Can We Really Park Our RV Overnight at Cracker Barrel?
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. is a chain of restaurant and gift stores with a country theme. The company was founded by Dan Evins in 1969 and it has grown to over 650 stores in 47 states and serves over 217 million guests a year! So will a large chain restaurant like Cracker Barrel actually allow RVs to park overnight? Well, the answer is yes!
When most people think of Cracker Barrel restaurants they think of breakfast foods like biscuits and gravy or dinner menu items like chicken and dumplings with a side order of fried apples. (I think you know my favorite meal!) And everyone thinks of the old time candies, games and memorabilia in the Country Store. But, when budget-conscious RV owners on a road trip think of Cracker Barrel – they think about great food and free parking too!
Can I Really Stay Overnight?
Most Cracker Barrels do allow for overnight RV parking and they usually have a handful of 40-foot long parking spaces for buses and RVs. The Bus and RV spaces are typically located behind or beside the store.
Every Cracker Barrel is different so some locations allow overnight RV parking and others do not. It is up to the manager at each location to decide if overnight stays are permitted. The store managers have to consider many factors in deciding if they will permit overnight stays at their location. Some of these factors include space needed for 18 wheel trucks to make early morning food deliveries or for trash dumpster pickups. And sometimes, local ordinances prohibit overnight parking so the manager doesn’t have any control over the issue.
Since every store has its own policies it’s always best to call ahead and speak to the manager to see if their particular location allows RVs to park overnight. You should also let them know if you will arrive during business hours or after they have closed. If the restaurant is still open when you arrive it’s always a good idea to introduce yourself in person to the manager before staying the night.
How Can I Find Locations That Allow Parking?
You can find Cracker Barrel locations that allow parking in several ways. First of all, you can go onto the Cracker Barrel website to see if a particular Cracker Barrel is Bus and RV accessible. Once you find the location of your choice click on it and it will tell you if it’s RV/Bus accessible. Cracker Barrel also has an app for your phone that you can use to find locations that allow overnight parking. If you are planning to have a meal when you get there you can also use the app to place an order for food or add your name to the restaurant waitlist prior to your arrival.
Another great method to find Cracker Barrels that allow free overnight stays is to use the super popular app called Overnight RV Parking. One of the great features within the app is you can read RV owner reviews and updates about a Cracker Barrel, or any other parking location near you. The App is only $24.95 a year and it will give you updated and accurate information on just about every Cracker Barrel. In addition to knowing if you can park at Cracker Barrel, you have access to over 13,000 free places to park your RV overnight! This is a fantastic app that we love and endorse. In fact, we have partnered with Overnight RV Parking and you will get 3 free months of membership when you sign up by clicking our link above. So, that’s 15 months for the price of 12 and you will more than make your money back with just one free overnight stay!
And finally, once you are at a Cracker Barrel you can pick up a map that shows all of their locations that allow overnight parking.
What’s It Like to Park at Cracker Barrel?
Usually, you will park in a parking lot behind or beside the Cracker Barrel restaurant and you will probably need to back into your parking space. You should expect that the parking lot will be well lit and you will smell some good food cooking until they close. Most Cracker Barrels are located near busy highways so you should expect to hear at least a little road noise.
Once you are parked at Cracker Barrel you should plan to remain in your RV for the night. Don’t expect to extend your awning and set up your chairs and listen to music or have a barbecue in the parking lot. It’s just a free place to park overnight and be on your way after an awesome breakfast in the morning!
Are Hookups Available?
No, hookups are not available at Cracker Barrel so you will need to be self-sufficient overnight. You should only plan to stay for one night.
What Are The Overnight Parking Rules?
When you call ahead to ask the manager if overnight parking is permitted you should also ask if there are any rules you need to know about. Be sure to ask the following:
- Is it ok to run your generator?
- Can you put your leveling jacks down?
- Can you extend your slide outs?
- Can you extend your awning?
Since Cracker Barrel does offer free overnight parking for RVs you should be a cordial guest. Even though you are parked in the back parking lot and customers probably won’t see you doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. Here are some obvious rules to follow:
- Be courteous and polite, even if you’re told that you can’t stay overnight.
- Keep your noise levels down.
- Don’t turn on your generator unless the manager has given you permission. And keep your voice down and don’t blare the music even if you are inside your RV enjoying the evening.
- Only stay for one night and then move on.
- Do not open awnings, set up your chairs or have a barbecue outside of your RV.
- Clean up your trash and if possible do what my Dad always taught me to do – “leave the area better than how you found it”.
- If you are traveling with pets please clean up after them.
- Enjoy a meal or buy something in the country store as a way to show your appreciation for the free overnight stay. One of the reasons they allow RVers to stay is to earn our business, so please be respectful at all times and give them your business.
Is It Safe to Park There?
