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Chasing after piglets. Camping in the middle of a beautiful apple orchard. Eating a freshly baked blueberry crisp. Climbing on board and exploring a variety of trains. Hearing the sound of the frogs from the pond right outside the door. A private pool all to ourselves.
These unique experiences we have had within the last year are thanks to our Harvest Hosts membership.
What is Harvest Hosts?
As noted on their website, Harvest Hosts is a “network of wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms, and attractions that invite RVers to stay” overnight with over 1,000 locations throughout North America. Though Harvest Hosts is not free (careful if someone tells you that it is), you get access to its amazing platform with a very cheap annual membership fee. That's part one of the cost. The other part of the deal (to stay with hosts) is that you make a purchase at each location you camp overnight at. Things like food, souvenirs, entrance fees, etc. It's a great deal as the cost of the membership (when compared to a nightly rate at even a cheap campground) will pay for itself after a few stays. And other than the amazing places you will stay, it is a great way to support small local businesses!
Use our link here to get your annual membership at a discount! Everyone loves a discount right!
Who can use it?
Anyone with a self-contained RV can purchase a membership. There are no facilities at most of these locations so plan your trip accordingly. Have water in your tanks, a power source (if needed), a toilet, and everything you need for the night within your RV.
When should you use your membership?
Harvest Hosts is perfect for an overnight stop to break up a long drive. When we have a drive over five hours we look to see if there is a Harvest Host location on the way, preferably in the middle or closer to our new location. It’s a great way to spread out the drive and a more unique experience than a parking lot for the night.
It’s also great for a get-away from your house. Look for a new location near your home and set off to see and experience something new while supporting small local businesses. Using Harvest Hosts is a way to spend the night in places that otherwise have no accommodations and is therefore the only way you can spend the night in such cool places.
How does it work?
Once you have purchased an annual membership, pull up the map of locations, either on the Harvest Hosts app or website and see what hosts are available in your area or on your route. Click on the host for further information about what type of business the host is, the size of rig they can accommodate and what the parking situation is like. Give the host a call and see if they are available to host you on the night you need. If space is available, they will give you instructions on what to do when you arrive.
Why should you get a Harvest Hosts membership?
Each stay is a unique experience that you can’t get any other way. The hosts are usually excited to show you around and explain what their business is all about. They are proud of their business and love having people come and stay. The platform is a great way to support small businesses throughout the country as you enjoy your stay, but also buy something they have to offer.
Our personal experiences with Harvest Hosts
Parked next to a pond with our own private pool for the night.
Our first Harvest Hosts experience turned out to be quite different from the rest. It was a small hobby farm in New Hampshire and didn’t have any products for us to buy at that time. The owner met us at the road and explained where to park. We parked next to a pond with a small windmill.
After getting settled in, we spoke to the owner and he told us to feel free to explore the property which was beautiful with its rural setting complete with red barns. They were leaving for the night and said we could use the swimming pool there. The kids had a blast even though it was a little cold!
At night, we loved listening to the sound of the frogs and in the morning listening to the birds all around us. Oliver even found a small red salamander in the grassy field. If you can’t tell, we loved it.
Blueberry Stand Next to a River
Last year we planned on spending a bit of time in Prince Edward Island, Canada. On our way to PEI we stopped at a blueberry farm in New Brunswick right after we crossed the border from Maine. We had a great place to park in the back and had time to explore the area. We started by visiting the farmers market at the farm and purchased blueberry salsa (Amazing!), blueberry salad dressing and a blueberry crisp. It was all so good!
Since we had just crossed the Canadian border (check current border crossing guidelines here) we had an empty fridge. We walked to the grocery store next door and loved finding all sorts of new Canadian food to fill our fridge with. Next to the blueberry farm was a trailhead, so we enjoyed a nice evening walk along the river.
Just down the road is a waterfall, dam, and a fish ladder which is a man-made water stairway for fish to use to get up past the dam. We loved watching the fish climb the stairs below us as we stood on metal grates.
In the morning before we left, the river right by our RV has some people using jet skis and practicing stunts. A show like that was probably not normal and just lucky for us, but even when there aren’t water stunts, the river is peaceful and beautiful. Our stay at this Harvest Hosts location was really a great destination on its own.
A Family Farm
In between destinations on Prince Edward Island we stayed at a farm in a beautifully serene location at the end of a red dirt road. Our hosts invited us to stay for two nights so we did. The owners told us about their favorite beaches to visit as well as a few other local tips. During our stay, we were close enough to take a day trip to Prince Edward Island National Park – Greenwich. The hike we went on at that park is still one of my favorite hikes ever!
The owners had friendly dogs who greeted us in the mornings outside our RV. There was plenty of room for our kids to run around and play. It was a very quiet and peaceful stay for us. We watched the family working in the fields and they showed us what they were growing and explained the history of the farm. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, they didn’t have any produce for us to purchase (it wasn’t harvest season yet).
