orchard all around us, we felt like we were in heaven.
It was hard to believe that we were in our van staying in a setting like this for free.
There were only three or four other travel trailers at the location but they were far enough away from us that we never heard them and we rarely even saw them. I spoke with a couple of them and they were enjoying their stay just as much as we were.
Once night came we went to bed and besides a neighboring dog that barked on and off throughout the night, it was a peaceful experience.
This location is a busy location and the next morning we were nearly trapped as customers started filing in at the opening hour.
Luckily we didn’t get trapped and we were able to make it out of there before too much traffic came in. We purchased breakfast which included coffee, hot apple cider, and two apple fritters.
We also purchased a jar of apple jam to take back home with us.
It was all delicious and we left the location feeling as though it had been another successful Harvest Hosts trip. We were impressed with the amount of business the place actually gets but we’re surprised at how quaint and peaceful the place was after hours.
Things I Love About It
- The concept of helping small businesses. I like the idea of buying something from businesses in exchange for staying on their property.
- The peaceful camping experience. I have had nothing but good experiences so far and hope it stays that way.
- Discovering new places that you wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Some of the places are well off the beaten path making it a true adventure just to get to them.
- Tasting Good Wine. I like wine so naturally, this is one of my favorite parts of the experience.
- Experiencing farms and tasting freshly grown produce. I also love fruits and veggies and visiting farms to experience a fresh crop of locally farmed goods is amazing.
- Having an additional option for staying places when out on the road. It’s nice to have as many options as possible when traveling in a camper.
- Most locations are pet-friendly. We take our dog when we travel so we always look for pet-friendly stays.
- It’s an affordable way to stay in your camper. The price is worth it if you use it.
- Meeting friendly hosts and friendly RVers. I’ve met friendly hosts and also other people who were camping the same as I was. It has been very pleasant to meet and chat with these people.
- The App and website are great. It’s easy to find and read about locations by using the app. I use the iPhone app but I’m sure all of them are great.
Things I Don’t Like About It
- Limited locations. They are ever-expanding but the locations are sometimes sparse and limited.
- Some golf locations require you to play golf. I wasn’t happy that some locations require you to golf. I was hoping that buying something at a restaurant or pro shop would be enough.
- No access to amenities like showers, dump stations, electric, water, wifi, etc. Some locations do offer this but not many that I’ve seen. I didn’t expect to have these things but it is a con when comparing with RV parks.
Harvest Hosts Rules
If you are going to stay at a host location, there are some rules that Harvest Hosts has set forth for you to follow. I believe the rules to be fair for the host and the camper.
There are only a few rules and they are nothing out of the ordinary of what you would expect from a service like this.
You must have a self-contained RV
The RV must include everything that you need inside the van or RV. You are not allowed to use outdoor showers, tents and things like this.
This is understandable because you don’t want to make the host’s location look junky so that it affects the view of the location for their normal customers. This could be bad for business so they want to make sure you are staying as low key as possible.
You are only supposed to stay for one night
You don’t want to wear out your welcome. I have heard that some hosts will offer you more than one night as long as they aren’t overloaded with people. I haven’t had this happen yet but I would imagine that it would be well-received if it did. Especially in a location that you like.
The rules state that you aren’t supposed to ask but it is fine if the host tells you that you can stay multiple nights.
You need to call ahead to make sure it’s ok
I think this is just common courtesy. Arriving unannounced is just rude and could be grounds for denial from the host. Not only is it good for the host, but it’s also good for you because you don’t want to drive out of your way only to find out that the host doesn’t have enough room for you.
Harvest Hosts advises you to spend at least $20 with the host
I think this is fair and helps the host to continue being part of this service. After all, the host is allowing you to stay on their property for free. The least you can do is make a purchase and $20 is cheaper than you would pay at nearly any RV park.
The rules put in place are fair and I would hope that most people would be responsible enough to follow them. The RV crowd is among the most responsible and friendliest people I have met so I can’t imagine this ever being a problem.
Following the rules helps to ensure that this program is a success and that hosts continue being a part of it. It also allows Harvest Hosts to grow its location database by adding more interested hosts.
Harvest Hosts is great for people who want to try something different and have an additional option other than ordinary RV Parks. It can be a welcoming experience to pull into a host location and experience the tranquility and peacefulness that comes from it.
I’m sure that there are locations that are not as good as others but it has been a great experience for me so far. I will continue to use it but upon renewal, I will likely change to the classic membership and drop the golf option.
I just don’t see myself using the golf option because I do not golf as much as I used to. If golfing is your thing, by all means, there are plenty of golf courses included in the membership for you to enjoy.
Some of the golf courses listed in their locations map seem very nice and would make for an excellent round of golf.
I find Harvest Hosts to be a great alternative to the usual. When combined with RV Parks, Campgrounds, rented locations from Hipcamp or Airbnb, it makes a great addition to your list of options and can add another choice when looking for somewhere to stay.