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7 Unwritten Rules for Parking Overnight at Cracker Barrel

| Updated Feb 24, 2024

Parking overnight at Cracker Barrel is a great convenience for RVers looking for a free place to park for the night. However, there are unwritten rules every RVers should follow…

Most RVers have heard of Wallydocking, which is parking overnight in a Walmart parking lot. It’s a form of “lot docking” that extends to another popular location: Cracker Barrel.

There aren’t nearly as many Cracker Barrels as Walmarts, but with 663 locations in the United States, there’s often one nearby. And the company has always been welcoming to RVers, allowing people to park overnight for free.

Of course, their hospitality should only be expected to extend so far. There are unwritten rules that RVers should abide by to ensure Cracker Barrel’s courtesy continues to be extended to us. 

I will outline those rules for you so you can enjoy what I like to call “Barreldocking” as much as Jennifer and I do.

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Not All Cracker Barrels Allow Overnight RV Parking

Before we get into the rules, it’s important to note that not all Cracker Barrels allow free overnight parking. It is at the discretion of the manager, whom you can call ahead and ask.

In most cases, the managers are more than happy to oblige. 

However, some state and city regulations do not allow overnight parking. Cracker Barrel, of course, has to abide by these regulations, so in some locales, they can’t permit you to stay in such cases.

How to Find Cracker Barrel Locations

The easiest way to find Cracker Barrel locations is to visit their website’s location finder. You can enter a city, state or zip code, and the map will display nearby locations. Or, you can browse by state.

There are only 5 states that do not have Cracker Barrel:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

The states with the most Cracker Barrels are:

  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • North Carolina

7 Unwritten Rules of Parking Overnight at Cracker Barrel

Parking overnight at Cracker Barrel is meant to be an overnight convenience, not a full-on campground stay. It’s perfect if you just need a place to sleep for the night on the way to your next destination.

Out of respect and gratitude for the company, it’s highly recommended you follow these unwritten rules…

1. Eat Something

Ideally, RVers should enjoy a meal at any Cracker Barrel where they park overnight. Whether you have dinner when you pull up or breakfast when you wake up, it’s a great way to thank them for their hospitality.

After all, they’re not really offering their parking lot altruistically. They’re hoping (and perhaps expecting) you’ll eat at their restaurant. 

It’s a win-win for RVers, too. They get a place to stay for only the price of a good meal. And thankfully, Cracker Barrel is reasonably priced.

If you have a tight budget, you don’t have to have an entire meal. You can enjoy a slice of their delicious pies, cobblers, or biscuit beignets. 

If you’re not hungry, though, you have another option to be a patron…

2. Buy Something

In addition to its all-day breakfast and homemade cornbread, Cracker Barrel is known for its Old Country Store. This little shop is packed with fun little souvenirs, toys, clothes, and treats.

So, if you don’t wish to eat in the restaurant, you can opt to purchase something from their store instead.

The jump-one-peg games and giant checkerboards are favorites. There’s always the Ye Old Candy Section, too!

3. Don’t Take Prime Parking

It’s considered proper boondocking etiquette not to take prime parking if you’re parking overnight at Cracker Barrel. Park off to the side or nearer the back of the lot.

You don’t want to park right up front where dinner or breakfast patrons are most likely to park. 

In truth, you want to do this for your own privacy as much as you do it out of respect for the patrons. You don’t want people peering through your windows as they walk into the restaurant.

4. Park Safely

You don’t want to take prime parking; however, always keep your safety in mind. It’s not, for instance, a good idea to park in dark areas that butt up against a back alley or something like that. 

Find a happy compromise between safety and not taking parking away from patrons that are coming just for a meal.

Cracker Barrel is, of course, not responsible for your safety. So, you need to rely on your own street smarts when choosing a parking space.

Here's another parking hint: Don't park next to the dumpsters. You don't want to block the access for employees or their garbage truck service. And those trucks come VERY early in the morning. Often way before sunup. If you are next to a dumpster, I guarantee you will be awakened by the noise.

5. Only Stay One Night

Parking overnight at Cracker Barrel is meant to be a one-night courtesy. You are not meant to stay more than one night.

More so, you’re not meant to hang around all morning, either. Once you wake up and have your breakfast, you should clear out.