Apple Picking in the Northeast
Last autumn, we stayed at a farm in Massachusetts which was the perfect time for picking apples. When we arrived, the owner explained where to park which was next to a pond, nestled amongst the apple trees. After getting settled in, we walked up to the store and bought an apple pie and apple salsa. Since it was getting late, and I didn’t feel like making dinner, we threw in some tortilla chips and that’s what we ate that night! It was probably one of the better dinners we’ve had on the road since every one of us love apple pie. What made it even more memorable was where we chose to eat our dinner - sitting on large boulders outside our RV watching the sun set.
The next morning, we headed to the store again to buy a bag to pick apples. We were told which apples were ready to pick and then we walked out to the orchard. The kids ran up and down the rows excitedly, looking for the best tree to climb to find the perfect apple to pick. There were even plenty of apples that the younger kids could reach without too much help. We picked three varieties of apples and they were all amazing. We thought we had picked a ton, but they didn’t last long in our family.
There was also a petting zoo, and a sand box with tons of toys for kids to play. Apparently, they even host concerts (on the weekends?) complete with an outdoor restaurant style grill. It’s an amazing place.
On our way south for the winter, we stopped at a rustic 40-acre farm in South Carolina. The owner was excited to have us in their new location since they had just recently sold one piece of property and bought another. She showed us her sustainable farm and told us all of the plans they had for their new farm. Chickens roamed freely and many piglets escaped their pens. Large pigs roamed the woods and fed on the leftover Halloween pumpkins that were tossed in to them.
Our kids had a great time exploring the farm with the owner’s daughter. They fed the pigs, tried to catch the chickens and climbed bales of hay. After a great night’s sleep on the farm, Matt offered to help catch the piglets that had wriggled out of the fencing. A job that appeared easy, turned out to be tough! He managed to grab one piglet by the tail but soon lost his grip when he slipped in the mud and his hip landed on a large rock. He left with a large bruise and a respect for others who are able to snag the pigs effortlessly.
We Love Bees!
Before life on the road, we were beekeepers. We had several hives in our backyard and our busy ladies blessed us with pounds of honey each year. When we found a Harvest Hosts location all about bees, we knew we needed to stay.
It was just a few miles from where we had camping reservations for Christmas so we planned a Harvest Hosts stop for the night before our reservation. We had a fantastic place to park for the night along a fence with views of the field next door. Cows wandered up to the fence right next to us which was a delight for our younger children. A swarm of bees created a new hive in the tree outside the store. Normally rogue swarms like this are captured and put into boxes, but the owners decided to let this particular colony do what bees do naturally. It was enjoyable watching the bees coming and going as they do their jobs.
Inside the store they had a glass enclose hive. Observing the bees doing their work and finding the queen is always rewarding. Many varieties of local, raw honey were available, as well as skin care products containing honey, pollen and propolis. We bought honey treats for the kids and I splurged on some amazing lotion.
Hopping on Trains
One of our favorite Harvest Hosts was a train museum in Alabama. It was not far off the freeway on our way north. The manager met us and showed us where to park. He was excited to have us stay. We were invited to make ourselves at home and free to wander around the outside area of the museum. He told us to go ahead and climb on any train that we felt was safe for our family.
We had the parking lot to ourselves for the night. We had a great spot next to the tracks and after we were settled in, we started exploring. We loved walking amongst the outdoor collection of railroad cars, locomotives, and cabooses. We imagined we were the engineers as we pulled on the steam locomotive bells. We hopped on cars and pretended to jump off the caboose at fast speeds. There is so much to see and so much history being preserved.
The next morning, we visited the shop and the kids wanted to buy everything. They had so many cool train toys and collectibles. We decided on a cool pull-back locomotive toy and a new water bottle to replace one that leaked.
Golf Course Plan
When we signed up for Harvest Hosts, we opted to upgrade to the golf course plan which would give us more options. For a little more money annually, we now have access to over 350 golf courses to park for the night at. For any golfers out there, this is a great way to check out new golf courses and since you are parked right there, you can be there for the first tee time of the day.
We stayed at our first golf course in southern Alabama. The owner’s son greeted us when we arrived and walked us to where we could park. We were right at the edge of the parking lot under large pine trees with an open field outside our door. We ate dinner outside and then the kids ran around the field playing games for a while. Since we aren’t golfers, we purchased some treats for the kids in the pro shop.
A Membership Worth Having!
Harvest Hosts has facilitated us in meeting new people, eating new foods, having uncommon adventures, and we shared unique moments that we never would have experienced without a membership. We have loved using it and plan to continue to use it even more. In 2019 we got a chance to meet the CEO and he was a top notch guy! Check out their YouTube channel where he posted one of his labor of love projects of a Rocky Mountain drone flyover. He didn't ask us to write this post (doesn't even know that we are) - we just absolutely love Harvest Hosts and think that it's very worth recommending!
Do you have a Harvest Hosts membership? If so, where has been your favorite location? If not, you can use this link to get a discount and try it for yourself.
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