Cracker Barrel does not stay open 24 hours a day. Most nights they close at 10:00 but on Friday and Saturday nights they usually are open until 11:00. After they close and the customers and employees have all gone home, you will be in the parking lot by yourself, or maybe with a few other campers too.
It is best to take care of anything you need to do outside of your camper before closing time and then stay inside and lock up for the night. If you hear anything suspicious call the police. Don’t take any chances by going outside. Remember, you are in a parking lot right off of a highway in most cases so it’s best to play it safe.
And most of all, trust your gut instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe for any reason – leave! There are plenty of other places to stay as you will see in the next section of this article.
What if Cracker Barrel is Full? Where Else Can I Park?
There are many other places that will let you park overnight for free if the Cracker Barrel lot is full. Everyone knows that you can always count on Walmart for a free stay and there are plenty of other options too. But wherever you decide to land for the night call ahead and ask if they allow overnight parking first and then introduce yourself to the manager when you arrive to be sure that your overnight stay is ok.
So where else should you try if you get turned away at Cracker Barrel? Just check out the list below.
Costco is a membership warehouse club, dedicated to bringing its members the best possible prices on quality, brand-name merchandise with hundreds of locations across the United States and Canada. So will a large multinational warehouse club like Costco actually allow RVs to park overnight? The answer is yes!
Costco locations are very convenient and their parking lots are well-lit and provide a good environment for overnight parking. Plus you can purchase gas, camping gear, RV supplies, groceries, and even tires at very discounted prices. You can also check out our article called Is Overnight RV Parking at Costco Allowed? for more info!
Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops
Some Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s will allow you to stay overnight at their store. But most Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are located in or attached to, big shopping malls and the malls may have policies which prohibit overnight stays in the parking lot. This is the main reason why some locations do not allow RV’s to stay overnight. So before you go out of your way be sure to call ahead.
Walmarts are everywhere so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one on your road trip. Just be sure to find a Walmart Supercenter since those are the stores where you are allowed to spend the night. The smaller Walmarts typically do not allow overnight parking. You can use the Walmart Locator website to find out which Walmarts will allow you to stay overnight. You can also check out our article called Overnight RV Parking At Walmart – Know Before You Go.
Camping World SuperCenter locations allow you to spend the night in your RV. But the number of locations that allow free overnight parking seem to be dwindling down. The Camping World SuperCenter locations have dump stations and water available. Once you choose a location on their website scroll down to the RV Services section and it will show if they allow Overnight Parking. So if you find one that will allow you to stay it would be well worth the search.
Overnight RV Parking Membership
Overnight RV Parking is a directory of over 13,000 free parking lot camping locations throughout the US and Canada, such as Walmart, Flying J or highway rest stops. Overnight RV Parking’s website and app provide you with excellent information about where you can park overnight as well as any rules about the location. It’s always a good idea to call ahead to be sure that overnight parking is allowed so you don’t get a knock on the door in the middle of the night with someone asking you to leave. We love the real-time updates and reviews that Overnight RV Parking members add to the directory to provide accurate and up to date information. The membership cost is only $24.95 a year so you will break even if you stay free somewhere for one night. And if you click our affiliate link above you will get 3 months free! So that’s 15 months for only $24.95!
1. Are There Nicer Places Than Parking Lots to Stay Overnight For Free?
Yes! There are some great alternatives to staying overnight in a Parking Lot and they are pretty close to free. There are two camping memberships that I highly recommend if you want to park in some great locations for free. Check out our article The 5 Best RV Campground Memberships for all of our recommendations to save you money on campsites!
Harvest Hosts is a membership which has over 670 free places to park overnight. These overnight parking places are gorgeous. They are orchards, wineries, farms, breweries and other unique attractions that allow RVs to stay the night. The annual membership is only $79 a year and gives you access through their website and App to stay at any of these incredible locations. And, they just added an additional membership for only $20 to stay at over 300 golf courses across the country too! So, for $99 a year, your price will never go up and you have over 1000 gorgeous locations to park overnight! We are members and love our membership!
Boondockers Welcome is an RV club that offers places to park for overnight stays from people who own private land. They now have more than 1000 locations across North America. The idea is that Boondockers Welcome provides a website directory of fellow RVers who are willing to let you stay a night or two on their property. Even though the name is Boondockers Welcome, which gives the impression there are no hookups, many hosts are able to provide electric and water, as well. Guests are encouraged to offer the host a gift or pay a few bucks if hookups are provided. Most of the time the parking area will be right beside the property owner’s home or it will be on land that they own but do not live on. And you have the benefit of meeting some great people who can give advice about the area where they live!
There are many options for free places to stay overnight. Cracker Barrel is a great choice because they are usually right off the highway so you won’t have to go too far out of your way to stay there. They also serve up some awesome food!
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Do you have another great option for a free overnight stay? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!