This brings me to the next unwritten rule…

6. Don’t Set Up Camp

You cannot treat a Cracker Barrel lot like a campground. You should not extend your awning, set out camping chairs or portable grill, or even extend your slides if you can help it. 

If your RV requires you to extend a slide to reach the sleeping quarters, try to find an end spot where you won't overlap into the next parking space and/or only extend it the minimum amount to get through.

7. No Bathing in their Bathroom Sinks

As boondockers, Jennifer and I know that some people use public restrooms to sponge bathe or wash their hair in sinks.

While this behavior can be considered acceptable at some locations (like some rest stops), you shouldn’t do it in a Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrels are restaurants serving food to patrons who trust that they uphold the highest health standards.

Customers don’t want to enter a restroom in between their entree and dessert course to find someone sponge bathing. Cracker Barrel management doesn’t want that either. 

It’s best to tap into your own water supply if you’re in dire need of a cleaning.

On that same note, don't take your pets potty near the restaurant! Take them away from the restaurant (especially away from eh entrace) to do their business, and don't forget your biodegradable doggy poo bags!

(PSST! If you travel with a pet, check out these 7 UNWRITTEN Rules of Camping with a Dog)

Where Else Can You Stay Overnight?

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We all know about parking overnight at Cracker Barrel or Walmart…or Harvest Hosts, but there are lots of other places where RVers can stop… places right along the highway where pets are welcome and you can find just about anything you need for an overnight stay.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-02-24

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

14 Responses to “7 Unwritten Rules for Parking Overnight at Cracker Barrel”

February 25, 2024at7:53 pm, Nancy Pita said:

It’s illegal to stay in at Cracker Barrel in Tennessee. Was told by a couple of them the changed a law to not allow it . Was told if caught you could be ticked or arrested


February 26, 2024at8:53 am, Peter Donaldson said:

Can you provide official reference to this new law. Is it a state law or just local ordinance. If state law it would not reference just cracker barrels it would need to state no camping anywhere in the state other than a official designated camping location.


February 27, 2024at1:27 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Always a good idea to ask inside first because local laws can apply – thanks for sharing — Team RV Lifestyle


February 24, 2024at2:07 pm, Jeff Neumann said:

I believe that Cracker Barrels that allow RV parking will have a picture of an RV in the lower right-hand corner of their billboard along the highway. Probably still a good idea to check though.


February 09, 2024at4:44 am, Dom Niro said:

If you feel lucky casinos will let you park if you enjoy slots and table games. I would check first. Some aren’t open 24 hours and will ask you to leave. They will ask you to leave if you’re just boondocking. There are a few with rv parks that may comp you if you give them action. Follow the same rules as Cracker Barrel but call ahead. Good luck.


February 09, 2024at8:25 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing – Team RV Lifestyle


February 07, 2024at1:35 pm, Paige Dygert said:

I would add: Don’t run your generator. They are noisy and one summer night I woke up and two large TVs were parked on either side of me. Both had generators roaring away but the worst part was: I got carbon monoxide poisoning! I had my van roof vent up for ventilation and the gas from the two RVs was pouring in! If not for my bladder I probably would have died.


February 08, 2024at10:49 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That is terrible! Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real threat in that situation – So thankful you are ok – Team RV Lifestyle


March 10, 2023at4:38 am, Jane Rimmer said:

“The easiest way to find Cracker Barrel locations is to visit their website’s location finder. You can enter a city, state or zip code, and the map will display nearby locations. Or, you can browse by state.”
That requires internet access, which we don’t have on the road. The easiest way to find a Cracker Barrel is to use our RV gps. It is loaded with info on restaurants, stores, points of interests, and campgrounds!


March 10, 2023at11:47 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing, Jane! Team RV Lifestyle


November 13, 2022at12:22 pm, Michael Schuetz said:

We had known that Tractor Supply allowed overnight parking.
We had to spend a night at a Tractor Supply store lot due to torrential rain flooding the curb lane.
We called to check if we could stay and asked where in the lot we should park.


November 14, 2022at11:13 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing, Michael – Team RV Lifestyle


November 12, 2022at10:56 am, Susan Garrett said:

Great tips! One more tip. If traveling with pets they will likely need a perimeter walk/potty break at night and in the morning. ALWAYS carry poop bags and pick up after them and ensure that pee breaks happen away from the restaurant.


November 14, 2022at11:11 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Excellent addition! thanks for sharing, Susan- Team RV Lifestyle


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