Using Harvest Hosts as an alternate to traditional campgrounds has emerged as a growing trend this year for RVers who – everywhere they go – seem to encounter full campgrounds.
That's what Jennifer and I did on a summer trip to Northern Michigan last year. Every state park campground we tried (eight of them!) was booked up, with no reservations.
Not willing to give up our plans for a getaway, we started looking around on Harvest Hosts, soon locating three spots where we found everything we were hoping for… and then some!
Here's a video that shows what we found:
Using Harvest Hosts starts with searching their website
To stay at a Harvest Hosts location, you do have to be a member of Harvest Hosts. Membership starts at $99 a year. But we can save you 15% off that if you go to https://rvlifestyle.com/HH.
In our case, since we knew we wanted to spend some time in Northern Michigan, we clicked on “Search Now” from their website and zoomed in on the Michigan map to show us the regions we were interested in.
What you need to know about Using Harvest Hosts during these Busy Times
First, the bad news:
Harvest Hosts – even with more than 2,500 host locations across North America – sites fill up, too.
In fact, when we were talking to some RVing friends we see most days at the dog park where we take Bo each day, I mentioned how we had just come back from staying at three great Harvest Hosts sites “up north.”
“We have tried several times to get into some of their sites but when we called, they were all booked up,” said our friend.
We have heard similar things from members of our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group.
Here are some of their posts:
From Sheila: “We did not expect that some of our harvest host choices were booked weeks in advance…still glad we joined but not as much flexibility as we had hoped. Last year we did not have that issue. Boy what a difference this year.”
From Maggie: Called three different sites today before we could find an opening for tonight. They are getting very popular! We're delighted with our spot tonight at a winery. The host even offered to get us a bottle of wine after they had closed up at 7 PM for the day.
From Jim: Now it takes maybe calling a couple of places but ts still easier than getting into a campground. And so much more peaceful!
What's expected when you are Using Harvest Hosts for an Overnight
Before we share the details on the three Harvest Hosts spots we showcased in the above video, let me clear up one thing.
While hosts do not charge for an overnight stay, it is expected, per the Harvest Host membership policies, that you will patronize the farm, winery, brewery, attraction, or business that lets you stay picking up some fresh produce, a bottle of wine, or some of the products and services they offer.
Also know that most host locations require you to be totally self-contained in either a motor home, camper, or towable with your own water and toilet facilities. While some host locations do have hookups, most do not.
If you have pets, make sure the location is pet-friendly. Be sure and keep your pet on a leash at all times and clean up their messes.
Here are some other policies:
- You must call ahead. Please call the number listed on the Host information page and ask for the contact listed to ensure you speak to the correct person. Do not arrive without calling first.
- Not only do you need to call ahead to arrange your visit, you must arrive during business hours, unless the Host says otherwise
- While you can use a generator, please be courteous and ask beforehand so that the Host can park you where no one will be disturbed by it. If you are parked near the Host’s neighbors or other RVers, please use your generator sparingly.
- If your plans change, please contact the Host as soon as you can to either change your requested date or cancel your stay.
- Harvest Hosts is set up as an overnight program with stays of a maximum of 24 hours. At your Host’s discretion, they may invite you to stay an additional night. But do not “wear out your welcome.” You are at a business, not a campground.
- Members are not permitted to request stays at multiple locations for the same night. If Harvest Hosts discover a Member who breaks this rule, they will revoke their membership.
1) Using Harvest Hosts: Our stay at AJ's Berry Farm, Lachine, MI
We didn't know what to expect when we called and asked for a Harvest Hosts stay.
“Come on up,” said owner Amy MacArthur, who with her husband and kids operate this sprawling U-Pick berry farm in northeast Michigan. “We have plenty of room and the strawberries are in season.”
Boy, were they. We picked two quarts of the sweetest, juiciest strawberries I have ever had. Jennifer also bought a strawberry scone, baked by Amy and her crew.
And we were the only Harvest Hosts guests.
She put us way, way out in the back 40, on a flat grassy spot nestled between a raspberry field and a blueberry field.
Check out the drone shot we took:
It was so peaceful out there.
If you look closely, you can see us in our camp chairs, seated in the shade of our RV.
We read, relaxed, and decompressed.
And ate a quart of those berries before we turned in for the night!
2) Using Harvest Hosts: The Alcona Brew Haus, Harrisville, MI
This new, very friendly microbrewery is just a couple of blocks from the shore of Lake Huron and has room for several Harvest Hosts guests. One site even has an electric hookup.
On the late afternoon when we visited, a couple in a travel trailer beat us to the electric spot. But because we have solar and lithium batteries, we didn't need the power.
Besides, a cool and pleasant breeze of the nearby lake made for very comfy temperatures.
Inside the Alcona Brew Haus, it was dinnertime. We found a great selection of artisan house-made beer and a menu featuring upscale comfort food. Their pizza caught our eye, especially when we discovered they make their own pizza dough from scratch.
Here's our spot there:
3) Using Harvest Hosts: Sanilac County Historic Village and Museum, Port Sanilac, MI
As we made our way downstate and around the Lake Huron Shoreline, we spotted on the Harvest Hosts Map this place in the small town of Port Sanilac.
Museum Director Dawn Malek promptly answered us back when we inquired about space.
“You'll be the only campers,” she said. “Come see us.”
When we arrived, we found a bustling farmer's market. We found some tasty treats for later.
Jennifer and I toured the century-old home that once belonged to the town doctor.
We even found a delightful nature trail filled with whimsical little displays that we hiked with Bo.
Dawn directed us out back on the lush green grass of the museum grounds where, beneath two locust trees, we found the perfect spot to camp.
Here's our spot:
When Dawn came by to make sure we were settled in, she said there was a little “happening” that night on the grounds that we were invited to stop in for a visit.
It was a bourbon tasting!
And the next day, she said, there would be a sixties music festival and antique car exhibit on the grounds with several tribute bands.
“Sleep in tomorrow morning,” she said, “then drive over to the parking lot and enjoy the festival.”
It was a Friday when we arrived. And, after the bourbon tasting broke up about dark, we had the entire grounds to ourselves. No other campers. Another wonderful peaceful night.
And the 60's Music Tribute was a hoot. You can get a peek in the video.
See why we so enjoy using Harvest Hosts?
Who needs campgrounds?
Looking for a Road Trip Adventure around the Great Lakes?
Mike and Jennifer's Great Lakes Shoreline Tour (U.S. Side)
Instead of the usual 7 Days that some of our other guides can be done in, with this one, we’re suggesting that you budget more time. This is why we are calling it a “Tour” instead of a 7-Day Guide! There are 86 pages in this new ebook.
In this new Great Lakes Shoreline Tour we cover in detail:
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- And good Campgrounds for each Lake (US side) – at least 4 or 5 for EACH Lake! With all the info you need to set up reservations.