In this post, we share with you our happy experiences with Harvest Hosts. This is the best RV membership program we have found so far. Harvest Hosts is a program that connects you to a range of options for free overnight, pull-through stays with your RV. These places include wineries, golf courses, farms, breweries, distilleries, museums, and other unique locations. And they are constantly adding new locations. Most are in the USA, but there are also some in Canada.
When Joe and I are traveling we like to get to our ultimate destinations as fast as possible, so we can unhitch, RELAX and ENJOY. We don’t like short- or medium-term stays along the way, because we find the parking-unhitching-leveling-rehitching process stressful. Over the past two years we have gotten more confident with the whole process, but still, we definitely don’t enjoy it. So, we are always on the lookout for stress-free, cost-free places where we can safely park overnight, and then get going again in the morning.
Overview of the Harvest Hosts Program
Harvest Hosts is a membership program that costs $79 per year, or $99 per year if you want to include Golf Courses (which you definitely should, even if you don’t golf). Members are then allowed to park for one to two nights with hosts, after you make an advance reservation. There are usually no RV hookups, so you basically dry camp for one or two nights, free of charge. You are expected to have a self-contained RV (that is, your own washroom, kitchen, bedroom, etc.).
One of the advantages of most of the Harvest Host locations we have tried is that you are in a quiet setting, not sardined into a concrete RV park. The annual price has paid for itself as soon as you have stayed two nights for free anywhere. In our experience, a Harvest Host stay is usually more pleasant than overnighting in a crowded RV park.
You Can Choose to Buy, or Choose to Spend Nothing at All
Members are encouraged to support the host businesses by purchasing some of the goods or services offered for sale. We especially love visiting the wineries! However, I must say that when we stay at bigger places, such as golf courses, we never feel under pressure to buy anything at all.
For example, at Langdon Farms Golf Club near Portland, we park in the overflow parking, often all alone in the car park. We enjoy the quiet and the beauty, and it feels as if no one even notices we are there. We usually end up eating dinner and breakfast at the restaurant, but we don’t stay long enough to play golf.
If we were on a tighter budget, we would not even eat at the restaurant, and no one would care. Depending on which night you are there, the restaurant has various specials, such as Friday Night Prime Rib and Jazz. They also have Southern BBQ Tuesday. Yummy! The restaurant even has some gluten-free options, which made Joe very happy.
Types of Hosts in the Harvest Hosts Program
The Harvest Hosts program participants include farms, breweries, and distilleries, wineries, golf courses, and some public attractions like museums.
Before you Join Harvest Hosts
You can check out the Harvest Hosts website, which has a map where you can zoom in or out to set your search area. This allows you to determine if there are a good number of options for the areas in which you wish to travel. The hosts are denoted by graphics showing whether they are a farm, winery, etc. With over 1,300 venues, you are sure to find some attractive options on most routes.
Use Our Link to Get a 15% Discount
If you like what you see, and we definitely did, then go ahead and join. We are affiliates, so please use our link. When you use our link, we get a small payment, and you get 15% off your first year’s membership.
How to Find Stays on the Harvest Hosts Website
After you join, you can search the database by US State, Canadian Province, specific location, or by Route. I love using the route method because it shows me all the options from home to my destination. You have the option to choose how big a radius you want to search along your route; and how far off the main highway you are willing to travel to your host. The further you are prepared to travel from the highway, the greater the options. Here is what I saw when I searched on the Harvest Hosts website for locations on a route we planned through Washington, Oregon, and California.
That said, we have had some great stays that are very close to a highway. For example, the Laurel Hills Golf Course in Central Point, Oregon (near Grants Pass) is a perfect spot to stay. It is quiet and peaceful, easy to park at, and the staff are very friendly. There is a small grill that closes at 3:00 p.m., where I had a very good burger.
Once you have decided on a location, you need to phone the host to set up the reservation and obtain any special instructions. Make sure that you know the overall length of your rig so that the host can be sure that you will fit in their area. Your host will want to know approximately the time that you are arriving, and you will want to know what time your host would like you to leave.
Being a Good Guest
It is as important to be a good guest, as it is to find a good host. Make sure that you arrive on time, or communicate with your host if you are delayed.
Definitely contact your host if your plans have changed and you need to cancel. Otherwise, you could be preventing another member from staying for that night. Not to mention, creating a bad impression with the host. Some of them are so big they won’t notice, but others are tiny, and will have carefully reserved a spot just for you!
If you are traveling with pets, make sure that your host has been made aware and allows pets. We have not yet found a host that does not allow pets. Most of them state this on the Harvest Host site. However, the golf courses are new participants, and many of them have forgotten to mention pets. All the same, we have not yet found a golf course that does not allow our dogs to stay. Always keep your pets under control, and on leash if required. Obviously, pick up any mess too.
We have stayed at golf courses where we are so isolated that our dogs are free to roam around and enjoy nature. For example, at Langdon Farms Golf Club (near Portland) there is usually no one else in the overflow car park. And at Laurel Hill Golf course (Central Point, Oregon, near Grants Pass), we park under oak trees and the dogs can explore a little thicket of oak trees without disturbing anyone.
Tours and Purchases
If possible, take a tour of the facility or visit their local store. While never mandatory, it is good form to make a purchase to show your support.
When staying at any of the Golf Courses, we find it easy to make a purchase because there is usually a restaurant in the clubhouse. Some Golf Courses also have shower facilities in the restrooms, which is an added bonus.
Unique Camping Experiences
Also, be prepared to socialize at times. We stayed at the wonderful LongSword Vineyard in Jacksonville, in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. This small family-owned vineyard was a fair distance from the highway, but well worth the trip. We enjoyed a wine tasting and light lunch.
Then the owner of the winery came and chatted with us for over an hour. We then purchased a bottle of wine, so the owner comped us the wine-tasting fees. During our visit, a hang glider also landed in a nearby field. That was a simply lovely afternoon!
At that vineyard, our RV was all alone in the car park at night, right next to the vineyards. It was a perfect spot for an overnight stay. There were staff on site, so we did not feel vulnerable.
A Few Tips for Success with Harvest Hosts
Read the Reviews
All of the listings in Harvest Host include reviews. I do recommend that you read them to determine if the host is the right place for you. We stayed at a golf course in northern California and were extremely disappointed by the amount of noise made by the morning grounds crew. We should have read the reviews, because this had been mentioned by other travelers. We were quick to add another review to clearly alert other travelers to the issue. The stay was otherwise good, but no one wants loud engine noises, plus loud workers conversing right outside your window at 5:00 a.m!
Some of the golf courses that we have contacted are not terribly organized to take reservations. When this happens we give the feedback to Harvest Hosts so that they can alert the Golf Course management.
Post reviews about your stays – good and bad – because it helps us all to find the best hosts. And it is a way to reward good hosts for their hospitality.
Know Your Rig Size
Ask a lot of questions about access, and know your dimensions. At the LongSword Vineyard there was one very, very tight turn. We made it, both coming and going, but I would not stay there again because of the stress of getting in and out. Even though the owner was extremely hospitable. If you choose to stay at that one, do be aware of that tight turn. Note that with our truck and 5th wheel, we are 47 feet long.
Bottom Line on Harvest Hosts
We think Harvest Hosts is the best deal we have found in two years of RVing full time. On our way to California from British Columbia last year, we only paid for one night’s stay. This was despite traveling only about 100 to 250 miles per day, so we had six stops on our way south. We hope Harvest Hosts works for you too – click here to go and check them out!